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Concept: Copper


Ancient human mobility at the individual level is conventionally studied by the diverse application of suitable techniques (e.g. aDNA, radiogenic strontium isotopes, as well as oxygen and lead isotopes) to either hard and/or soft tissues. However, the limited preservation of coexisting hard and soft human tissues hampers the possibilities of investigating high-resolution diachronic mobility periods in the life of a single individual. Here, we present the results of a multidisciplinary study of an exceptionally well preserved circa 3.400-year old Danish Bronze Age female find, known as the Egtved Girl. We applied biomolecular, biochemical and geochemical analyses to reconstruct her mobility and diet. We demonstrate that she originated from a place outside present day Denmark (the island of Bornholm excluded), and that she travelled back and forth over large distances during the final months of her life, while consuming a terrestrial diet with intervals of reduced protein intake. We also provide evidence that all her garments were made of non-locally produced wool. Our study advocates the huge potential of combining biomolecular and biogeochemical provenance tracer analyses to hard and soft tissues of a single ancient individual for the reconstruction of high-resolution human mobility.

Concepts: Tissues, Copper, Tin, Denmark, Danish language, Geochemistry, Mesopotamia, Isotope geochemistry


Pigmentation is a polygenic trait encompassing some of the most visible phenotypic variation observed in humans. Here we present direct estimates of selection acting on functional alleles in three key genes known to be involved in human pigmentation pathways-HERC2, SLC45A2, and TYR-using allele frequency estimates from Eneolithic, Bronze Age, and modern Eastern European samples and forward simulations. Neutrality was overwhelmingly rejected for all alleles studied, with point estimates of selection ranging from around 2-10% per generation. Our results provide direct evidence that strong selection favoring lighter skin, hair, and eye pigmentation has been operating in European populations over the last 5,000 y.

Concepts: Gene, Genetics, Natural selection, Genotype, Evolution, Copper, Human skin color, Eye color


Noroviruses (family Caliciviridae) are the primary cause of viral gastroenteritis worldwide. The virus is highly infectious and touching contaminated surfaces can contribute to infection spread. Although the virus was identified over 40 years ago the lack of methods to assess infectivity has hampered the study of the human pathogen. Recently the murine virus, MNV-1, has successfully been used as a close surrogate. Copper alloys have previously been shown to be effective antimicrobial surfaces against a range of bacteria and fungi. We now report rapid inactivation of murine norovirus on alloys, containing over 60% copper, at room temperature but no reduction of infectivity on stainless steel dry surfaces in simulated wet fomite and dry touch contamination. The rate of inactivation was initially very rapid and proportional to copper content of alloy tested. Viral inactivation was not as rapid on brass as previously observed for bacteria but copper-nickel alloy was very effective. The use of chelators and quenchers of reactive oxygen species (ROS) determined that Cu(II) and especially Cu(I) ions are still the primary effectors of toxicity but quenching superoxide and hydroxyl radicals did not confer protection. This suggests Fenton generation of ROS is not important for the inactivation mechanism. One of the targets of copper toxicity was the viral genome and a reduced copy number of the gene for a viral encoded protein, VPg (viral-protein-genome-linked), which is essential for infectivity, was observed following contact with copper and brass dry surfaces. The use of antimicrobial surfaces containing copper in high risk closed environments such as cruise ships and care facilities could help to reduce the spread of this highly infectious and costly pathogen.

Concepts: Virus, Zinc, Copper, Bronze, Steel, Gastroenteritis, Norovirus, Brass


Metals deposited into ecosystems are non-degradable and become one of the major toxic agents which accumulate in habitats. Thus, their concentration requires precise monitoring. To evaluate pollution around a chlor-alkali plant, a glass smelter, two power plants and a ceramic and porcelain factory, we selected terrestrial mosses with different life forms: the orthotropic and endohydric Polytrichum commune and plagiotropic and ectohydric Pleurozium schreberi. Metal concentrations were determined in both species growing together at sites situated at various distances approximately 0.75, 1.5, 3 and 6 km from polluters. MARS analysis evaluated different tendencies of both species for Cd, Co and Pb accumulation depending on the distance from the emitter. In P. schreberi, the concentration of these metals diminished relatively rapidly with an increasing distance from the emitter up to 3000 m and then stabilised. For P. commune, a steady decrease could be observed with increasing the distance up to 6000 m. PCCA ordination explained that both species from the vicinity of the chlor-alkali plant were correlated with the highest Co, Cr, Cu, Fe and Pb as well as Mn and Ni concentrations in their tissues. The mosses from sites closest to both power plants were correlated with the highest Cd and Zn concentrations. P. commune contained significantly higher Cd, Cr, Ni, Pb and Zn concentrations compared to P. schreberi. This may be caused by the lamellae found in the leaves of P. commune which increase the surface area of the possible aerial absorption of contaminants. Soil may also be an additional source of metals, and it affects the uptake in endohydric P. commune more than in ectohydric P. schreberi. However, the precise explanation of these relations needs further investigation.

Concepts: Iron, Plant, Metal, Copper, Pollution, Moss, Mosses, Polytrichum commune


Processing and manipulation of highly conductive pristine graphene in large quantities are still major challenges in the practical application of graphene for electric device. In the present study, we report the liquid-phase exfoliation of graphite in toluene using well-defined poly(3-hexylthiophene) (P3HT) to produce a P3HT/graphene composite. We synthesize and use regioregular P3HT with controlled molecular weights as conductive dispersants for graphene. Simple ultrasonication of graphite flakes with the P3HT successfully produces single-layer and few-layer graphene sheets dispersed in toluene. The produced P3HT/graphene composite can be used as conductive graphene ink, indicating that the P3HT/graphene composite has high electrical conductivity owing to the high conductivity of P3HT and graphene. The P3HT/graphene composite also works as an oxidation-resistant and conductive film for a copper substrate, which is due to the high gas-barrier property of graphene.

Concepts: Electricity, Electrical conductor, Aluminium, Copper, Graphite, Graphene, Electrical conductivity, Fullerene


The ability to pattern planar and freestanding 3D metallic architectures at the microscale would enable myriad applications, including flexible electronics, displays, sensors, and electrically small antennas. A 3D printing method is introduced that combines direct ink writing with a focused laser that locally anneals printed metallic features “on-the-fly.” To optimize the nozzle-to-laser separation distance, the heat transfer along the printed silver wire is modeled as a function of printing speed, laser intensity, and pulse duration. Laser-assisted direct ink writing is used to pattern highly conductive, ductile metallic interconnects, springs, and freestanding spiral architectures on flexible and rigid substrates.

Concepts: Electricity, Heat, Aluminium, Metal, Copper, Silver, Printing, Inkjet printer


We report the first occurrence of a natural quasicrystal with decagonal symmetry. The quasicrystal, with composition Al71Ni24Fe5, was discovered in the Khatyrka meteorite, a recently described CV3 carbonaceous chondrite. Icosahedrite, Al63Cu24Fe13, the first natural quasicrystal to be identified, was found in the same meteorite. The new quasicrystal was found associated with steinhardtite (Al38Ni32Fe30), Fe-poor steinhardtite (Al50Ni40Fe10), Al-bearing trevorite (NiFe2O4) and Al-bearing taenite (FeNi). Laboratory studies of decagonal Al71Ni24Fe5 have shown that it is stable over a narrow range of temperatures, 1120 K to 1200 K at standard pressure, providing support for our earlier conclusion that the Khatyrka meteorite reached heterogeneous high temperatures [1100 < T(K) ≤ 1500] and then rapidly cooled after being heated during an impact-induced shock that occurred in outer space 4.5 Gya. The occurrences of metallic Al alloyed with Cu, Ni, and Fe raises new questions regarding conditions that can be achieved in the early solar nebula.

Concepts: Iron, Chondrite, Carbonaceous chondrite, Copper, Nickel, Meteorite, Iron meteorite, Taenite


Microparticles containing substantial amounts of radiocesium collected from the ground in Fukushima were investigated mainly by transmission electron microscopy (TEM) and X-ray microanalysis with scanning TEM (STEM). Particles of around 2 μm in diameter are basically silicate glass containing Fe and Zn as transition metals, Cs, Rb and K as alkali ions, and Sn as substantial elements. These elements are homogeneously distributed in the glass except Cs which has a concentration gradient, increasing from center to surface. Nano-sized crystallites such as copper- zinc- and molybdenum sulfide, and silver telluride were found inside the microparticles, which probably resulted from the segregation of the silicate and sulfide (telluride) during molten-stage. An alkali-depleted layer of ca. 0.2 μm thick exists at the outer side of the particle collected from cedar leaves 8 months after the nuclear accident, suggesting gradual leaching of radiocesium from the microparticles in the natural environment.

Concepts: Electron, Iron, Chernobyl disaster, Uranium, Zinc, Copper, Silver, Transition metal


Over-expression of mutant copper, zinc superoxide dismutase (SOD) in mice induces ALS and has become the most widely used model of neurodegeneration. However, no pharmaceutical agent in 20years has extended lifespan by more than a few weeks. The Copper-Chaperone-for-SOD (CCS) protein completes the maturation of SOD by inserting copper, but paradoxically human CCS causes mice co-expressing mutant SOD to die within two weeks of birth. Hypothesizing that co-expression of CCS created copper deficiency in spinal cord, we treated these pups with the PET-imaging agent CuATSM, which is known to deliver copper into the CNS within minutes. CuATSM prevented the early mortality of CCSxSOD mice, while markedly increasing Cu, Zn SOD protein in their ventral spinal cord. Remarkably, continued treatment with CuATSM extended the survival of these mice by an average of 18months. When CuATSM treatment was stopped, these mice developed ALS-related symptoms and died within 3months. Restoring CuATSM treatment could rescue these mice after they became symptomatic, providing a means to start and stop disease progression. All ALS patients also express human CCS, raising the hope that familial SOD ALS patients could respond to CuATSM treatment similarly to the CCSxSOD mice.

Concepts: Spinal cord, Superoxide dismutase, Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Zinc, Copper, Motor neuron, SOD1, Copper deficiency


Melanin is a critical component of biological systems, but the exact chemistry of melanin is still imprecisely known. This is partly due to melanin’s complex heterogeneous nature and partly because many studies use synthetic analogues and/or pigments extracted from their natural biological setting, which may display important differences from endogenous pigments. Here we demonstrate how synchrotron X-ray analyses can non-destructively characterise the elements associated with melanin pigment in situ within extant feathers. Elemental imaging shows that the distributions of Ca, Cu and Zn are almost exclusively controlled by melanin pigment distribution. X-ray absorption spectroscopy demonstrates that the atomic coordination of zinc and sulfur is different within eumelanised regions compared to pheomelanised regions. This not only impacts our fundamental understanding of pigmentation in extant organisms but also provides a significant contribution to the evidence-based colour palette available for reconstructing the appearance of fossil organisms.

Concepts: DNA, X-ray, Chemical element, Copper, Melanin, Pigment, X-ray absorption spectroscopy, Absorption spectroscopy