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See detailDiscrimination of deciduous tree species from time series of unmanned aerial system imagery
Lisein, Jonathan ULg; Michez, Adrien ULg; Claessens, Hugues ULg et al

in PLoS ONE (in press)

Technology advances can revolutionize Precision Forestry by providing accurate and fine forest information at tree level. This paper addresses the question of how and particularly when Unmanned Aerial ... [more ▼]

Technology advances can revolutionize Precision Forestry by providing accurate and fine forest information at tree level. This paper addresses the question of how and particularly when Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) should be used in order to efficiently discriminate deciduous tree species. A time series of high resolution UAS imagery was collected to cover the growing season from leaf flush to leaf fall. Full benefit was taken of the temporal resolution of UAS acquisition, one of the most promising features of small drones. The disparity in forest tree phenology is at the maximum during early spring and late autumn. But the phenology state that optimized the classification result is the one that minimizes the spectral variation within tree species groups and, at the same time, maximizes the phenologic differences between species. Sunlit tree crowns (5 deciduous species groups) were classified using a Random Forest approach for monotemporal, two-date and three-date combinations. The end of leaf flushing was the most efficient single-date time window. Multitemporal datasets definitely improve the overall classification accuracy. But single-date high resolution orthophotomosaics, acquired on optimal time-windows, result in a very good classification accuracy (overall out of bag error of 16%). [less ▲]

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See detailWhat do Pneumocystis organisms tell us about the phylogeography of their hosts? The case of the woodmouse Apodemus sylvaticus in continental Europe and western Mediterranean islands
Demanche, christine; Deville, Manjula; Michaux, Johan ULg et al

in PLoS ONE (in press)

Pneumocystis fungi represent a highly diversified biological group with numerous species, which display a strong host-specificity suggesting a long co-speciation process. In the present study, the ... [more ▼]

Pneumocystis fungi represent a highly diversified biological group with numerous species, which display a strong host-specificity suggesting a long co-speciation process. In the present study, the presence and genetic diversity of Pneumocystis organisms was investigated in 203 lung samples from woodmice (Apodemus sylvaticus) collected on western continental Europe and Mediterranean islands. The presence of Pneumocystis DNA was assessed by nested PCR at both large and small mitochondrial subunit (mtLSU and mtSSU) rRNA loci. Direct sequencing of nested PCR products demonstrated a very high variability among woodmouse-derived Pneumocystis organisms with a total number of 30 distinct combined mtLSU and mtSSU sequence types. However, the genetic divergence among these sequence types was very low (up to 3.87%) and the presence of several Pneumocystis species within Apodemus sylvaticus was considered unlikely. The analysis of the genetic structure of woodmouse-derived Pneumocystis revealed two distinct groups. The first one comprised Pneumocystis from woodmice collected in continental Spain, France and Balearic islands. The second one included Pneumocystis from woodmice collected in continental Italy, Corsica and Sicily. These two genetic groups were in accordance with the two lineages currently described within the host species Apodemus sylvaticus. Pneumocystis organisms are emerging as powerful tools for phylogeographic studies in mammals [less ▲]

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See detailRetirement age and the age of onset of Alzheimer’s disease: Results from the ICTUS study
Grotz, Catherine ULg; Letenneur, Luc; Bonsang, Eric ULg et al

in PLoS ONE (2015)

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See detailTime-varying respiratory system elastance: a physiological model for patients who are spontaneously breathing.
Chiew, Yeong Shiong; Pretty, Christopher; Docherty, Paul D. et al

in PloS one (2015), 10(1), 0114847

BACKGROUND: Respiratory mechanics models can aid in optimising patient-specific mechanical ventilation (MV), but the applications are limited to fully sedated MV patients who have little or no ... [more ▼]

BACKGROUND: Respiratory mechanics models can aid in optimising patient-specific mechanical ventilation (MV), but the applications are limited to fully sedated MV patients who have little or no spontaneously breathing efforts. This research presents a time-varying elastance (Edrs) model that can be used in spontaneously breathing patients to determine their respiratory mechanics. METHODS: A time-varying respiratory elastance model is developed with a negative elastic component (Edemand), to describe the driving pressure generated during a patient initiated breathing cycle. Data from 22 patients who are partially mechanically ventilated using Pressure Support (PS) and Neurally Adjusted Ventilatory Assist (NAVA) are used to investigate the physiology relevance of the time-varying elastance model and its clinical potential. Edrs of every breathing cycle for each patient at different ventilation modes are presented for comparison. RESULTS: At the start of every breathing cycle initiated by patient, Edrs is < 0. This negativity is attributed from the Edemand due to a positive lung volume intake at through negative pressure in the lung compartment. The mapping of Edrs trajectories was able to give unique information to patients' breathing variability under different ventilation modes. The area under the curve of Edrs (AUCEdrs) for most patients is > 25 cmH2Os/l and thus can be used as an acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) severity indicator. CONCLUSION: The Edrs model captures unique dynamic respiratory mechanics for spontaneously breathing patients with respiratory failure. The model is fully general and is applicable to both fully controlled and partially assisted MV modes. [less ▲]

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See detailGenome-Wide Analysis of In Vivo Binding of the Master Regulator DasR in Streptomyces coelicolor Identifies Novel Non-Canonical Targets
Świątek-Połatyńska, MA; Bucca, G; Laing, E et al

in PLoS ONE (2015)

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See detailThe alpha2,3-Sialyltransferase Encoded by Myxoma Virus Is a Virulence Factor that Contributes to Immunosuppression.
Boutard, Berengere; Vankerckhove, Sophie; Markine-Goriaynoff, Nicolas et al

in PloS one (2015), 10(2), 0118806

Myxoma virus (MYXV) induces a lethal disease called Myxomatosis in European rabbits. MYXV is one of the rare viruses that encodes an alpha2,3-sialyltransferase through its M138L gene. In this study, we ... [more ▼]

Myxoma virus (MYXV) induces a lethal disease called Myxomatosis in European rabbits. MYXV is one of the rare viruses that encodes an alpha2,3-sialyltransferase through its M138L gene. In this study, we showed that although the absence of the enzyme was not associated with any in vitro deficit, the M138L deficient strains are highly attenuated in vivo. Indeed, while all rabbits infected with the parental and the revertant strains died within 9 days post-infection from severe myxomatosis, all but one rabbit inoculated with the M138L deficient strains survived the infection. In primary lesions, this resistance to the infection was associated with an increased ability of innate immune cells, mostly neutrophils, to migrate to the site of virus replication at 4 days post-infection. This was followed by the development of a better specific immune response against MYXV. Indeed, at day 9 post-infection, we observed an important proliferation of lymphocytes and an intense congestion of blood vessels in lymph nodes after M138L knockouts infection. Accordingly, in these rabbits, we observed an intense mononuclear cell infiltration throughout the dermis in primary lesions and higher titers of neutralizing antibodies. Finally, this adaptive immune response provided protection to these surviving rabbits against a challenge with the MYXV WT strain. Altogether, these results show that expression of the M138L gene contributes directly or indirectly to immune evasion by MYXV. In the future, these results could help us to better understand the pathogenesis of myxomatosis but also the importance of glycans in regulation of immune responses. [less ▲]

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See detailPhenotype Classification of Zebrafish Embryos by Supervised Learning
Jeanray, Nathalie ULg; Marée, Raphaël ULg; Pruvot, Benoist et al

in PLoS ONE (2015), 10(1), 01169891-20

Zebrafish is increasingly used to assess biological properties of chemical substances and thus is becoming a specific tool for toxicological and pharmacological studies. The effects of chemical substances ... [more ▼]

Zebrafish is increasingly used to assess biological properties of chemical substances and thus is becoming a specific tool for toxicological and pharmacological studies. The effects of chemical substances on embryo survival and development are generally evaluated manually through microscopic observation by an expert and documented by several typical photographs. Here, we present a methodology to automatically classify brightfield images of wildtype zebrafish embryos according to their defects by using an image analysis approach based on supervised machine learning. We show that, compared to manual classification, automatic classification results in 90 to 100 % agreement with consensus voting of biological experts in nine out of eleven considered defects in 3 days old zebrafish larvae. Automation of the analysis and classification of zebrafish embryo pictures reduces the workload and time required for the biological expert and increases the reproducibility and objectivity of this classification. [less ▲]

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See detailThe aerodynamic cost of head morphology in bats: maybe not as bad as it seems
Vanderelst, Dieter; Peremans, Herbert; Abdul Razak, Norizham et al

in PLoS ONE (2015), 10(3), 0118545

At first sight, echolocating bats face a difficult trade-off. As flying animals, they would benefit from a streamlined geometric shape to reduce aerodynamic drag and increase flight efficiency. However ... [more ▼]

At first sight, echolocating bats face a difficult trade-off. As flying animals, they would benefit from a streamlined geometric shape to reduce aerodynamic drag and increase flight efficiency. However, as echolocating animals, their pinnae generate the acoustic cues necessary for navigation and foraging. Moreover, species emitting sound through their nostrils often feature elaborate noseleaves that help in focussing the emitted echolocation pulses. Both pinnae and noseleaves reduce the streamlined character of a bat’s morphology. It is generally assumed that by compromising the streamlined charactered of the geometry, the head morphology generates substantial drag, thereby reducing flight efficiency. In contrast, it has also been suggested that the pinnae of bats generate lift forces counteracting the detrimental effect of the increased drag. However, very little data exist on the aerodynamic properties of bat pinnae and noseleaves. In this work, the aerodynamic forces generated by the heads of seven species of bats, including noseleaved bats, are measured by testing detailed 3D models in a wind tunnel. Models of Myotis daubentonii, Macrophyllum macrophyllum, Micronycteris microtis, Eptesicus fuscus, Rhinolophus formosae, Rhinolophus rouxi and Phyllostomus discolor are tested. The results confirm that non-streamlined facial morphologies yield considerable drag forces but also generate substantial lift. The net effect is a slight increase in the lift-to-drag ratio. Therefore, there is no evidence of high aerodynamic costs associated with the morphology of bat heads [less ▲]

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See detailA Membrane-Type-1 Matrix Metalloproteinase (MT1-MMP) - Discoidin Domain Receptor 1 Axis Regulates Collagen-Induced Apoptosis in Breast Cancer Cells.
Assent, Delphine; Bourgot, Isabelle ULg; Hennuy, Benoît ULg et al

in PloS one (2015), 10(3), 0116006

During tumour dissemination, invading breast carcinoma cells become confronted with a reactive stroma, a type I collagen-rich environment endowed with anti-proliferative and pro-apoptotic properties. To ... [more ▼]

During tumour dissemination, invading breast carcinoma cells become confronted with a reactive stroma, a type I collagen-rich environment endowed with anti-proliferative and pro-apoptotic properties. To develop metastatic capabilities, tumour cells must acquire the capacity to cope with this novel microenvironment. How cells interact with and respond to their microenvironment during cancer dissemination remains poorly understood. To address the impact of type I collagen on the fate of tumour cells, human breast carcinoma MCF-7 cells were cultured within three-dimensional type I collagen gels (3D COL1). Using this experimental model, we have previously demonstrated that membrane type-1 matrix metalloproteinase (MT1-MMP), a proteinase overexpressed in many aggressive tumours, promotes tumour progression by circumventing the collagen-induced up-regulation of BIK, a pro-apoptotic tumour suppressor, and hence apoptosis. Here we performed a transcriptomic analysis to decipher the molecular mechanisms regulating 3D COL1-induced apoptosis in human breast cancer cells. Control and MT1-MMP expressing MCF-7 cells were cultured on two-dimensional plastic plates or within 3D COL1 and a global transcriptional time-course analysis was performed. Shifting the cells from plastic plates to 3D COL1 activated a complex reprogramming of genes implicated in various biological processes. Bioinformatic analysis revealed a 3D COL1-mediated alteration of key cellular functions including apoptosis, cell proliferation, RNA processing and cytoskeleton remodelling. By using a panel of pharmacological inhibitors, we identified discoidin domain receptor 1 (DDR1), a receptor tyrosine kinase specifically activated by collagen, as the initiator of 3D COL1-induced apoptosis. Our data support the concept that MT1-MMP contributes to the inactivation of the DDR1-BIK signalling axis through the cleavage of collagen fibres and/or the alteration of DDR1 receptor signalling unit, without triggering a drastic remodelling of the transcriptome of MCF-7 cells. [less ▲]

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See detailZebrafish bone and general physiology are differently affected by hormones or changes in gravity.
Aceto, Jessica ULg; Nourizadeh-Lillabadi, Rasoul; Marée, Raphaël ULg et al

in PLoS ONE (2015), in press

Teleost fish such as zebrafish (Danio rerio) are increasingly used for physiological, genetic and developmental studies. Our understanding of the physiological consequences of altered gravity in an entire ... [more ▼]

Teleost fish such as zebrafish (Danio rerio) are increasingly used for physiological, genetic and developmental studies. Our understanding of the physiological consequences of altered gravity in an entire organism is still incomplete. We used altered gravity and drug treatment experiments to evaluate their effects specifically on bone formation and more generally on whole genome gene expression. By combining morphometric tools with an objective scoring system for the state of development for each element in the head skeleton and specific gene expression analysis, we confirmed and characterized in detail the decrease or increase of bone formation caused by a 5 day treatment (from 5dpf to 10 dpf) of, respectively parathyroid hormone (PTH) or vitamin D3 (VitD3). Microarray transcriptome analysis after 24 hours treatment reveals a general effect on physiology upon VitD3 treatment, while PTH causes more specifically developmental effects. Hypergravity (3g from 5dpf to 9 dpf) exposure results in a significantly larger head and a significant increase in bone formation for a subset of the cranial bones. Gene expression analysis after 24 hrs at 3g revealed differential expression of genes involved in the development and function of the skeletal, muscular, nervous, endocrine and cardiovascular systems. Finally, we propose a novel type of experimental approach, the "Reduced Gravity Paradigm", by keeping the developing larvae at 3g hypergravity for the first 5 days before returning them to 1g for one additional day. 5 days exposure to 3g during these early stages also caused increased bone formation, while gene expression analysis revealed a central network of regulatory genes (hes5, sox10, lgals3bp, egr1, edn1, fos, fosb, klf2, gadd45ba and socs3a) whose expression was consistently affected by the transition from hyper- to normal gravity. [less ▲]

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See detailBacterial Community Composition in Three Freshwater Reservoirs of Different Alkalinity and Trophic Status
Llirós, Marc; Inceoğlu, Özgul; García-Armisen, Tamara et al

in PLoS ONE (2014)

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See detailFirst Evidence of a Volatile Sex Pheromone in Lady Beetles
Fassotte, Bérénice ULg; Fischer, Christophe ULg; Durieux, Delphine ULg et al

in PLoS ONE (2014)

To date, volatile sex pheromones have not been identified in the Coccinellidae family; yet, various studies have suggested that such semiochemicals exist. Here, we collected volatile chemicals released by ... [more ▼]

To date, volatile sex pheromones have not been identified in the Coccinellidae family; yet, various studies have suggested that such semiochemicals exist. Here, we collected volatile chemicals released by virgin females of the multicolored Asian lady beetle, Harmonia axyridis (Pallas), which were either allowed or not allowed to feed on aphids. Virgin females in the presence of aphids, exhibited “calling behavior”, which is commonly associated with the emission of a sex pheromone in several Coleoptera species. These calling females were found to release a blend of volatile compounds that is involved in the remote attraction (i.e., from a distance) of males. Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry (GC-MS) analyses revealed that (–)-β-caryophyllene was the major constituent of the volatile blend (ranging from 80 to 86%), with four other chemical components also being present; β-elemene, methyl-eugenol, α-humulene, and α-bulnesene. In a second set of experiments, the emission of the five constituents identified from the blend was quantified daily over a 9-day period after exposure to aphids. We found that the quantity of all five chemicals significantly increased across the experimental period. Finally, we evaluated the activity of a synthetic blend of these chemicals by performing bioassays which demonstrated the same attractive effect in males only. The results confirm that female H. axyridis produce a volatile sex pheromone. These findings have potential in the development of more specific and efficient biological pest-control management methods aimed at manipulating the behavior of this invasive lady beetle. [less ▲]

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See detailRGD surface functionalization of the hydrophilic acrylic intraocular lens material to control posterior capsular opacification
Huang, Yi-Shiang ULg; Bertrand, Virginie ULg; Bozukova, Dimitriya et al

in PLoS ONE (2014), 9(12), 32

Posterior Capsular Opacification (PCO) is the capsule fibrosis developed on implanted IntraOcular Lens (IOL) by the de-differentiation of Lens Epithelial Cells (LECs) undergoing Epithelial Mesenchymal ... [more ▼]

Posterior Capsular Opacification (PCO) is the capsule fibrosis developed on implanted IntraOcular Lens (IOL) by the de-differentiation of Lens Epithelial Cells (LECs) undergoing Epithelial Mesenchymal Transition (EMT). Literature has shown that the incidence of PCO is multifactorial including the patient’s age or disease, surgical technique, and IOL design and material. Reports comparing hydrophilic and hydrophobic acrylic IOLs have shown that the former has more severe PCO. On the other hand, we have previously demonstrated that the adhesion of LECs is favored on hydrophobic compared to hydrophilic materials. By combining these two facts and contemporary knowledge in PCO development via the EMT pathway, we propose a biomimetically inspired strategy to promote LEC adhesion without de-differentiation to reduce the risk of PCO development. By surface grafting of a cell adhesion molecule (RGD peptide) onto the conventional hydrophilic acrylic IOL material, the surface-functionalized IOL can be used to reconstitute a capsule-LEC-IOL sandwich structure, which has been considered to prevent PCO formation in literature. Our results show that the innovative biomaterial improves LEC adhesion, while also exhibiting similar optical (light transmittance, optical bench) and mechanical (haptic compression force, IOL injection force) properties compared to the starting material. In addition, compared to the hydrophobic IOL material, our bioactive biomaterial exhibits similar abilities in LEC adhesion, morphology maintenance, and EMT biomarker expression, which is the crucial pathway to induce PCO. The in vitro assays suggest that this biomaterial has the potential to reduce the risk factor of PCO development. [less ▲]

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See detailSoil charcoal to assess the impacts of past human disturbances on tropical forests
Vleminckx, Jason; Morin-Rivat, Julie ULg; Biwolé, Achille et al

in PLoS ONE (2014)

The canopy of many central African forests is dominated by light-demanding tree species that do not regenerate well under themselves. The prevalence of these species might result from ancient slash-and ... [more ▼]

The canopy of many central African forests is dominated by light-demanding tree species that do not regenerate well under themselves. The prevalence of these species might result from ancient slash-and-burn agricultural activities that created large openings, while a decline of these activities since the colonial period could explain their deficit of regeneration. To verify this hypothesis, we compared soil charcoal abundance, used as a proxy for past slash-and-burn agriculture, and tree species composition assessed on 208 rainforest 0.2 ha plots located in three areas from Southern Cameroon. Species were classified in regeneration guilds (pioneer, non-pioneer light-demanding, shade-bearer) and characterized by their woodspecific gravity, assumed to reflect light requirement. We tested the correlation between soil charcoal abundance and: (i) the relative abundance of each guild, (ii) each species and family abundance and (iii) mean wood-specific gravity. Charcoal was found in 83% of the plots, indicating frequent past forest fires. Radiocarbon dating revealed two periods of fires: ‘‘recent’’ charcoal were on average 300 years old (up to 860 BP, n = 16) and occurred in the uppermost 20 cm soil layer, while ‘‘ancient’’ charcoal were on average 1900 years old (range: 1500 to 2800 BP, n = 43, excluding one sample dated 9400 BP), and found in all soil layers. While we expected a positive correlation between the relative abundance of light demanding species and charcoal abundance in the upper soil layer, overall there was no evidence that the current heterogeneity in tree species composition can be explained by charcoal abundance in any soil layer. The absence of signal supporting our hypothesis might result from (i) a relatively uniform impact of past slash-and-burn activities, (ii) pedoturbation processes bringing ancient charcoal to the upper soil layer, blurring the signal of centuries-old Human disturbances, or (iii) the prevalence of other environmental factors on species composition. [less ▲]

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See detailComparison of the Decomposition VOC Profile during Winter and Summer in a Moist, Mid-latitude (Cfb) Climate
Forbes, Shari L.; Perrault, Katelynn A.; Stefanuto, Pierre-Hugues ULg et al

in PLoS ONE (2014), 9(e113681), 1-11

The investigation of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) associated with decomposition is an emerging field in forensic taphonomy due to their importance in locating human remains using biological detectors ... [more ▼]

The investigation of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) associated with decomposition is an emerging field in forensic taphonomy due to their importance in locating human remains using biological detectors such as insects and canines. A consistent decomposition VOC profile has not yet been elucidated due to the intrinsic impact of the environment on the decomposition process in different climatic zones. The study of decomposition VOCs has typically occurred during the warmer months to enable chemical profiling of all decomposition stages. The present study investigated the decomposition VOC profile in air during both warmer and cooler months in a moist, mid-latitude (Cfb) climate as decomposition occurs year-round in this environment. Pig carcasses (Sus scrofa domesticus L.) were placed on a soil surface to decompose naturally and their VOC profile was monitored during the winter and summer months. Corresponding control sites were also monitored to determine the natural VOC profile of the surrounding soil and vegetation. VOC samples were collected onto sorbent tubes and analyzed using comprehensive two-dimensional gas chromatography – time-of-flight mass spectrometry (GC6GC-TOFMS). The summer months were characterized by higher temperatures and solar radiation, greater rainfall accumulation, and comparable humidity when compared to the winter months. The rate of decomposition was faster and the number and abundance of VOCs was proportionally higher in summer. However, a similar trend was observed in winter and summer demonstrating a rapid increase in VOC abundance during active decay with a second increase in abundance occurring later in the decomposition process. Sulfur-containing compounds, alcohols and ketones represented the most abundant classes of compounds in both seasons, although almost all 10 compound classes identified contributed to discriminating the stages of decomposition throughout both seasons. The advantages of GC6GC-TOFMS were demonstrated for detecting and identifying trace levels of VOCs, particularly ethers, which are rarely reported as decomposition VOCs. [less ▲]

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See detailQTL analysis and candidate gene mapping for the polyphenol content in cider apple
Verdu, Cindy ULg; Guyot, Sylvain; Childebrand, Nicolas et al

in PLoS ONE (2014), 9(10), 107103

Polyphenols have favorable antioxidant potential on human health suggesting that their high content is responsible for the beneficial effects of apple consumption. They control the quality of ciders as ... [more ▼]

Polyphenols have favorable antioxidant potential on human health suggesting that their high content is responsible for the beneficial effects of apple consumption. They control the quality of ciders as they predominantly account for astringency, bitterness, color and aroma. In this study, we identified QTLs controlling phenolic compound concentrations and the average polymerization degree of flavanols in a cider apple progeny. Thirty two compounds belonging to five groups of phenolic compounds were identified and quantified by reversed phase liquid chromatography on both fruit extract and juice, over three years. The average polymerization degree of flavanols was estimated in fruit by phloroglucinolysis coupled to HPLC. Parental maps were built using SSR and SNP markers and used for the QTL analysis. Sixty-nine and 72 QTLs were detected on 14 and 11 linkage groups of the female and male maps, respectively. A majority of the QTLs identified in this study are specific to this population, while others are consistent with previous studies. This study presents for the first time in apple, QTLs for the mean polymerization degree of procyanidins, for which the mechanisms involved remains unknown to this day. Identification of candidate genes underlying major QTLs was then performed in silico and permitted the identification of 18 enzymes of the polyphenol pathway and six transcription factors involved in the apple anthocyanin regulation. New markers were designed from sequences of the most interesting candidate genes in order to confirm their co-localization with underlying QTLs by genetic mapping. Finally, the potential use of these QTLs in breeding programs is discussed. [less ▲]

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See detailPosterior Cingulate Cortex-Related Co-Activation Patterns: A Resting State fMRI Study in Propofol-Induced Loss of Consciousness
Amico, Enrico ULg; Gomez, Francisco; Di Perri, Carol et al

in PLoS ONE (2014), 9

Background: Recent studies have been shown that functional connectivity of cerebral areas is not a static phenomenon, but exhibits spontaneous fluctuations over time. There is evidence that fluctuating ... [more ▼]

Background: Recent studies have been shown that functional connectivity of cerebral areas is not a static phenomenon, but exhibits spontaneous fluctuations over time. There is evidence that fluctuating connectivity is an intrinsic phenomenon of brain dynamics that persists during anesthesia. Lately, point process analysis applied on functional data has revealed that much of the information regarding brain connectivity is contained in a fraction of critical time points of a resting state dataset. In the present study we want to extend this methodology for the investigation of resting state fMRI spatial pattern changes during propofol-induced modulation of consciousness, with the aim of extracting new insights on brain networks consciousness-dependent fluctuations. Methods: Resting-state fMRI volumes on 18 healthy subjects were acquired in four clinical states during propofol injection: wakefulness, sedation, unconsciousness, and recovery. The dataset was reduced to a spatio-temporal point process by selecting time points in the Posterior Cingulate Cortex (PCC) at which the signal is higher than a given threshold (i.e., BOLD intensity above 1 standard deviation). Spatial clustering on the PCC time frames extracted was then performed (number of clusters = 8), to obtain 8 different PCC co-activation patterns (CAPs) for each level of consciousness. Results: The current analysis shows that the core of the PCC-CAPs throughout consciousness modulation seems to be preserved. Nonetheless, this methodology enables to differentiate region-specific propofol-induced reductions in PCC-CAPs, some of them already present in the functional connectivity literature (e.g., disconnections of the prefrontal cortex, thalamus, auditory cortex), some others new (e.g., reduced co-activation in motor cortex and visual area). Conclusion: In conclusion, our results indicate that the employed methodology can help in improving and refining the characterization of local functional changes in the brain associated to propofol-induced modulation of consciousness. [less ▲]

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