Recent Submissions

  • Constructing robust and highly-selective hydrogel membranes by bioadhesion-inspired method for CO 2 separation

    Wu, Yingzhen; Zhou, Tiantian; Wu, Hong; Fu, Weixian; Wang, Xinru; Wang, Shaofei; Yang, Leixin; Wu, Xingyu; Ren, Yanxiong; Jiang, Zhongyi; Wang, Baoyi (Elsevier BV, 2018-06-01)
    Water-swollen hydrogel membranes are good candidates for CO2 separations due to the favorable solubility of CO2 in water. However, the excessive amount of water often causes the poor mechanical property and low selectivity. Herein, we propose a bioadhesion-inspired method to construct robust and high-performance CO2 separation membranes via in situ generation of polydopamine (PDA) nanoaggregates within poly (vinyl alcohol) (PVA) matrix. PDA nanoaggregates entangled with PVA chains and formed hydrogen bonding with hydroxyl groups from PVA chains. Physical cross-linking occurred between PVA chains and PDA nanoaggregates. Compared with the PVA membrane, the PVA-PDA hybrid membrane with the dopamine content of 0.5mol% exhibited a 1.7-fold increase in tensile strength and a 2.2-fold increase in the tensile modulus. The membranes were used for CO2/CH4 separation. The physical cross-linking resulted in a PVA chain rigidification region around PDA nanoaggregates, which hindered the penetration of larger-size gas molecules and thus enhancing the CO2/CH4 selectivity. Moreover, the abundant amine groups from PDA nanoaggregates could facilitate CO2 transport. The optimized hybrid hydrogel membrane exhibited CO2/CH4 selectivity of 43.2, which was 43.85% higher than that of the PVA membrane. The bioadhesion-inspired method opens up new opportunities to exploit the potential application of hydrogel membranes.
  • Species delineation and hybrid identification using diagnostic nuclear markers for Plectropomus leopardus and Plectropomus maculatus

    He, Song; Harrison, Hugo B.; Berumen, Michael L. (Elsevier BV, 2018-06-01)
    Diagnostic molecular markers are an essential tool in the study of species’ ecology and evolution, particularly in closely related and sympatric species. Furthermore, the increasing awareness of wild-hybrids has led to a renewed interest in rapid diagnostic assays. Here, we test the ability of two mitochondrial (Cytb and COI) and two nuclear markers (ETS2 and TMO-4c4) to confidently discriminate purebred P. leopardus and P. maculatus and their first-generation hybrids. A sample of 48 purebred individuals and 91 interspecific hybrids were used in this study and their delineation confirmed using a set of microsatellite markers. Our results indicate mitochondrial markers could not distinguish even between species but both nuclear markers confidently identified species and first-generation hybrids. However, later-generation hybrids could not always be confidently identified due to on-going introgression between species. Our findings provide a robust tool to distinguish purebred individuals and interspecific hybrids in a pair of species with an unexpectedly high incidence of hybridization. The quick species discrimination abilities provided by these diagnostic markers are important for stock assessment and recruitment studies of these important fishery species.
  • Bacterial polyextremotolerant bioemulsifiers from arid soils improve water retention capacity and humidity uptake in sandy soil

    Raddadi, Noura; Giacomucci, Lucia; Marasco, Ramona; Daffonchio, Daniele; Cherif, Ameur; Fava, Fabio (Springer Nature, 2018-05-31)
    Water stress is a critical issue for plant growth in arid sandy soils. Here, we aimed to select bacteria producing polyextremotolerant surface-active compounds capable of improving water retention and humidity uptake in sandy soils.From Tunisian desert and saline systems, we selected eleven isolates able to highly emulsify different organic solvents. The bioemulsifying activities were stable with 30% NaCl, at 4 and 120 °C and in a pH range 4-12. Applications to a sandy soil of the partially purified surface-active compounds improved soil water retention up to 314.3% compared to untreated soil. Similarly, after 36 h of incubation, the humidity uptake rate of treated sandy soil was up to 607.7% higher than untreated controls.Overall, results revealed that polyextremotolerant bioemulsifiers of bacteria from arid and desert soils represent potential sources to develop new natural soil-wetting agents for improving water retention in arid soils.
  • The Arabidopsis homolog of human G3BP1 is a key regulator of stomatal and apoplastic immunity

    Abulfaraj, Aala A.; Mariappan, Kiruthiga; Bigeard, Jean; Manickam, Prabhu; Blilou, Ikram; Guo, Xiujie; Al-Babili, Salim; Pflieger, Delphine; Hirt, Heribert; Rayapuram, Naganand (Life Science Alliance, LLC, 2018-05-31)
    Mammalian Ras-GTPase–activating protein SH3-domain–binding proteins (G3BPs) are a highly conserved family of RNA-binding proteins that link kinase receptor-mediated signaling to RNA metabolism. Mammalian G3BP1 is a multifunctional protein that functions in viral immunity. Here, we show that the Arabidopsis thaliana homolog of human G3BP1 negatively regulates plant immunity. Arabidopsis g3bp1 mutants showed enhanced resistance to the virulent bacterial pathogen Pseudomonas syringae pv. tomato. Pathogen resistance was mediated in Atg3bp1 mutants by altered stomatal and apoplastic immunity. Atg3bp1 mutants restricted pathogen entry into stomates showing insensitivity to bacterial coronatine–mediated stomatal reopening. AtG3BP1 was identified as a negative regulator of defense responses, which correlated with moderate up-regulation of salicylic acid biosynthesis and signaling without growth penalty.
  • Towards informed metrics for examining the role of human-induced animal responses in tag studies on wild animals

    Wilson, Rory P.; Holton, Mark; Wilson, Vianney L.; Gunner, Richard; Tysse, Brenda; Wilson, Gwendoline I; Quintana, Flavio; Duarte, Carlos M.; Scantlebury, D. Michael (Wiley, 2018-05-31)
    Two prime issues can detrimentally affect animals that have been equipped with tags; (i) the effect of the capture and restraint process and (ii) the effect of the tag itself. This work examines some of the issues surrounding quantification of tag effects on wild animals for both restrained and free-living animals. A new method to quantify stress effects based on monitoring ventilation rates in relation to activity is suggested for restrained animals which may help improve the practice of handling animals. It is also suggested that various metrics, many derived from accelerometers, can be examined in tagged wild animals to examine the change in behaviours over time with a view to having a better understanding of welfare issues, assuring the quality of recorded data and informing best practice. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
  • Candidate enzymes for saffron crocin biosynthesis are localized in multiple cellular compartments

    Demurtas, Olivia Costantina; Frusciante, Sarah; Ferrante, Paola; Diretto, Gianfranco; Azad, Noraddin Hosseinpour; Pietrella, Marco; Aprea, Giuseppe; Taddei, Anna Rita; Romano, Elena; Mi, Jianing; Al-Babili, Salim; Frigerio, Lorenzo; Giuliano, Giovanni (American Society of Plant Biologists (ASPB), 2018-05-29)
    Saffron is composed of the dried stigmas of Crocus sativus and is the most expensive spice on Earth. Its red color is due to the apocarotenoid glycosides, crocins, which accumulate in the vacuole and reach up to 10% of the stigma dry weight. We have previously characterized the first dedicated enzyme in crocin biosynthesis, CsCCD2, which cleaves zeaxanthin to yield crocetin dialdehyde. In this work, we identified six putative aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH) transcripts expressed in saffron stigmas. When expressed in E. coli, only one of corresponding proteins (CsALDH3I1), was able to convert crocetin dialdehyde into the crocin precursor, crocetin. CsALDH3I1 carries a C-terminal hydrophobic domain, similar to that of a Neurospora membrane-associated apocarotenoid dehydrogenase, YLO-1. We also characterized a UDP-glycosyltransferase enzyme, CsUGT74AD1, able to convert crocetin to crocins 1 and 2'. In vitro assays showed high specificity of CsALDH3I1 for crocetin dialdehyde and long chain apocarotenals, and of CsUGT74AD1 for crocetin. Upon extract fractionation, the CsCCD2, CsALDH3I1 and CsUGT74AD1 enzymes partitioned in the insoluble fraction, suggesting that they are associated to membranes or to large insoluble complexes. Immunogold labeling of saffron stigmas and confocal microscopy of fusions to Green Fluorescent Protein expressed in N. benthamiana leaves revealed that CsCCD2 localizes to plastids, CsALDH3I1 to the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) and CsUGT74AD1 to the cytoplasm, in association with cytoskeletal-like structures. Based on our and on literature data, we propose that the ER and cytoplasm function as
  • Genetic Determinants Associated With in Vivo Survival of Burkholderia cenocepacia in the Caenorhabditis elegans Model

    Wong, Yee-Chin; Abd El Ghany, Moataz; Ghazzali, Raeece N. M.; Yap, Soon-Joo; Hoh, Chee-Choong; Pain, Arnab; Nathan, Sheila (Frontiers Media SA, 2018-05-29)
    A Burkholderia cenocepacia infection usually leads to reduced survival and fatal cepacia syndrome in cystic fibrosis patients. The identification of B. cenocepacia essential genes for in vivo survival is key to designing new anti-infectives therapies. We used the Transposon-Directed Insertion Sequencing (TraDIS) approach to identify genes required for B. cenocepacia survival in the model infection host, Caenorhabditis elegans. A B. cenocepacia J2315 transposon pool of ∼500,000 mutants was used to infect C. elegans. We identified 178 genes as crucial for B. cenocepacia survival in the infected nematode. The majority of these genes code for proteins of unknown function, many of which are encoded by the genomic island BcenGI13, while other gene products are involved in nutrient acquisition, general stress responses and LPS O-antigen biosynthesis. Deletion of the glycosyltransferase gene wbxB and a histone-like nucleoid structuring (H-NS) protein-encoding gene (BCAL0154) reduced bacterial accumulation and attenuated virulence in C. elegans. Further analysis using quantitative RT-PCR indicated that BCAL0154 modulates B. cenocepacia pathogenesis via transcriptional regulation of motility-associated genes including fliC, fliG, flhD, and cheB1. This screen has successfully identified genes required for B. cenocepacia survival within the host-associated environment, many of which are potential targets for developing new antimicrobials.
  • Flashed-feed VMD configuration as a novel method for eliminating temperature polarization effect and enhancing water vapor flux

    Alsaadi, Ahmad Salem; Alpatova, Alla; Lee, Jung Gil; Francis, Lijo; Ghaffour, NorEddine (Elsevier BV, 2018-05-28)
    The coupling of heat and mass transfer in membrane distillation (MD) process makes enhancing water vapor flux and determining MD membrane mass transfer coefficient (MTC) fairly challenging due to the development of temperature gradient near the membrane surface, referred to as temperature polarization (TP). As a result, the change in feed temperature at the membrane surface will be difficult to measure accurately. In this paper, the effect of TP was decoupled from the membrane MTC by preventing the liquid feed stream from contacting the membrane surface through the use of a novel custom-made vacuum MD (VMD) module design. Results showed that a temperature difference of 10°C between the feed bulk and feed temperatures at the membrane surface/interface is estimated to take place in the typical VMD configuration, while the proposed flashed-feed VMD configuration eliminates TP effect and gives a flux 3.5-fold higher (200kg/m2.hr) under similar operating conditions. Therefore, it can be concluded that heat transfer coefficient is considered to be the main factor controlling resistance of water vapor flux in the typical VMD configuration. The measured MTC of the tested commercial membrane was found to be more accurate and the highest among all reported MTCs in the MD literature (2.44×10−6kg/m2.s.Pa). Additionally, a transmembrane temperature difference of 5°C and 10°C in the novel configuration can produce water vapor fluxes of about 9kg/m2.hr and 40kg/m2.hr, respectively, at a feed temperature of 70°C, which is very attractive for scaling-up the process.
  • SiC-C Composite as A Highly Stable and Easily Regenerable Photothermal Material for Practical Water Evaporation

    Shi, Le; Shi, Yusuf; Li, Renyuan; Chang, Jian; Zaouri, Noor A.; Ahmed, Elaf Ali; Jin, Yong; Zhang, Chenlin; Zhuo, Sifei; Wang, Peng (American Chemical Society (ACS), 2018-05-26)
    Solar-driven water distillation by photothermal materials is emerging as a promising way of renewable energy-driven clean water production. In designing photothermal materials, light absorption, photo-to-thermal conversion efficiency, and ability to localize thermal energy at the water-air interface are three important considerations. However, one additional consideration, regenerability, has so far slipped out of the photothermal material designs at status quo. This work reveals that there is a fouling layer formed during photothermal evaporation of real seawater (Red Sea water) and domestic wastewater, which once formed, would be difficult to remove. Herein, we synthesize a SiC-C composite monolith as an effective photothermal material where carbon acts as photothermal component and SiC serves as a heat conductor and strong structural support. The high mechanical strength of the monolithic composite makes it able to withstand repeatedly high strength physical cleaning by brush scrubbing and sonication and the anti-carbon-loss mechanism generates zero carbon loss during the physical cleaning. In the case of the domestic wastewater evaporation, the bio- and organic foulants on the SiC-C composite monolith can be totally removed by annealing at 1000 oC in N2 atmosphere. We believe that the SiC-C composite monoliths are promising photothermal materials in practical solar-driven water evaporation applications thanks to their highly stable and easily regenerable properties and therefore more research efforts are warranted to further improve their performances.
  • Insights into Brevibacillus borstelensis AK1 through Whole Genome Sequencing: A Thermophilic Bacterium Isolated from a Hot Spring in Saudi Arabia

    Khalil, Amjad B.; Neelamegam, Sivakumar; Arslan, Muhammad; Saleem, Hamna; Alqarawi, Sami (Hindawi Limited, 2018-05-24)
    Brevibacillus borstelensis AK1 is a thermophile which grows between the temperatures of 45°C and 70°C. The present study is an extended genome report of B. borstelensis AK1 along with the morphological characterization. The strain is isolated from a hot spring in Saudi Arabia (southeast of the city Gazan). It is observed that the strain AK1 is rod-shaped, motile, and strictly aerobic bacterium. The whole genome sequence resulted in 29 contigs with a total length of 5,155,092 bp. In total, 3,946 protein-coding genes and 139 RNA genes were identified. Comparison with the previously submitted strains of B. borstelensis strains illustrates that strain AK1 has a small genome size but high GC content. The strain possesses putative genes for degradation of a wide range of substrates including polyethylene (plastic) and long-chain hydrocarbons. These genomic features may be useful for future environmental/biotechnological applications.
  • PTK2B/Pyk2 overexpression improves a mouse model of Alzheimer's disease

    Giralt, Albert; de Pins, Benoît; Cifuentes-Díaz, Carmen; López-Molina, Laura; Farah, Amel Thamila; Tible, Marion; Deramecourt, Vincent; Arold, Stefan T.; Ginés, Silvia; Hugon, Jacques; Girault, Jean-Antoine (Elsevier BV, 2018-05-24)
    Pyk2 is a Ca2+-activated non-receptor tyrosine kinase enriched in forebrain neurons and involved in synaptic regulation. Human genetic studies associated PTK2B, the gene coding Pyk2, with risk for Alzheimer's disease (AD). We previously showed that Pyk2 is important for hippocampal function, plasticity, and spine structure. However, its potential role in AD is unknown. To address this question we used human brain samples and 5XFAD mice, an amyloid mouse model of AD expressing mutated human amyloid precursor protein and presenilin1. In the hippocampus of 5XFAD mice and in human AD patients' cortex and hippocampus, Pyk2 total levels were normal. However, Pyk2 Tyr-402 phosphorylation levels, reflecting its autophosphorylation-dependent activity, were reduced in 5XFAD mice at 8 months of age but at 3 months. We crossed these mice with Pyk2−/− mice to generate 5XFAD animals devoid of Pyk2. At 8 months the phenotype of 5XFAD x Pyk2−/− double mutant mice was not different from that of 5XFAD. In contrast, overexpression of Pyk2 in the hippocampus of 5XFAD mice, using adeno-associated virus, rescued autophosphorylated Pyk2 levels and improved synaptic markers and performance in several behavioral tasks. Both Pyk2−/− and 5XFAD mice showed an increase of potentially neurotoxic Src cleavage product, which was rescued by Pyk2 overexpression. Manipulating Pyk2 levels had only minor effects on Aβ plaques, which were slightly decreased in hippocampus CA3 region of double mutant mice and increased following overexpression. Our results show that Pyk2 is not essential for the pathogenic effect of human amyloidogenic mutations in the 5XFAD mouse model. However, the slight decrease in plaque number observed in these mice in the absence of Pyk2 and their increase following Pyk2 overexpression suggest a contribution of this kinase in plaque formation. Importantly, a decreased function of Pyk2 was observed in 5XFAD mice, indicated by its decreased autophosphorylation and associated Src alterations. Overcoming this deficit by Pyk2 overexpression improved the behavioral and molecular phenotype of 5XFAD mice. Thus, our results in a mouse model of AD suggest that Pyk2 impairment may play a role in the symptoms of the disease.
  • An improved primer set and amplification protocol with increased specificity and sensitivity targeting the Symbiodinium ITS2 region

    Hume, Benjamin C.C.; Ziegler, Maren; Poulain, Julie; Pochon, Xavier; Romac, Sarah; Boissin, Emilie; de Vargas, Colomban; Planes, Serge; Wincker, Patrick; Voolstra, Christian R. (PeerJ, 2018-05-23)
    The Internal Transcribed Spacer 2 (ITS2) rRNA gene is a commonly targeted genetic marker to assess diversity of Symbiodinium, a dinoflagellate genus of algal endosymbionts that is pervasively associated with marine invertebrates, and notably reef-building corals. Here we tested three commonly used ITS2 primer pairs (SYM_VAR_5.8S2/SYM_VAR_REV, ITSintfor2/ITSReverse, and ITS-DINO/ITS2Rev2) with regard to amplification specificity and sensitivity towards Symbiodinium, as well as sub-genera taxonomic bias. We tested these primers over a range of sample types including three coral species, coral surrounding water, reef surface water, and open ocean water to assess their suitability for use in large-scale next generation sequencing projects and to develop a standardised PCR protocol. We found the SYM_VAR_5.8S2/SYM_VAR_REV primers to perform superior to the other tested ITS2 primers. We therefore used this primer pair to develop a standardised PCR protocol. To do this, we tested the effect of PCR-to-PCR variation, annealing temperature, cycle number, and different polymerase systems on the PCR efficacy. The Symbiodinium ITS2 PCR protocol developed here delivers improved specificity and sensitivity towards Symbiodinium with apparent minimal sub-genera taxonomic bias across all sample types. In particular, the protocol’s ability to amplify Symbiodinium from a range of environmental sources will facilitate the study of Symbiodinium populations across biomes.
  • Root bacterial endophytes confer drought resistance and enhance expression and activity of a vacuolar H+ -pumping pyrophosphatase in pepper plants

    Vigani, Gianpiero; Rolli, Eleonora; Marasco, Ramona; Dell'Orto, Marta; Michoud, Gregoire; Soussi, Asma; Raddadi, Noura; Borin, Sara; Sorlini, Claudia; Zocchi, Graziano; Daffonchio, Daniele (Wiley, 2018-05-22)
    It has been previously shown that the transgenic overexpression of the plant root vacuolar proton pumps H+ -ATPase (V-ATPase) and H+ -PPase (V-PPase) confer tolerance to drought. Since plant-root endophytic bacteria can also promote drought tolerance, we hypothesize that such promotion can be associated to the enhancement of the host vacuolar proton pumps expression and activity. To test this hypothesis, we selected two endophytic bacteria endowed with an array of in vitro plant growth promoting traits. Their genome sequences confirmed the presence of traits previously shown to confer drought resistance to plants, such as the synthesis of nitric oxide and of organic volatile organic compounds. We used the two strains on pepper (Capsicuum annuum L.) because of its high sensitivity to drought. Under drought conditions, both strains stimulated a larger root system and enhanced the leaves' photosynthetic activity. By testing the expression and activity of the vacuolar proton pumps, H+ -ATPase (V-ATPase) and H+ -PPase (V-PPase), we found that bacterial colonization enhanced V-PPase only. We conclude that the enhanced expression and activity of V-PPase can be favoured by the colonization of drought-tolerance-inducing bacterial endophytes. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
  • In silico exploration of Red Sea Bacillus genomes for natural product biosynthetic gene clusters

    Othoum, Ghofran K; Bougouffa, Salim; Razali, Rozaimi; Bokhari, Ameerah; Alamoudi, Soha; Antunes, André; Gao, Xin; Hoehndorf, Robert; Arold, Stefan T.; Gojobori, Takashi; Hirt, Heribert; Mijakovic, Ivan; Bajic, Vladimir B.; Lafi, Feras Fawzi; Essack, Magbubah (Springer Nature, 2018-05-22)
    BackgroundThe increasing spectrum of multidrug-resistant bacteria is a major global public health concern, necessitating discovery of novel antimicrobial agents. Here, members of the genus Bacillus are investigated as a potentially attractive source of novel antibiotics due to their broad spectrum of antimicrobial activities. We specifically focus on a computational analysis of the distinctive biosynthetic potential of Bacillus paralicheniformis strains isolated from the Red Sea, an ecosystem exposed to adverse, highly saline and hot conditions.ResultsWe report the complete circular and annotated genomes of two Red Sea strains, B. paralicheniformis Bac48 isolated from mangrove mud and B. paralicheniformis Bac84 isolated from microbial mat collected from Rabigh Harbor Lagoon in Saudi Arabia. Comparing the genomes of B. paralicheniformis Bac48 and B. paralicheniformis Bac84 with nine publicly available complete genomes of B. licheniformis and three genomes of B. paralicheniformis, revealed that all of the B. paralicheniformis strains in this study are more enriched in nonribosomal peptides (NRPs). We further report the first computationally identified trans-acyltransferase (trans-AT) nonribosomal peptide synthetase/polyketide synthase (PKS/ NRPS) cluster in strains of this species.ConclusionsB. paralicheniformis species have more genes associated with biosynthesis of antimicrobial bioactive compounds than other previously characterized species of B. licheniformis, which suggests that these species are better potential sources for novel antibiotics. Moreover, the genome of the Red Sea strain B. paralicheniformis Bac48 is more enriched in modular PKS genes compared to B. licheniformis strains and other B. paralicheniformis strains. This may be linked to adaptations that strains surviving in the Red Sea underwent to survive in the relatively hot and saline ecosystems.
  • GLAM: Glycogen-derived Lactate Absorption Map for visual analysis of dense and sparse surface reconstructions of rodent brain structures on desktop systems and virtual environments

    Agus, Marco; Boges, Daniya; Gagnon, Nicolas; Magistretti, Pierre J.; Hadwiger, Markus; Cali, Corrado (Elsevier BV, 2018-05-21)
    Human brain accounts for about one hundred billion neurons, but they cannot work properly without ultrastructural and metabolic support. For this reason, mammalian brains host another type of cells called “glial cells”, whose role is to maintain proper conditions for efficient neuronal function. One type of glial cell, astrocytes, are involved in particular in the metabolic support of neurons, by feeding them with lactate, one byproduct of glucose metabolism that they can take up from blood vessels, and store it under another form, glycogen granules. These energy-storage molecules, whose morphology resembles to spheres with a diameter ranging 10–80 nanometers roughly, can be easily recognized using electron microscopy, the only technique whose resolution is high enough to resolve them. Understanding and quantifying their distribution is of particular relevance for neuroscientists, in order to understand where and when neurons use energy under this form. To answer this question, we developed a visualization technique, dubbed GLAM (Glycogen-derived Lactate Absorption Map), and customized for the analysis of the interaction of astrocytic glycogen on surrounding neurites in order to formulate hypotheses on the energy absorption mechanisms. The method integrates high-resolution surface reconstruction of neurites, astrocytes, and the energy sources in form of glycogen granules from different automated serial electron microscopy methods, like focused ion beam scanning electron microscopy (FIB-SEM) or serial block face electron microscopy (SBEM), together with an absorption map computed as a radiance transfer mechanism. The resulting visual representation provides an immediate and comprehensible illustration of the areas in which the probability of lactate shuttling is higher. The computed dataset can be then explored and quantified in a 3D space, either using 3D modeling software or virtual reality environments. Domain scientists have evaluated the technique by either using the computed maps for formulating functional hypotheses or for planning sparse reconstructions to avoid excessive occlusion. Furthermore, we conducted a pioneering user study showing that immersive VR setups can ease the investigation of the areas of interest and the analysis of the absorption patterns in the cellular structures.
  • Cross-shelf investigation of coral reef cryptic benthic organisms reveals diversity patterns of the hidden majority

    Pearman, John K.; Leray, M.; Villalobos, R.; Machida, R. J.; Berumen, Michael L.; Knowlton, N.; Carvalho, Susana (Springer Nature, 2018-05-18)
    Coral reefs harbor diverse assemblages of organisms yet the majority of this diversity is hidden within the three dimensional structure of the reef and neglected using standard visual surveys. This study uses Autonomous Reef Monitoring Structures (ARMS) and amplicon sequencing methodologies, targeting mitochondrial cytochrome oxidase I and 18S rRNA genes, to investigate changes in the cryptic reef biodiversity. ARMS, deployed at 11 sites across a near- to off-shore gradient in the Red Sea were dominated by Porifera (sessile fraction), Arthropoda and Annelida (mobile fractions). The two primer sets detected different taxa lists, but patterns in community composition and structure were similar. While the microhabitat of the ARMS deployment affected the community structure, a clear cross-shelf gradient was observed for all fractions investigated. The partitioning of beta-diversity revealed that replacement (i.e. the substitution of species) made the highest contribution with richness playing a smaller role. Hence, different reef habitats across the shelf are relevant to regional diversity, as they harbor different communities, a result with clear implications for the design of Marine Protected Areas. ARMS can be vital tools to assess biodiversity patterns in the generally neglected but species-rich cryptic benthos, providing invaluable information for the management and conservation of hard-bottomed habitats over local and global scales.
  • Sunlight Induced Rapid Oil Absorption and Passive Room-Temperature Release: An Effective Solution toward Heavy Oil Spill Cleanup

    Wu, Mengchun; Shi, Yusuf; Chang, Jian; Li, Renyuan; Ong, Chi Siang; Wang, Peng (Wiley, 2018-05-18)
    Rapid cleanup and easy recovery of spilled heavy oils is always a great challenge due to their high viscosity (>103 mPa s). One of the efficient methods to absorb highly viscous oils is to reduce their viscosity by increasing their temperature. In this work, the authors integrate the sunlight‐induced light‐to‐heat conversion effect of polypyrrole (PPy) and thermoresponsive property of poly(N‐isopropylacrylamide) (PNIPAm) into the melamine sponge, which successfully delivers a fast heavy oil absorption under sunlight and passive oil release underwater at room temperature. Thanks to the rationally designed functionalities, the PNIPAm/PPy functionalized sponges possess oleophilicity and hydrophobicity under sunlight. Due to the photothermal effect of PPy, the sponges locally heat up contacting heavy oil under sunlight and reduce its viscosity to a point where the oil voluntarily flow into the pores of the sponge. The material in this work is able to rapidly absorb the heavy oil with room temperature viscosity as high as ≈1.60 × 105 mPa s. The absorbed oil can be passively forced out the sponge underwater at room temperature due to the hydrophilicity of PNIPAm. The sunlight responsive and multifunctional sponge represents a meaningful attempt in coming up with a sustainable solution toward heavy oil spill.
  • Effective Interfacially Polymerized Polyester Solvent Resistant Nanofiltration Membrane from Bioderived Materials

    Abdellah, Mohamed H.; Perez Manriquez, Liliana; Puspasari, Tiara; Scholes, Colin A.; Kentish, Sandra E.; Peinemann, Klaus-Viktor (Wiley, 2018-05-18)
    Utilization of sustainable and environmentally friendly solvents for the preparation of membranes has attracted growing interest in recent years. In this work, a polyester thin film composite solvent resistant nanofiltration (SRNF) membrane is prepared by interfacial polymerization on a cellulose support. The cellulose support is prepared by nonsolvent‐induced phase separation from a dope solution containing an ionic liquid as an environmentally friendly solvent (negligible vapor pressure). The polyester film is formed via the interfacial reaction between quercetin, a plant‐derived polyphenol, and terephthaloyl chloride. Alpha‐pinene is used as a green alternative solvent to dissolve terephthaloyl chloride (TPC) while quercetin is dissolved in a 0.2 m NaOH solution. The interfacial polymerization reaction is successfully confirmed by Fourier transform infrared and X‐ray photoelectron spectroscopy while scanning electron and atomic force microscopy are used to characterize the membrane structure. The composite membrane shows an outstanding performance with a molecular weight cut‐off around 330 Da combined with a dimethylformamide (DMF) permeance up to 2.8 L m−2 bar−1 h−1. The membrane is stable in strong aprotic solvents such as DMF offering potential application in the pharmaceutical and petrochemical industries.
  • Optimizing FRET-FLIM Labeling Conditions to Detect Nuclear Protein Interactions at Native Expression Levels in Living Arabidopsis Roots

    Long, Yuchen; Stahl, Yvonne; Weidtkamp-Peters, Stefanie; Smet, Wouter; Du, Yujuan; Gadella, Theodorus W. J.; Goedhart, Joachim; Scheres, Ben; Blilou, Ikram (Frontiers Media SA, 2018-05-15)
    Protein complex formation has been extensively studied using Förster resonance energy transfer (FRET) measured by Fluorescence Lifetime Imaging Microscopy (FLIM). However, implementing this technology to detect protein interactions in living multicellular organism at single-cell resolution and under native condition is still difficult to achieve. Here we describe the optimization of the labeling conditions to detect FRET-FLIM in living plants. This study exemplifies optimization procedure involving the identification of the optimal position for the labels either at the N or C terminal region and the selection of the bright and suitable, fluorescent proteins as donor and acceptor labels for the FRET study. With an effective optimization strategy, we were able to detect the interaction between the stem cell regulators SHORT-ROOT and SCARECROW at endogenous expression levels in the root pole of living Arabidopsis embryos and developing lateral roots by FRET-FLIM. Using this approach we show that the spatial profile of interaction between two transcription factors can be highly modulated in reoccurring and structurally resembling organs, thus providing new information on the dynamic redistribution of nuclear protein complex configurations in different developmental stages. In principle, our optimization procedure for transcription factor complexes is applicable to any biological system.
  • Impact of Pore–Walls Ligand Assembly on the Biodegradation of Mesoporous Organosilica Nanoparticles for Controlled Drug Delivery

    Omar, Haneen; Moosa, Basem; Alamoudi, Kholod; Anjum, Dalaver H.; Emwas, Abdul-Hamid M.; El Tall, Omar; Vu, Binh; Tamanoi, Fuyu; AlMalik, Abdulaziz; Khashab, Niveen M. (American Chemical Society (ACS), 2018-05-14)
    Porous materials with molecular-scale ordering have attracted major attention mainly because of the possibility to engineer their pores for selective applications. Periodic mesoporous organosilica is a class of hybrid materials where self-assembly of the organic linkers provides a crystal-like pore wall. However, unlike metal coordination, specific geometries cannot be predicted because of the competitive and dynamic nature of noncovalent interactions. Herein, we study the influence of competing noncovalent interactions in the pore walls on the biodegradation of organosilica frameworks for drug delivery application. These results support the importance of studying self-assembly patterns in hybrid frameworks to better engineer the next generation of dynamic or “soft” porous materials.

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