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Michael Weekes

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Nick K. Jones1,2*, Lucy Rivett1,2*, Chris Workman3, Mark Ferris3, Ashley Shaw1, Cambridge COVID-19 Collaboration1,4, Paul J. Lehner1,4, Rob Howes5, Giles Wright3, Nicholas J. Matheson1,4,6¶, Michael P. Weekes1,7¶1 Cambridge University NHS Hospitals Foundation Trust, Cambridge, UK2 Clinical Microbiology & Public Health Laboratory, Public Health England, Cambridge, UK3 Occupational Health and Wellbeing, Cambridge Biomedical Campus, Cambridge, UK4 Cambridge Institute of Therapeutic Immunology & Infectious Disease, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK5 Cambridge COVID-19 Testing Centre and AstraZeneca, Anne Mclaren Building, Cambridge, UK6 NHS Blood and Transplant, Cambridge, UK7 Cambridge Institute for Medical Research, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK*Joint first authorship¶Joint last authorshipCorrespondence: [email protected] UK has initiated mass COVID-19 immunisation, with healthcare workers (HCWs) given early priority because of the potential for workplace exposure and risk of onward transmission to patients. The UK’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation has recommended maximising the number of people vaccinated with first doses at the expense of early booster vaccinations, based on single dose efficacy against symptomatic COVID-19 disease.1-3At the time of writing, three COVID-19 vaccines have been granted emergency use authorisation in the UK, including the BNT162b2 mRNA COVID-19 vaccine (Pfizer-BioNTech). A vital outstanding question is whether this vaccine prevents or promotes asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infection, rather than symptomatic COVID-19 disease, because sub-clinical infection following vaccination could continue to drive transmission. This is especially important because many UK HCWs have received this vaccine, and nosocomial COVID-19 infection has been a persistent problem.Through the implementation of a 24 h-turnaround PCR-based comprehensive HCW screening programme at Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (CUHNFT), we previously demonstrated the frequent presence of pauci- and asymptomatic infection amongst HCWs during the UK’s first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.4 Here, we evaluate the effect of first-dose BNT162b2 vaccination on test positivity rates and cycle threshold (Ct) values in the asymptomatic arm of our programme, which now offers weekly screening to all staff.Vaccination of HCWs at CUHNFT began on 8th December 2020, with mass vaccination from 8th January 2021. Here, we analyse data from the two weeks spanning 18thto 31st January 2021, during which: (a) the prevalence of COVID-19 amongst HCWs remained approximately constant; and (b) we screened comparable numbers of vaccinated and unvaccinated HCWs. Over this period, 4,408 (week 1) and 4,411 (week 2) PCR tests were performed from individuals reporting well to work. We stratified HCWs <12 days or > 12 days post-vaccination because this was the point at which protection against symptomatic infection began to appear in phase III clinical trial.226/3,252 (0·80%) tests from unvaccinated HCWs were positive (Ct<36), compared to 13/3,535 (0·37%) from HCWs <12 days post-vaccination and 4/1,989 (0·20%) tests from HCWs ≥12 days post-vaccination (p=0·023 and p=0·004, respectively; Fisher’s exact test, Figure). This suggests a four-fold decrease in the risk of asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infection amongst HCWs ≥12 days post-vaccination, compared to unvaccinated HCWs, with an intermediate effect amongst HCWs <12 days post-vaccination.A marked reduction in infections was also seen when analyses were repeated with: (a) inclusion of HCWs testing positive through both the symptomatic and asymptomatic arms of the programme (56/3,282 (1·71%) unvaccinated vs 8/1,997 (0·40%) ≥12 days post-vaccination, 4·3-fold reduction, p=0·00001); (b) inclusion of PCR tests which were positive at the limit of detection (Ct>36, 42/3,268 (1·29%) vs 15/2,000 (0·75%), 1·7-fold reduction, p=0·075); and (c) extension of the period of analysis to include six weeks from December 28th to February 7th 2021 (113/14,083 (0·80%) vs 5/4,872 (0·10%), 7·8-fold reduction, p=1x10-9). In addition, the median Ct value of positive tests showed a non-significant trend towards increase between unvaccinated HCWs and HCWs > 12 days post-vaccination (23·3 to 30·3, Figure), suggesting that samples from vaccinated individuals had lower viral loads.We therefore provide real-world evidence for a high level of protection against asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infection after a single dose of BNT162b2 vaccine, at a time of predominant transmission of the UK COVID-19 variant of concern 202012/01 (lineage B.1.1.7), and amongst a population with a relatively low frequency of prior infection (7.2% antibody positive).5This work was funded by a Wellcome Senior Clinical Research Fellowship to MPW (108070/Z/15/Z), a Wellcome Principal Research Fellowship to PJL (210688/Z/18/Z), and an MRC Clinician Scientist Fellowship (MR/P008801/1) and NHSBT workpackage (WPA15-02) to NJM. Funding was also received from Addenbrooke’s Charitable Trust and the Cambridge Biomedical Research Centre. We also acknowledge contributions from all staff at CUHNFT Occupational Health and Wellbeing and the Cambridge COVID-19 Testing Centre.

Guangming Wang

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Tam Hunt

and 1 more

Tam Hunt [1], Jonathan SchoolerUniversity of California Santa Barbara Synchronization, harmonization, vibrations, or simply resonance in its most general sense seems to have an integral relationship with consciousness itself. One of the possible “neural correlates of consciousness” in mammalian brains is a combination of gamma, beta and theta synchrony. More broadly, we see similar kinds of resonance patterns in living and non-living structures of many types. What clues can resonance provide about the nature of consciousness more generally? This paper provides an overview of resonating structures in the fields of neuroscience, biology and physics and attempts to coalesce these data into a solution to what we see as the “easy part” of the Hard Problem, which is generally known as the “combination problem” or the “binding problem.” The combination problem asks: how do micro-conscious entities combine into a higher-level macro-consciousness? The proposed solution in the context of mammalian consciousness suggests that a shared resonance is what allows different parts of the brain to achieve a phase transition in the speed and bandwidth of information flows between the constituent parts. This phase transition allows for richer varieties of consciousness to arise, with the character and content of that consciousness in each moment determined by the particular set of constituent neurons. We also offer more general insights into the ontology of consciousness and suggest that consciousness manifests as a relatively smooth continuum of increasing richness in all physical processes, distinguishing our view from emergentist materialism. We refer to this approach as a (general) resonance theory of consciousness and offer some responses to Chalmers’ questions about the different kinds of “combination problem.”  At the heart of the universe is a steady, insistent beat: the sound of cycles in sync…. [T]hese feats of synchrony occur spontaneously, almost as if nature has an eerie yearning for order. Steven Strogatz, Sync: How Order Emerges From Chaos in the Universe, Nature and Daily Life (2003) If you want to find the secrets of the universe, think in terms of energy, frequency and vibration.Nikola Tesla (1942) I.               Introduction Is there an “easy part” and a “hard part” to the Hard Problem of consciousness? In this paper, we suggest that there is. The harder part is arriving at a philosophical position with respect to the relationship of matter and mind. This paper is about the “easy part” of the Hard Problem but we address the “hard part” briefly in this introduction.  We have both arrived, after much deliberation, at the position of panpsychism or panexperientialism (all matter has at least some associated mind/experience and vice versa). This is the view that all things and processes have both mental and physical aspects. Matter and mind are two sides of the same coin.  Panpsychism is one of many possible approaches that addresses the “hard part” of the Hard Problem. We adopt this position for all the reasons various authors have listed (Chalmers 1996, Griffin 1997, Hunt 2011, Goff 2017). This first step is particularly powerful if we adopt the Whiteheadian version of panpsychism (Whitehead 1929).  Reaching a position on this fundamental question of how mind relates to matter must be based on a “weight of plausibility” approach, rather than on definitive evidence, because establishing definitive evidence with respect to the presence of mind/experience is difficult. We must generally rely on examining various “behavioral correlates of consciousness” in judging whether entities other than ourselves are conscious – even with respect to other humans—since the only consciousness we can know with certainty is our own. Positing that matter and mind are two sides of the same coin explains the problem of consciousness insofar as it avoids the problems of emergence because under this approach consciousness doesn’t emerge. Consciousness is, rather, always present, at some level, even in the simplest of processes, but it “complexifies” as matter complexifies, and vice versa. Consciousness starts very simple and becomes more complex and rich under the right conditions, which in our proposed framework rely on resonance mechanisms. Matter and mind are two sides of the coin. Neither is primary; they are coequal.  We acknowledge the challenges of adopting this perspective, but encourage readers to consider the many compelling reasons to consider it that are reviewed elsewhere (Chalmers 1996, Griffin 1998, Hunt 2011, Goff 2017, Schooler, Schooler, & Hunt, 2011; Schooler, 2015).  Taking a position on the overarching ontology is the first step in addressing the Hard Problem. But this leads to the related questions: at what level of organization does consciousness reside in any particular process? Is a rock conscious? A chair? An ant? A bacterium? Or are only the smaller constituents, such as atoms or molecules, of these entities conscious? And if there is some degree of consciousness even in atoms and molecules, as panpsychism suggests (albeit of a very rudimentary nature, an important point to remember), how do these micro-conscious entities combine into the higher-level and obvious consciousness we witness in entities like humans and other mammals?  This set of questions is known as the “combination problem,” another now-classic problem in the philosophy of mind, and is what we describe here as the “easy part” of the Hard Problem. Our characterization of this part of the problem as “easy”[2] is, of course, more than a little tongue in cheek. The authors have discussed frequently with each other what part of the Hard Problem should be labeled the easier part and which the harder part. Regardless of the labels we choose, however, this paper focuses on our suggested solution to the combination problem.  Various solutions to the combination problem have been proposed but none have gained widespread acceptance. This paper further elaborates a proposed solution to the combination problem that we first described in Hunt 2011 and Schooler, Hunt, and Schooler 2011. The proposed solution rests on the idea of resonance, a shared vibratory frequency, which can also be called synchrony or field coherence. We will generally use resonance and “sync,” short for synchrony, interchangeably in this paper. We describe the approach as a general resonance theory of consciousness or just “general resonance theory” (GRT). GRT is a field theory of consciousness wherein the various specific fields associated with matter and energy are the seat of conscious awareness.  A summary of our approach appears in Appendix 1.  All things in our universe are constantly in motion, in process. Even objects that appear to be stationary are in fact vibrating, oscillating, resonating, at specific frequencies. So all things are actually processes. Resonance is a specific type of motion, characterized by synchronized oscillation between two states.  An interesting phenomenon occurs when different vibrating processes come into proximity: they will often start vibrating together at the same frequency. They “sync up,” sometimes in ways that can seem mysterious, and allow for richer and faster information and energy flows (Figure 1 offers a schematic). Examining this phenomenon leads to potentially deep insights about the nature of consciousness in both the human/mammalian context but also at a deeper ontological level.

Susanne Schilling*^

and 9 more

Jessica mead

and 6 more

The construct of wellbeing has been criticised as a neoliberal construction of western individualism that ignores wider systemic issues including increasing burden of chronic disease, widening inequality, concerns over environmental degradation and anthropogenic climate change. While these criticisms overlook recent developments, there remains a need for biopsychosocial models that extend theoretical grounding beyond individual wellbeing, incorporating overlapping contextual issues relating to community and environment. Our first GENIAL model \cite{Kemp_2017} provided a more expansive view of pathways to longevity in the context of individual health and wellbeing, emphasising bidirectional links to positive social ties and the impact of sociocultural factors. In this paper, we build on these ideas and propose GENIAL 2.0, focusing on intersecting individual-community-environmental contributions to health and wellbeing, and laying an evidence-based, theoretical framework on which future research and innovative therapeutic innovations could be based. We suggest that our transdisciplinary model of wellbeing - focusing on individual, community and environmental contributions to personal wellbeing - will help to move the research field forward. In reconceptualising wellbeing, GENIAL 2.0 bridges the gap between psychological science and population health health systems, and presents opportunities for enhancing the health and wellbeing of people living with chronic conditions. Implications for future generations including the very survival of our species are discussed.  

Mark Ferris

and 14 more

IntroductionConsistent with World Health Organization (WHO) advice [1], UK Infection Protection Control guidance recommends that healthcare workers (HCWs) caring for patients with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) should use fluid resistant surgical masks type IIR (FRSMs) as respiratory protective equipment (RPE), unless aerosol generating procedures (AGPs) are being undertaken or are likely, when a filtering face piece 3 (FFP3) respirator should be used [2]. In a recent update, an FFP3 respirator is recommended if “an unacceptable risk of transmission remains following rigorous application of the hierarchy of control” [3]. Conversely, guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that HCWs caring for patients with COVID-19 should use an N95 or higher level respirator [4]. WHO guidance suggests that a respirator, such as FFP3, may be used for HCWs in the absence of AGPs if availability or cost is not an issue [1].A recent systematic review undertaken for PHE concluded that: “patients with SARS-CoV-2 infection who are breathing, talking or coughing generate both respiratory droplets and aerosols, but FRSM (and where required, eye protection) are considered to provide adequate staff protection” [5]. Nevertheless, FFP3 respirators are more effective in preventing aerosol transmission than FRSMs, and observational data suggests that they may improve protection for HCWs [6]. It has therefore been suggested that respirators should be considered as a means of affording the best available protection [7], and some organisations have decided to provide FFP3 (or equivalent) respirators to HCWs caring for COVID-19 patients, despite a lack of mandate from local or national guidelines [8].Data from the HCW testing programme at Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (CUHNFT) during the first wave of the UK severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) pandemic indicated a higher incidence of infection amongst HCWs caring for patients with COVID-19, compared with those who did not [9]. Subsequent studies have confirmed this observation [10, 11]. This disparity persisted at CUHNFT in December 2020, despite control measures consistent with PHE guidance and audits indicating good compliance. The CUHNFT infection control committee therefore implemented a change of RPE for staff on “red” (COVID-19) wards from FRSMs to FFP3 respirators. In this study, we analyse the incidence of SARS-CoV-2 infection in HCWs before and after this transition.

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Colin Simon

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Recent research has indicated that the relationship between age-related cognitive decline and falling may be mediated by the individual’s capacity to quickly cancel or inhibit a motor response. This longitudinal investigation demonstrates that higher white matter fibre density in the motor inhibition network paired with low physical activity was associated with falling in elderly participants. We measured the density of white matter fibre tracts connecting key nodes in the inhibitory control network in a large sample (n=414) of older adults. We modelled their self-reported frequency of falling over a four year period with white matter fibre density in pathways corresponding to the direct and hyperdirect cortical-subcortical loops implicated in the inhibitory control network. Only connectivity between right Inferior Frontal Gyrus and right Subthalamic Nucleus was associated with falling as measured cross-sectionally. The connectivity was not, however, predictive of future falling when measured two and four years later. Higher white matter fibre density was associated with falling, but only in combination with low levels of physical activity. No such relationship existed for selected control brain regions that are not implicated in the inhibitory control network. The direction of this effect was counterintuitive and warrants further longitudinal investigation into whether white matter fibre density changes over time in a manner correlated with falling, and mediated by physical activity.

An Boudewyns

and 7 more

Background: Diagnosis and treatment of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) in infants and young children is challenging because of its clinical heterogeneity and lack of age-specific guidelines. Aim: We report the management and treatment outcome of OSA in children below two years of age. Treatment decisions were based upon the pattern of upper airway (UA) obstruction, clinical presentation and OSA severity. Methods: Retrospective, non-randomized observational cohort study at a tertiary center. Children with OSA who underwent an UA evaluation (drug-induced sleep endoscopy or direct laryngoscopy) were included. Results: The study population comprised 100 patients, 57 boys and 43 girls, with a median age of 0.72 years (range 0.0-2.0) and OSA confirmed by polysomnography. Multilevel UA collapse was present in 26%, (adeno)tonsillar hypertrophy in 31% and 21% had laryngomalacia. Laryngomalacia was more common in children below six months of age and adenotonsillar hypertrophy was observed mainly in children older than 1.5 year of age. Treatment improved OSA severity in the entire study population with a significant reduction in obstructive apnea/hypopnea index from 10.8/h (range 2.1-99.1) to 1.7/h (range 0.0-73.0) (p<0.001), an improvement in mean oxygen saturation from 96.9% (range 88.9-98.4) to 97.4% (range 92.3-99.0) (p<0.001) and in minimal oxygen saturation from 85.4% (range 37.0-96.0) to 88.8% (range 51.0-95.5) (p<0.001). Conclusion: Multidisciplinary management of young children with OSA guided by the pattern of UA obstruction and OSA severity, results in favorable treatment outcomes. The pattern of UA obstruction changes in the first two years of life from a dynamic collapse to structural abnormalities.

Arianna Polverino

and 7 more

Although the etio-pathogenesis of inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) is not entirely clear, the interaction between genetic and adverse environmental factors may reduce the variety of the intestinal microbiota (dysbiosis), resulting in a chronic inflammation having effects on the large-scale brain network through the gut-brain axis. In this paper, we hypothesized the presence of inflammation-related changes in brain topology of IBD patients, regardless of the specific clinical form (ulcerative colitis (UC) or Crohn’s disease (CD)). To test this hypothesis, we analyzed source-reconstructed magnetoencephalography (MEG) signals in 25 IBD patients and 28 healthy controls (HC) in resting-state condition, and evaluated the brain network topology. Finally, to assess whether these changes were linked to IBD clinical evolution, we correlated brain topology to disease duration. We found that the betweenness centrality (BC) of the left hippocampus was higher in patients as compared to controls, in the gamma frequency band. BC is a nodal topological parameter indicating how much a brain region is involved in the flow of information through the brain network. Furthermore, the comparison among UC, CD and HC showed statistically significant differences between UC and HC and between CD and HC, but not between the two clinical forms. Our results demonstrated that the topological changes observed in IBD patients were not dependent on the specific clinical form, but due to the gastro-intestinal inflammatory process itself. However, although these findings are promising, we need to enlarge the sample size to monitor the brain involvement in IBD and to clarify the clinical impact.

Wei Jie Tao

and 5 more

Objective: In this article, we review the clinical data of a case involving chemotherapy-induced bone marrow suppression complicated by pyogenic liver abscess, leading to endogenous endophthalmitis (EE). By consulting the relevant literature, we comprehensively analyse and summarise the information, ultimately offering diagnostic and therapeutic insights for similar cases. Methods: This article presents the case of a 65-year-old female patient with breast cancer who developed bone marrow suppression during postoperative chemotherapy. Imaging examinations revealed the presence of a pyogenic liver abscess, and the patient subsequently experienced visual impairment. Following a thorough examination, the diagnosis indicated secondary EE resulting from a pyogenic liver abscess caused by Klebsiella pneumoniae. Upon hospitalisation, the patient underwent treatment with granulocyte colony-stimulating factor (G-CSF) to stimulate bone marrow haematopoiesis and she also received comprehensive systemic anti-infective therapy. Additionally, a pyogenic liver abscess drainage procedure was performed, coupled with intravitreal injection of antibiotics into the vitreous cavity of the affected eye. Results: After comprehensive systemic and local treatments, the patient’s laboratory parameters normalised. The volume of the pyogenic liver abscess reduced noticeably, allowing for the removal of the drainage tube. At the time of discharge, there was a reduction in intraocular inflammation. Nevertheless, complete loss of vision persisted in the affected eye. Conclusion: In patients with bone marrow suppression following chemotherapy, it is crucial to conduct liver imaging examinations to promptly exclude the possibility of bacterial pyogenic liver abscess. To prevent serious complications such as EE leading to blindness, timely pyogenic liver abscess drainage procedures must be performed. Administering antibiotics empirically for comprehensive systemic anti-infective therapy, along with localised ocular treatment, is also essential. This approach preserves vision as much as possible and enhances the overall prognosis for patients

Sunday Sobowale

and 2 more

This study investigated the effect of fermentation durations on the acha flour and resultant cookies. The acha sample was fermented at 24, 48 and 72 h, while the native acha flour served as the control sample. The functional, pasting, nutritional and micro-structural properties of the fermented acha flour and sensory evaluation of the cookies were examined. The results indicate significant differences (p<0.05) in the functional and pasting properties of the flour and cookies samples. An increase in fermentation duration enhances oil absorption capacity and dispersibility of the samples. The protein and ash content of the acha flour samples increased. The mineral element showed significant difference (p<0.05) in the calcium, sodium, and zinc content. The Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectra increase the band intensities. The peaks occurred in the range 3860 - 3650 cm -1. The X-ray diffraction (XRD) pattern revealed a slight increase in the crystallinity of the fermented flour samples. The flour samples exhibited an A-type XRD pattern while the cookies samples had V-type XRD pattern. Scanning electron microscopy (SEM) revealed that fermentation modified the microstructure of the flour, causing it to change from an irregular compact granular to a regular loose structure. Cookies samples produced from native and fermented acha flour were acceptable by the panelist. Therefore, cookies with improved nutritional and acceptable sensory properties were produced from native and acha flour fermented between 24 and 72 h. This suggests that fermented acha flour holds promise for various food applications, including complementary foods, and gel formulations with reduced syneresis.
INTRODUCTIONCompelling evidence shows that biodiversity enhances essential ecosystem functions, such as productivity and decomposition rates (Loreau & Hector 2001; Hooper et al., 2005; Cardinale et al., 2012). One primary underlying reason may be that individual species or groups of species in different functional groups may have dissimilar niches (niche complementarity effects ) which allow diverse communities to maximize resource utilization and minimize competition (Cardinale et al., 2011; Zuppinger-Dingley et al., 2014). In theory, such niche differences include temporal variation in biological activity (Ebeling et al., 2014), and species in a community can adjust the timing of their biological activity in such a way that they cover the longest possible time and/or use the resources from the largest possible space in the habitat. If phenological niche differences are high enough, they can affect the shape of the phenology at the community level. For instance, if a plant community is composed of species that grow in early spring, the aboveground growing season will be extended, compared with a community lacking those species (Ebeling et al., 2014; Rudolf, 2019). Therefore, species and functional group diversity can affect the timing of community-level productivity (i.e. community phenology) via temporal niche differentiation and/or increasing the probability of species with those traits to occur in the community (selection effect ) (Loreau & Hector 2001). However, variation in phenology is primarily monitored at the species rather than community level. Moreover, phenological variation is typically attributed to changes in climate drivers, such as temperature and water supply (Wright and van Schaik 1994; Staggemeier et al., 2018), and has rarely been quantified as a response to changes in biodiversity (but see Wolf et al., 2017 and Guimarães-Steinike et al., 2019).Most ecosystem processes are soil-related or even soil-dependent (Bardgett & van der Putten, 2014; Soliveres et al., 2016; Schuldt et al., 2018). However, phenology tends to be monitored on easily observed aboveground response variables, and evidence describing soil phenology is mostly lacking (Bonato Asato et al., 2023). This knowledge gap leads to uncertainty about how well soil properties and belowground processes (i.e. root growth and activity of soil organisms) are predicted by aboveground phenological strategies (Eisenhauer, 2012; Blume-Werry et al., 2015; Eisenhauer et al., 2018). Because shoots and roots are interdependent, tight synchrony of their responses to environmental drivers is often expected (Iversen et al., 2015; but see Blume-Werry et al., 2016). However, the role of biotic and abiotic constraints on this synchrony seems to vary significantly among ecosystems and plant types, ultimately affecting which organs grow first, faster, or remain active and alive longer. Moreover, plant (roots and shoots) processes are often assumed to indicate ecosystem functions driven by the activity of organisms at adjacent trophic levels, such as soil fauna, but this may not necessarily be the case. Hot moments (within-year events inducing high activity) in soil organism activity depend, in part, on inputs from root exudates or pulses of detrital inputs from senescent roots (Kuzyakov & Blagodatskaya 2015). However, the limited evidence from the field does not always confirm plant-activity-based assumptions. For example, phenological monitoring of detritivore feeding activity during the growing season in oaks has shown both a negative and no correlation between feeding activity and oak branch production (Eisenhauer et al., 2018). In an experimental grassland, feeding activity rates decreased during the summer, when plant growth is usually high (Siebert et al., 2019; Sünnemann et al., 2021). Evidence suggests that investments in shoot and root production are commonly not synchronous (e.g. Steinaker & Wilson 2008; Steinaker et al. 2010; Sloan et al. 2016; Blume-Werry et al. 2016), as well as the dynamics of soil organisms (Bonato Asato et al., 2023; Eisenhauer et al., 2018). However, we lack experimental evidence demonstrating whether changes in biodiversity may influence the predictability and synchronization of the dynamics above and below the ground.Presently, two predominant conceptual frameworks delineate the interplay between biodiversity and the synchronization of ecosystem functions. On the one hand, ecosystem stability theory suggests that increasing biodiversity increases temporal asynchrony among populations and functions, which would be one of the primary mechanisms for positive diversity-stability relationships (Cardinale et al., 2013; Loreau & de Mazancourt 2013). In other words, temporal asynchrony is needed for a healthy (stable) ecosystem functioning. On the other hand, ecosystem coupling, as defined by Ochoa-Hueso et al. (2021) as ”the orderly connections between the biotic and abiotic components of ecosystems across spaces and/or time”, suggests the opposite: for more efficiently process, cycle, and transfer of energy and matter, a higher temporal coupling of populations and functions is needed. Under this point of view, temporal synchrony is required for more efficient ecosystem functioning, and monitoring the dynamics of one function or population can be used as an indicator of activity in the other. In both cases, disruptions such as biodiversity change, may affect key aboveground or belowground processes, leading to acceleration or delay of community phenology and desynchronization of ecosystem functions. Despite the potential importance of aboveground-belowground phenological synchrony, the current lack of studies concurrently monitoring shoot, root, and soil fauna dynamics has impeded a thorough understanding of the mechanisms by which changes in biological diversity may influence the responses of these affiliated processes.Here, we examine how experimentally manipulated plant diversity influences the phenological patterns of shoot, root, and soil fauna dynamics (responses). In the framework of a long-term grassland biodiversity experiment (the Jena Experiment; Roscher et al. 2014; Weisser et al. 2017), using well-established methods (LiDAR, phenological cameras, minirhizotrons, bait-lamina strips), we measure ecosystem response variables that are often used to evaluate aboveground-belowground ecosystem functioning and biological activity in annual plant communities (e.g. plant community height, greenness, root production, and detritivore feeding activity) every two to three weeks over four seasons (one full year). We used these data to calculate yearly values for each response variable, phenological patterns, and synchrony between response variables. With this approach, we ask the following questions:1) How does plant diversity affect the yearly accumulated values of aboveground plant traits and belowground activity? We expect that increasing plant diversity throughout the year enhances all response variables (Weisser et al. 2017; Mommer et al., 2015; Eisenhauer et al., 2010).2) Does plant diversity affect intra-annual aboveground and belowground phenological patterns? We predict that plant community shoot dynamics will be concentrated in spring and summer, as usual in temperate regions. Root production should last longer than that of shoots, as found in other studies (Steinaker & Wilson 2008; Blume-Werry et al. 2016), even though it is not clear if this longer activity is driven by an earlier start of the production, a later end, or both. For detritivore feeding activity, we expect a peak in early spring due to high moisture and increased temperature and another peak in autumn, driven by the increased availability of resources by above- and belowground plant-derived inputs and high moisture.3) Do changes in plant diversity affect the synchrony of shoot, root, or soil organism dynamics? We expect plant species richness and functional group richness to enhance aboveground-belowground activity, which could lead to either more or less synchronized patterns. If plant diversity drives enhanced functioning at different time points (e.g. advances plant growth and delays root senescence), we could see a negative diversity effect on synchrony.4) Does the time of year influence the strength/direction/predictability of relationships between aboveground-belowground response variables? Because plant shoots are only active for a restricted period, we expect plant diversity effects to be most pronounced during the growing season (Guimarães-Steinike et al., 2019), while abiotic constraints might mostly drive belowground dynamics out of the growing season.
Aim: To investigate the prevalence of depressive symptoms among adults living in the UAE during the COVID-19 pandemic. Methods: This cross-sectional study used a self-administered anonymous online questionnaire distributed in both Arabic and English via social media platforms. A total of 261 adults living in the UAE were included in the study. Patients clinically diagnosed with depression were excluded from this study. Results: Overall, the prevalence of depression among our studied population was 63%. Several parameters were correlated with depression to assess their associations. A lower household income was found to be linked to a greater likelihood of developing depression, as 74.6% of depressed subjects had an income lower than 20,000 Dhs (p=0.003). Age also had a significant correlation[]( CI, p=0.003) with depression, and those in the younger age group (18-25 years) had a greater prevalence of depression than did those in the older age group. Difficulty performing daily activities, restless sleep, feeling lonely, feeling sad, feeling inadequate, and losing hope were the most commonly reported symptoms in depressed subjects. A total of 78.21% of our participants did not know about hotlines when they were depressed; however, this difference was not statistically significant (95% CI, p=0.178). Conclusions: Depression was prevalent in 63% of our participants. A lower household income and younger age were associated with a greater risk of depression. We believe that our findings will encourage institutions and government authorities to implement awareness programs about depression awareness and screening for depression.

Sandra Marman

and 1 more

This study investigates grapheme encoding in Croatian as a second language among Farsi speakers after twenty hours of learning. Three phases of encoding tasks were administered: 1) dictation of individual phonemes, 2) dictation of words beginning with those phonemes, and 3) dictation of simple sentences with words from the previous phase. Respondents used "-" to denote unencoded items. Eleven Afghan respondents at the beginner level (A1 according to CEFRL), aged 18 to 63, were sampled conveniently. The study aims to assess: a) accuracy in encoding individual graphemes and words, b) problematic graphemes, and c) accuracy in encoding complete words. The results will illuminate initial decoding specifics for this group, confronting the added complexity of differing graphic systems between L1 and L2. Furthermore, implications for Croatian orthography acquisition as L2 will be discussed. Analysis of encoding by Farsi-speaking Croatian learners showed overall success with sentences but difficulty with individual graphemes, possibly due to reliance on lexical rather than phonological knowledge. Notably, struggles were observed with "nj," unlike with "c" as seen previously. This might be because "nj" is less common in Croatian, especially early on. Transfer errors from Farsi, like omitting short vowels, were evident. Instruction for Farsi learners should focus on specific grapheme errors such as "nj," "ć," "dž," and "đ," as well as consonant clusters and short vowel encoding in Croatian.

Eben Gering

and 7 more

Recent work indicates that feralisation is not a simple reversal of domestication, and therefore raises questions about the predictability of evolution across replicated feral populations. In the present study we compare genes and traits of two independently established feral populations of chickens (G. gallus) that inhabit archipelagos within the Pacific and Atlantic regions to test for evolutionary parallelism and/or divergence. We find that these two feral populations share close genetic similarities despite the lack of any current gene flow between them. Next, we used genome scans to contrast the targets of feralisation (selective sweeps) between the two independently feral populations from Bermuda and Hawaii. Three sweep loci (each identified by multiple detection methods) were shared between feral populations, and this overlap is inconsistent with a null model in which selection targets are randomly distributed throughout the genome. In the case of the Bermudian population, many of the genes present within the selective sweeps were either not annotated or of unknown function. Of the nine genes that were identifiable, five were related to behaviour, with the remaining genes involved in bone metabolism, eye development, and the immune system. Our findings suggest that a subset of feralisation loci (i.e. genomic targets of recent selection in feral populations) are shared across independently-established populations, raising the possibility that feralisation involves some degree of parallelism or convergence. A clearer understanding of whether these reflect selection for similar functional traits (‘feralisation syndromes’) will require elucidating genotype-phenotype relationships in any populations being compared.

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Karma Norbu

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Introduction: Scrub typhus is a neglected life threatening acute febrile illness caused by bacteria Orientia tsutsugamushi and it is a vector-borne zoonotic disease. In 2009, scrub typhus outbreak at Gedu has awakened Bhutan on the awareness and testing of the disease.Information and data of the study highlights the need for in depth surveillance, awareness among prescribers and initiate preventive measures in the country. Methods: We used retrospective descriptive study through review of laboratory registers across three health centres in Zhemgang district, south central Bhutan. The laboratories registers have been transcribed into CSV file using Microsoft excel. Variables of interest were collected from the registers and then analysed using open statistical software R, (R Core Team (2020). R: A language and environment for statistical computing. R Foundation for Statistical Computing, Vienna, Austria.) And use of mStats package, (MyoMinnOo (2020). mStats: Epidemiological DataAnalysis. R package version 3.4.0.) Results: Of the total 922 tests prescribed for suspected scrub typhus in the three health centers in Zhemgang, only 8.2 % (n=76) were tested positive. Of these, Panbang Hospital had highest reported positive for scrub typhus with 56.6 %( n=43) followed by Yebilaptsa Hospital 35.5 %( n=27) and Zhemgang Hospital with 7.9 %( n=6). The female gender is comparably more affected as opposed to male with 57.9% (n=44) of the positive cases being female. The prevalence of scrub typhus seems to be affected by the seasonal variation as the months of Spring, Summer and Autumn together accounts for 98.7%(n=75) of total positive cases. The year 2019 noted significant scrub typhus cases accounting to 89.5 %(n=68) of the total positive cases over the two years. Conclusions:The overall tests tested positive of the scrub typhus infection within two years was 8.2%.

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