Carnivorous plants, such as the Venus flytrap (Dionaea muscipula), depend on an animal diet when grown in nutrient-poor soils. When an insect visits the trap and tilts the mechanosensors on the inner surface, action potentials (APs) are fired. After a moving object elicits two APs, the trap snaps shut, encaging the victim. Panicking preys repeatedly touch the trigger hairs over the subsequent hours, leading to a hermetically closed trap, which via the gland-based endocrine system is flooded by a prey-decomposing acidic enzyme cocktail. Here, we asked the question as to how many times trigger hairs have to be stimulated (e.g., now many APs are required) for the flytrap to recognize an encaged object as potential food, thus making it worthwhile activating the glands. By applying a series of trigger-hair stimulations, we found that the touch hormone jasmonic acid (JA) signaling pathway is activated after the second stimulus, while more than three APs are required to trigger an expression of genes encoding prey-degrading hydrolases, and that this expression is proportional to the number of mechanical stimulations. A decomposing animal contains a sodium load, and we have found that these sodium ions enter the capture organ via glands. We identified a flytrap sodium channel DmHKT1 as responsible for this sodium acquisition, with the number of transcripts expressed being dependent on the number of mechano-electric stimulations. Hence, the number of APs a victim triggers while trying to break out of the trap identifies the moving prey as a struggling Na(+)-rich animal and nutrition for the plant. VIDEO ABSTRACT.
Cows' milk generally contains two types of β-casein, A1 and A2 types. Digestion of A1 type can yield the peptide β-casomorphin-7, which is implicated in adverse gastrointestinal effects of milk consumption, some of which resemble those in lactose intolerance. This study aimed to compare the effects of milk containing A1 β-casein with those of milk containing only A2 β-casein on inflammation, symptoms of post-dairy digestive discomfort (PD3), and cognitive processing in subjects with self-reported lactose intolerance.
Microplastics are highly bioavailable to marine organisms, either through direct ingestion, or indirectly by trophic transfer from contaminated prey. The latter has been observed for low-trophic level organisms in laboratory conditions, yet empirical evidence in high trophic-level taxa is lacking. In natura studies face difficulties when dealing with contamination and differentiating between directly and indirectly ingested microplastics. The ethical constraints of subjecting large organisms, such as marine mammals, to laboratory investigations hinder the resolution of these limitations. Here, these issues were resolved by analysing sub-samples of scat from captive grey seals (Halichoerus grypus) and whole digestive tracts of the wild-caught Atlantic mackerel (Scomber scombrus) they are fed upon. An enzymatic digestion protocol was employed to remove excess organic material and facilitate visual detection of synthetic particles without damaging them. Polymer type was confirmed using Fourier-Transform Infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy. Extensive contamination control measures were implemented throughout. Approximately half of scat subsamples (48%; n = 15) and a third of fish (32%; n = 10) contained 1-4 microplastics. Particles were mainly black, clear, red and blue in colour. Mean lengths were 1.5 mm and 2 mm in scats and fish respectively. Ethylene propylene was the most frequently detected polymer type in both. Our findings suggest trophic transfer represents an indirect, yet potentially major, pathway of microplastic ingestion for any species whose feeding ecology involves the consumption of whole prey, including humans.
Pancreatic adenocarcinomas (PAs) have very poor prognoses even when surgery is possible. Currently, there are no tissular biomarkers to predict long-term survival in patients with PA. The aims of this study were to (1) describe the metabolome of pancreatic parenchyma (PP) and PA, (2) determine the impact of neoadjuvant chemotherapy on PP and PA, and (3) find tissue metabolic biomarkers associated with long-term survivors, using metabolomics analysis.
We present bacterial biogeography as sampled from the human gastrointestinal tract of four healthy subjects. This study generated >32 million paired-end sequences of bacterial 16S rRNA genes (V3 region) representing >95,000 unique operational taxonomic units (OTUs; 97% similarity clusters), with >99% Good’s coverage for all samples. The highest OTU richness and phylogenetic diversity was found in the mouth samples. The microbial communities of multiple biopsy sites within the colon were highly similar within individuals and largely distinct from those in stool. Within an individual, OTU overlap among broad site definitions (mouth, stomach/duodenum, colon and stool) ranged from 32-110 OTUs, 25 of which were common to all individuals and included OTUs affiliated with Faecalibacterium prasnitzii and the TM7 phylum. This first comprehensive characterization of the abundant and rare microflora found along the healthy human digestive tract represents essential groundwork to investigate further how the human microbiome relates to health and disease.
Animals are primarily limited by their capacity to acquire food, yet digestive performance also conditions energy acquisition, and ultimately fitness. Optimal foraging theory predicts that organisms feeding on patchy resources should maximize their food loads within each patch, and should digest these loads quickly to minimize travelling costs between food patches. We tested the prediction of high digestive performance in wandering albatrosses, which can ingest prey of up to 3 kg, and feed on highly dispersed food resources across the southern ocean. GPS-tracking of 40 wandering albatrosses from the Crozet archipelago during the incubation phase confirmed foraging movements of between 475-4705 km, which give birds access to a variety of prey, including fishery wastes. Moreover, using miniaturized, autonomous data recorders placed in the stomach of three birds, we performed the first-ever measurements of gastric pH and temperature in procellariformes. These revealed surprisingly low pH levels (average 1.50±0.13), markedly lower than in other seabirds, and comparable to those of vultures feeding on carrion. Such low stomach pH gives wandering albatrosses a strategic advantage since it allows them a rapid chemical breakdown of ingested food and therefore a rapid digestion. This is useful for feeding on patchy, natural prey, but also on fishery wastes, which might be an important additional food resource for wandering albatrosses.
- Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
- Published almost 6 years ago
The Darwin plant Dionaea muscipula is able to grow on mineral-poor soil, because it gains essential nutrients from captured animal prey. Given that no nutrients remain in the trap when it opens after the consumption of an animal meal, we here asked the question of how Dionaea sequesters prey-derived potassium. We show that prey capture triggers expression of a K(+) uptake system in the Venus flytrap. In search of K(+) transporters endowed with adequate properties for this role, we screened a Dionaea expressed sequence tag (EST) database and identified DmKT1 and DmHAK5 as candidates. On insect and touch hormone stimulation, the number of transcripts of these transporters increased in flytraps. After cRNA injection of K(+)-transporter genes into Xenopus oocytes, however, both putative K(+) transporters remained silent. Assuming that calcium sensor kinases are regulating Arabidopsis K(+) transporter 1 (AKT1), we coexpressed the putative K(+) transporters with a large set of kinases and identified the CBL9-CIPK23 pair as the major activating complex for both transporters in Dionaea K(+) uptake. DmKT1 was found to be a K(+)-selective channel of voltage-dependent high capacity and low affinity, whereas DmHAK5 was identified as the first, to our knowledge, proton-driven, high-affinity potassium transporter with weak selectivity. When the Venus flytrap is processing its prey, the gland cell membrane potential is maintained around -120 mV, and the apoplast is acidified to pH 3. These conditions in the green stomach formed by the closed flytrap allow DmKT1 and DmHAK5 to acquire prey-derived K(+), reducing its concentration from millimolar levels down to trace levels.
We investigated flexible liposomes as a potential oral drug delivery system. However, enhanced membrane fluidity and structural deformability may necessitate liposomal surface modification when facing the harsh environment of the gastrointestinal tract. In the present study, silica-coated flexible liposomes loaded with curcumin (CUR-SLs) having poor water solubility as a model drug were prepared by a thin-film method with homogenization, followed by the formation of a silica shell by the sol-gel process. We systematically investigated the physical properties, drug release behavior, pharmacodynamics, and bioavailability of CUR-SLs. CUR-SLs had a mean diameter of 157 nm and a polydispersity index of 0.14, while the apparent entrapment efficiency was 90.62%. Compared with curcumin-loaded flexible liposomes (CUR-FLs) without silica-coatings, CUR-SLs had significantly higher stability against artificial gastric fluid and showed more sustained drug release in artificial intestinal fluid as determined by in vitro release assays. The bioavailability of CUR-SLs and CUR-FLs was 7.76- and 2.35-fold higher, respectively, than that of curcumin suspensions. Silica coating markedly improved the stability of flexible liposomes, and CUR-SLs exhibited a 3.31-fold increase in bioavailability compared with CUR-FLs, indicating that silica-coated flexible liposomes may be employed as a potential carrier to deliver drugs with poor water solubility via the oral route with improved bioavailability.
Systems capable of residing for prolonged periods of time in the gastric cavity have transformed our ability to diagnose and treat patients. Gastric resident systems for drug delivery, ideally need to be: ingestible, be able to change shape or swell to ensure prolonged gastric residence, have the mechanical integrity to withstand the forces associated with gastrointestinal motility, be triggerable to address any side effects, and be drug loadable and release drug over a prolonged period of time. Materials that have been primarily utilized for these applications have been largely restricted to thermoplastics and thermosets. Here we describe a novel set of materials, triggerable tough hydrogels, meeting all these requirement, supported by evaluation in a large animal model and ultimately demonstrate the potential of triggerable tough hydrogels to serve as prolonged gastric resident drug depots. Triggerable tough hydrogels may be applied in myriad of applications, including bariatric interventions, drug delivery, and tissue engineering.The use of drug delivery systems for the gastrointestinal tract has been faced with a number of drawbacks related to their prolonged use. Here, the authors develop a drug-loaded hydrogel with high strength to withstand long-term gastrointestinal motility and can be triggered to dissolve on demand.
The acetylcholinesterase inhibitor (AChEI), huperzine A has been used in the treatment of the cognitive deterioration associated with Alzheimer’s disease (AD). However, the side-effects of huperzine A associated with increased cholinergic activity, particularly in the gastrointestinal system, are evident. It is not yet known how quickly these side-effects become tolerated; this information would provide guidance to doctors on how to use huperzine A so as to attenuate the adverse events. The present study aimed to observe the effects of huperzine A on gastrointestinal motility and acetylcholinesterase (AChE) activity in mice. After oral administration of huperzine A with single and multiple dosing, the gastrointestinal motility and AChE activity of the mice were examined. The results revealed that, following a single dose of huperzine A, the AChE activity in the stomach and duodenum were significantly inhibited and the gastrointestinal motility was significantly increased. However, following multiple doses (7 or 28 doses, one dose per day), no significant changes in the AChE activity and gastrointestinal motility were identified. These findings indicate that the gastrointestinal adverse effects of huperzine A may be well-tolerated relatively quickly and do not recur. Additionally, it suggests that patients with AD are likely to have minimal gastrointestinal side-effects after taking multiple doses of huperzine A.