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Kosmos
Astronomia Astrofizyka
Inne

Kultura
Sztuka dawna i współczesna, muzea i kolekcje

Metoda
Metodologia nauk, Matematyka, Filozofia, Miary i wagi, Pomiary

Materia
Substancje, reakcje, energia
Fizyka, chemia i inżynieria materiałowa

Człowiek
Antropologia kulturowa Socjologia Psychologia Zdrowie i medycyna

Wizje
Przewidywania Kosmologia Religie Ideologia Polityka

Ziemia
Geologia, geofizyka, geochemia, środowisko przyrodnicze

Życie
Biologia, biologia molekularna i genetyka

Cyberprzestrzeń
Technologia cyberprzestrzeni, cyberkultura, media i komunikacja

Działalność
Wiadomości | Gospodarka, biznes, zarządzanie, ekonomia

Technologie
Budownictwo, energetyka, transport, wytwarzanie, technologie informacyjne

Czasopisma z MDPI

Wydawnictwo MDPI publikuje czasopisma Open Access.

New cembranoids, sarcocrassocolides P–R (1–3) and four known compounds (4–7) were isolated from the soft coral Sarcophyton crassocaule. The structures of the metabolites were determined by extensive spectroscopic analysis. Compounds 3–5 and 7 were shown to exhibit cytotoxicity toward a limited panel of cancer cell lines and all compounds 1–7 displayed potent in vitro anti-inflammatory activity in lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-stimulated RAW264.7 macrophage cells by inhibiting the expression of inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) protein. Compound 7 also showed significant activity in reducing the accumulation of cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) protein in the same macrophage cells.

http://www.mdpi.com/1660-3397/12/2/840 2014/02/02 - 12:59

A new meroditerpene, sartorypyrone C (5), was isolated, together with the known tryptoquivalines L (1a), H (1b), F (1c), 3′-(4-oxoquinazolin-3-yl) spiro [1H-indole-3,5′]-2,2′-dione (2) and 4(3H)-quinazolinone (3), from the culture of the marine sponge-associated fungus Neosartorya paulistensis (KUFC 7897), while reexamination of the fractions remaining from a previous study of the culture of the diseased coral-derived fungus N. laciniosa (KUFC 7896) led to isolation of a new tryptoquivaline derivative tryptoquivaline T (1d). Compounds 1a–d, 2, 3, and 5, together with aszonapyrones A (4a) and B (4b), chevalones B (6) and C (7a), sartorypyrones B (7b) and A (8), were tested for their antibacterial activity against four reference strains (Staphylococcus aureus, Bacillus subtilis, Escherichia coli, and Pseudomonas aeruginosa), as well as the environmental multidrug-resistant isolates. Only aszonapyrone A (4a) and sartorypyrone A (8) exhibited significant antibacterial activity as well as synergism with antibiotics against the Gram-positive multidrug-resistant strains. Antibiofilm assays of aszonapyrone A (4a) and sartorypyrone A (8) showed that practically no biofilm was formed in the presence of their 2× MIC and MIC. However, the presence of a sub-inhibitory concentration of ½ MIC of 4a and 8 was found to increase the biofilm production in both reference strain and the multidrug-resistant isolates of S. aureus.

http://www.mdpi.com/1660-3397/12/2/822 2014/02/02 - 12:59

Adenovirus infections in immunocompromised patients are associated with high mortality rates. Currently, there are no effective anti-adenoviral therapies available. It is well known that actinobacteria can produce secondary metabolites that are attractive in drug discovery due to their structural diversity and their evolved interaction with biomolecules. Here, we have established an extract library derived from actinobacteria isolated from Vestfjorden, Norway, and performed a screening campaign to discover anti-adenoviral compounds. One extract with anti-adenoviral activity was found to contain a diastereomeric 1:1 mixture of the butenolide secondary alcohols 1a and 1b. By further cultivation and analysis, we could isolate 1a and 1b in different diastereomeric ratio. In addition, three more anti-adenoviral butenolides 2, 3 and 4 with differences in their side-chains were isolated. In this study, the anti-adenoviral activity of these compounds was characterized and substantial differences in the cytotoxic potential between the butenolide analogs were observed. The most potent butenolide analog 3 displayed an EC50 value of 91 μM and no prominent cytotoxicity at 2 mM. Furthermore, we propose a biosynthetic pathway for these compounds based on their relative time of appearance and structure.

http://www.mdpi.com/1660-3397/12/2/799 2014/02/02 - 12:59

Nano- and micro- fibers of conjugated polymer semiconductors are particularly interesting both for applications and for fundamental research. They allow an investigation into how electronic properties are influenced by size confinement and chain orientation within microstructures that are not readily accessible within thin films. Moreover, they open the way to many applications in organic electronics, optoelectronics and sensing. Electro-spinning, the technique subject of this review, is a simple method to effectively form and control conjugated polymer fibers. We provide the basics of the technique and its recent advancements for the formation of highly conducting and high mobility polymer fibers towards their adoption in electronic applications.

http://www.mdpi.com/1996-1944/7/2/906 2014/02/02 - 12:59

A cellulose-based glucose oxidase membrane was prepared on a glassy carbon (GC) electrode. The current response of the electrode to glucose was measured by applying a potential of 1.0 V vs. Ag/AgCl on the base GC and was proportional to the concentration of glucose up to 1 mM. The long-term stability of the electrode was examined by measuring the daily glucose response. Over four months, the response magnitude was maintained and then gradually decreased. After 11 months, though the response magnitude decreased to 50% of the initial value, the linear response range did not change. Therefore, the electrode could be used as a glucose biosensor even after 11 months of use. The entrapment of the enzyme in the cellulose matrix promoted the stability of the enzyme, as revealed by data on the enzyme activity after the enzyme electrode was immersed in urea. Therefore, the cellulose matrix may be used to improve the performance of biosensors, bioreactors and bio-fuel cells.

http://www.mdpi.com/1996-1944/7/2/899 2014/02/02 - 12:59

The present study concerns a development of calcium aluminate cement (CAC) concrete to enhance the durability against an externally chemically aggressive environment, in particular, chloride-induced corrosion. To evaluate the inhibition effect and concrete properties, CAC was partially mixed with ordinary Portland cement (OPC), ranging from 5% to 15%, as a binder. As a result, it was found that an increase in the CAC in binder resulted in a dramatic decrease in the setting time of fresh concrete. However, the compressive strength was lower, ranging about 20 MPa, while OPC indicated about 30–35 MPa at an equivalent age. When it comes to chloride transport, there was only marginal variation in the diffusivity of chloride ions. The corrosion resistance of CAC mixture was significantly enhanced: its chloride threshold level for corrosion initiation exceeded 3.0% by weight of binder, whilst OPC and CAC concrete indicated about 0.5%–1.0%.

http://www.mdpi.com/1996-1944/7/2/887 2014/02/02 - 12:59

In this paper, concrete specimens are immersed in ultrapure water, to study the evolutions of surface permeability, pore structure and paste microstructure following the prolonging of immersion period. According to the results, after 30-day immersion, the surface permeability of concrete becomes higher as compared with the value before immersion. However, further immersion makes the surface permeability decrease, so that the value measured after 150-day immersion is only half that measured after 30-day immersion. The early increase in surface permeability should be mainly attributed to the leaching of calcium hydroxide, while the later decrease to the refinement of pore structure due to hydration. The two effects work simultaneously and compete throughout the immersion period. The proposed mechanisms get support from microscopic measurements and observations.

http://www.mdpi.com/1996-1944/7/2/876 2014/02/02 - 12:59

Andes virus (ANDV) is highly pathogenic in humans and is the primary etiologic agent of hantavirus cardiopulmonary syndrome (HCPS) in South America. Case-fatality rates are as high as 50% and there are no approved vaccines or specific therapies for infection. Our laboratory has recently developed a replication-competent recombinant vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV)-based vaccine that expressed the glycoproteins of Andes virus in place of the native VSV glycoprotein (G). This vaccine is highly efficacious in the Syrian hamster model of HCPS when given 28 days before challenge with ANDV, or when given around the time of challenge (peri-exposure), and even protects when administered post-exposure. Herein, we sought to test the durability of the immune response to a single dose of this vaccine in Syrian hamsters. This vaccine was efficacious in hamsters challenged intranasally with ANDV 6 months after vaccination (p = 0.025), but animals were not significantly protected following 1 year of vaccination (p = 0.090). The decrease in protection correlated with a reduction of measurable neutralizing antibody responses, and suggests that a more robust vaccination schedule might be required to provide long-term immunity.

http://www.mdpi.com/1999-4915/6/2/516 2014/02/01 - 09:53

A phytochemical investigation of the methanolic extract of the bark of Endiandra kingiana led to the isolation of seven new tetracyclic endiandric acid analogues, kingianic acids A–G (1–7), together with endiandric acid M (8), tsangibeilin B (9) and endiandric acid (10). Their structures were determined by 1D- and 2D-NMR analysis in combination with HRMS experiments. The structure of compounds 9 and 10 were confirmed by single-crystal X-ray diffraction analysis. These compounds were screened for Bcl-xL and Mcl-1 binding affinities and cytotoxic activity on various cancer cell lines. Compound 5 showed moderate cytotoxic activity against human colorectal adeno-carcinoma (HT-29) and lung adenocarcinoma epithelial (A549) cell lines, with IC50 values in the range 15–17 µM, and compounds 3, 6 and 9 exhibited weak binding affinity for the anti-apoptotic protein Mcl-1.

http://www.mdpi.com/1420-3049/19/2/1732 2014/02/01 - 09:53

An important problem of treating patients with endotoxemia is to find drugs to reduce the negative effects of endotoxin on the organism. We tested fucoidan (sulfated polysaccharide) from the brown alga Fucus evanescens as a potential drug in a mouse model of endotoxemia inducted by lipopolysaccharide (LPS). The survival time of mice injected with LPS increased under fucoidan treatment compared with the group of mice injected with LPS only. The preventive administration of fucoidan to mice with endotoxemia resulted in inhibition of increased levels of proinflammatory cytokines (TNFα and IL-6), as well as decreasing of the processes of hypercoagulability. The parenteral or per os administration of fucoidan resulted in decreasing the degree of microcirculatory disorders and secondary dystrophic-destructive changes in parenchymal organs of mice with endotoxemia. Taken together, these results demonstrate that fucoidan prevents endotoxin-induced damage in a mouse model of endotoxemia and increases the mice’s resistance to LPS.

http://www.mdpi.com/1660-3397/12/2/886 2014/02/01 - 09:53

Concerning the requirements of effective drug candidates to combat against high rising multidrug resistant pathogens, we isolated three new linear lipopeptides, gageostatins A–C (1–3), consisting of hepta-peptides and new 3-β-hydroxy fatty acids from the fermentation broth of a marine-derived bacterium Bacillus subtilis. Their structures were elucidated by analyzing a combination of extensive 1D, 2D NMR spectroscopic data and high resolution ESIMS data. Fatty acids, namely 3-β-hydroxy-11-methyltridecanoic and 3-β-hydroxy-9,11-dimethyltridecanoic acids were characterized in lipopeptides 1 and 2, respectively, whereas an unsaturated fatty acid (E)-7,9-dimethylundec-2-enoic acid was assigned in 3. The 3R configuration of the stereocenter of 3-β-hydroxy fatty acids in 1 and 2 was established by Mosher’s MTPA method. The absolute stereochemistry of amino acid residues in 1–3 was ascertained by acid hydrolysis followed by Marfey’s derivatization studies. Gageostatins 1–3 exhibited good antifungal activities with MICs values of 4–32 µg/mL when tested against pathogenic fungi (R. solani, B. cinerea and C. acutatum) and moderate antibacterial activity against bacteria (B. subtilis, S. aeureus, S. typhi and P. aeruginosa) with MICs values of 8–64 µg/mL. Futhermore, gageostatins 1–3 displayed cytotoxicity against six human cancer cell lines with GI50 values of 4.6–19.6 µg/mL. It is also noteworthy that mixed compounds 1+2 displayed better antifungal and cytotoxic activities than individuals.

http://www.mdpi.com/1660-3397/12/2/871 2014/02/01 - 09:53

The periplasmic aldehyde oxidoreductase PaoABC from Escherichia coli is a molybdenum enzyme involved in detoxification of aldehydes in the cell. It is an example of an αβγ heterotrimeric enzyme of the xanthine oxidase family of enzymes which does not dimerize via its molybdenum cofactor binding domain. In order to structurally characterize PaoABC, X-ray crystallography and small angle X-ray scattering (SAXS) have been carried out. The protein crystallizes in the presence of 20% (w/v) polyethylene glycol 3350 using the hanging-drop vapour diffusion method. Although crystals were initially twinned, several experiments were done to overcome twinning and lowering the crystallization temperature (293 K to 277 K) was the solution to the problem. The non-twinned crystals used to solve the structure diffract X-rays to beyond 1.80 Å and belong to the C2 space group, with cell parameters a = 109.42 Å, b = 78.08 Å, c = 151.77 Å, β = 99.77°, and one molecule in the asymmetric unit. A molecular replacement solution was found for each subunit separately, using several proteins as search models. SAXS data of PaoABC were also collected showing that, in solution, the protein is also an αβγ heterotrimer.

http://www.mdpi.com/1422-0067/15/2/2223 2014/02/01 - 09:53

The paper presents an evolutionary model, based on the assumption that agents may revise their current strategies if they previously failed to attain the maximum level of potential payoffs. We offer three versions of this reflexive mechanism, each one of which describes a distinct type: spontaneous agents, rigid players, and ‘satisficers’. We use simulations to examine the performance of these types. Agents who change their strategies relatively easily tend to perform better in coordination games, but antagonistic games generally lead to more favorable outcomes if the individuals only change their strategies when disappointment from previous rounds surpasses some predefined threshold.

http://www.mdpi.com/2073-4336/5/1/1 2014/02/01 - 09:53

Self-stabilized magnetic polymeric composite nanoparticles of coated poly-(sodium 2-acrylamido-2-methylpropane sulfonate-co-styrene)/magnetite (PAMPS-Na-co-St/Fe3O4) were prepared by emulsifier-free miniemulsion polymerization using styrene (St) as a monomer, 2-acrylamido-2-methylpropane sulfonic acid sodium salt (AMPS-Na) as an ionic comonomer, N,N-methylenebisacrylamide (MBA) as crosslinker, hexadecane (HD) as a hydrophobic solvent, and 2,2-azodiisobutyronitrile (AIBN) as an initiator in the presence of hydrophobic oleic acid coated magnetite particles. Hydrophobic oleic acid coated magnetite particles with an average size of about 7-10 nm were prepared with the new modified water-based magnetite ferrofluid, synthesized by a chemical modified coprecipitation method. The morphology and the particle size distributions of the crosslinked PAMPS-Na-co-St/Fe3O4 composite were observed and analyzed by transmission electron microscopy (TEM). The average Fe3O4 content of PAMPS-Na-co-St/Fe3O4 was determined by thermogravimetric analysis (TGA). The inhibitory action of PAMPS-Na-co-St/Fe3O4 towards steel corrosion in 1 M HCl solutions has been investigated by polarization and electrochemical impedance spectroscopy (EIS) methods. Polarization measurements indicate that PAMPS-Na-co-St/Fe3O4 acts as a mixed type-inhibitor and the inhibition efficiency increases with inhibitor concentration. The results of potentiodynamic polarization and EIS measurements clearly showed that the inhibition mechanism involves blocking of the steel surface by inhibitor molecules via adsorption.

http://www.mdpi.com/1420-3049/19/2/1713 2014/02/01 - 09:53

Crataegus pinnatifida (Hawthorn) is widely distributed in China and has a long history of use as a traditional medicine. The fruit of C. pinnatifida has been used for the treatment of cardiodynia, hernia, dyspepsia, postpartum blood stasis, and hemafecia and thus increasing interest in this plant has emerged in recent years. Between 1966 and 2013, numerous articles have been published on the chemical constituents, pharmacology or pharmacologic effects and toxicology of C. pinnatifida. To review the pharmacologic advances and to discuss the potential perspective for future investigation, we have summarized the main literature findings of these publications. So far, over 150 compounds including flavonoids, triterpenoids, steroids, monoterpenoids, sesquiterpenoids, lignans, hydroxycinnamic acids, organic acids and nitrogen-containing compounds have been isolated and identified from C. pinnatifida. It has been found that these constituents and extracts of C. pinnatifida have broad pharmacological effects with low toxicity on, for example, the cardiovascular, digestive, and endocrine systems, and pathogenic microorganisms, supporting the view that C. pinnatifida has favorable therapeutic effects. Thus, although C. pinnatifida has already been widely used as pharmacological therapy, due to its various active compounds, further research is warranted to develop new drugs.

http://www.mdpi.com/1420-3049/19/2/1685 2014/02/01 - 09:53

In four synthetic steps we successfully prepared a red-shifted heptamethine cyanine dye (λmax = 825 nm in methanol) that could be very useful for biochemists and bioanalytical chemists for probing lipophilic environments, including the hydrophobic pockets of enzymes. The heptamethine dye structure was characterized by various spectroscopic techniques including 1H-NMR, 13C-NMR and high-resolution accurate mass spectroscopy (HRMS). We have also shown the hydrophobicity spectrally by varying methanol/water ratios and observing corresponding absorbance and fluorescence spectral changes.

http://www.mdpi.com/1422-8599/2014/1/M814 2014/02/01 - 09:53

Hyaluronic acid (HA) has currently several therapeutic applications: in ophthalmology, osteoarthritis, wound healing, tissue regeneration, postoperative anti-adhesion and anesthetic medicine. In the last ten years, it has also been successfully investigated in the field of drug delivery, in the form of conjugates or hydrogel depot systems. HAylation, the covalent conjugation of HA to bioactive molecules, allows the overcoming of disadvantages associated with some pharmaceuticals, such as insolubility, instability and fast kidney clearance. These issues can be addressed also by covalent attachment of polyethylene glycol (PEGylation), but HA has the relevant advantages of biodegradability, high loading and specific targeting. In this review, the novel HA derivatives and the latest advances in HA-based drug delivery with a particular focus on the chemistry of conjugation will be discussed. Although, so far, there are no HA-drug conjugates on the market, several derivatives are presently under clinical investigation, and the promising results encourage further investigations and the exploitation of this versatile polysaccharide.

http://www.mdpi.com/2073-4360/6/2/346 2014/02/01 - 09:53

Endogenous neural stem/progenitor cells (eNSPCs) proliferate and differentiate into neurons and glial cells after spinal cord injury (SCI). We have previously shown that melatonin (MT) plus exercise (Ex) had a synergistic effect on functional recovery after SCI. Thus, we hypothesized that combined therapy including melatonin and exercise might exert a beneficial effect on eNSPCs after SCI. Melatonin was administered twice a day and exercise was performed on a treadmill for 15 min, six days per week for 3 weeks after SCI. Immunohistochemistry and RT-PCR analysis were used to determine cell population for late response, in conjunction with histological examination and motor function test. There was marked improvement in hindlimb function in SCI+MT+Ex group at day 14 and 21 after injury, as documented by the reduced size of the spinal lesion and a higher density of dendritic spines and axons; such functional improvements were associated with increased numbers of BrdU-positive cells. Furthermore, MAP2 was increased in the injured thoracic segment, while GFAP was increased in the cervical segment, along with elevated numbers of BrdU-positive nestin-expressing eNSPCs in the SCI+MT+Ex group. The dendritic spine density was augmented markedly in SCI+MT and SCI+MT+Ex groups.These results suggest a synergistic effect of SCI+MT+Ex might create a microenvironment to facilitate proliferation of eNSPCs to effectively replace injured cells and to improve regeneration in SCI.

http://www.mdpi.com/1422-0067/15/2/2207 2014/02/01 - 09:53

The Iraqi (Mesopotamian) Marshes, an extensive wetlands system in Iraq, has been heavily impacted by both human and climate forces over the past decades. In the period leading up to the Second Gulf War in 2002, the marshlands were shrinking due to both a policy of draining and water diversion in Iraq and construction of dams upstream on the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. Following the war through 2006, this trend was reversed as the diversions were removed and active draining stopped. A combination of MODIS and GRACE datasets were used to determine the change in surface water area (SWA) in the marshes, marshland extent and change in mass both upriver in the Tigris and Euphrates watersheds and in the marshlands. Results suggest that the post war dam removal and decreased pumping in 2003 provided only temporary respite for the marshlands (2003–2006 SWA: 1,477 km2 increase (600%), water equivalent depth (WED): +2.0 cm/yr.; 2006–2009: −860 km2 (−41%) WED: −3.9 cm/yr.). Unlike in the period 2003–2006, from 2006 forward the mass variations in the marshes are highly correlated with those in the upper and middle watershed (R = 0.86 and 0.92 respectively), suggesting that any recovery due to that removal is complete, and that all future changes are tied more strongly to any climate changes that will affect recharge in the upper Tigris-Euphrates system. Precipitation changes in the watershed show a reduction of an average of 15% below the 15 yr mean in 2007–2011 This corresponds with published ensemble predictions for the 2071–2099 time period, that suggested similar marshland shrinkage should be expected in that time period.

http://www.mdpi.com/2072-4292/6/2/1260 2014/02/01 - 09:53

In response to the growing demand for in situ measurement of pressure in high-temperature environments, a high temperature capacitive pressure sensor is presented in this paper. A high-temperature ceramic material-alumina is used for the fabrication of the sensor, and the prototype sensor consists of an inductance, a variable capacitance, and a sealed cavity integrated in the alumina ceramic substrate using a thick-film integrated technology. The experimental results show that the proposed sensor has stability at 850 °C for more than 20 min. The characterization in high-temperature and pressure environments successfully demonstrated sensing capabilities for pressure from 1 to 5 bar up to 600 °C, limited by the sensor test setup. At 600 °C, the sensor achieves a linear characteristic response, and the repeatability error, hysteresis error and zero-point drift of the sensor are 8.3%, 5.05% and 1%, respectively.

http://www.mdpi.com/1424-8220/14/2/2417 2014/02/01 - 09:53

This paper presents a ZigBee In-Patient Monitoring system embedded with a new ZigBee mobility management solution. The system enables ZigBee device mobility in a fixed ZigBee network. The usage, the architecture and the mobility framework are discussed in details in the paper. The evaluation shows that the new algorithm offers a good efficiency, resulting in a low management cost. In addition, the system can save lives by providing a panic button and can be used as a location tracking service. A case study focused on the Princes of Wales Hospital in Hong Kong is presented and findings are given. This investigation reveals that the developed mobile solutions offer promising value-added services for many potential ZigBee applications.

http://www.mdpi.com/1424-8220/14/2/2397 2014/02/01 - 09:53

With photovoltaic (PV) systems proliferating in the last few years due to the high prices of fossil fuels and pollution issues, among others, it is extremely important to monitor the efficiency of these plants and optimize the energy production process. This will also result in improvements related to the maintenance and security of the installation. In order to do so, the main parameters in the plant must be continuously monitored so that the appropriate actions can be carried out. This monitoring should not only be carried out at a global level, but also at panel-level, so that a better understanding of what is actually happening in the PV plant can be obtained. This paper presents a system based on a wireless sensor network (WSN) that includes all the components required for such monitoring as well as a power supply obtaining the energy required by the sensors from the photovoltaic panels. The system proposed succeeds in identifying all the nodes in the network and provides real-time monitoring while tracking efficiency, features, failures and weaknesses from a single cell up to the whole infrastructure. Thus, the decision-making process is simplified, which contributes to reducing failures, wastes and, consequently, costs.

http://www.mdpi.com/1424-8220/14/2/2379 2014/02/01 - 09:53

To develop satisfactorily, adolescents require good health-related quality of life (QOL, including physical health, psychological health, social relationships and living environment). However, for poorly understood reasons, it is often lacking, especially among immigrants with lower family and socioeconomic resources. This study assessed health-related QOL of European and non-European immigrant adolescents and the contributions of socioeconomic difficulties, unhealthy behaviors, and violence. It included 1,559 middle-school adolescents from north-eastern France (mean age 13.5, SD 1.3; 1,451 French adolescents, 54 European immigrants and 54 non-European immigrants), who completed a self-administered questionnaire including sex, age, socioeconomic characteristics (family structure, parents’ education, occupation, and income), unhealthy behaviors (uses of tobacco/alcohol/cannabis/hard drugs, obesity, and involvement in violence), having sustained violence, sexual abuse, and the four QOL domains measured with the World Health Organization’s WHOQOL-BREF (poor: score < 25PthP percentile). Data were analyzed using logistic regression models. Poor physical health, psychological health, social relationships, and living environment affected more European immigrants (26% to 35%) and non-European immigrants (43% to 54%) than French adolescents (21% to 26%). European immigrants had a higher risk of poor physical health and living environment (gender-age-adjusted odds ratio 2.00 and 1.88, respectively) while non-European immigrants had a higher risk for all poor physical health, psychological health, social relationships, and living environment (3.41, 2.07, 3.25, and 3.79, respectively). Between 20% and 58% of these risks were explained by socioeconomic difficulties, parts of which overlapped with unhealthy behaviors and violence. The associations between the two sets of covariates greatly differed among French adolescents and immigrants. Poor QOL was more common among European and non-European immigrants due to socioeconomic difficulties and associated unhealthy behaviors and violence. The different risk patterns observed between French adolescents and immigrants may help prevention.

http://www.mdpi.com/1660-4601/11/2/1694 2014/02/01 - 09:53

Since the twentieth century, China has been facing various kinds of environmental problems. It is necessary to evaluate and analyze the ecological status of the environment over China, which is of great importance for environmental protection measures. In this article, an Eco-environmental Quality Index (EQI) model is established using national remote sensing land-use data, NDVI data from MODIS and other statistical data. The model is used to evaluate the ecological status over China during 2005, 2008 and 2010, and spatial and temporal variations in EQI are analyzed during the period 2005–2010. We also discuss important factors affecting ecological quality, with special emphasis on meteorological conditions (including rainfall and sunshine duration) and anthropogenic factors (including normalized population and gross domestic product densities). The results show that, EQIs in northwestern China are generally lower than those in the southeast of the country, presenting a ladder-like distribution. There is significant correlation between EQI, rainfall and sunshine duration. Population density and GDP also have some relation to EQI. On the whole, the environmental quality results showed little variation during 2005–2010, with national average EQIs of 54.86, 55.07 and 54.43 in 2005, 2008 and 2010, respectively. During 2005–2010, differences in EQI were observed at the local level, but those at the provincial level were small.

http://www.mdpi.com/1660-4601/11/2/1673 2014/02/01 - 09:53

This paper reports a 17-year seroepidemiological surveillance study of Borrelia burgdorferi infection, performed with the aim of improving our knowledge of the epidemiology of this pathogen. Serum samples (1,179) from patients (623, stratified with respect to age, sex, season, area of residence and occupation) bitten by ticks in two regions of northern Spain were IFA-tested for B. burgdorferi antibodies. Positive results were confirmed by western blotting. Antibodies specific for B. burgdorferi were found in 13.3% of the patients; 7.8% were IgM positive, 9.6% were IgG positive, and 4.33% were both IgM and IgG positive. Five species of ticks were identified in the seropositive patients: Dermacentor marginatus (41.17% of such patients) Dermacentor reticulatus (11.76%), Rhiphicephalus sanguineus (17.64%), Rhiphicephalus turanicus (5.88%) and Ixodes ricinus (23.52%). B. burgdorferi DNA was sought by PCR in ticks when available. One tick, a D. reticulatus male, was found carrying the pathogen. The seroprevalence found was similar to the previously demonstrated in similar studies in Spain and other European countries.

http://www.mdpi.com/1660-4601/11/2/1661 2014/02/01 - 09:53

Retinol, α-tocopherol, and γ-tocopherol are fat-soluble vitamins acting as antioxidants via the prevention of lipid oxidation. Little is known about circulatory levels in healthy individuals. The present cross-sectional study aimed at elucidating the relationship between these antioxidants and clinical biomarkers in 206 male (median age 41 years, range 23–67) employees from companies located in the Okayama Prefecture, Japan. Subjects younger than 40 years (n = 94) showed a positive association of the frequency of alcohol consumption with the circulating retinol (β = 0.344, p = 0.001) and γ-tocopherol levels (β = 0.219, p = 0.041), and an inverse association of fast insulin with serum retinol (β = −0.301, p = 0.009). In participants older than 40 years (n = 112) we found that an inverse association of HOMA-R with serum retinol (β = −0.262, p = 0.021), α-tocopherol (β = −0.236, p = 0.035), and γ-tocopherol levels (β = −0.224, p = 0.052); and cigarette smoking was inversely associated with the levels of serum α-tocopherol (β = −0.286, p = 0.008) and γ-tocopherol (β = −0.229, p = 0.040). We further found negative relationships between serum ferritin and the retinol (β = −0.211, p = 0.032) and α-tocopherol levels (β = −0.223, p = 0.022) in men over 40 years of age. The present study suggests that the circulatory levels of antioxidant vitamins may modulate the action of insulin and that higher levels of iron might decrease the levels of antioxidant vitamins in the blood.

http://www.mdpi.com/1660-4601/11/2/1647 2014/02/01 - 09:53

A cross-sectional study investigated risk factors associated with choices to drink bottled water and tap water in rural Saskatchewan. Of 7,500 anonymous postal questionnaires mailed out, 2,065 responses were analyzed using generalized linear mixed models. Those who reported a water advisory (p < 0.001) or living in the area for £10 years (p = 0.01) were more likely to choose bottled water. Those who reported tap water was not safe to drink were more likely to choose bottled water, an effect greater for those who had no aesthetic complaints (p ≤ 0.001), while those with aesthetic complaints were more likely to choose bottled water if they believed the water was safe (p < 0.001). Respondents who treated their water and did not use a community supply were more likely to choose bottled water (p < 0.001), while those who did not treat their water were more likely to choose bottled water regardless of whether a community supply was used (p < 0.001). A similar pattern of risk factors was associated with a decreased likelihood of consuming tap water daily; however, the use of a community water supply was not significant. Understanding the factors involved in drinking water choices could inform public health education efforts regarding water management in rural areas.

http://www.mdpi.com/1660-4601/11/2/1626 2014/02/01 - 09:53

Climate change adaptation in the health sector requires decisions across sectors, levels of government, and organisations. The networks that link these different institutions, and the relationships among people within these networks, are therefore critical influences on the nature of adaptive responses to climate change in the health sector. This study uses social network research to identify key organisational players engaged in developing health-related adaptation activities in Cambodia. It finds that strong partnerships are reported as developing across sectors and different types of organisations in relation to the health risks from climate change. Government ministries are influential organisations, whereas donors, development banks and non-government organisations do not appear to be as influential in the development of adaptation policy in the health sector. Finally, the study highlights the importance of informal partnerships (or ‘shadow networks’) in the context of climate change adaptation policy and activities. The health governance ‘map’ in relation to health and climate change adaptation that is developed in this paper is a novel way of identifying organisations that are perceived as key agents in the decision-making process, and it holds substantial benefits for both understanding and intervening in a broad range of climate change-related policy problems where collaboration is paramount for successful outcomes.

http://www.mdpi.com/1660-4601/11/2/1605 2014/02/01 - 09:53

Coal fires are common and serious phenomena in most coal-producing countries in the world. Coal fires not only burn valuable non-renewable coal reserves but also severely affect the local and global environment. The Rujigou coalfield in Shizuishan City, Ningxia, NW China, is well known for being a storehouse of anthracite coal. This coalfield is also known for having more coal fires than most other coalfields in China. In this study, an attempt was made to study the dynamics of coal fires in the Rujigou coalfield, from 2001 to 2007, using multi-temporal nighttime Landsat data. The multi-temporal nighttime short wave infrared (SWIR) data sets based on a fixed thresholding technique were used to detect and monitor the surface coal fires and the nighttime enhanced thematic mapper (ETM+) thermal infrared (TIR) data sets, based on a dynamic thresholding technique, were used to identify the thermal anomalies related to subsurface coal fires. By validating the coal fires identified in the nighttime satellite data and the coal fires extracted from daytime satellite data with the coal fire map (CFM) manufactured by field survey, we found that the results from the daytime satellite data had higher omission and commission errors than the results from the nighttime satellite data. Then, two aspects of coal fire dynamics were analyzed: first, a quantitative analysis of the spatial changes in the extent of coal fires was conducted and the results showed that, from 2001 to 2007, the spatial extent of coal fires increased greatly to an annual average area of 0.167 km2; second, the spreading direction and propagation of coal fires was analyzed and predicted from 2001 to 2007, and these results showed that the coal fires generally spread towards the north or northeast, but also spread in some places toward the east.

http://www.mdpi.com/2072-4292/6/2/1234 2014/02/01 - 09:53

A large number of vegetation indices have been developed and widely applied in terrestrial ecosystem research in the recent decades. However, a certain limitation was observed while applying these indices in research in dry areas due to their low sensitivity to low vegetation cover. In this context, the objectives of this study are to develop a new vegetation index, namely, the Generalized Difference Vegetation Index (GDVI), and to examine its applicability to the assessment of dryland environment. Based on the field investigation and crop Leaf Area Index (LAI) measurement, five spring and summer Landsat TM and ETM+ images in the frame with Path/Row number of 174/35, and MODIS (Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer) LAI and vegetation indices (VIs) data (MOD15A2 and MOD13Q1), of the same acquisition dates as the Landsat images, were acquired and employed in this study. The results reveal that, despite the same level of correlation with the fractional vegetation cover (FVC) as other VIs, GDVI shows a better correlation with LAI and has higher sensitivity and dynamic range in the low vegetal land cover than other vegetation indices, e.g., the range of GDVI is higher than Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI),Soil-Adjusted Vegetation Index (SAVI), Enhanced Vegetation Index (EVI), Wide Dynamic Range Vegetation Index (WDRVI), and Soil-Adjusted and Atmospherically Resistant Vegetation Index (SARVI), by 164%–326% in woodland, 185%–720% in olive plantation, and 190%–867% in rangeland. It is, hence, concluded that GDVI is relevant for, and has great potential in, land characterization, as well as land degradation/desertification assessment in dryland environment.

http://www.mdpi.com/2072-4292/6/2/1211 2014/02/01 - 09:53

Multipurpose small reservoirs are important for livelihoods in rural semi-arid regions. To manage and plan these reservoirs and to assess their hydrological impact at a river basin scale, it is important to monitor their water storage dynamics. This paper introduces a Bayesian approach for monitoring small reservoirs with radar satellite images. The newly developed growing Bayesian classifier has a high degree of automation, can readily be extended with auxiliary information and reduces the confusion error to the land-water boundary pixels. A case study has been performed in the Upper East Region of Ghana, based on Radarsat-2 data from November 2012 until April 2013. Results show that the growing Bayesian classifier can deal with the spatial and temporal variability in synthetic aperture radar (SAR) backscatter intensities from small reservoirs. Due to its ability to incorporate auxiliary information, the algorithm is able to delineate open water from SAR imagery with a low land-water contrast in the case of wind-induced Bragg scattering or limited vegetation on the land surrounding a small reservoir.

http://www.mdpi.com/2072-4292/6/2/1191 2014/02/01 - 09:53

An extended Fourier approach was presented to improve the retrieved leaf area index (LAIr) of herbaceous vegetation in a time series from an alpine wetland. The retrieval was performed from the Aqua MODIS 8-day composite surface reflectance product (MYD09Q1) from day of year (DOY) 97 to 297 using a look-up table (LUT) based inversion of a two-layer canopy reflectance model (ACRM). To reduce the uncertainty (the ACRM inversion is ill-posed), we used NDVI and NIR images to reduce the influence of the soil background and the priori information to constrain the range of sensitive ACRM parameters determined using the Sobol’s method. Even so the uncertainty caused the LAIr versus time curve to oscillate. To further reduce the uncertainty, a Fourier model was fitted using the periodically LAIr results, obtaining LAIF. We note that the level of precision of the LAIF potentially may increase through removing singular points or decrease if the LAIr data were too noisy. To further improve the precision level of the LAIr, the Fourier model was extended by considering the LAIr uncertainty. The LAIr, the LAI simulated using the Fourier model, and the LAI simulated using the extended Fourier approach (LAIeF) were validated through comparisons with the field measured LAI. The R2 values were 0.68, 0.67 and 0.72, the residual sums of squares (RSS) were 3.47, 3.42 and 3.15, and the root-mean-square errors (RMSE) were 0.31, 0.30 and 0.29, respectively, on DOY 177 (early July 2011). In late August (DOY 233), the R2 values were 0.73, 0.77 and 0.79, the RSS values were 38.96, 29.25 and 27.48, and the RMSE values were 0.94, 0.81 and 0.78, respectively. The results demonstrate that the extended Fourier approach has the potential to increase the level of precision of estimates of the time varying LAI.

http://www.mdpi.com/2072-4292/6/2/1171 2014/02/01 - 09:53

Goals indicate what individuals are working towards in their present lives and what they want to achieve or avoid. In this study of 87 young, unmarried couples (age 17 to 25 years), intimacy and identity dating goals were assessed to investigate couple similarity in goals, associations between personal goals and relationship behaviors, and whether goals and behavior were associated with relationship satisfaction. Couples were similar in their intimacy goals but not their identity goals. As expected, intimacy goals were associated with behaviors when reported by the partner, including greater warmth, autonomy support and structure, and less rejection. One’s own intimacy goals and the positive behaviors of one’s partner, but not one’s own identity goals or the goals of the partner, were uniquely associated with relationship satisfaction. The findings suggest that individual differences in dating goals are relevant to understanding how young people behave with their partners, and why some individuals are more or less satisfied with their relationships.

http://www.mdpi.com/2076-0760/3/1/44 2014/02/01 - 09:53

The aim of the present study was to analyze an outbreak of hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome (HFRS), caused by a Hantavirus, in college students in the northern urban area of Xi’an in 2012. The outbreak affected six students and included two deaths. The epidemiological survey revealed that both of the deceased cases were misdiagnosed initially, and treatment was delayed. Furthermore, a higher rodent population density and lower HFRS vaccine coverage were observed in the affected area, which indicates a possible role in the outbreak. Rattus norvegicus (Rn) and Mus musculus (Mm) were the predominant host populations in the area. Genotyping revealed that all HVs from patients and rodents were Hantaan virus (HTNV). Sequence analysis of the S segments revealed that the HTNVs reported in this study had high similarity with strains reported in 2011 and 1985, but these viruses diverged from a strain isolated in 1984 and the HTNV prototype strain 76-118. Detection of anti-HV IgG and amplification of the S segment of HTNV from a non-natural HTNV reservoir indicates that further investigations by increased rodent trapping are necessary.

http://www.mdpi.com/1999-4915/6/2/507 2014/02/01 - 09:53

Viroids are small pathogenic circular single-stranded RNAs, present in two complementary sequences, named plus and minus, in infected plant cells. A high degree of complementarities between different regions of the RNAs allows them to adopt complex structures. Since viroids are naked non-coding RNAs, interactions with host factors appear to be closely related to their structural and catalytic characteristics. Avocado sunblotch viroid (ASBVd), a member of the family Avsunviroidae, replicates via a symmetric RNA-dependant rolling-circle process, involving self-cleavage via hammerhead ribozymes. Consequently, it is assumed that ASBVd plus and minus strands adopt similar structures. Moreover, by computer analyses, a quasi-rod-like secondary structure has been predicted. Nevertheless, secondary and tertiary structures of both polarities of ASBVd remain unsolved. In this study, we analyzed the characteristic of each strand of ASBVd through biophysical analyses. We report that ASBVd transcripts of plus and minus polarities exhibit differences in electrophoretic mobility under native conditions and in thermal denaturation profiles. Subsequently, the secondary structures of plus and minus polarities of ASBVd were probed using the RNA-selective 2'-hydroxyl acylation analyzed by primer extension (SHAPE) method. The models obtained show that both polarities fold into different structures. Moreover, our results suggest the existence of a kissing-loop interaction within the minus strand that may play a role in in vivo viroid life cycle.

http://www.mdpi.com/1999-4915/6/2/489 2014/02/01 - 09:53

Thermally-sprayed Fe-based coatings have shown their potential for use in wear applications due to their good tribological properties. In addition, these kinds of coatings have other advantages, e.g., cost efficiency and positive environmental aspects. In this study, the microstructural details and tribological performances of Fe-based coatings (Fe-Cr-Ni-B-C and Fe-Cr-Ni-B-Mo-C) manufactured by High Velocity Oxygen Fuel (HVOF) thermal spray process are evaluated. Traditional Ni-based (Ni-Cr-Fe-Si-B-C) and hard-metal (WC-CoCr) coatings were chosen as references. Microstructural investigation (field-emission scanning electron microscope FESEM and X-Ray diffractometry XRD) reveals a high density and low oxide content for HVOF Fe-based coatings. Particle melting and rapid solidification resulted in a metastable austenitic phase with precipitates of mixed carbides and borides of chromium and iron which lead to remarkably high nanohardness. Tribological performances were evaluated by means of the ball on-disk dry sliding wear test, the rubber-wheel dry particle abrasion test, and the cavitation erosion wear test. A higher wear resistance validates Fe-based coatings as a future alternative to the more expensive and less environmentally friendly Ni-based alloys.

http://www.mdpi.com/2079-6412/4/1/98 2014/02/01 - 09:53

In this paper we examine the effect of doping phosphate into BaCe1−yAyO3−y/2 (A = Y, Yb, In). The samples were analysed through a combination of X-ray diffraction, TGA, Raman spectroscopy and conductivity measurements. The results showed that phosphate could be incorporated into this system up to the 10% doping level, although this required an increased Y/Yb/In content, e.g., BaCe0.6(Y/In/Yb)0.3P0.1O2.9. The phosphate doping was, however, shown to lead to a decrease in conductivity; although at low phosphate levels high conductivities were still observed, e.g., for BaCe0.65Y0.3P0.05O2.875, σ = 4.3 × 10−3 S cm−1 at 600 °C in wet N2. In terms of the effect of phosphate incorporation on the CO2 stability, it was shown to lead to a small improvement for the In containing samples, whereas the yttrium doped compositions showed no change in CO2 stability.

http://www.mdpi.com/2304-6740/2/1/16 2014/02/01 - 09:53

Diffuse metal pollution from mining impacted sediment is widely recognised as a potential source of contamination to river systems and may significantly hinder the achievement of European Union Water Framework Directive objectives. Redox-transitional zones that form along metal contaminated river banks as a result of flood and drought cycles could cause biogeochemical changes that alter the behaviour of polyvalent metals iron and manganese and anions such as sulphur. Trace metals are often partitioned with iron, manganese and sulphur minerals in mining-contaminated sediment, therefore the dissolution and precipitation of these minerals may influence the mobility of potentially toxic trace metals. Research indicates that freshly precipitated metal oxides and sulphides may be more “reactive” (more adsorbent and prone to dissolution when conditions change) than older crystalline forms. Fluctuations at the oxic-anoxic interface brought about through changes in the frequency and duration of flood and drought episodes may therefore influence the reactivity of secondary minerals that form in the sediment and the flux of dissolved trace metal release. UK climate change models predict longer dry periods for some regions, interspersed with higher magnitude flood events. If we are to fully comprehend the future environmental risk these climate change events pose to mining impacted river systems it is recommended that research efforts focus on identifying the primary controls on trace metal release at the oxic-anoxic interface for flood and drought cycles of different duration and frequency. This paper critically reviews the literature regarding biogeochemical processes that occur at different temporal scales during oxic, reducing and dry periods and focuses on how iron and sulphur based minerals may alter in form and reactivity and influence the mobility of trace metal contaminants. It is clear that changes in redox potential can alter the composition of secondary iron and sulphur minerals and influence the sorption of toxic trace metals and susceptibility to dissolution when further redox potential changes occur. However further work is needed to determine: (i) The extent to which different duration and frequency of wet and dry cycles influences the dissolution and precipitation of iron and sulphur minerals in mining contaminated river bank sediment; (ii) The temporal effects on mineral reactivity (sorption capacity and susceptibility to dissolution); (iii) The key biogeochemical processes that control the mobility of contaminant trace metals under these dynamic redox potential conditions.

http://www.mdpi.com/2075-163X/4/1/52 2014/02/01 - 09:53

Many state and national geological surveys produce map products from surficial and bedrock geologic maps as a value-added deliverable for a variety of stakeholders. Improvements in powerful geostatistical exploratory tools and robust three-dimensional capabilities within geographic information systems (GIS) can facilitate the production of derivative products. In addition to providing access to geostatistical functions, many software packages are also capable of rendering three-dimensional visualizations using spatially distributed point data. A GIS-based approach using ESRI’s® Geostatistical Analyst® was used to create derivative maps depicting surficial overburden, bedrock topography, and potentiometric surface using well data and bedrock exposures. This methodology describes the importance and relevance of creating three-dimensional visualizations in tandem with traditional two-dimensional map products. These 3D products are especially useful for town managers and planners—often unfamiliar with interpreting two-dimensional geologic map products—so they can better visualize and understand the relationships between surficial overburden and potential groundwater resources.

http://www.mdpi.com/2220-9964/3/1/130 2014/02/01 - 09:53

Does a building contain its own Voice? And if so, can that Voice be discovered, transformed and augmented by soundscape design? Barry Blesser’s writings on acoustic space, discuss reverberation and resonant frequencies as providing architectural spaces with characteristic listening conditions related to the architectural space’s dimensions and materiality. The paper argues that Blesser and Salter expand such discussion into pantheistic speculation when suggesting that humanity contains the imaginative capacity to experience spaces as “living spirits”. This argument is achieved by building on the speculation through the discussion of a soundscape design methodology that considers space as containing pantheistic qualities. Sonic architectures are created with electroacoustic sound installations that recompose existing architectural soundscapes, to create the conditions for the emergence of the Voices of buildings. This paper describes two soundscape designs, Revoicing the Striated Soundscape and Subterranean Voices, which transformed existing architectural soundscapes for the emergence of Voices in a laneway and a building located in the City of Melbourne, Australia.

http://www.mdpi.com/2075-5309/4/1/1 2014/02/01 - 09:53