Now showing items 1-20 of 26166

• #### Investigation of important biochemical compounds from selected freshwater macroalgae and their role in agriculture

(Chemical and Biological Technologies in Agriculture, Springer Science and Business Media LLC, 2022-01-15) [Article]
Background Freshwater macroalgae possess a number of important secondary metabolites. They are an unexplored source of medicinal compounds. In this study, three freshwater macroalgae—$\textit{Chara vulgaris}$, $\textit{Cladophora glomerata}$ and $\textit{Spirogyra crassa}$—were collected from the river Swat and the river Kabul in the Charsadda district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan. To assess the role of freshwater macroalgae in agriculture, various experiments were performed on their extracts. Methanolic extract of the three macroalgae were first analyzed through gas chromatography–mass spectrometry (GC–MS) for the presence of important medicinal secondary metabolites. The methanol based macroalgae extracts were tested for antibacterial, insecticidal, cytotoxic and phytotoxic activities. Results Initially, the algae were dried, crushed and treated with methanol for the extraction of secondary metabolites. The GC–MS results contained several important long chain fatty acids and other related long-chain hydrocarbons, such as alkanes and alkenes. Several benzene derivatives were also detected during the course of the investigation. Several of these compounds have established roles in the treatment of human ailments and can be supplied to farm animals. For example, phenylephrine is a decongestant, dilates pupils, increases blood pressure and helps in relieving hemorrhoids. Hexahydropseudoionone has uses in perfumes and other cosmetics. Several essential oils were also detected in the methanolic extract of the three macroalgae that can be utilized in various industrial products. Bioassays showed that these algal extracts—especially the $\textit{Spirogyra}$ sp. extract—contain moderate to maximum bioactivity. Conclusions Macroalgae possess important secondary metabolites with medicinal properties. These secondary metabolites can be used as biopesticides, plant growth enhancers, and remedies for various diseases in farm animals and for the control of weeds. They can be further explored for isolation and purification of useful biochemical compounds.
• #### Quantitative and Multiplex Detection of Extracellular Vesicle-derived microRNA via Rolling Circle Amplification within Encoded Hydrogel Microparticles

(Advanced Healthcare Materials, Wiley, 2022-01-14) [Article]
Extracellular vesicle-derived microRNA (EV-miRNA) represent a promising cancer biomarker for disease diagnosis and monitoring. However, existing techniques to detect EV-miRNA rely on complex, bias-prone strategies and preprocessing steps, making absolute quantification highly challenging. This work demonstrates the development and application of a method for quantitative and multiplex detection of EV-miRNA, via rolling circle amplification within encoded hydrogel particles. By a one-pot extracellular vesicle (EV) lysis and microRNA capture step, we avoid the bias and losses associated with standard RNA extraction techniques. The system offers a large dynamic range (3 orders of magnitude), ease of multiplexing, and a limit of detection down to 2.3 zmol (46 aM), demonstrating its utility in clinical applications based on liquid biopsy tests. Furthermore, orthogonal measurements of EV concentrations coupled with the direct, absolute quantification of miRNA in biological samples results in quantitative measurements of miRNA copy numbers per volume sample, and per extracellular vesicle. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
• #### Underestimated PAH accumulation potential of blue carbon vegetation: Evidence from sedimentary records of saltmarsh and mangrove in Yueqing Bay, China.

(The Science of the total environment, Elsevier BV, 2022-01-13) [Article]
Sediments of blue carbon vegetation are becoming a sink of natural and anthropogenic pollutants, such as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). However, the extent to which PAHs are accumulated and varied in blue carbon sediments, and the impact of blue carbon vegetation on the accumulation and retention capacity of PAHs, have been poorly explored. This study examines the sedimentary records of PAHs in profiles from mangrove plantations, saltmarsh, and mudflat in Ximen Island and Maoyan Island of Yueqing Bay, China. The existence of blue carbon vegetation provides a sheltered environment for the accelerated burial of sediment and OC. Decadal PAH sedimentation records show staged changes characterized by the emission of PAHs and colonization of blue carbon vegetation, reflecting the accelerated burial of PAHs in sediments by blue carbon vegetation colonization. In addition, the colonization of blue carbon vegetation contributes to the shift of PAH compositions in sediments. This study provides new insights into the underestimated PAH accumulation potential and retention capacity of blue carbon vegetation and the corresponding underlying sediments, supporting the environmental benefits of blue carbon vegetation.
• #### Study of the Effect of Research Octane Number on the Auto-Ignition of Lubricant Oil Surrogates (n-Hexadecane)

(ACS Omega, American Chemical Society (ACS), 2022-01-12) [Article]
Engine oil is considered one of the sources for pre-ignition in downsized boosted direct injection spark-ignited engines. When interacting with fuel sprayed in the combustion chamber, engine oil forms an ignitable mixture and can cause an ignition event before firing the spark plug. Because high research octane number (RON) fuels are difficult to auto-ignite and tend to suppress the knock in an internal combustion engine, studying their interaction with engine oil is essential. Hence, in the current study, a suitable lubricant oil surrogate, namely, n-hexadecane, is mixed with iso-octane and n-heptane at different concentrations to investigate the auto-ignition behavior at elevated pressures. Five sets of fuels (PRF0, PRF20, PRF50, PRF80, and PRF100) were prepared to get a wide range of RONs and blended with n-hexadecane at 15, 25, 35, and 45% mixture concentrations (vol %). These experiments were conducted in a constant volume combustion chamber, keeping the initial temperature constant at 300 °C. A single droplet of the mixture was suspended on a thermocouple bead to record the droplet’s lifetime temperature. It was observed that hexadecane mixed with PRF0, PRF20, PRF50, and PRF80 showed similar auto-ignition behaviors. The time of ignition (TI) for these mixtures initially increased until 25% concentration of the fuel in n-hexadecane, and further addition of fuels to 35% and higher concentrations showed a gradual decrease in TI. Ignition of mixtures with 35% and 45% fuel concentrations is attributed to n-heptane, as its low temperature chemistry is the dominant factor in its high reactivity compared to iso-octane. TI increased with the increasing concentration of PRF100 mixtures in hexadecane, unlike other PRF fuels tested in this study. This is because iso-octane is a high RON fuel with a higher auto-ignition temperature, making it challenging to auto-ignite.
• #### Rice domestication.

(Current biology : CB, Elsevier BV, 2022-01-11) [Article]
Rice is a staple food crop for more than one-third of the global population (http://www.sustainablerice.org/), of which 90% live at or near the poverty line. Thus, rice genetic improvement is important for global food security and is critical for enhancing socioeconomic benefits and reducing the environmental impacts of agriculture. In continued efforts to address the long-standing problem of food security and sustainable agriculture, scientists are utilizing genes from diverse varieties of rice to improve the resilience of rice to pests, diseases and environmental stress. This Primer describes the history of rice domestication, the importance of wild relatives of rice for crop improvement, and the domestication of wild species of rice not previously planted by farmers - a new approach called neodomestication.
• #### Air-Processable and Thermally Stable Hole Transport Layer for Non-Fullerene Organic Solar Cells

(ACS Applied Energy Materials, American Chemical Society (ACS), 2022-01-10) [Article]
Power conversion efficiencies (PCEs) of organic solar cells (OSCs) have now surpassed 19%. This has led to an increased focus on developing devices using methods and materials that are scalable, processable under ambient air atmospheres, and stable. However, current materials fall short of the essential requirements for stability and processability needed for cost-effective large-scale fabrication of high-performing OSCs. Here, we report a hybrid solution-processable hole transport layer (HTL) based on tantalum-doped tungsten oxide (TaWOx) nanoparticles and poly(3,4-ethylenedioxythiophene):poly(styrene sulfonate) demonstrating good wettability over the hydrophobic active layer. N-i-p-type OSCs that are processed fully under ambient conditions, based on a polymer donor and a non-fullerene acceptor incorporating a combined TaWOx-PEDOT:PSS layer as HTL deliver a power conversion efficiency of 8.6%. OSCs utilizing the TaWOx-PEDOT:PSS HTL demonstrate improved thermal stability compared to devices based on the previously reported solution-processed MoOx-PEDOT:PSS HTL, which was found to severely degrade upon thermal treatment at 85 °C. Photoelectron spectroscopy and secondary ion mass spectrometry (SIMS) reveal that the MoOx-PEDOT:PSS HTL is prone to thermally induced intermixing with the underlying active layer, resulting in unfavorable changes in the interfacial energetics. No significant heat-induced changes are observed in the case of the TaWOx-PEDOT:PSS HTL when annealed up to 120 °C, imparting enhanced thermal stability to the devices. Improved wettability on hydrophobic surfaces, combined with air processability and enhanced thermal stability makes TaWOx-PEDOT:PSS a promising HTL material for fabricating stable NFA solar cells using roll-to-roll compatible printing and coating methods.
• #### A Universal Co-Solvent Evaporation Strategy Enables Direct Printing of Perovskite Single Crystals for Optoelectronic Device Applications

Solution-processed metal halide perovskite single crystals (SCs) are in high demand for a growing number of emerging device applications due to their superior optoelectronic properties compared to polycrystalline thin films. However, the historical focus on thin film optoelectronic and photovoltaic devices explains the absence of methods suitable for facile, scalable and high throughput fabrication of precision-engineered and positioned SCs and arrays. Here, we present a universal co-solvent evaporation (CSE) strategy by which perovskite SCsand arrays are produced directly on substrates from individual drying droplets in a single step within minutes at room temperature. The CSE strategy successfully guides supersaturation of drying droplets to suppress all unwanted crystallization pathways and is shown to produce SCsof a wide variety of three-dimensional (3D), quasi-two dimensional (2D), and mixed cation/halideperovskites. The drying droplet approach works with commonly used solvents, making it universal. Importantly, the CSE strategy ensures the SC consumes the precursor in its entirety, leaving little to no residue on substrates, which is crucial for enabling fabrication of SC arrays on large areas via printing and coating techniques. We go on to demonstrate direct on-chip fabrication of 3D and quasi-2D perovskite photodetector devices with outstanding performance. Our approach shows that metal halide perovskite SCs can now be produced on substrates from a drying solution via a wide range of solution processing methods, including microprinting and scalable, high throughput coating methods.
• #### In Vitro and In Silico Approaches for the Evaluation of Antimicrobial Activity, Time-Kill Kinetics, and Anti-Biofilm Potential of Thymoquinone (2-Methyl-5-propan-2-ylcyclohexa-2,5-diene-1,4-dione) against Selected Human Pathogens

(Antibiotics, MDPI AG, 2022-01-10) [Article]
Thymoquinone (2-methyl-5-propan-2-ylcyclohexa-2,5-diene-1,4-dione; TQ), a principal bioactive phytoconstituent of Nigella sativa essential oil, has been reported to have high antimicrobial potential. Thus, the current study evaluated TQ’s antimicrobial potential against a range of selected human pathogens using in vitro assays, including time-kill kinetics and anti-biofilm activity. In silico molecular docking of TQ against several antimicrobial target proteins and a detailed intermolecular interaction analysis was performed, including binding energies and docking feasibility. Of the tested bacteria and fungi, S. epidermidis ATCC 12228 and Candida albicans ATCC 10231 were the most susceptible to TQ, with 50.3 ± 0.3 mm and 21.1 ± 0.1 mm zones of inhibition, respectively. Minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC) values of TQ are in the range of 12.5–50 µg/mL, while minimum biocidal concentration (MBC) values are in the range of 25–100 µg/mL against the tested organisms. Time-kill kinetics of TQ revealed that the killing time for the tested bacteria is in the range of 1–6 h with the MBC of TQ. Anti-biofilm activity results demonstrate that the minimum biofilm inhibitory concentration (MBIC) values of TQ are in the range of 25–50 µg/mL, while the minimum biofilm eradication concentration (MBEC) values are in the range of 25–100 µg/mL, for the tested bacteria. In silico molecular docking studies revealed four preferred antibacterial and antifungal target proteins for TQ: D-alanyl-D-alanine synthetase (Ddl) from Thermus thermophilus, transcriptional regulator qacR from Staphylococcus aureus, N-myristoyltransferase from Candida albicans, and NADPH-dependent D-xylose reductase from Candida tenuis. In contrast, the nitroreductase family protein from Bacillus cereus and spore coat polysaccharide biosynthesis protein from Bacillus subtilis and UDP-N-acetylglucosamine pyrophosphorylase from Aspergillus fumigatus are the least preferred antibacterial and antifungal target proteins for TQ, respectively. Molecular dynamics (MD) simulations revealed that TQ could bind to all four target proteins, with Ddl and NADPH-dependent D-xylose reductase being the most efficient. Our findings corroborate TQ’s high antimicrobial potential, suggesting it may be a promising drug candidate for multi-drug resistant (MDR) pathogens, notably Gram-positive bacteria and Candida albicans.
• #### Digital E. coli Counter: A Microfluidics and Computer Vision-Based DNAzyme Method for the Isolation and Specific Detection of E. coli from Water Samples

(Biosensors, MDPI AG, 2022-01-10) [Article]
Biological water contamination detection-based assays are essential to test water quality; however, these assays are prone to false-positive results and inaccuracies, are time-consuming, and use complicated procedures to test large water samples. Herein, we show a simple detection and counting method for E. coli in the water samples involving a combination of DNAzyme sensor, microfluidics, and computer vision strategies. We first isolated E. coli into individual droplets containing a DNAzyme mixture using droplet microfluidics. Upon bacterial cell lysis by heating, the DNAzyme mixture reacted with a particular substrate present in the crude intracellular material (CIM) of E. coli. This event triggers the dissociation of the fluorophore-quencher pair present in the DNAzyme mixture leading to a fluorescence signal, indicating the presence of E. coli in the droplets. We developed an algorithm using computer vision to analyze the fluorescent droplets containing E. coli in the presence of non-fluorescent droplets. The algorithm can detect and count fluorescent droplets representing the number of E. coli present in the sample. Finally, we show that the developed method is highly specific to detect and count E. coli in the presence of other bacteria present in the water sample.
• #### RETINOBLASTOMA RELATED (RBR) interaction with key factors of the RNA-directed DNA methylation (RdDM) pathway

(Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, 2022-01-07) [Preprint]
• #### Operando Monitoring and Deciphering the Structural Evolution in Oxygen Evolution Electrocatalysis

(Advanced Energy Materials, Wiley, 2022-01-05) [Article]
The oxygen evolution reaction (OER) acts as the bottleneck of some crucial energy conversion and storage technologies involving water electrolysis, CO2 electrolysis, and metal-air batteries, among others. The challenging sluggish reaction kinetics of the OER can be overcome via developing highly efficient electrocatalysts, which experience a dynamic structural evolution process during the reaction. However, the reaction mechanism of the structural transformation of electrocatalysts during the OER and the structure-activity correlation in understanding the real active sites remain elusive. Fortunately, operando characterizations offer a platform to study the structural evolution processes and the reaction mechanisms of OER electrocatalysts. In this review, using several in situ/operando techniques some recent advances are elaborated with emphases on tracking the structural evolution processes of electrocatalysts, recording the reaction intermediates during electrocatalysis, and building a link between the structure and activity/stability of electrocatalysts. Moreover, theoretical considerations are also discussed to assist operando characterization understanding. Finally, some perspectives are provided which are expected to be helpful to tackle the current challenges in operando monitoring and unraveling the reaction mechanisms of OER electrocatalysts.
• #### Thymosin β4 Is an Endogenous Iron Chelator and Molecular Switcher of Ferroptosis

(International Journal of Molecular Sciences, Research Square Platform LLC, 2022-01-04) [Article]
Thymosin β4 (Tβ4) was extracted forty years agofrom calf thymus. Since then, it has been identified as a G-actin binding protein involved in blood clotting, tissue regeneration, angiogenesis, and anti-inflammatory processes. Tβ4 has also been implicated in tumor metastasis and neurodegeneration. However, the precise roles and mechanism(s) of action of Tβ4 in these processes remain largely unknown, with the binding of the G-actin protein being insufficient to explain these multi-actions. Here we identify for the first time the important role of Tβ4 mechanism in ferroptosis, an iron-dependent form of cell death, which leads to neurodegeneration and somehow protects cancer cells against cell death. Specifically, we demonstrate four iron2+ and iron3+ binding regions along the peptide and show that the presence of Tβ4 in cell growing medium inhibits erastin and glutamate-induced ferroptosis in the macrophage cell line. Moreover, Tβ4 increases the expression of oxidative stress-related genes, namely BAX, hem oxygenase-1, heat shock protein 70 and thioredoxin reductase 1, which are downregulated during ferroptosis. We state the hypothesis that Tβ4 is an endogenous iron chelator and take part in iron homeostasis in the ferroptosis process. We discuss the literature data of parallel involvement of Tβ4 and ferroptosis in different human pathologies, mainly cancer and neurodegeneration. Our findings confronted with literature data show that controlled Tβ4 release could command on/off switching of ferroptosis and may provide novel therapeutic opportunities in cancer and tissue degeneration pathologies
• #### Efficient Importance Sampling Algorithm Applied to the Performance Analysis of Wireless Communication Systems Estimation

(arXiv, 2022-01-04) [Preprint]
When assessing the performance of wireless communication systems operating over fading channels, one often encounters the problem of computing expectations of some functional of sums of independent random variables (RVs). The outage probability (OP) at the output of Equal Gain Combining (EGC) and Maximum Ratio Combining (MRC) receivers is among the most important performance metrics that falls within this framework. In general, closed form expressions of expectations of functionals applied to sums of RVs are out of reach. A naive Monte Carlo (MC) simulation is of course an alternative approach. However, this method requires a large number of samples for rare event problems (small OP values for instance). Therefore, it is of paramount importance to use variance reduction techniques to develop fast and efficient estimation methods. In this work, we use importance sampling (IS), being known for its efficiency in requiring less computations for achieving the same accuracy requirement. In this line, we propose a state-dependent IS scheme based on a stochastic optimal control (SOC) formulation to calculate rare events quantities that could be written in a form of an expectation of some functional of sums of independent RVs. Our proposed algorithm is generic and can be applicable without any restriction on the univariate distributions of the different fading envelops/gains or on the functional that is applied to the sum. We apply our approach to the Log-Normal distribution to compute the OP at the output of diversity receivers with and without co-channel interference. For each case, we show numerically that the proposed state-dependent IS algorithm compares favorably to most of the well-known estimators dealing with similar problems.
• #### Time and space complexity of deterministic and nondeterministic decision trees

(arXiv, 2022-01-04) [Preprint]
In this paper, we study arbitrary infinite binary information systems each of which consists of an infinite set called universe and an infinite set of two-valued functions (attributes) defined on the universe. We consider the notion of a problem over information system which is described by a finite number of attributes and a mapping corresponding a decision to each tuple of attribute values. As algorithms for problem solving, we use deterministic and nondeterministic decision trees. As time and space complexity, we study the depth and the number of nodes in the decision trees. In the worst case, with the growth of the number of attributes in the problem description, (i) the minimum depth of deterministic decision trees grows either almost as logarithm or linearly, (ii) the minimum depth of nondeterministic decision trees either is bounded from above by a constant or grows linearly, (iii) the minimum number of nodes in deterministic decision trees has either polynomial or exponential growth, and (iv) the minimum number of nodes in nondeterministic decision trees has either polynomial or exponential growth. Based on these results, we divide the set of all infinite binary information systems into five complexity classes, and study for each class issues related to time-space trade-off for decision trees.
• #### Mixed-Linker Metal-Organic frameworks for carbon and hydrocarbons capture under moist conditions

(Chemical Engineering Journal, Elsevier BV, 2022-01-04) [Article]
The capture of carbon and hydrocarbons is significant to the utilization of valuable resources and the mitigation of global warming, but achieving high gas capacity and selectivity at the same time remains a challenge, especially in the presence of high humidity. In this regard, based on the building block of MOF-801, MOF-801-FA structures were synthesized with high quality and few defects through a mixed-ligand strategy, in which formate ligands were introduced into the framework apart from fumarate ligands. This brought about tremendous increases in gas adsorption capacity, e.g., ca. 2.5-fold and 1.1-fold enhancement occurred to the adsorption of CH4 and CO2 in MOF-801-Hf-FA than MOF-801-Hf at 298 K and 1 bar. Besides, prominent IAST selectivities were also witnessed in MOF-801-FA, higher than those in the pristine MOFs, for CH4/N2 and CO2/N2 mixtures under ambient conditions. We then confirmed the efficient performance of MOF-801-FA for real CH4/N2 and CO2/N2 mixtures using the breakthrough experiments and following cycling tests, even in a relative humidity of 90%. Thus, the mixed-linker strategy was demonstrated effective to tune the structures of MOFs, and boost their performance in gas adsorption and separation. The results also showed that, with high capacities for CH4 and CO2, superior selectivities over N2, desirable water resistance and facile regeneration, MOF-801-M−FA (M = Zr or Hf) are promising candidates for capturing CH4 and CO2 from N2 in industry.