SciCombinator

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115

Microplastic pollution is ubiquitous in the marine environment and is ingested by numerous marine species. Sharks are an understudied group regarding their susceptibility to microplastic ingestion. Here, we provide evidence of ingestion of microplastic and other anthropogenic fibres in four demersal sharks species found in the waters of the United Kingdom and investigate whether body burdens of contamination vary according to species, sex or size. Sharks were collected from the North-East Atlantic. Stomachs and digestive tracts of 46 sharks of 4 species were examined and 67% of samples contained at least one contaminant particle. Although we acknowledge modest sample size, estimated particle burden increased with body size but did not vary systematically with sex or species. A total of 379 particles were identified, leading to median estimates ranging from 2 to 7.5 ingested contaminants per animal for the 4 species. The majority were fibrous in nature (95%) and blue (88%) or black (9%) in colour. A subsample of contaminants (N = 62) were subject to FT-IR spectroscopy and polymers identified as: synthetic cellulose (33.3%), polypropylene (25%), polyacrylamides (10%) and polyester (8.3%). The level of risk posed to shark species by this level of contamination is unknown. Nevertheless, this study presents the first empirical evidence and an important baseline for ingestion of microplastics and other anthropogenic fibres in native UK shark species and highlights the pervasive nature of these pollutants.

107

Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) has caused the rapidly unfolding coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic1,2. Clinical manifestations of COVID-19 vary, ranging from asymptomatic infection to respiratory failure. The mechanisms determining such variable outcomes remain unresolved. Here, we investigated SARS-CoV-2 spike glycoprotein (S)-reactive CD4+ T cells in peripheral blood of patients with COVID-19 and SARS-CoV-2-unexposed healthy donors (HD). We detected SARS-CoV-2 S-reactive CD4+ T cells in 83% of patients with COVID-19 but also in 35% of HD. S-reactive CD4+ T cells in HD reacted primarily to C-terminal S epitopes, which show a higher homology to spike glycoproteins of human endemic coronaviruses, compared to N-terminal epitopes. S-reactive T cell lines generated from SARS-CoV-2-naive HD responded similarly to C-terminal S of human endemic coronaviruses 229E and OC43 and SARS-CoV-2, demonstrating the presence of S-cross-reactive T cells, probably generated during past encounters with endemic coronaviruses. The role of pre-existing SARS-CoV-2 cross-reactive T cells for clinical outcomes remains to be determined in larger cohorts. However, the presence of S-cross-reactive T cells in a sizable fraction of the general population may affect the dynamics of the current pandemic, and has important implications for the design and analysis of upcoming COVID-19 vaccine trials.

102

To examine and quantify the potential dose-response relation between intake of total, animal, and plant protein and the risk of mortality from all causes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer.

101

Human activity causes vibrations that propagate into the ground as high-frequency seismic waves. Measures to mitigate the COVID-19 pandemic caused widespread changes in human activity, leading to a months-long reduction in seismic noise of up to 50%. The 2020 seismic noise quiet period is the longest and most prominent global anthropogenic seismic noise reduction on record. While the reduction is strongest at surface seismometers in populated areas, this seismic quiescence extends for many kilometers radially and hundreds of meters in depth. This provides an opportunity to detect subtle signals from subsurface seismic sources that would have been concealed in noisier times and to benchmark sources of anthropogenic noise. A strong correlation between seismic noise and independent measurements of human mobility suggests that seismology provides an absolute, real-time estimate of population dynamics.

97

The discovery of liquid water at several locations in the solar system raises the possibility that microbial life may have evolved outside Earth and as such could be accidently introduced into the Earth’s ecosystem. Unusual sugars or amino acids, like non-proteinogenic isovaline and α-aminoisobutyric acid that are vanishingly rare or absent from life forms on Earth, have been found in high abundance on non-terrestrial carbonaceous meteorites. It is therefore conceivable that exo-microorganisms might contain proteins that include these rare amino acids. We therefore asked whether the mammalian immune system would be able to recognize and induce appropriate immune responses to putative proteinaceous antigens that include these rare amino acids. To address this, we synthesised peptide antigens based on a backbone of ovalbumin and introduced isovaline and α-aminoisobutyric acid residues and demonstrated that these peptides can promote naïve OT-I cell activation and proliferation, but did so less efficiently than the canonical peptides. This is relevant to the biosecurity of missions that may retrieve samples from exoplanets and moons that have conditions that may be permissive for life, suggesting that accidental contamination and exposure to exo-microorganisms with such distinct proteomes might pose an immunological challenge.

95

Molecular and morphological phylogenies concur in indicating that the African lineages formerly referred to Crocodylus niloticus are the sister taxon the four Neotropical crocodiles (Crocodylus intermedius, C. moreleti, C. acutus and C. rhombifer), implying a transoceanic dispersal from Africa to America. So far the fossil record did not contribute to identify a possible African forerunner of the Neotropical species but, curiously, the oldest remains referred to the African C. niloticus are Quaternary in age, whereas the oldest American fossils of Crocodylus are older, being dated to the early Pliocene, suggesting that another species could be involved. We re-described, also thanks to CT imaging, the only well-preserved topotipic skull of Crocodylus checchiai Maccagno, 1947 from the late Miocene (Messinian) African site of As Sahabi in Libya. As previously suggested on the basis of late Miocene material from Tanzania, C. checchiai is a valid, diagnosable species. According to our phylogenetic analyses, C. checchiai is related to the Neotropical taxa and could be even located at the base of their radiation, therefore representing the missing link between the African and the American lineages.

93

The American Cancer Society (ACS) recommends that individuals with a cervix initiate cervical cancer screening at age 25 years and undergo primary human papillomavirus (HPV) testing every 5 years through age 65 years (preferred); if primary HPV testing is not available, then individuals aged 25 to 65 years should be screened with cotesting (HPV testing in combination with cytology) every 5 years or cytology alone every 3 years (acceptable) (strong recommendation). The ACS recommends that individuals aged >65 years who have no history of cervical intraepithelial neoplasia grade 2 or more severe disease within the past 25 years, and who have documented adequate negative prior screening in the prior 10 years, discontinue all cervical cancer screening (qualified recommendation). These new screening recommendations differ in 4 important respects compared with the 2012 recommendations: 1) The preferred screening strategy is primary HPV testing every 5 years, with cotesting and cytology alone acceptable where access to US Food and Drug Administration-approved primary HPV testing is not yet available; 2) the recommended age to start screening is 25 years rather than 21 years; 3) primary HPV testing, as well as cotesting or cytology alone when primary testing is not available, is recommended starting at age 25 years rather than age 30 years; and 4) the guideline is transitional, ie, options for screening with cotesting or cytology alone are provided but should be phased out once full access to primary HPV testing for cervical cancer screening is available without barriers. Evidence related to other relevant issues was reviewed, and no changes were made to recommendations for screening intervals, age or criteria for screening cessation, screening based on vaccination status, or screening after hysterectomy. Follow-up for individuals who screen positive for HPV and/or cytology should be in accordance with the 2019 American Society for Colposcopy and Cervical Pathology risk-based management consensus guidelines for abnormal cervical cancer screening tests and cancer precursors.

79

The initial colonization of the Americas remains a highly debated topic1, and the exact timing of the first arrivals is unknown. The earliest archaeological record of Mexico-which holds a key geographical position in the Americas-is poorly known and understudied. Historically, the region has remained on the periphery of research focused on the first American populations2. However, recent investigations provide reliable evidence of a human presence in the northwest region of Mexico3,4, the Chiapas Highlands5, Central Mexico6 and the Caribbean coast7-9 during the Late Pleistocene and Early Holocene epochs. Here we present results of recent excavations at Chiquihuite Cave-a high-altitude site in central-northern Mexico-that corroborate previous findings in the Americas10-17of cultural evidence that dates to the Last Glacial Maximum (26,500-19,000 years ago)18, and which push back dates for human dispersal to the region possibly as early as 33,000-31,000 years ago. The site yielded about 1,900 stone artefacts within a 3-m-deep stratified sequence, revealing a previously unknown lithic industry that underwent only minor changes over millennia. More than 50 radiocarbon and luminescence dates provide chronological control, and genetic, palaeoenvironmental and chemical data document the changing environments in which the occupants lived. Our results provide new evidence for the antiquity of humans in the Americas, illustrate the cultural diversity of the earliest dispersal groups (which predate those of the Clovis culture) and open new directions of research.

78

The recent novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), is seeing a rapid increase in infected patients worldwide. The host immune response to SARS-CoV-2 appears to play a critical role in disease pathogenesis and clinical manifestations. SARS-CoV-2 not only activates antiviral immune responses, but can also cause uncontrolled inflammatory responses characterized by marked pro-inflammatory cytokine release in patients with severe COVID-19, leading to lymphopenia, lymphocyte dysfunction, and granulocyte and monocyte abnormalities. These SARS-CoV-2-induced immune abnormalities may lead to infections by microorganisms, septic shock, and severe multiple organ dysfunction. Therefore, mechanisms underlying immune abnormalities in patients with COVID-19 must be elucidated to guide clinical management of the disease. Moreover, rational management of the immune responses to SARS-CoV-2, which includes enhancing anti-viral immunity while inhibiting systemic inflammation, may be key to successful treatment. In this review, we discuss the immunopathology of COVID-19, its potential mechanisms, and clinical implications to aid the development of new therapeutic strategies against COVID-19.

76

Vaccines to prevent coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) are urgently needed. The effect of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) vaccines on viral replication in both upper and lower airways is important to evaluate in nonhuman primates.