SciCombinator

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

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Recent shifts in the geographic distribution of marine species have been linked to shifts in preferred thermal habitats. These shifts in distribution have already posed challenges for living marine resource management, and there is a strong need for projections of how species might be impacted by future changes in ocean temperatures during the 21st century. We modeled thermal habitat for 686 marine species in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans using long-term ecological survey data from the North American continental shelves. These habitat models were coupled to output from sixteen general circulation models that were run under high (RCP 8.5) and low (RCP 2.6) future greenhouse gas emission scenarios over the 21st century to produce 32 possible future outcomes for each species. The models generally agreed on the magnitude and direction of future shifts for some species (448 or 429 under RCP 8.5 and RCP 2.6, respectively), but strongly disagreed for other species (116 or 120 respectively). This allowed us to identify species with more or less robust predictions. Future shifts in species distributions were generally poleward and followed the coastline, but also varied among regions and species. Species from the U.S. and Canadian west coast including the Gulf of Alaska had the highest projected magnitude shifts in distribution, and many species shifted more than 1000 km under the high greenhouse gas emissions scenario. Following a strong mitigation scenario consistent with the Paris Agreement would likely produce substantially smaller shifts and less disruption to marine management efforts. Our projections offer an important tool for identifying species, fisheries, and management efforts that are particularly vulnerable to climate change impacts.

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Constructing higher-order vesicle assemblies has discipline-spanning potential from responsive soft-matter materials to artificial cell networks in synthetic biology. This potential is ultimately derived from the ability to compartmentalise and order chemical species in space. To unlock such applications, spatial organisation of vesicles in relation to one another must be controlled, and techniques to deliver cargo to compartments developed. Herein, we use optical tweezers to assemble, reconfigure and dismantle networks of cell-sized vesicles that, in different experimental scenarios, we engineer to exhibit several interesting properties. Vesicles are connected through double-bilayer junctions formed via electrostatically controlled adhesion. Chemically distinct vesicles are linked across length scales, from several nanometres to hundreds of micrometres, by axon-like tethers. In the former regime, patterning membranes with proteins and nanoparticles facilitates material exchange between compartments and enables laser-triggered vesicle merging. This allows us to mix and dilute content, and to initiate protein expression by delivering biomolecular reaction components.

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Dietary fiber protects against chronic inflammatory diseases by dampening immune responses through short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs). Here we examined the effect of dietary fiber in viral infection, where the anti-inflammatory properties of SCFAs in principle could prevent protective immunity. Instead, we found that fermentable dietary fiber increased survival of influenza-infected mice through two complementary mechanisms. High-fiber diet (HFD)-fed mice exhibited altered bone marrow hematopoiesis, characterized by enhanced generation of Ly6c- patrolling monocytes, which led to increased numbers of alternatively activated macrophages with a limited capacity to produce the chemokine CXCL1 in the airways. Blunted CXCL1 production reduced neutrophil recruitment to the airways, thus limiting tissue immunopathology during infection. In parallel, diet-derived SCFAs boosted CD8+ T cell effector function by enhancing cellular metabolism. Hence, dietary fermentable fiber and SCFAs set an immune equilibrium, balancing innate and adaptive immunity so as to promote the resolution of influenza infection while preventing immune-associated pathology.

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Casein protein consumed before sleep has been suggested to offer an overnight supply of exogenous amino acids for anabolic processes. The purpose of this study was to compare supplemental casein consumed earlier in the day (DayTime, DT) versus shortly before bed (NightTime, NT) on body composition, strength, and muscle hypertrophy in response to supervised resistance training.

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RNA-catalyzed RNA replication is widely believed to have supported a primordial biology. However, RNA catalysis is dependent upon RNA folding, and this yields structures that can block replication of such RNAs. To address this apparent paradox we have re-examined the building blocks used for RNA replication. We report RNA-catalysed RNA synthesis on structured templates when using trinucleotide triphosphates (triplets) as substrates, catalysed by a general and accurate triplet polymerase ribozyme that emerged from in vitro evolution as a mutualistic RNA heterodimer. The triplets cooperatively invaded and unraveled even highly stable RNA secondary structures, and support non-canonical primer-free and bidirectional modes of RNA synthesis and replication. Triplet substrates thus resolve a central incongruity of RNA replication, and here allow the ribozyme to synthesise its own catalytic subunit ‘+’ and ‘-’ strands in segments and assemble them into a new active ribozyme.

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The American tropics (the Neotropics) are the most species-rich realm on Earth, and for centuries, scientists have attempted to understand the origins and evolution of their biodiversity. It is now clear that different regions and taxonomic groups have responded differently to geological and climatic changes. However, we still lack a basic understanding of how Neotropical biodiversity was assembled over evolutionary timescales. Here we infer the timing and origin of the living biota in all major Neotropical regions by performing a cross-taxonomic biogeographic analysis based on 4,450 species from six major clades across the tree of life (angiosperms, birds, ferns, frogs, mammals, and squamates), and integrate >1.3 million species occurrences with large-scale phylogenies. We report an unprecedented level of biotic interchange among all Neotropical regions, totaling 4,525 dispersal events. About half of these events involved transitions between major environmental types, with a predominant directionality from forested to open biomes. For all taxonomic groups surveyed here, Amazonia is the primary source of Neotropical diversity, providing >2,800 lineages to other regions. Most of these dispersal events were to Mesoamerica (∼1,500 lineages), followed by dispersals into open regions of northern South America and the Cerrado and Chaco biomes. Biotic interchange has taken place for >60 million years and generally increased toward the present. The total amount of time lineages spend in a region appears to be the strongest predictor of migration events. These results demonstrate the complex origin of tropical ecosystems and the key role of biotic interchange for the assembly of regional biotas.

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Rabies is a fatal zoonotic disease that requires fast, accurate diagnosis to prevent disease in an exposed individual. The current gold standard for post-mortem diagnosis of human and animal rabies is the direct fluorescent antibody (DFA) test. While the DFA test has proven sensitive and reliable, it requires high quality antibody conjugates, a skilled technician, a fluorescence microscope and diagnostic specimen of sufficient quality. The LN34 pan-lyssavirus real-time RT-PCR assay represents a strong candidate for rabies post-mortem diagnostics due to its ability to detect RNA across the diverse Lyssavirus genus, its high sensitivity, its potential for use with deteriorated tissues, and its simple, easy to implement design. Here, we present data from a multi-site evaluation of the LN34 assay in 14 laboratories. A total of 2,978 samples (1,049 DFA positive) from Africa, the Americas, Asia, Europe, and the Middle East were tested. The LN34 assay exhibited low variability in repeatability and reproducibility studies and was capable of detecting viral RNA in fresh, frozen, archived, deteriorated and formalin-fixed brain tissue. The LN34 assay displayed high diagnostic specificity (99.68%) and sensitivity (99.90%) when compared to the DFA test, and no DFA positive samples were negative by the LN34 assay. The LN34 assay produced definitive findings for 80 samples that were inconclusive or untestable by DFA; 29 were positive. Five samples were inconclusive by the LN34 assay, and only one sample was inconclusive by both tests. Furthermore, use of the LN34 assay led to the identification of one false negative and 11 false positive DFA results. Together, these results demonstrate the reliability and robustness of the LN34 assay and support a role for the LN34 assay in improving rabies diagnostics and surveillance.

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Opioids have been used for millennia for the treatment of pain. However, the long-term efficacy of opioids to treat chronic non-cancer pain continues to be debated. To evaluate opioids' efficacy in chronic non-cancer pain, we performed a meta-analysis of published clinical trials for μ-opioid receptor agonists performed for US Food and Drug Administration approval.

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P values represent a widely used, but pervasively misunderstood and fiercely contested method of scientific inference. Display items, such as figures and tables, often containing the main results, are an important source of P values. We conducted a survey comparing the overall use of P values and the occurrence of significant P values in display items of a sample of articles in the three top multidisciplinary journals (Nature, Science, PNAS) in 2017 and, respectively, in 1997. We also examined the reporting of multiplicity corrections and its potential influence on the proportion of statistically significant P values. Our findings demonstrated substantial and growing reliance on P values in display items, with increases of 2.5 to 14.5 times in 2017 compared to 1997. The overwhelming majority of P values (94%, 95% confidence interval [CI] 92% to 96%) were statistically significant. Methods to adjust for multiplicity were almost non-existent in 1997, but reported in many articles relying on P values in 2017 (Nature 68%, Science 48%, PNAS 38%). In their absence, almost all reported P values were statistically significant (98%, 95% CI 96% to 99%). Conversely, when any multiplicity corrections were described, 88% (95% CI 82% to 93%) of reported P values were statistically significant. Use of Bayesian methods was scant (2.5%) and rarely (0.7%) articles relied exclusively on Bayesian statistics. Overall, wider appreciation of the need for multiplicity corrections is a welcome evolution, but the rapid growth of reliance on P values and implausibly high rates of reported statistical significance are worrisome.