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

Concept: Ingestion


Plastic waste is a distinctive indicator of the world-wide impact of anthropogenic activities. Both macro- and micro-plastics are found in the ocean, but as yet little is known about their ultimate fate and their impact on marine ecosystems. In this study we present the first evidence that microplastics are already becoming integrated into deep-water organisms. By examining organisms that live on the deep-sea floor we show that plastic microfibres are ingested and internalised by members of at least three major phyla with different feeding mechanisms. These results demonstrate that, despite its remote location, the deep sea and its fragile habitats are already being exposed to human waste to the extent that diverse organisms are ingesting microplastics.

Concepts: Eating, Ingestion, Ocean


Food consumption is thought to induce sleepiness. However, little is known about how postprandial sleep is regulated. Here, we simultaneously measured sleep and food intake of individual flies and found a transient rise in sleep following meals. Depending on the amount consumed, the effect ranged from slightly arousing to strongly sleep inducing. Postprandial sleep was positively correlated with ingested volume, protein, and salt-but not sucrose-revealing meal property-specific regulation. Silencing of leucokinin receptor (Lkr) neurons specifically reduced sleep induced by protein consumption. Thermogenetic stimulation of leucokinin (Lk) neurons decreased whereas Lk downregulation by RNAi increased postprandial sleep, suggestive of an inhibitory connection in the Lk-Lkr circuit. We further identified a subset of non-leucokininergic cells proximal to Lkr neurons that rhythmically increased postprandial sleep when silenced, suggesting that these cells are cyclically gated inhibitory inputs to Lkr neurons. Together, these findings reveal the dynamic nature of postprandial sleep.

Concepts: DNA, Protein, Nutrition, Eating, Ingestion, Food, Induced demand, Meal


BACKGROUND: The pattern of protein intake following exercise may impact whole-body protein turnover and net protein retention. We determined the effects of different protein feeding strategies on protein metabolism in resistance-trained young men. METHODS: Participants were randomly assigned to ingest either 80g of whey protein as 8x10g every 1.5h (PULSE; n=8), 4x20g every 3h (intermediate, INT; n=7), or 2x40g every 6h (BOLUS; n=8) after an acute bout of bilateral knee extension exercise (4x10 repetitions at 80% maximal strength). Whole-body protein turnover (Q), synthesis (S), breakdown (B), and net balance (NB) were measured throughout 12h of recovery by a bolus ingestion of [15N]glycine with urinary [15N]ammonia enrichment as the collected end-product. RESULTS: PULSE Q rates were greater than BOLUS (~19%, P<0.05) with a trend towards being greater than INT (~9%, P=0.08). Rates of S were 32% and 19% greater and rates of B were 51% and 57% greater for PULSE as compared to INT and BOLUS, respectively (P<0.05), with no difference between INT and BOLUS. There were no statistical differences in NB between groups (P=0.23); however, magnitude-based inferential statistics revealed likely small (mean effect+/-90%CI; 0.59+/-0.87) and moderate (0.80+/-0.91) increases in NB for PULSE and INT compared to BOLUS and possible small increase (0.42+/-1.00) for INT vs. PULSE. CONCLUSION: We conclude that the pattern of ingested protein, and not only the total daily amount, can impact whole-body protein metabolism. Individuals aiming to maximize NB would likely benefit from repeated ingestion of moderate amounts of protein (~20g) at regular intervals (~3h) throughout the day.

Concepts: Metabolism, Nutrition, Eating, Ingestion, Coprophagia, Digestive system, Mouth, Whey protein


Small plastic detritus, termed ‘microplastics’, are a widespread and ubiquitous contaminant of marine ecosystems across the globe. Ingestion of microplastics by marine biota, including mussels, worms, fish and seabirds, has been widely reported, but despite their vital ecological role in marine food-webs, the impact of microplastics on zooplankton remains under-researched. Here, we show that microplastics are ingested by, and may impact upon, zooplankton. We used bio-imaging techniques to document ingestion, egestion and adherence of microplastics in a range of zooplankton common to the northeast Atlantic, and employed feeding rate studies to determine the impact of plastic detritus on algal ingestion rates in copepods. Using fluorescence and coherent anti-Stokes Raman scattering (CARS) microscopy we identified that thirteen zooplankton taxa had the capacity to ingest 1.7 - 30.6 µm polystyrene beads, with uptake varying by taxa, life-stage and bead-size. Post-ingestion, copepods egested faecal pellets laden with microplastics. We further observed microplastics adhered to the external carapace and appendages of exposed zooplankton. Exposure of the copepod Centropages typicus to natural assemblages of algae with and without microplastics showed that 7.3 µm microplastics (>4000 ml-1) significantly decreased algal feeding. Our findings imply that marine microplastic debris can negatively impact upon zooplankton function and health.

Concepts: Ecology, Eating, Ingestion, Coprophagia, Crustacean, Raman spectroscopy, Plankton, Copepod


This paper describes two fatalities, three non-fatal intentional and three accidental oral ingestions of yew (Taxus baccata) leaves. In all cases the post-mortem external examinations showed no signs of violence. Internal examinations revealed small green, needle-like particles on the tongue, in the esophagus and in the stomach. Yew leaves were also identified in the stomach contents, whereas Taxus leaves were cut into small pieces and then ingested in one case. The analytical method used was based on a liquid-liquid-extraction under alkaline conditions followed by LC-MS/MS analysis (QTRAP 5500). Chromatographic separation was achieved by HPLC on a Kinetex C18 2.6u (100×3)mm. The analytical method allows the simultaneous identification and quantification of the commercially available yew alkaloids taxoids (m/z): paclitaxel (854.2→105.0/286.1), 10-deacetyltaxol (10-DAT: 812.2→105.0/286.1), baccatin III (BAC III: 604.0→105.0/327.0), 10-deacetylbaccatin III (10-DAB III: 562.1→105.0/327.0), cephalomannine [taxol B] (562.1→105.0/327.0) and of 3,5-dimethoxyphenol (3,5-DMP: 155.0→111.9/122.9) also encompassing the qualitative analysis of the alkaloidal diterpenoids (Q1→194.0/107.0); reference mass spectra obtained from a yew leaves extract: monoacetyltaxine (MAT: 568.4), taxine B (584.2), monohydroxydiacetyltaxine (MHDAT: 626.4), triacetyltaxine (TAT: 652.4), monohydroxytriacetyltaxine (MHTAT: 668.4). In both fatalities, paclitaxel, 10-DAT and cephalomannine were not identified in urine, cardiac and femoral blood but all taxoids and 3,5-DMP were present in stomach content and excreted into the bile. In urine, highest 3,5-DMP concentration was 7500μg/L and 23,000μg/L after enzymatic hydrolysis, respectively. In intentional and accidental poisonings, when electrocardiogram (ECG) examinations revealed ventricular tachycardia and/or prolonged QRS intervals, taxines were identified in plasma/serum, even after the ingestion of a few number of yew leaves, when 3,5-dimethoxyphenol was not even found. According to the data from one near-fatal intentional poisoning, elimination half-life of MAT, TAXIN B, MHDAT and MHTAT in serum was calculated with 11-13h and taxines were detected up to t=+122h post-ingestion of approximately two handfuls of yew leaves.

Concepts: Ingestion, Digestive system, Stomach, Chromatography, Ventricular fibrillation, Electrocardiography, Taxus, Taxus baccata


Anthropogenic debris in the world’s oceans and coastal environments is a pervasive global issue that has both direct and indirect impacts on avifauna. The number of bird species affected, the feeding ecologies associated with an increased risk of debris ingestion, and selectivity of ingested debris have yet to be investigated in most of Australia’s coastal and marine birds. With this study we aim to address the paucity of data regarding marine debris ingestion in Australian coastal and marine bird species. We investigated which Australian bird groups ingest marine debris, and whether debris-ingesting groups exhibit selectivity associated with their taxonomy, habitat or foraging methods. Here we present the largest multispecies study of anthropogenic debris ingestion in Australasian avifauna to date. We necropsied and investigated the gastrointestinal contents of 378 birds across 61 species, collected dead across eastern Australia. These species represented nine taxonomic orders, five habitat groups and six feeding strategies. Among investigated species, thirty percent had ingested debris, though ingestion did not occur uniformly within the orders of birds surveyed. Debris ingestion was found to occur in orders Procellariiformes, Suliformes, Charadriiformes and Pelecaniformes, across all surveyed habitats, and among birds that foraged by surface feeding, pursuit diving and search-by-sight. Procellariiformes, birds in pelagic habitats, and surface feeding marine birds ingested debris with the greatest frequency. Among birds which were found to ingest marine debris, we investigated debris selectivity and found that marine birds were selective with respect to both type and colour of debris. Selectivity for type and colour of debris significantly correlated with taxonomic order, habitat and foraging strategy. This study highlights the significant impact of feeding ecology on debris ingestion among Australia’s avifauna.

Concepts: Eating, Ingestion, Bird, Albatross, Seabird, Penguin, Procellariiformes, Shearwater


Mouth rinsing with a CHO solution has been suggested to improve short (<1 h) endurance performance through central effect. We examined the effects of mouth rinsing with a CHO solution on running time to exhaustion on a treadmill. Six well-trained subjects ran to exhaustion at 85% VO2max , on three separate occasions. Subjects received either an 8% CHO solution or a placebo (PLA) every 15 min to mouth rinse (MR) or a 6% CHO solution to ingest (ING). Treatments were assigned in a randomized, counterbalanced fashion, with the mouth-rinsing treatments double-blinded. Blood samples were taken to assess glucose (Glu) and lactate (Lac), as well as the perceived exertion (RPE). Gas exchange and heart rate (HR) were collected during all trials. Subjects ran longer (P = 0·038) in both the MR (2583 ± 686 s) and ING (2625 ± 804 s) trials, compared to PLA (1935 ± 809 s), covering a greater distance (MR 9685 ± 3511·62 m; ING 9855 ± 4118·62; PLA 7295 ± 3727 m). RER was significantly higher in both ING and MR versus PLA. No difference among trials was observed for other metabolic or cardiovascular variables (VO2 , Lac, Glu, HR), nor for RPE. Endurance capacity, based on time to exhaustion on a treadmill, was improved when either mouth rinsing or ingesting a CHO solution, compared to PLA.

Concepts: Ingestion, Mouth, Exercise physiology, VO2 max, Physical fitness


Microscopic plastic fragments (<5mm) are a worldwide conservation issue, polluting both coastal and marine environments. Fibres are the most prominent plastic type reported in the guts of marine organisms, but their effects once ingested are unknown. This study investigated the fate of polypropylene rope microfibres (1-5mm in length) ingested by the crab, Carcinus maenas, and the consequences for the crab's energy budget. In chronic 4 week feeding studies, crabs which ingested food containing microfibres (0.3-1.0% plastic by weight) showed reduced food consumption (from 0.33g d-1 to 0.03g d-1) and a significant reduction in energy available for growth (scope for growth) from 0.59 kJ crab d-1 to -0.31 kJ crab d-1 in crabs fed with 1% plastic. The polypropylene microfibres were physically altered by their passage through the foregut, and were excreted with a smaller overall size and length, and amalgamated into distinctive balls. These results support of the emerging paradigm that a key biological impact of microplastic ingestion is a reduction in energy budgets for the affected marine biota. We also provide novel evidence of the biotransformations that can affect the plastics themselves following ingestion and excretion.

Concepts: Effect, Eating, Ingestion, Food, Affect, Blue crab, Portunidae, Carcinus maenas


Dietary supplementation with beetroot juice (BR) containing ~5-8 mmol of inorganic nitrate (NO3(-)) increases plasma nitrite concentration ([NO2(-)]), reduces blood pressure, and may positively influence the physiological responses to exercise. However, the dose-response relationship between the volume of BR ingested and the physiological effects invoked has not been investigated. In a balanced crossover design, 10 healthy males ingested 70, 140 or 280 ml of concentrated BR (containing 4.2, 8.4 and 16.8 mmol NO3-, respectively) or no supplement to establish the effects of BR on resting plasma [NO3(-)] and [NO2(-)] over 24 h. Subsequently, on six separate occasions, 10 subjects completed moderate-intensity and severe-intensity cycle exercise tests 2.5 h post-ingestion of 70, 140 and 280 ml BR, or NO3(-)-depleted BR as placebo (PL). Following acute BR ingestion, plasma [NO2(-)] increased in a dose-dependent manner, with the peak changes occurring at ~2-3 h. Compared to PL, 70 ml BR did not alter the physiological responses to exercise. However, 140 and 280 ml BR reduced the steady-state VO2 during moderate-intensity exercise by 1.7% (P=0.06) and 3.0% (P<0.05), whilst time to task failure was extended by 14% and 12% (both P<0.05), respectively, compared to PL. The results indicate that, while plasma [NO2(-)] and the O2 cost of moderate-intensity exercise are improved dose-dependently with NO3(-)-rich BR, there is no additional improvement in exercise tolerance after ingesting BR containing 16.8 compared to 8.4 mmol NO3(-). These findings have important implications for the use of BR to enhance cardiovascular health and exercise performance in young adults.

Concepts: Ingestion, Dose-response relationship, Pharmacodynamics, Nitrate


Inadvertent battery ingestion in children and the associated morbidity and mortality results in thousands of emergency room visits every year. Given the risk for serious electrochemical burns within hours of ingestion, the current standard of care for the treatment of batteries in the esophagus is emergent endoscopic removal. Safety standards now regulate locked battery compartments in toys, which have resulted in a modest reduction in inadvertent battery ingestion; specifically, 3,461 ingestions were reported in 2009, and 3,366 in 2013. Aside from legislation, minimal technological development has taken place at the level of the battery to limit injury. We have constructed a waterproof, pressure-sensitive coating, harnessing a commercially available quantum tunneling composite. Quantum tunneling composite coated (QTCC) batteries are nonconductive in the low-pressure gastrointestinal environment yet conduct within the higher pressure of standard battery housings. Importantly, this coating technology enables most battery-operated equipment to be powered without modification. If these new batteries are swallowed, they limit the external electrolytic currents responsible for tissue injury. We demonstrate in a large-animal model a significant decrease in tissue injury with QTCC batteries compared with uncoated control batteries. In summary, here we describe a facile approach to increasing the safety of batteries by minimizing the risk for electrochemical burn if the batteries are inadvertently ingested, without the need for modification of most battery-powered devices.

Concepts: Electric current, Electrochemistry, Ingestion, Digestive system, Battery, Electrolyte, Anode, Galvanic cell