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Acta Physiologica Hungarica
Authors:
Cristina Sánchez López
,
C. Barriga
,
A. Rodríguez
,
L. Franco
,
M. Rivero
, and
J. Cubero

We describe a chronobiological study of the effects of the oral administration of the essential amino acid L-methionine to common quail ( Coturnix coturnix ). This amino acid is a precursor of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine which is responsible for controlling and maintaining wakefulness through the ventrolateral pre-optic area of the hypothalamus and controlling the REM sleep in the nucleus reticularis pontinus oralis (NRPO). The quail model was chosen as these birds are monophasic and active by day, as are humans. The animals were kept under a constant 12h:12h light/dark cycle, fed ad libitum and housed in separate cages equipped for activity recording. Methionine was administered daily (1 h before lights off) for 1 week (chronic treatment), with the birds divided into 4 groups: a capsule with 15 mg of L-methionine (Met15 treatment group); a capsule with 30 mg of L-methionine (Met30 treatment group); a capsule with methylcellulose as excipient (control group); no capsule (basal group). In addition, we compared the first day of treatment (acute experiment) with the basal and control results. Actimetry (DAS24©) was used to quantify the activity data, and the sleep/wake rhythm was analyzed using the Ritme© software package. The statistical analysis of the activity data was descriptive (± SD) and inferential (Tukey test). The data showed increased (p<0.05) mean diurnal activity pulses in the Met30 group versus the other groups in both the acute and the chronic experiments. No changes were found in nocturnal activity. The chronobiological analysis showed a significant increase in the MESOR parameter of the Met30 group in both chronic and acute experiments versus the other groups. The acrophase showed no significant changes, in all groups being at around 13:45 h. In conclusion, the oral administration of L-methionine increased diurnal activity; probably due to the stimulating neuromodulatory action of acetylcholine.

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The hop (Humulus lupulus), a component of beer, is a sedative plant whose pharmacological activity is due principally to its bitter resins, especially to the α-acid component 2-methyl-3-buten-2-ol. The mechanism of action of the resin of hop consists of increasing the activity of the neurotransmitter γ-aminobutyric (GABA), inhibiting the central nervous system (CNS). Objectives: To analyze in an experimental model of diurnal animal the sedative effect of hop, a component of beer, on the activity/rest rhythm. Methods: Experiments were performed with common quail (Coturnix coturnix) similar to humans in the sleep-wake rhythm, isolated in 25 × 25 × 25 cm methacrylate cages, with food and water ad libitum, in a room with artificial ventilation (22 ± 1 °C) and a lighting cycle of 12L/12D (n = 5). The doses administered, close to the content of non-alcoholic beer, were 1, 2 and 11 mg extract of hop as one capsule per day, at 18:00 h for one week. A control group received capsules only with a methylcellulose excipient and a basal group received no treatment. The chronobiological analysis of the animals’ activity captured and logged by the software DAS24 was performed using the Ritme computer program (cosinor methods). Results: With the dose of 2 mg, there was a statistically significant (p < 0.05) reduction of the arithmetic mean nocturnal activity (23 ± 3.0) with respect to the basal (38.56 ± 2.79), control (38.1 ± 2.8) and other doses groups 1 mg (52.04 ± 3.65) and 11 mg (47.47 ± 5.88). This dose of 2 mg, similar to the concentration in beer, was more effective in reducing nocturnal activity than the other doses of 1 and 11 mg, as well as preserving the circadian activity/rest rhythm. Conclusion: The concentration of 2 mg of hop extract effectively decreased nocturnal activity in the circadian activity rhythm. On the basis of this investigation, administration of non-alcoholic beer would be recommended due to its hop content and consequent sedative action, which would be an aid to nocturnal sleep.

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The use of melatonin as antioxidant has been extensively established. But what would the antioxidant function be if one were to go one step back in the anabolism of that amine, and orally administer its precursor — the amino acid tryptophan? Diurnal animals ( Streptopelia roseogrisea ) were administered orally capsules containing 125 or 300 mg L-tryptophan/kg b.w. for 7 days at the end of the light period (20 h ). A control group received capsules with methylcellulose. The antioxidant function was studied through the reduction of nitroblue tetrazolium (NBT) by superoxide anion, and through the levels of malonaldehyde (MDA) produced in the lipoperoxidation that occurs from the respiratory burst in response to the presence of a foreign particle in phagocytic cells (heterophils), which were extracted at 2 h — at the acrophase of melatonin in the blood stream. In the heterophils extracted from the group that received 125 mg kg −1 b.w. tryptophan, there was less oxidative stress as determined by the NBT reduction than in those from the 300 mg kg −1 b.w. group. In the study of the lipoperoxidation of the membranes as determined by the levels of MDA, however, no significant variations were observed between the different groups. The lower concentration (125 mg L-tryptophan/kg b.w.), administered orally, succeeded in diminishing the free radicals produced in the heterophils for the destruction of the ingested foreign agent, but not fully or maximally. The possible solution to this prooxidant/antioxidant imbalance would be to administer a lower concentration of tryptophan to attain the perfect balance for application in nutritional treatments.

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Abstract

A university may be considered as having dimension-specific prestige in a scientific field (e.g., physics) when a particular bibliometric research performance indicator exceeds a threshold value. But a university has multidimensional prestige in a field of study only if it is influential with respect to a number of dimensions. The multidimensional prestige of influential fields at a given university takes into account that several prestige indicators should be used for a distinct analysis of the influence of a university in a particular field of study. After having identified the multidimensionally influential fields of study at a university their prestige scores can be aggregated to produce a summary measure of the multidimensional prestige of influential fields at this university, which satisfies numerous properties. Here we use this summary measure of multidimensional prestige to assess the comparative performance of Spanish Universities during the period 2006–2010.

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Community Ecology
Authors:
J. Madrigal-González
,
J. García-Rodríguez
,
A. Puerto-Martín
,
B. Fernández-Santos
, and
P. Alonso-Rojo

In arid and semi-arid ecosystems, the presence of woody neighbours affects the existence of several herbaceous species by modifying critical aspects of the environment (e.g., soil humidity, nutrient content or light availability) beneath their canopies. Herbaceous species growing in the understory of Pinus pinaster may be distinct from those in open areas due to litter fall, light interception and changes in nutrient availability. We suggest that the overall effect of woody neighbours on herbaceous layer diversity may vary with the scale focus of analysis. To examine this hypothesis, we collected data on the abundance of herbaceous species in open pineland forests of the central Iberian Peninsula (Spain) using sample quadrats of 0.5 m × 0.5 m distributed beneath, at the edge, and outside the canopy of pines in a landscape composed of dunes and plains. The results of CCA ordination revealed significant spatial segregation of herbaceous species reflecting the occurrence of pines and dunes in the landscape. Nested ANOVA disclosed markedly lower species richness beneath the pines, particularly in the dune sites. Species richness partitioning showed higher pine-induced heterogeneity than expected from the sample-based randomized model, leading to significantly increased species richness at the patch level. Hence, the outcome of pine-induced effects on the herbaceous plant diversity is scale-dependent, negative if we focus on separate communities, but positive if the scale focus is extended to whole patches comprising the sum of communities beneath, at the edge, and outside pine tree canopies. These results emphasize the necessity of using various scale perspectives to clarify the different ways in which pines and other woody nurse species affect structure of herbaceous communities in semi-arid Mediterranean ecosystems.

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Journal of Thermal Analysis and Calorimetry
Authors:
E. T. Stepkowska
,
S. Yariv
,
J. L. Pérez-Rodríguez
,
A. Justo
,
A. Ruiz-Conde
, and
P. Sánchez-Soto

Abstract

A dredged sludge was studied to investigate the influence of ageing and of pretreatment on its drying rate, water sorption/retention, thermal mass loss, XRD and microstructure (SEM).

Ageing caused change in particle thickness and specific surface, a gradual aggregation to form units of the size 10–50 μm, formation of macropores of similar size, unhomogeneity and fissures between aggregates and “super-aggregates”. Macropores were detectable by the initial drying rate especially at 45°C. They indicated a tendency of collapsing at a lower drying rate at 30°C. This is consistent with SEM observations. With ageing the aggregates were more compact and less sensitive to drying.

The aggregated system indicated a higher initial drying rate (higher permeability), whereas stirring induced a lower drying rate, favouring the formation of compact laminar structure.

XRD peak intensity was lowered with ageing due to decrease in crystallinity (stacking faults and/or decrease in crystallite size). The content of amorphous material was lowered as well, reducing water sorption/desorption, which indicated that the specific surface is lower.

From the suitable microstructure induced by ageing some new phases may form (feldspar, zeolites), preferably in the coarser fraction of the sludge. This is disturbed by stirring which operation expels also carbonates from the particle edges and this may reduce the structural strength of the sludge. In aged bentonite suspension a similar tendency was observed of formation of specific microstructures capable of phase transformation, e.g. to feldspar.

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Journal of Thermal Analysis and Calorimetry
Authors:
A. Kyritsis
,
A. Spanoudaki
,
C. Pandis
,
L. Hartmann
,
R. Pelster
,
N. Shinyashiki
,
J. C. Rodríguez Hernández
,
J. L. Gómez Ribelles
,
M. Monleón Pradas
, and
P. Pissis

Abstract

Hydrogels based on nanocomposites of statistical poly(hydroxyethyl acrylate-co-ethyl acrylate) and silica, prepared by simultaneous copolymerization and generation of silica nanoparticles by sol–gel process at various copolymer compositions and silica contents, characterized by a fine dispersion of filler, were investigated with respect to glass transition and polymer dynamics by dielectric techniques. These include thermally stimulated depolarization currents and dielectric relaxation spectroscopy, covering together broad ranges of frequency and temperature. In addition, equilibrium water sorption isotherms were recorded at room temperature (25 °C). Special attention was paid to the investigation of effects of silica on glass transition, polymer dynamics (secondary γ and β sw relaxations and segmental α relaxation), and electrical conductivity in the dry systems (xerogels) and in the hydrogels at various levels of relative humidity/water content. An overall reduction of molecular mobility is observed in the nanocomposite xerogels, in particular at high silica contents. Analysis of the results and comparison with previous work on similar systems enable to discuss this reduction of molecular mobility in terms of constraints to polymeric motion imposed by interfacial polymer–filler interactions and by the formation of a continuous silica network interpenetrated with the polymer network at filler contents higher than about 15 wt%.

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Journal of Thermal Analysis and Calorimetry
Authors:
F. J. Martínez Casado
,
M. Ramos Riesco
,
M. I. Redondo Yélamos
,
A. Sánchez Arenas
, and
J. A. Rodríguez Cheda

Abstract

Four mesomorphic states of matter are known: liquid crystal, plastic crystal, condis phase, and rotator phase, all of them are solid phases, except liquid crystal, which is fluid. Plastic crystal (also called ODIC, orientational disordered crystal), rotator phase, and even condis phase have been considered the same phase by many authors. Differences between them will be established to define their own characteristics. Two organic salts series have been used for discussion in this presentation: (1) thallium(I) alkanoate series, that presents a condis mesophase, and (2) lead(II) alkanoate series, that present a rotator one, both forming a smectic A-like liquid crystal phase. Based in the literature data of the alkyl ammonium bromide series it can be established that the short chain length members would present a rotator phase, and, the large chain ones, a condis phase. Five different glass states are known (four with partial crystalline order), corresponding with the above mentioned mesophases, and the ordinary (amorphous) glass state.

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Journal of Radioanalytical and Nuclear Chemistry
Authors:
F. Poineau
,
E. Rodriguez
,
P. Weck
,
A. Sattelberger
,
P. Forster
,
T. Hartmann
,
E. Mausolf
,
G. Silva
,
G. Jarvinen
,
A. Cheetham
, and
Kenneth Czerwinski

Abstract  

The chemistry of technetium is being explored at the University of Nevada Las Vegas. Our goal is to investigate both the applied and fundamental aspects of technetium chemistry, with a special emphasis on synthesis, separations, and materials science. The synthetic chemistry focuses on metal–metal multiple bonding, oxides and halides. Synthesis and characterizations of (n-Bu4N)2Tc2X8, Tc2(O2CCH3)4X2 (X = Cl, Br), TcO2, Bi2Tc2O7, Bi3TcO8, TcBr3 and TcBr4 have been performed. The applied chemistry is related to the behavior of Tc in the UREX process. Separation of U/Tc has been conducted using anion exchange resin and metallic Tc waste form synthesized and characterized.

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Community Ecology
Authors:
F.A. Rodríguez-Zaragoza
,
M. Ortiz
,
F. Berrios
,
L. Campos
,
A. de Jesús-Navarrete
,
J. Castro-Pérez
,
A. Hernández-Flores
,
M. García-Rivas
,
F. Fonseca-Peralta
, and
E. Gallegos-Aguilar

Banco Chinchorro is the largest reef in the Mexican Caribbean. Historically, spiny lobster, queen conch and over 20 other reef species have been exploited here. Multispecies intervention management from an ecosystem perspective has been developed in this area; however, an assessment of the effects of such practices on ecosystem health is required. Five quantitative trophic models were constructed using Ecopath with Ecosim. The results show that, in terms of biomass, benthic autotrophs are the dominant group in all communities. Ecosystem Network Analysis indices showed that Cueva de Tiburones was the most mature, developed, complex and healthy subsystem, but, El Colorado and La Baliza were the subsystems most resistant to disturbances. The fisheries mainly concentrate on primary (La Baliza and Cueva de Tiburones sites) and secondary consumers (La Caldera, Chancay, and El Colorado). The greatest propagation of direct and indirect effects, estimated by Mixed Trophic Impacts and Ecosim simulations, were generated by the benthic autotrophs, small benthic epifauna, benthic-pelagic carnivorous fish and benthic carnivorous fish, among others. In contrast, the System Recovery Time showed different patterns among subsystems, indicating several compartments that reduce resilience. Considering the structure, dynamics, trophic functioning and ecosystem health of Banco Chinchorro, its ecological heterogeneity highlights the need for the design of a specific (by subsystem) management strategy, particularly because different species or functional groups present greater sensitivity to human interventions in each community.

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