Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.


Depression and stress promote obesity. This study addressed the impact of daily stressors and a history of major depressive disorder (MDD) on obesity-related metabolic responses to high-fat meals.

Concepts: Serotonin, Major depressive disorder, Dysthymia


Recent studies have shown that neonicotinoid insecticides have adverse effects on non-target invertebrate species. Invertebrates constitute a substantial part of the diet of many bird species during the breeding season and are indispensable for raising offspring. We investigated the hypothesis that the most widely used neonicotinoid insecticide, imidacloprid, has a negative impact on insectivorous bird populations. Here we show that, in the Netherlands, local population trends were significantly more negative in areas with higher surface-water concentrations of imidacloprid. At imidacloprid concentrations of more than 20 nanograms per litre, bird populations tended to decline by 3.5 per cent on average annually. Additional analyses revealed that this spatial pattern of decline appeared only after the introduction of imidacloprid to the Netherlands, in the mid-1990s. We further show that the recent negative relationship remains after correcting for spatial differences in land-use changes that are known to affect bird populations in farmland. Our results suggest that the impact of neonicotinoids on the natural environment is even more substantial than has recently been reported and is reminiscent of the effects of persistent insecticides in the past. Future legislation should take into account the potential cascading effects of neonicotinoids on ecosystems.

Concepts: Biology, Insect, Bird, Invertebrate, Insecticide, Pesticide toxicity to bees, Neonicotinoid, Imidacloprid


Cadmium telluride, CdTe, is now firmly established as the basis for the market-leading thin-film solar-cell technology. With laboratory efficiencies approaching 20 per cent, the research and development targets for CdTe are to reduce the cost of power generation further to less than half a US dollar per watt (ref. 2) and to minimize the environmental impact. A central part of the manufacturing process involves doping the polycrystalline thin-film CdTe with CdCl2. This acts to form the photovoltaic junction at the CdTe/CdS interface and to passivate the grain boundaries, making it essential in achieving high device efficiencies. However, although such doping has been almost ubiquitous since the development of this processing route over 25 years ago, CdCl2 has two severe disadvantages; it is both expensive (about 30 cents per gram) and a water-soluble source of toxic cadmium ions, presenting a risk to both operators and the environment during manufacture. Here we demonstrate that solar cells prepared using MgCl2, which is non-toxic and costs less than a cent per gram, have efficiencies (around 13%) identical to those of a CdCl2-processed control group. They have similar hole densities in the active layer (9 × 10(14) cm(-3)) and comparable impurity profiles for Cl and O, these elements being important p-type dopants for CdTe thin films. Contrary to expectation, CdCl2-processed and MgCl2-processed solar cells contain similar concentrations of Mg; this is because of Mg out-diffusion from the soda-lime glass substrates and is not disadvantageous to device performance. However, treatment with other low-cost chlorides such as NaCl, KCl and MnCl2 leads to the introduction of electrically active impurities that do compromise device performance. Our results demonstrate that CdCl2 may simply be replaced directly with MgCl2 in the existing fabrication process, thus both minimizing the environmental risk and reducing the cost of CdTe solar-cell production.

Concepts: Semiconductor, Cadmium, Solar cell, Photovoltaics, Cost, Cadmium telluride, Cadmium sulfide, United States dollar


We report the whole-genome sequence of the common marmoset (Callithrix jacchus). The 2.26-Gb genome of a female marmoset was assembled using Sanger read data (6×) and a whole-genome shotgun strategy. A first analysis has permitted comparison with the genomes of apes and Old World monkeys and the identification of specific features that might contribute to the unique biology of this diminutive primate, including genetic changes that may influence body size, frequent twinning and chimerism. We observed positive selection in growth hormone/insulin-like growth factor genes (growth pathways), respiratory complex I genes (metabolic pathways), and genes encoding immunobiological factors and proteases (reproductive and immunity pathways). In addition, both protein-coding and microRNA genes related to reproduction exhibited evidence of rapid sequence evolution. This genome sequence for a New World monkey enables increased power for comparative analyses among available primate genomes and facilitates biomedical research application.

Concepts: DNA, Gene, Genetics, Organism, Virus, Genome, Callithrix, Primate


Paranoia is receiving increasing attention in its own right, since it is a central experience of psychotic disorders and a marker of the health of a society. Paranoia is associated with use of the most commonly taken illicit drug, cannabis. The objective was to determine whether the principal psychoactive ingredient of cannabis-∆(9)-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)-causes paranoia and to use the drug as a probe to identify key cognitive mechanisms underlying paranoia. A randomized, placebo-controlled, between-groups test of the effects of intravenous THC was conducted. A total of 121 individuals with paranoid ideation were randomized to receive placebo, THC, or THC preceded by a cognitive awareness condition. Paranoia was assessed extensively via a real social situation, an immersive virtual reality experiment, and standard self-report and interviewer measures. Putative causal factors were assessed. Principal components analysis was used to create a composite paranoia score and composite causal variables to be tested in a mediation analysis. THC significantly increased paranoia, negative affect (anxiety, worry, depression, negative thoughts about the self), and a range of anomalous experiences, and reduced working memory capacity. The increase in negative affect and in anomalous experiences fully accounted for the increase in paranoia. Working memory changes did not lead to paranoia. Making participants aware of the effects of THC had little impact. In this largest study of intravenous THC, it was definitively demonstrated that the drug triggers paranoid thoughts in vulnerable individuals. The most likely mechanism of action causing paranoia was the generation of negative affect and anomalous experiences.

Concepts: Anxiety, Psychology, Greek loanwords, Schizophrenia, Psychosis, Fear, Delusional disorder, Paranoia


Schizophrenia is a highly heritable disorder. Genetic risk is conferred by a large number of alleles, including common alleles of small effect that might be detected by genome-wide association studies. Here we report a multi-stage schizophrenia genome-wide association study of up to 36,989 cases and 113,075 controls. We identify 128 independent associations spanning 108 conservatively defined loci that meet genome-wide significance, 83 of which have not been previously reported. Associations were enriched among genes expressed in brain, providing biological plausibility for the findings. Many findings have the potential to provide entirely new insights into aetiology, but associations at DRD2 and several genes involved in glutamatergic neurotransmission highlight molecules of known and potential therapeutic relevance to schizophrenia, and are consistent with leading pathophysiological hypotheses. Independent of genes expressed in brain, associations were enriched among genes expressed in tissues that have important roles in immunity, providing support for the speculated link between the immune system and schizophrenia.

Concepts: Immune system, Medicine, Gene, Genetics, Evolution, Organism, Immunity, Genome-wide association study


To determine whether time spent outdoors was associated with increased moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) and related health benefits in youth.

Concepts: Health economics, Health insurance, Obesity, Exercise


Herein we report a rational design strategy for tailoring intermolecular interactions to enhance room-temperature phosphorescence from purely organic materials in amorphous matrices at ambient conditions. The built-in strong halogen and hydrogen bonding between the newly developed phosphor G1 and the poly(vinyl alcohol) (PVA) matrix efficiently suppresses vibrational dissipation and thus enables bright room-temperature phosphorescence (RTP) with quantum yields reaching 24 %. Furthermore, we found that modulation of the strength of halogen and hydrogen bonding in the G1-PVA system by water molecules produced unique reversible phosphorescence-to-fluorescence switching behavior. This unique system can be utilized as a ratiometric water sensor.

Concepts: DNA, Oxygen, Water, Hydrogen, Atom, Carbon, Chemical bonding, Covalent bond


The generation of blue-light-emitting pyrotechnic formulations without the use of chlorine-containing compounds is reported. Suitable blue-light emission has been achieved through the generation of molecular emitting copper(I) iodide. The most optimal copper(I) iodide based blue-light-emitting formulation was found to have performances exceeding those of chlorine-containing compositions, and was found to be insensitive to various ignition stimuli.

Concepts: Pharmaceutical formulation, Formulation, Pyrotechnics


A method for dating copper/bronze archaeological objects aged in atmospheric environments is proposed based on the specific signals for cuprite and tenorite corrosion products measured through the voltammtry of microparticles method. The tenorite/cuprite ratio increased with the corrosion time and fitted to a potential law that yielded a calibration curve usable for dating purposes.

Concepts: Calibration curve, Cuprite