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See detailSpatial diversification of agroecosystems towards biological control of insect pests: A focus on intercropping and wildflower strips
Hatt, Séverin ULg

Doctoral thesis (2017)

Facing the limits of input-intensive agriculture, agroecology aims at thinking ways to design a sustainable agriculture that is economically viable and socially relevant. It notably invites to mobilize ... [more ▼]

Facing the limits of input-intensive agriculture, agroecology aims at thinking ways to design a sustainable agriculture that is economically viable and socially relevant. It notably invites to mobilize ecological processes within agroecosystems in order to enhance the delivery of ecosystem services towards reducing the use of external inputs – among others insecticides. For enhancing biological control of insect pests, a strategy is to spatially diversify agroecosystems at the field scale. Whereas increasing plant diversity could directly negatively affect pest development on the one hand (i.e. bottom-up effect), providing flowering features could allow the enhancement of natural enemies and their direct effect on pest populations on the other hand (i.e. top-down effect). The present thesis focused on intercropping (i.e. the cultivation of at least two crop species simultaneously in a same field) as a way to diversify crop habitat, and the sowing of wildflower strips as a non-crop feature. A systematic analysis of the literature revealed that, in most of studies, wheat (Triticum aestivum L.)-based intercropping allows a reduction of insect pests on crops, without necessarily favouring their natural enemies, compared to pure-stands. Besides, the provision of flowering resources, by for instance sowing wildflower strips, can attract and support flower visiting predators and parasitoids. Hence, in a first set of field experiments, combining the two tactics of increasing crop diversity and providing flowering resources was tested. First in China, wheat crop was associated with oilseed rape (Brassica napus L.), but it neither allowed reducing aphid (Hemiptera: Aphididae) abundance nor enhancing their natural enemies compared to pure stands. Instead, aphid density – independently from the treatments – affected natural enemy abundance, and interspecific relations between aphids and their natural enemies were observed. Second in Belgium, wildflower strips were sown within a wheat field, which led to a reduction of aphid density in wheat plots in between flowering features and an increase of aphidophagous hoverflies (Diptera: Syrphidae) compared to pure-stand wheat. Nevertheless, the presence of flowering strips did not affect the other natural enemies, i.e. lacewings (Neuroptera: Chrysopidae), ladybeetles (Coleoptera: Coccinellidae) and parasitoid wasps (Hymenoptera: Braconidae). Therefore, a second set of field experiments focussed on ways to compose mixtures of wild flowers attractive to a diversity of natural enemies. Flower functional traits were considered due to their effect on insect behaviour. First, the hypothesis that mixtures with high functional diversity attract and support a high abundance and diversity of aphid flower visiting predators was tested. This hypothesis was not verified. Instead, the high density in the plots of some flower species (especially the Asteraceae Leucanthemum vulgare Lam.) known to be attractive to flower visitors was supposed to have overwhelmed the effect of functional diversity. Second, a methodology was developed to identify which flower traits significantly affect natural enemy abundance – in this experiment parasitoids of oilseed rape beetle pests (i.e. Meligethes spp. [Coleoptera: Nitidulidae] and Ceutorhynchus spp. [Coleoptera: Curculionidae]) – in flower mixtures. Among seven traits, visual traits (i.e. colour, ultra-violet reflectance) and the one related to food availability (i.e. corolla morphology) were found to significantly affect parasitoid abundance. These results highlight that (i) increasing plant diversity at the field scale can – but not systematically – favour a reduction of insect pests, (ii) including flowering features can enhance some – but not all – of their natural enemies, and (iii) in order to compose flower mixes attractive to natural enemies, specific flower traits – rather than functional diversity at the mixture level – can be considered. These results are discussed in a broader perspective. Indeed, strategies to spatially diversify crop and non-crop habitats in agroecosystems are various, as well as the ways to compose, manage and design such habitats. Also, processes at larger scales than the field may be determinant. Moreover, insects are not the only pests, and pests are not the only biotic or abiotic elements that need to be regulated in agroecosystems. Controlling multiple pests simultaneously but also enhancing the provision of multiple regulating services represent challenges for future research in agriculture. [less ▲]

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See detailCrop water productivity of winter wheat at multi-scale and its improvements over the Huang-Huai-Hai Plain, China
Liu, Qin ULg

Doctoral thesis (2017)

Droughts and water shortage are generally accepted to be one of the most critical problems faced by worldwide agriculture, and it is so especially in China where agricultural production and prosperity are ... [more ▼]

Droughts and water shortage are generally accepted to be one of the most critical problems faced by worldwide agriculture, and it is so especially in China where agricultural production and prosperity are largely dependent on the timely, adequate and proper distribution of rainfall. The analysis of water productivity is becoming very critical in light of population growth, food security and increasing pressure on water resources. However, there is limited understanding of the spatio-temporal variation of crop water productivity (CWP) from the rotation system and its key influencing factors in Huang-Huai-Hai Plain (3H Plain) in which there is an over-exploitation of groundwater region and where future warmer and drought conditions will intensify crop water demand. As the largest water user, agricultural sector is facing a challenge to produce more crops with less water. Consequently, 3H Plain faced the double threat of both making contributions of high and stable yield to government and improving CWP of winter wheat through reducing water consumption. The overall ambition of this thesis was to investigate to what extent the grain yield and crop water productivity for winter wheat can respond to climate change and drought across the 3H Plain. In our study, a combined dataset composed of a historical 54-year time series and the RCP 8.5 scenario from 40 meteorological stations was provided by the China Meteorological Administration. Among these 40 stations we selected 12 stations with more detailed information available. The minimal data sets required for model operation include daily climatic variables, soil information and management information collected from the China Soil Scientific Database. Finally, we also used satellite data to estimate water productivity mainly involved in MODIS products including MOD11A1 (land surface temperature/surface emissivity), MOD13A2 (NDVI) and MCD43B3 (surface albedo). We used SPEI-PM method, DSSAT-CERES-Wheat model and SEBAL model to explore the characteristics in grain yield and crop water productivity for winter wheat in response to climate change and drought associated with their improvements across the 3H Plain. Our work demonstrated the investigation that an increase of ET0 was predicted leading to subsequent drought rise in frequency, duration, severity and intensity under the RCP 8.5 scenario. The cumulative probability of the simulated yield reduction was detected to be higher during jointing to heading stage in northern than southern region due to water stress and changes in the management inputs. The lower CWP was mainly situated in the low plain-hydropenia irrigable land and dry land (zone2) and the hill-wet hot paddy field (zone6), which suggests that it is an important issue and opportunity for improving agricultural water management in the water-scarce 3H Plain. The spatial increase of yield principally controlled increase of water productivity in north agricultural sub-regions and the spatial increase of water productivity was more governed by increment of yield than the reduction of ETa in other agricultural sub-regions. It will be adopted to develop feasible straw mulching, regulated deficit irrigation, and soil water storage and preservation to reduce pressure on groundwater over-exploitation, especially for winter wheat in the 3H Plain. In our work, major agronomic consequences have been drawn regarding the reform of the common agricultural policy in Huang-Huai-Hai Plain, China. Researchers are encouraged to further investigations into how to implement these practices with emphasis of improving the sustainability of these agro-ecosystems. [less ▲]

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See detailRôle des lymphocytes T TCR γδ dans la progression des lésions associées à l'infection par les papillomavirus humains
Van Hede, Dorien ULg

Doctoral thesis (2017)

Cervical cancer was the fourth most frequent cancer in women in 2012, with the majority of cases occurring in less developed countries. Although this cancer is induced by Human Papillomavirus (HPV ... [more ▼]

Cervical cancer was the fourth most frequent cancer in women in 2012, with the majority of cases occurring in less developed countries. Although this cancer is induced by Human Papillomavirus (HPV) infections that have a high prevalence, only a very few percentage of infected women will developed this disease. Host immune defenses are essential to clear infection and to kill virus-infected transformed cells. Indeed, majority of infected women clear the virus within two years while immunocompromised patients are more likely to develop cervical preneoplastic lesions and cancers. γδ T cells have been shown to protect against the formation of squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) in several models. Nowadays, the contribution of γδ T cells in HPV associated uterine cervical SCC is unknown. Here we investigated the impact of γδ T cells in a transgenic mouse model of carcinogenesis induced by HPV16-oncoproteins. Surprisingly, γδ T cells promoted the development of HPV16-oncoprotein-induced lesions. These oncoproteins induced a decrease in epidermal Skint-1 expression and modification of the associated anti-tumor Vγ5+ γδ T cells (or DETC), which were joined by other γδ T cell subsets actively producing IL-17. Consistent with a proangiogenic role, γδ T cells promoted the formation of blood vessels in the dermis underlying the HPV-induced lesions. In human cervical, IL-17+ γδ T cells could be only observed at the cancer stage (SCC) (but not in less advanced cervical lesions), where HPV oncoproteins are highly expressed, supporting the clinical relevance of our observations in mice. Overall, our results suggest that HPV16-oncoproteins induce a reorganization of the local epithelial-associated γδ T cell Subpopulations thereby promoting angiogenesis and cancer development. [less ▲]

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See detailProxima Cen b: theoretical spectral signatures for different atmospheric scenarios
Defrere, Denis ULg; Léger, Alain; Grenfell, John Lee et al

Speech/Talk (2017)

Proxima Cen b is possibly the nearest rocky exoplanet orbiting in the habitable zone of its star and might represent by consequent a formidable opportunity for astrobiology. In this presentation, we ... [more ▼]

Proxima Cen b is possibly the nearest rocky exoplanet orbiting in the habitable zone of its star and might represent by consequent a formidable opportunity for astrobiology. In this presentation, we discuss several possible atmospheric compositions and present the corresponding infrared spectrum computed with modern planetary atmosphere models. To be specific, we consider (1) a bare planet, which has lost its atmosphere; (2) a water-ocean planet; (3) an Earth-analog planet; and (4) a planet similar to Earth but with a lower O2 pressure (< 1mbar) that produces a false positive for the triple signature (H20, O3, and CO2). We discuss the information contained in each infrared spectrum and the possibility to constrain the nature of the planet by remote sensing. We end this presentation by describing an instrumental concept recently proposed to ESA and optimised for this task. [less ▲]

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See detailCharacterizing exoplanetary atmospheres with a mid-infrared nulling interferometer
Defrere, Denis ULg; Léger, Alain; Absil, Olivier ULg

Speech/Talk (2017)

The discovery of an increasing number of terrestrial planets around nearby stars marks the dawn of a new era in the exoplanet field: the characterization and understanding of their atmospheres. To make ... [more ▼]

The discovery of an increasing number of terrestrial planets around nearby stars marks the dawn of a new era in the exoplanet field: the characterization and understanding of their atmospheres. To make significant progress, it becomes clear that a large number of exoplanetary atmospheres have to be studied at various wavelengths. This is particularly relevant for identifying possible bio-signatures. In this talk, we present a concept of a space-based mid-infrared nulling spectrograph that can characterize a large number of exoplanetary atmospheres and provide key information on their size, surface temperature, and the presence of key molecules such as CO2, H2O, CH4 and O3. The proposed mission concept would be particularly suited to characterize Proxima Cen b. [less ▲]

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See detailAtmospheric free acidity from cloud processing
Franco, Bruno ULg; Taraborrelli, Domenico; Gromov, Sergey et al

Conference (2017, June 27)

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See detailDevelopment and applications of CRISPR-Cas9 and RNAi for rice and wheat agronomic traits improvement
Sun, Yongwei ULg

Doctoral thesis (2017)

Genome editing technologies enable precise modifications of DNA sequences in vivo and offer a great promise for harnessing plant genes in crop improvement. The precise manipulation of plant genomes relies ... [more ▼]

Genome editing technologies enable precise modifications of DNA sequences in vivo and offer a great promise for harnessing plant genes in crop improvement. The precise manipulation of plant genomes relies on the induction of DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs) by sequence-specific nucleases (SSNs) to initiate DNA repair reactions that are based on either non-homologous end joining (NHEJ) or homology-directed repair (HDR). NHEJ can result in frame-shift mutations that often create genetic knockouts. These knockout lines are useful for functional and reverse genetic studies but also have applications in agriculture. HDR has a variety of applications as it can be used for gene replacement, gene stacking, and for creating various fusion proteins. An overview of development and applications of precise GT in plants using SSNs systems is presented in Chapter I. Cereals high in amylose content (AC) and resistant starch (RS) offer potential health benefits. Starch branching enzyme (SBE) plays a major role in determining the fine structure and physical properties of starch. Here, we use CRISPR/Cas9 technology to generate targeted mutagenesis in SBEI and SBEIIb in rice. The frequencies of obtained homozygous or bi-allelic mutant lines with indels in SBEI and SBEIIb in T0 generation were from 26.7 to 40%. SbeII mutants showed higher proportion of long chains presented in debranched amylopectin, significantly increased AC and RS content to as higher as 25.0% and 9.8%, respectively. The details of results are presented in Chapter IV Complete knockouts and loss-of-function mutations are very valuable in defining gene functions, their applications in crop improvement are somewhat limited because many agriculturally important traits are conferred by point mutations or a change of gene expression levels. Development of a technology that enables gene replacement rather than gene inactivation will greatly facilitate plant breading. In this study, we report an efficient method to introduce multiple discrete point mutations in the rice ALS gene using CRISPR/Cas9-mediated homologous recombination. We not only generated homozygous herbicide resistance rice plants in one generation, but also demonstrated that the presented strategy is feasible and effective in precise gene replacement by using CRISPR/Cas9 system to facilitate crop genetic improvement. The details of results are presented in Chapter V Aphids are major agricultural pests which cause significant yield losses of wheat each year in China. Present attempts to improve the aphid resistance of wheat through conventional breeding in China are being confronted by slow progress due to lack of aphid resistant wheat germplasm, the complexity of plant-aphid interactions and the rapid development of resistant pest biotypes. An overview of the engineering of plants for aphid resistance is presented in chapter II. We identify a gene (23028) related to aphid ingestion and digestion from the aphid, S. avenae. Aphids fed on plant material expressing double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) specific to 23028 and C002 show a decline in growth, reproduction and survival rates. The details of results presented in the chapter VI. [less ▲]

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See detailGENETIC DIVERSITY AND FACULTATIVE SYMBIONTS INFECTION PATTERNS OF TWO RHOPALOSIPHUM APHIDS
Guo, Jianqing ULg

Doctoral thesis (2017)

Aphids, during the long-term evolution, kept their genetic traits for continuation of the species while some variations caused by selection, migration, mutation, and genetic drift occurred meanwhile to ... [more ▼]

Aphids, during the long-term evolution, kept their genetic traits for continuation of the species while some variations caused by selection, migration, mutation, and genetic drift occurred meanwhile to adapt to novel environments. The differentiation takes place not only among species but could also be observed within species that finally contributes to the population genetic diversity. However, the migrant behavior of aphid can enhances the gene flow among populations, as a result, decreasing the genetic variation. Additionally, insect such as aphids usually hold the mutualistic relationships with endosymbionts which may affect the adaptive characteristics of the host aphid. Both Corn leaf aphid Rhopalosiphum maidis (F.) (Hemiptera: Aphididae) and Bird cherry-oat aphid Rhopalosiphum padi (L.) (Hemiptera: Aphididae) are worldwidely severe pests that attack cereal crops such as maize, barley, wheat, sorghum and oats. They suck the phloem and can transmit viruses including Maize dwarf mosaic virus (MDMV) and Barley yellow dwarf virus (BYDV), the main virus of maize and barley, which may result in serious damage for the yield and quality of the host plant. Moreover, one aphid species usually exerts genetic differentiation among populations which is related to factors such as geographic conditions, host plants and life history. Hence, it is necessary to have a clear understanding of the genetic structure and variation among geographic populations to further explore the historical expanding routes and occurrence of these pests and design efficient control strategies. Targeting the genetic divergence among populations of two Rhopalosiphum aphids, 32 populations of R. padi and 38 populations of R. maidis were collected on maize from most regions of China as well as some countries in Europe. The sequencing results of two mitochondrial (COI and COII) and one nuclear (EF-1α) genes indicated that a high level of gene flow existed among the populations of R. maidis in terms of geographic locations, proving the migratory capacity of this aphid. With regard to R. padi, high genetic diversity were found between the populations from China and Europe based on combined COI-COII, however, the genetic diversification among Chinese populations and European populations were low, which illustrated that the length of geographic distance may play an important role in genetic diversity. The infection patterns of seven facultative symbionts (Serratia symbiotica, Hamiltonella defensa, Regiella insecticola, Rickettsia, Spiroplasma, Wolbachia and Arsenophonus) in R. padi and R. maidis were investigated as well. Both aphids were found to have wide symbiotic associations with variant symbionts. Unlike Acyrthosiphum pisim (H.) which is frequently infected with S. symbiotica, R. insecticola, Rickettsia and Spiroplasma were dominant facultative symbionts in these two Rhopalosiphum aphids. The results also indicated that the geographic conditions such as latitude of collecting locations may have an effect on the distribution of facultative symbionts, implying the adaptive function of the facultative symbionts to various environmental conditions on their host aphids. Considering the population diversity within species, we also tested the survival and reproduction rates of two R. maidis populations (i.e. Beijing and Mangshi) on barley and maize of small (10 cm) and high (50 cm) size. Direct observation method was used and none of the populations could survive on maize of small size whereas they were capable to develop on maize of high size, but with much lower growing speeds compared with barley on which both populations showed the best performances. In addition, Beijing population was found to perform significantly better than Mangshi population which may be related to the infection of facultative symbionts. We hypothesize that the lethality on small maize may result from the secondary metabolites synthesized to be more abundant in young maize seedlings. [less ▲]

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See detailStrategies of host defense and viral counter defense: analysis of Fusarium graminearium responses to FgHV1 infection
Wang, Shuangchao ULg

Doctoral thesis (2017)

Viruses that selectively infect fungi are named fungal viruses or mycoviruses. Fungal viruses exist in all major groups of fungi and are important in both fundamental research and biological control of ... [more ▼]

Viruses that selectively infect fungi are named fungal viruses or mycoviruses. Fungal viruses exist in all major groups of fungi and are important in both fundamental research and biological control of plant pathogens. Fusarium graminearum hypovirus 1 (FgHV1) was the first virus isolated from F. graminearum belonging to the hypoviridae family. FgHV1 was supposed to encode two open reading frames, which had high sequence identities with Cryphonectria hypovirus 1 and 2 (CHV1 and CHV2). F. graminearum strain infected with FgHV1 showed lower growth rate and reduced conidia production, but with no pathogenicity change. To elucidate the host defense and viral counter defense mechanism, we analyzed the F. graminearum stress responses to FgHV1 infection from several aspects. In the first part, we preliminarily elucidated the RNA silencing mechanism of the F. graminearum/hypovirus system from a small RNA (sRNA) perspective. The length distributions of F. graminearum sRNA were altered by FgHV1 infection, especially 24-nt sRNA. Extensive FgHV1-derived sRNAs were detected, yielding the first high resolution map of sRNA from mycoviruses. In particular, the RNA silencing-related genes FgDicer1 and FgRdRp5 were predicted targets of FgHV1- and FgHV2-derived siRNAs, possibly revealing a novel anti-RNA silencing strategy employed by mycoviruses. In the second part, we performed genome-wide expression analysis to reveal stress-related genes with expression changes in response to FgHV1 infection. A total of 248 differentially expressed genes were identified. Cellular redox regulation related genes were the most affected categories in F. graminearum challenged with FgHV1. Then we verified that FgHV1 encoded protein 20 (p20) could induce the H2O2 accumulation and hypersensitive response in Nicotiana benthamiana leaves. In the last part, our experiments confirmed that p20 functioned as a RNA silencing suppressor (RSS) with the agroinfiltration-mediated technique, making p20 the third RSS identified in mycoviruses. By incorporating single strand sRNA, p20 could suppress host RNA silencing. Globally, the defense responses of F. graminearum to FgHV1 infection were studied all-around and in-depth. On the other hand, FgHV1 developed counter defense strategies to protect from invasion resistance. [less ▲]

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See detailLe retour du saumon et l'écologie des poissons migrateurs en Ourthe-Vesdre-Amblève
Ovidio, Michaël ULg

Conference given outside the academic context (2017)

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See detail"888" Tweets on the Art and Science of Internet-Based Investing
Choffray, Jean-Marie ULg

E-print/Working paper (2017)

Here we are! Exactly “888” Tweets, regularly updated, on The Art and Science of Investing to “show you the way”, to share some observations on the evolution of the world, the behavior of the financial ... [more ▼]

Here we are! Exactly “888” Tweets, regularly updated, on The Art and Science of Investing to “show you the way”, to share some observations on the evolution of the world, the behavior of the financial markets, and to illustrate the key heuristics that I learned over the last twenty years. As, without any doubt, I am no Warren Buffett, feel free to disagree and develop you own “theory” of investing. Painful and solitary work... Success is at that price! And, based on what I did - and did not! - achieve, it shouldn’t be hard to do much better... That’s my wish for you! [less ▲]

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Peer Reviewed
See detailUntangling glycaemia and mortality in critical care
Uyttendaele, Vincent ULg; Dickson, Jennifer L.; Shaw, Geoffrey M. et al

in Critical Care (2017), 21(1), 152

Background: Hyperglycaemia is associated with adverse outcomes in the intensive care unit, and initial studies suggested outcome benefits of glycaemic control (GC). However, subsequent studies often ... [more ▼]

Background: Hyperglycaemia is associated with adverse outcomes in the intensive care unit, and initial studies suggested outcome benefits of glycaemic control (GC). However, subsequent studies often failed to replicate these results, and they were often unable to achieve consistent, safe control, raising questions about the benefit or harm of GC as well as the nature of the association of glycaemia with mortality and clinical outcomes. In this study, we evaluated if non-survivors are harder to control than survivors and determined if glycaemic outcome is a function of patient condition and eventual outcome or of the glycaemic control provided. Methods: Clinically validated, model-based, hour-to-hour insulin sensitivity (SI) and its hour-to-hour variability (%ΔSI) were identified over the first 72 h of therapy in 145 patients (119 survivors, 26 non-survivors). In hypothesis testing, we compared distributions of SI and %ΔSI in 6-hourly blocks for survivors and non-survivors. In equivalence testing, we assessed if differences in these distributions, based on blood glucose measurement error, were clinically significant. Results: SI level was never equivalent between survivors and non-survivors (95% CI of percentage difference in medians outside ±12%). Non-survivors had higher SI, ranging from 9% to 47% higher overall in 6-h blocks, and this difference became statistically significant as glycaemic control progressed. %ΔSI was equivalent between survivors and non-survivors for all 6-hourly blocks (95% CI of difference in medians within ±12%) and decreased in general over time as glycaemic control progressed. Conclusions: Whereas non-survivors had higher SI levels, variability was equivalent to that of survivors over the first 72 h. These results indicate survivors and non-survivors are equally controllable, given an effective glycaemic control protocol, suggesting that glycaemia level and variability, and thus the association between glycaemia and outcome, are essentially determined by the control provided rather than by underlying patient or metabolic condition. [less ▲]

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See detailLe contrôle du respect des droits fondamentaux de ses condamnés par la Cour pénale internationale : théorie et pratique naissante
Deprez, Christophe ULg

Conference (2017, June 23)

Cette présentation PowerPoint a servi de support à une communication orale dans le cadre de l'édition 2017 de la Conférence des Assistants en droit de Belgique (ACCA), organisée le 23 juin 2017 par l ... [more ▼]

Cette présentation PowerPoint a servi de support à une communication orale dans le cadre de l'édition 2017 de la Conférence des Assistants en droit de Belgique (ACCA), organisée le 23 juin 2017 par l'Université de Liège. [less ▲]

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See detailGreen Biotechnology in Belgium: The Ghent Innovation District.
Segers, Jean Pierre ULg

E-print/Working paper (2017)

This contribution explores the long-standing evolution of the green biotechnology cluster in the bioRegion of Flanders (Belgium), in particular in the Ghent innovation district.

Detailed reference viewed: 76 (2 ULg)