SciCombinator

Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

115

The second plague pandemic, caused by Yersinia pestis, devastated Europe and the nearby regions between the 14th and 18th centuries AD. Here we analyse human remains from ten European archaeological sites spanning this period and reconstruct 34 ancient Y. pestis genomes. Our data support an initial entry of the bacterium through eastern Europe, the absence of genetic diversity during the Black Death, and low within-outbreak diversity thereafter. Analysis of post-Black Death genomes shows the diversification of a Y. pestis lineage into multiple genetically distinct clades that may have given rise to more than one disease reservoir in, or close to, Europe. In addition, we show the loss of a genomic region that includes virulence-related genes in strains associated with late stages of the pandemic. The deletion was also identified in genomes connected with the first plague pandemic (541-750 AD), suggesting a comparable evolutionary trajectory of Y. pestis during both events.

112

After adjusting for covariates, self-reported general health in England is higher among populations living closer to the coast, and the association is strongest amongst more deprived groups. We explored whether similar findings were present for mental health using cross-sectional data for urban adults in the Health Survey for England (2008-2012, N ≥25,963). For urban adults, living ≤1 km from the coast, in comparison to >50 km, was associated with better mental health as measured by the GHQ12. Stratification by household income revealed this was only amongst the lowest-earning households, and extended to ≤5 km. Our findings support the contention that, for urban adults, coastal settings may help to reduce health inequalities in England.

104

The isolated fossil remains of an allosauroid theropod from the Lower Cretaceous Khok Kruat Formation of Khorat, Thailand, are described in this study. Detailed observations support the establishment of a new allosauroid, Siamraptor suwati gen. et sp. nov. This new taxon is based on a composite cranial and postcranial skeleton comprising premaxilla, maxilla, jugal, surangular, prearticular, articular, vertebrae, manual ungual, ischium, tibia, and pedal phalanx. It is distinguished from other allosauroids by characters such as a jugal with straight ventral margin and dorsoventrally deep anterior process below the orbit, a surangular with a deep oval concavity at the posterior end of the lateral shelf and four posterior surangular foramina, a long and narrow groove along the suture between the surangular and the prearticular, an articular with a foramen at the notch of the suture with the prearticular, an anterior cervical vertebra with a pneumatic foramen (so-called ‘pleurocoel’) excavating parapophysis, and cervical and posterior dorsal vertebrae penetrated by a pair of small foramina bilaterally at the base of the neural spine. The presence of a huge number of camerae and pneumatopores in cranial and axial elements reveals a remarkable skeletal pneumatic system in this new taxon. Moreover, the phylogenetic analyses revealed that Siamraptor is a basal taxon of Carcharodontosauria, involving a new sight of the paleobiogeographical context of this group. Siamraptor is the best preserved carcharodontosaurian theropod in Southeast Asia, and it sheds new light on the early evolutionary history of Carcharodontosauria.

96

The transition from land to water in whales and dolphins (cetaceans) was accompanied by remarkable adaptations. To reveal genomic changes that occurred during this transition, we screened for protein-coding genes that were inactivated in the ancestral cetacean lineage. We found 85 gene losses. Some of these were likely beneficial for cetaceans, for example, by reducing the risk of thrombus formation during diving (F12 and KLKB1), erroneous DNA damage repair (POLM), and oxidative stress-induced lung inflammation (MAP3K19). Additional gene losses may reflect other diving-related adaptations, such as enhanced vasoconstriction during the diving response (mediated by SLC6A18) and altered pulmonary surfactant composition (SEC14L3), while loss of SLC4A9 relates to a reduced need for saliva. Last, loss of melatonin synthesis and receptor genes (AANAT, ASMT, and MTNR1A/B) may have been a precondition for adopting unihemispheric sleep. Our findings suggest that some genes lost in ancestral cetaceans were likely involved in adapting to a fully aquatic lifestyle.

90

Sleep deprivation has marked effects on food intake, shifting food choices toward energy-dense options. Here we test the hypothesis that neural processing in central olfactory circuits, in tandem with the endocannabinoid system (ECS), plays a key role in mediating this relationship. We combined a partial sleep-deprivation protocol, pattern-based olfactory neuroimaging, and ad libitum food intake to test how central olfactory mechanisms alter food intake after sleep deprivation. We found that sleep restriction increased levels of the ECS compound 2-oleoylglycerol (2-OG), enhanced encoding of food odors in piriform cortex, and shifted food choices toward energy-dense food items. Importantly, the relationship between changes in 2-OG and food choices was formally mediated by odor-evoked connectivity between the piriform cortex and insula, a region involved in integrating feeding-related signals. These findings describe a potential neurobiological pathway by which state-dependent changes in the ECS may modulate chemosensory processing to regulate food choices.

89

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) are common industrial and consumer product chemicals with widespread human exposures that have been linked to adverse health effects. PFASs are commonly detected in foods and food-contact materials (FCMs), including fast food packaging and microwave popcorn bags.

87

Global warming is expected to increase the frequency and intensity of severe water scarcity (SWS) events, which negatively affect rain-fed crops such as wheat, a key source of calories and protein for humans. Here, we develop a method to simultaneously quantify SWS over the world’s entire wheat-growing area and calculate the probabilities of multiple/sequential SWS events for baseline and future climates. Our projections show that, without climate change mitigation (representative concentration pathway 8.5), up to 60% of the current wheat-growing area will face simultaneous SWS events by the end of this century, compared to 15% today. Climate change stabilization in line with the Paris Agreement would substantially reduce the negative effects, but they would still double between 2041 and 2070 compared to current conditions. Future assessments of production shocks in food security should explicitly include the risk of severe, prolonged, and near-simultaneous droughts across key world wheat-producing areas.

80

During January 1-October 1, 2019, a total of 1,249 measles cases and 22 measles outbreaks were reported in the United States. This represents the most U.S. cases reported in a single year since 1992 (1), and the second highest number of reported outbreaks annually since measles was declared eliminated* in the United States in 2000 (2). Measles is an acute febrile rash illness with an attack rate of approximately 90% in susceptible household contacts (3). Domestic outbreaks can occur when travelers contract measles outside the United States and subsequently transmit infection to unvaccinated persons they expose in the United States. Among the 1,249 measles cases reported in 2019, 1,163 (93%) were associated with the 22 outbreaks, 1,107 (89%) were in patients who were unvaccinated or had an unknown vaccination status, and 119 (10%) measles patients were hospitalized. Closely related outbreaks in New York City (NYC) and New York State (NYS; excluding NYC), with ongoing transmission for nearly 1 year in large and close-knit Orthodox Jewish communities, accounted for 934 (75%) cases during 2019 and threatened the elimination status of measles in the United States. Robust responses in NYC and NYS were effective in controlling transmission before the 1-year mark; however, continued vigilance for additional cases within these communities is essential to determine whether elimination has been sustained. Collaboration between public health authorities and undervaccinated communities is important for preventing outbreaks and limiting transmission. The combination of maintenance of high national vaccination coverage with measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine (MMR) and rapid implementation of measles control measures remains the cornerstone for preventing widespread measles transmission (4).

76

Cosmological simulations predict that the Universe contains a network of intergalactic gas filaments, within which galaxies form and evolve. However, the faintness of any emission from these filaments has limited tests of this prediction. We report the detection of rest-frame ultraviolet Lyman-α radiation from multiple filaments extending more than one megaparsec between galaxies within the SSA22 protocluster at a redshift of 3.1. Intense star formation and supermassive black-hole activity is occurring within the galaxies embedded in these structures, which are the likely sources of the elevated ionizing radiation powering the observed Lyman-α emission. Our observations map the gas in filamentary structures of the type thought to fuel the growth of galaxies and black holes in massive protoclusters.

73

Ribosome-synthesized post-translationally modified peptides (RiPPs) represent a rapidly expanding class of natural products with various biological activities. Linear azol(in)e-containing peptides (LAPs) comprise a subclass of RiPPs that display outstanding diversity of mechanisms of action while sharing common structural features. Here, we report the discovery of a new LAP biosynthetic gene cluster in the genome of Rhizobium Pop5, which encodes the precursor peptide and modification machinery of phazolicin (PHZ) - an extensively modified peptide exhibiting narrow-spectrum antibacterial activity against some symbiotic bacteria of leguminous plants. The cryo-EM structure of the Escherichia coli 70S-PHZ complex reveals that the drug interacts with the 23S rRNA and uL4/uL22 proteins and obstructs ribosomal exit tunnel in a way that is distinct from other compounds. We show that the uL4 loop sequence determines the species-specificity of antibiotic action. PHZ expands the known diversity of LAPs and may be used in the future as biocontrol agent for agricultural needs.