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Article
The SR Splicing Factors: Providing Perspectives on Their Evolution, Expression, Alternative Splicing, and Function in Populus trichocarpa
by , , , , , , , and
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2021, 22(21), 11369; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms222111369 (registering DOI) - 21 Oct 2021
Abstract
Serine/arginine-rich (SR) proteins are important splicing factors in plant development and abiotic/hormone-related stresses. However, evidence that SR proteins contribute to the process in woody plants has been lacking. Using phylogenetics, gene synteny, transgenic experiments, and RNA-seq analysis, we identified 24 PtSR genes and [...] Read more.
Serine/arginine-rich (SR) proteins are important splicing factors in plant development and abiotic/hormone-related stresses. However, evidence that SR proteins contribute to the process in woody plants has been lacking. Using phylogenetics, gene synteny, transgenic experiments, and RNA-seq analysis, we identified 24 PtSR genes and explored their evolution, expression, and function in Popolus trichocarpa. The PtSR genes were divided into six subfamilies, generated by at least two events of genome triplication and duplication. Notably, they were constitutively expressed in roots, stems, and leaves, demonstrating their fundamental role in P. trichocarpa. Additionally, most PtSR genes (~83%) responded to at least one stress (cold, drought, salt, SA, MeJA, or ABA), and, especially, cold stress induced a dramatic perturbation in the expression and/or alternative splicing (AS) of 18 PtSR genes (~75%). Evidentially, the overexpression of PtSCL30 in Arabidopsis decreased freezing tolerance, which probably resulted from AS changes of the genes (e.g., ICE2 and COR15A) critical for cold tolerance. Moreover, the transgenic plants were salt-hypersensitive at the germination stage. These indicate that PtSCL30 may act as a negative regulator under cold and salt stress. Altogether, this study sheds light on the evolution, expression, and AS of PtSR genes, and the functional mechanisms of PtSCL30 in woody plants. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Mechanism and Regulation of Pre-mRNA Splicing)
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Article
Evolution of the Global Scientific Research on the Environmental Impact of Food Production from 1970 to 2020
by
Sustainability 2021, 13(21), 11633; https://doi.org/10.3390/su132111633 (registering DOI) - 21 Oct 2021
Abstract
Food production and consumption account for a significant share of the impact of various pressing and important environmental concerns such as climate change, eutrophication, and loss of biodiversity. In this work, a bibliometric analysis of the last 50 years of research papers, written [...] Read more.
Food production and consumption account for a significant share of the impact of various pressing and important environmental concerns such as climate change, eutrophication, and loss of biodiversity. In this work, a bibliometric analysis of the last 50 years of research papers, written in English and indexed on Scopus database, was carried out to highlight the evolution of the global scientific research in the environmental assessment of food production (EAFP). The research papers in EAFP started to significantly increase from 2005, being most frequently published by the Journal of Cleaner Production and International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment. The United States of America was the first publishing country, followed by China, the United Kingdom, and Italy. Wheat, rice, fish, maize, and milk were the food items mainly studied, with different importance depending on the authors’ publishing country. Life Cycle Analysis, Carbon Footprint, and Water Footprint were the first three standard methods used to assess climate change, energy consumption, and environmental impact. The Wageningen University, Chinese Academy of Sciences and Research Centre, and China Agricultural University were the main publishing research centers. All the papers published worldwide received 18.1 citations per paper, the UK and Chinese papers being those mostly and minimally cited, respectively. Over the last five years, this research field largely aimed to managing the agricultural practices, mitigating global warming and water use, assuring food security and sustainable food consumption, while minimizing food waste formation. Such an objective evaluation of this research topic might help guide researchers on where to address their future research work. Full article
(This article belongs to the Topic Climate Change and Environmental Sustainability)
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Review
Illite-Age-Analysis (IAA) for the Dating of Shallow Faults: Prerequisites and Procedures for Improvement
by and
Minerals 2021, 11(11), 1162; https://doi.org/10.3390/min11111162 (registering DOI) - 21 Oct 2021
Abstract
Fault age determination using the illite-age-analysis (IAA) method for fault gouges has played a key role in providing absolute age information in tectonic evolution studies for the last 20 years. The accuracy and precision of the IAA method depend on (1) how to [...] Read more.
Fault age determination using the illite-age-analysis (IAA) method for fault gouges has played a key role in providing absolute age information in tectonic evolution studies for the last 20 years. The accuracy and precision of the IAA method depend on (1) how to reasonably quantify the relative content of 1M/1Md illite generated from fault activity compared to detrital 2M1 illite in the size fractions of the fault gouge, and (2) how to minimize the error factors in K-Ar or Ar-Ar dating analysis. XRD-based quantitative analysis of illite polytype has made great progress in accuracy by generating a simulated XRD pattern of 1M/1Md polytype using WILDFIRE© and full-pattern-fitting it with the XRD pattern measured from size fractions of the fault gauge. Nevertheless, the results of quantitative analysis of illite polytypes may vary depending on the sample state of the size fractions for XRD analysis, especially the preferred orientation due to the layered crystal structure of illite. In addition, the radiometric dating results may be distorted depending on the error factor of the dating method itself and on the mineral composition of the size fractions, that is, the presence of K-containing minerals such as biotite and K-feldspar other than illite. In this study, we reviewed previous studies that determined fault activity ages by applying IAA to fault gouges. From this, the prerequisites and recommendations for each of the five steps (particle size separation process, XRD analysis process, polytype quantification, radiometric dating, IAA plot) for improving the IAA method are summarized and presented. The continuous application of the improved IAA is expected to greatly contribute to the study of tectonic evolution through geological time. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Frontier of the K–Ar (40Ar/39Ar) Geochronology)
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Review
Current Status and Emerging Trends on the Adaptive Reuse of Buildings: A Bibliometric Analysis
by , and
Sustainability 2021, 13(21), 11646; https://doi.org/10.3390/su132111646 (registering DOI) - 21 Oct 2021
Abstract
The emerging demand for sustainable development and the need for efficient use of resources across the built environment have stirred research efforts globally. The construction sector is often regarded as one of the major world consumers of resources, so many international establishments are [...] Read more.
The emerging demand for sustainable development and the need for efficient use of resources across the built environment have stirred research efforts globally. The construction sector is often regarded as one of the major world consumers of resources, so many international establishments are trying to create a sustainable environment through adaptive reuse of existing building stocks, a concept which has been receiving momentous recognition by reason of its richly diversified applicability for circular economy. Thus, profound knowledge of the topic and research trends is requisite to promote scholarship. For this analysis, the global research developments in adaptive reuse are assessed according to published documents, co-authorship, geographical distribution and keyword- co-occurrences. From the Scopus directory, 227 journal articles published from 2006 to 2021 were retrieved. Results showed that from 2006, published documents rose by 221 articles. About 29% of the publications were from Italy and the United Kingdom. Among the articles, 110 were from the subject area of environmental science (48.5%), while the subject area of engineering represents 104 publications (45.8%). Recent progress in adaptive reuse in building and construction includes, but not limited to: (i) component and materials reuse and technology, (ii) life cycle assessment, (iii) economic assessment and multi-criteria decision making and (iv) regulatory policies and stakeholders’ analysis. The findings are important to furnish all relevant personnel in the academic and industries with a broad perception of the status and potential emerging trends on the adaptive reuse of buildings. Full article
Article
Estimating Relaxation Time and Fractionality Order Parameters in Fractional Non-Fourier Heat Conduction Using Conjugate Gradient Inverse Approach in Single and Three-Layer Skin Tissues
by , , , and
Processes 2021, 9(11), 1877; https://doi.org/10.3390/pr9111877 (registering DOI) - 21 Oct 2021
Abstract
In this work, the relaxation parameter (τ) and fractionality order (α) in the fractional single phase lag (FSPL) non-Fourier heat conduction model are estimated by employing the conjugate gradient inverse method (CGIM). Two different physics of skin tissue are [...] Read more.
In this work, the relaxation parameter (τ) and fractionality order (α) in the fractional single phase lag (FSPL) non-Fourier heat conduction model are estimated by employing the conjugate gradient inverse method (CGIM). Two different physics of skin tissue are chosen as the studied cases; single and three-layer skin tissues. Single-layer skin is exposed to laser radiation having the constant heat flux of Qin. However, a heat pulse with constant temperature is imposed on the three-layer skin. The required inputs for the inverse problem in the fractional diffusion equation are chosen from the outcomes of the dual phase lag (DPL) theory. The governing equations are solved numerically by utilizing implicit approaches. The results of this study showed the efficiency of the CGIM to estimate the unknown parameters in the FSPL model. In fact, obtained numerical results of the CGIM are in excellent compatibility with the FSPL model. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Application of Artificial Intelligence in Industry and Medicine)
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Article
Is Instructional Scaffolding a Better Strategy for Teaching Writing to EFL Learners? A Functional MRI Study in Healthy Young Adults
by , , , and
Brain Sci. 2021, 11(11), 1378; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci11111378 (registering DOI) - 21 Oct 2021
Abstract
To test the scaffolding theory when applied to the teaching and learning of writing English as a foreign language, this cross-sectional study was conducted to collect physiological data. A total of 53 participants were randomly assigned into two groups, and brain activity was [...] Read more.
To test the scaffolding theory when applied to the teaching and learning of writing English as a foreign language, this cross-sectional study was conducted to collect physiological data. A total of 53 participants were randomly assigned into two groups, and brain activity was investigated during a guided-writing task using storytelling pictures. The writing task was further divided into four parts using graded levels of difficulty. The experimental group performed tasks in sequence from easy to difficult, whereas the comparison group performed the tasks at random. Outcomes included handwriting assessments and fMRI measurements. Writing outcome assessments were analyzed using SPSS, and scanned images were analyzed using Statistical Parametric Mapping (SPM) software. The results revealed a positive learning effect associated with scaffolding instruction. The experimental group performed better during the writing tasks, and the fMRI images showed less intense and weaker reactions in the language processing region than were observed in the comparison group. The fMRI results also presented the experimental group with reduced motor and cognitive functions when writing in English. This study provides insight regarding brain activity during writing tasks in humans and may have implications for English-language instruction. Full article
Article
Exploiting Sentinel-5P TROPOMI and Ground Sensor Data for the Detection of Volcanic SO2 Plumes and Activity in 2018–2021 at Stromboli, Italy
by , , , and
Sensors 2021, 21(21), 6991; https://doi.org/10.3390/s21216991 (registering DOI) - 21 Oct 2021
Abstract
Sulfur dioxide (SO2) degassing at Strombolian volcanoes is directly associated with magmatic activity, thus its monitoring can inform about the style and intensity of eruptions. The Stromboli volcano in southern Italy is used as a test case to demonstrate that the [...] Read more.
Sulfur dioxide (SO2) degassing at Strombolian volcanoes is directly associated with magmatic activity, thus its monitoring can inform about the style and intensity of eruptions. The Stromboli volcano in southern Italy is used as a test case to demonstrate that the TROPOspheric Monitoring Instrument (TROPOMI) onboard the Copernicus Sentinel-5 Precursor (Sentinel-5P) satellite has the suitable spatial resolution and sensitivity to carry out local-scale SO2 monitoring of relatively small-size, nearly point-wise volcanic sources, and distinguish periods of different activity intensity. The entire dataset consisting of TROPOMI Level 2 SO2 geophysical products from UV sensor data collected over Stromboli from 6 May 2018 to 31 May 2021 is processed with purposely adapted Python scripts. A methodological workflow is developed to encompass the extraction of total SO2 Vertical Column Density (VCD) at given coordinates (including conditional VCD for three different hypothetical peaks at 0–1, 7 and 15 km), as well as filtering by quality in compliance with the Sentinel-5P Validation Team’s recommendations. The comparison of total SO2 VCD time series for the main crater and across different averaging windows (3 × 3, 5 × 5 and 4 × 2) proves the correctness of the adopted spatial sampling criterion, and practical recommendations are proposed for further implementation in similar volcanic environments. An approach for detecting SO2 VCD peaks at the volcano is trialed, and the detections are compared with the level of SO2 flux measured at ground-based instrumentation. SO2 time series analysis is complemented with information provided by contextual Sentinel-2 multispectral (in the visible, near and short-wave infrared) and Suomi NPP VIIRS observations. The aim is to correctly interpret SO2 total VCD peaks when they either (i) coincide with medium to very high SO2 emissions as measured in situ and known from volcanological observatory bulletins, or (ii) occur outside periods of significant emissions despite signs of activity visible in Sentinel-2 data. Finally, SO2 VCD peaks in the time series are further investigated through daily time lapses during the paroxysms in July–August 2019, major explosions in August 2020 and a more recent period of activity in May 2021. Hourly wind records from ECMWF Reanalysis v5 (ERA5) data are used to identify local wind direction and SO2 plume drift during the time lapses. The proposed analysis approach is successful in showing the SO2 degassing associated with these events, and warning whenever the SO2 VCD at Stromboli may be overestimated due to clustering with the plume of the Mount Etna volcano. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Remote Sensors)
Article
The Impact of Climate Change on the Reliability of Water Resources
by , and
Climate 2021, 9(11), 153; https://doi.org/10.3390/cli9110153 (registering DOI) - 21 Oct 2021
Abstract
Climate change impact assessment is crucial for strategic planning in many areas, including water management, agriculture and forestry. Water planning has a long tradition in the Czech Republic, who has implemented the requirements of the Water Framework Directive since 2000. Following the expected [...] Read more.
Climate change impact assessment is crucial for strategic planning in many areas, including water management, agriculture and forestry. Water planning has a long tradition in the Czech Republic, who has implemented the requirements of the Water Framework Directive since 2000. Following the expected impacts of climate change on the hydrological regime, adaptation measures in the water sector are being prepared as part of strategic plans. This contribution studies the uncertainty propagation of climate scenarios in hydrological data, which are then used to assess the reliability of water resources and to design appropriate adaptation measures. The results are being discussed for a case study in the deficit area of Rakovnický stream and Blšanska river basins, which are among the driest areas in the Czech Republic. Research of the impact of climate change on the reliability of water resources has been prepared using ensembles of selected regional climate models. This approach has allowed a probabilistic assessment of the impact on the hydrology regime and the reliability of water supply from reservoirs for various time horizons of climate change. In view of the relatively large variance of potential impacts on water resources, options for further strategic planning in the water management area are being discussed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Climate Change, Hydrology and Freshwater Resources)
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Article
Plasma Sputtered Tungsten Oxide Thin Film on Poly(lactic acid) for Food Packaging Applications
by , , , , , , , , , and
Coatings 2021, 11(11), 1281; https://doi.org/10.3390/coatings11111281 (registering DOI) - 21 Oct 2021
Abstract
Biodegradable and bio-derived plastics such as poly(lactic acid) (PLA) are a promising solution to solve the huge environmental and economic issues caused by the enormous consumption of conventional oil-derived polymers, especially in food packaging applications. However, their poor gas barrier properties and high [...] Read more.
Biodegradable and bio-derived plastics such as poly(lactic acid) (PLA) are a promising solution to solve the huge environmental and economic issues caused by the enormous consumption of conventional oil-derived polymers, especially in food packaging applications. However, their poor gas barrier properties and high transparency to UV radiation limit their currently commercialization. Therefore, this study is focused on the deposition of tungsten oxide (WOx) thin films on commercial PLA in order to enhance its overall performance. Coatings with different thickness (25, 50 and 100 nm) were deposited by means of radiofrequency (RF) plasma magnetron reactive sputtering. Morphological characterization was carried out with atomic force microscopy (AFM) and scanning electron microscopy (SEM). In order to evaluate surface chemical changes due to plasma treatments, Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR) and X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS) analysis were performed. The PLA/WOx samples demonstrated remarkable improvements both in UV protection and oxygen barrier properties. In particular, light transmittance was reduced by approximately 95% in the UV-B region, 70% in the UV-A region and 50% in the visible region compared to pristine PLA. Regarding oxygen permeation, a reduction of at least 99.9% was achieved. In addition, the PLA/WOx antibacterial properties against Escherichia coli were also investigated, showing a reduction greater than 5 log10 CFU cm−2 after 24 h for the 50 and 100 nm samples. These results demonstrate the potential of WOx thin coating for sustainable food packaging applications. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Multifunctional Coating for Packaging Applications)
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Review
Current Status of CAR-T Cell Therapy in Multiple Myeloma
by , and
Hemato 2021, 2(4), 660-671; https://doi.org/10.3390/hemato2040043 (registering DOI) - 21 Oct 2021
Abstract
Current data on CAR-T cell-based therapy is really promising in multiple myeloma, especially in terms of response. In heavily pretreated patients, who have already received proteasome inhibitors, immunomodulatory drugs and monoclonal antibodies, current trials report an overall response rate ranging from 81 to [...] Read more.
Current data on CAR-T cell-based therapy is really promising in multiple myeloma, especially in terms of response. In heavily pretreated patients, who have already received proteasome inhibitors, immunomodulatory drugs and monoclonal antibodies, current trials report an overall response rate ranging from 81 to 97% and 45 to 67% of complete remission rates. Data are less encouraging in terms of duration of response, although most recent trials have shown significant improvements in terms of event-free survival, with medians ranging from 8 to 14 months and up to 77% progression-free survival at 12 months with an acceptable toxicity profile. These data will be consolidated in future years and will provide new evidence on the best timing for CAR-T cell therapy. Moreover, new CAR-T designs are underway and will challenge the current results. Full article
Article
Identification of cbiO Gene Critical for Biofilm Formation by MRSA CFSa36 Strain Isolated from Pediatric Patient with Cystic Fibrosis
by , , , , and
Pathogens 2021, 10(11), 1363; https://doi.org/10.3390/pathogens10111363 (registering DOI) - 21 Oct 2021
Abstract
The colonization of Staphylococcus aureus, especially methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA), has a detrimental effect on the respiratory care of pediatric patients with cystic fibrosis (CF). In addition to being resistant to multiple antibiotics, S. aureus also has the ability to form biofilms, which [...] Read more.
The colonization of Staphylococcus aureus, especially methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA), has a detrimental effect on the respiratory care of pediatric patients with cystic fibrosis (CF). In addition to being resistant to multiple antibiotics, S. aureus also has the ability to form biofilms, which makes the infection more difficult to treat and eradicate. In this study, we examined the ability of S. aureus strains isolated from pediatric patients with CF to form biofilms. We screened a transposon mutant library of MRSA and identified a putative cobalt transporter ATP binding domain (CbiO) that is required for biofilm formation. We discovered that deleting cbiO creating a CbiO null mutant in CFSa36 (an MRSA strain isolated from a patient with cystic fibrosis) significantly hinders the ability of CFSa36 to form biofilm. The complementation of CbiO restored the ability of the cbiO deletion mutant to generate biofilm. Interestingly, we revealed that incorporating extra copper ions to the chemically defined medium (CDM) complemented the function of CbiO for biofilm formation in a dose-dependent manner, while the addition of extra iron ions in CDM enhanced the effect of CbiO null mutation on biofilm formation. In addition, neither the addition of certain extra amounts of copper ions nor iron ions in CDM had an impact on bacterial growth. Taken together, our findings suggest that CbiO mediates biofilm formation by affecting the transportation of copper ions in the MRSA CFSa36 strain. This study provides new insights into the molecular basis of biofilm formation by S. aureus. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Staphylococcus Infections in Humans and Animals)
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Article
New Steroidal Saponins Isolated from the Rhizomes of Paris mairei
by , , , , , and
Molecules 2021, 26(21), 6366; https://doi.org/10.3390/molecules26216366 (registering DOI) - 21 Oct 2021
Abstract
The genus Paris is an excellent source of steroidal saponins that exhibit various bioactivities. Paris mairei is a unique species and has been widely used as folk medicine in Southwest China for a long time. With the help of chemical methods and modern [...] Read more.
The genus Paris is an excellent source of steroidal saponins that exhibit various bioactivities. Paris mairei is a unique species and has been widely used as folk medicine in Southwest China for a long time. With the help of chemical methods and modern spectra analysis, five new steroidal saponins, pamaiosides A–E (15), along with five known steroidal saponins 610, were isolated from the rhizomes of Paris mairei. The cytotoxicity of all the new saponins was evaluated against human pancreatic adenocarcinoma PANC-1 and BxPC3 cell lines. Full article
Article
ROS-Scavengers, Osmoprotectants and Violaxanthin De-Epoxidation in Salt-Stressed Arabidopsis thaliana with Different Tocopherol Composition
by , , , , , , , , and
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2021, 22(21), 11370; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms222111370 (registering DOI) - 21 Oct 2021
Abstract
To determine the role of α- and γ-tocopherol (TC), this study compared the response to salt stress (200 mM NaCl) in wild type (WT) Arabidopsis thaliana (L.) Heynh. And its two mutants: (1) totally TC-deficient vte1; (2) vte4 accumulating γ-TC instead of [...] Read more.
To determine the role of α- and γ-tocopherol (TC), this study compared the response to salt stress (200 mM NaCl) in wild type (WT) Arabidopsis thaliana (L.) Heynh. And its two mutants: (1) totally TC-deficient vte1; (2) vte4 accumulating γ-TC instead of α-TC; and (3) tmt transgenic line overaccumulating α-TC. Raman spectra revealed that salt-exposed α-TC accumulating plants were more flexible in regulating chlorophyll, carotenoid and polysaccharide levels than TC deficient mutants, while the plants overaccumulating γ-TC had the lowest levels of these biocompounds. Tocopherol composition and NaCl concentration affected xanthophyll cycle by changing the rate of violaxanthin de-epoxidation and zeaxanthin formation. NaCl treated plants with altered TC composition accumulated less oligosaccharides than WT plants. α-TC deficient plants increased their oligosaccharide levels and reduced maltose amount, while excessive accumulation of α-TC corresponded with enhanced amounts of maltose. Salt-stressed TC-deficient mutants and tmt transgenic line exhibited greater proline levels than WT plants, lower chlorogenic acid levels, and lower activity of catalase and peroxidases. α-TC accumulating plants produced more methylated proline- and glycine- betaines, and showed greater activity of superoxide dismutase than γ-TC deficient plants. Under salt stress, α-TC demonstrated a stronger regulatory effect on carbon- and nitrogen-related metabolites reorganization and modulation of antioxidant patterns than γ-TC. This suggested different links of α- and γ-TCs with various metabolic pathways via various functions and metabolic loops. Full article
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Article
Textures and Chemical Compositions of Nb-Bearing Minerals and Nb Mineralization in the Shuangshan Nepheline Syenite Pluton, East Qinling, China
by , , , , , and
Minerals 2021, 11(11), 1163; https://doi.org/10.3390/min11111163 (registering DOI) - 21 Oct 2021
Abstract
The Shuangshan alkaline complex located in the Henan province of China is a newly discovered, potentially giant niobium (Nb) deposit. A variety of Nb-bearing minerals including pyrochlore, zircon, and titanite have been identified in this deposit. Distinct textural and chemical differences of pyrochlore [...] Read more.
The Shuangshan alkaline complex located in the Henan province of China is a newly discovered, potentially giant niobium (Nb) deposit. A variety of Nb-bearing minerals including pyrochlore, zircon, and titanite have been identified in this deposit. Distinct textural and chemical differences of pyrochlore and zircon indicate that both have different origins. The magmatic pyrochlore and zircon both have euhedral grains with small sizes. On the other hand, hydrothermal pyrochlore is mainly intergrown on the edge or inside of hydrothermal zircon in the form of an aggregate. Compared with magmatic pyrochlore, the contents of F, Ca, and Na in hydrothermal pyrochlore are obviously high. The texture and composition of hydrothermal pyrochlore and zircon indicate that Ca-bearing hydrothermal alteration resulted in the migration of Nb from Nb-bearing zircon and the reprecipitation of Nb to form aggregate pyrochlore. However, the quantitative calculation shows that the amount of Nb migrated from zircon is very small. Therefore, this study suggests that hydrothermal alteration plays a certain role in the redistribution of Nb, but the enrichment of Nb is limited. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Isomorphism and Solid Solutions of Minerals and Related Compounds)
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Article
Influence of α-Al2O3 Template and Process Parameters on Atomic Layer Deposition and Properties of Thin Films Containing High-Density TiO2 Phases
by , , , , , and
Coatings 2021, 11(11), 1280; https://doi.org/10.3390/coatings11111280 (registering DOI) - 21 Oct 2021
Abstract
High-density phases of TiO2, such as rutile and high-pressure TiO2-II, have attracted interest as materials with high dielectric constant and refractive index values, while combinations of TiO2-II with anatase and rutile have been considered promising materials for [...] Read more.
High-density phases of TiO2, such as rutile and high-pressure TiO2-II, have attracted interest as materials with high dielectric constant and refractive index values, while combinations of TiO2-II with anatase and rutile have been considered promising materials for catalytic applications. In this work, the atomic layer deposition of TiO2 on α-Al2O3 (0 0 0 1) (c-sapphire) was used to grow thin films containing different combinations of TiO2-II, anatase, and rutile, and to investigate the properties of the films. The results obtained demonstrate that in a temperature range of 300–400 °C, where transition from anatase to TiO2-II and rutile growth occurs in the films deposited on c-sapphire, the phase composition and other properties of a film depend significantly on the film thickness and ALD process time parameters. The changes in the phase composition, related to formation of the TiO2-II phase, caused an increase in the density and refractive index, minor narrowing of the optical bandgap, and an increase in the hardness of the films deposited on c-sapphire at TG ≥ 400 °C. These properties, together with high catalytic efficiency of mixed TiO2-II and anatase phases, as reported earlier, make the films promising for application in various functional coatings. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Atomic Layer Deposition: Recent Developments and Future Challenges)
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Article
A Fully-Automatic Gap Filling Approach for Motion Capture Trajectories
by , and
Appl. Sci. 2021, 11(21), 9847; https://doi.org/10.3390/app11219847 (registering DOI) - 21 Oct 2021
Abstract
Missing marker information is a common problem in Motion Capture (MoCap) systems. Commercial MoCap software provides several methods for reconstructing incomplete marker trajectories; however, these methods still rely on manual intervention. Current alternatives proposed in the literature still present drawbacks that prevent their [...] Read more.
Missing marker information is a common problem in Motion Capture (MoCap) systems. Commercial MoCap software provides several methods for reconstructing incomplete marker trajectories; however, these methods still rely on manual intervention. Current alternatives proposed in the literature still present drawbacks that prevent their widespread adoption. The lack of fully automated and universal solutions for gap filling is still a reality. We propose an automatic frame-wise gap filling routine that simultaneously explores restrictions between markers’ distance and markers’ dynamics in a least-squares minimization problem. This algorithm constitutes the main contribution of our work by simultaneously overcoming several limitations of previous methods that include not requiring manual intervention, prior training or training data; not requiring information about the skeleton or a dedicated calibration trial and by being able to reconstruct all gaps, even if these are located in the initial and final frames of a trajectory. We tested our approach in a set of artificially generated gaps, using the full body marker set, and compared the results with three methods available in commercial MoCap software: spline, pattern and rigid body fill. Our method achieved the best overall performance, presenting lower reconstruction errors in all tested conditions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue 3D Vision, Virtual Reality and Serious Games)
Article
Anti-Apoptotic Effect of Flavokawain a on Ochratoxin-A-Induced Endothelial Cell Injury by Attenuation of Oxidative Stress via PI3K/AKT-Mediated Nrf2 Signaling Cascade
by , , and
Toxins 2021, 13(11), 745; https://doi.org/10.3390/toxins13110745 (registering DOI) - 21 Oct 2021
Abstract
This study investigates the endothelial protective activity of flavokawain A (FKA) against oxidative stress induced by ochratoxin A (OTA), which acts as a mycotoxin, and its primary mechanisms in in vitro models. Reactive oxygen species, in general, regulate oxidative stress that significantly contributes [...] Read more.
This study investigates the endothelial protective activity of flavokawain A (FKA) against oxidative stress induced by ochratoxin A (OTA), which acts as a mycotoxin, and its primary mechanisms in in vitro models. Reactive oxygen species, in general, regulate oxidative stress that significantly contributes to the pathophysiology of endothelial dysfunctions. OTA exerts toxicity through inflammation and the accumulation of ROS. This research is aimed at exploring the defensive function of FKA against the endothelial injury triggered by OTA through the Nrf2 pathway regulated by PI3K/AKT. OTA exposure significantly increased the nuclear translocation of NFκB, whereas we found a reduction in inflammation via NFκB inhibition with FKA treatment. FKA increased the PI3K and AKT phosphorylation, which may lead to the stimulation of antioxidative and antiapoptotic signaling in HUVECs. It also upregulated the phosphorylation of Nrf2 and a concomitant expression of antioxidant genes, such as HO-1, NQO-1, and γGCLC, depending on the dose under the oxidative stress triggered by OTA. Knockdown of Nrf2 through small interfering RNA (siRNA) impedes the protective role of FKA against the endothelial toxicity induced by OTA. In addition, FKA enhanced Bcl2 activation while suppressing apoptosis marker proteins. Therefore, FKA is regarded as a potential agent against endothelial oxidative stress caused by the deterioration of the endothelium. The research findings showed that FKA plays a key role in activating the p-PI3K/p-AKT and Nrf2 signaling pathways, while suppressing caspase-dependent apoptosis. Full article
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Article
An Investigation into the Volumetric Flow Rate Requirement of Hydrogen Transportation in Existing Natural Gas Pipelines and Its Safety Implications
by , , and
Gases 2021, 1(4), 156-179; https://doi.org/10.3390/gases1040013 (registering DOI) - 21 Oct 2021
Abstract
As an alternative to the construction of new infrastructure, repurposing existing natural gas pipelines for hydrogen transportation has been identified as a low-cost strategy for substituting natural gas with hydrogen in the wake of the energy transition. In line with that, a 342 [...] Read more.
As an alternative to the construction of new infrastructure, repurposing existing natural gas pipelines for hydrogen transportation has been identified as a low-cost strategy for substituting natural gas with hydrogen in the wake of the energy transition. In line with that, a 342 km, 36″ natural gas pipeline was used in this study to simulate some technical implications of delivering the same amount of energy with different blends of natural gas and hydrogen, and with 100% hydrogen. Preliminary findings from the study confirmed that a three-fold increase in volumetric flow rate would be required of hydrogen to deliver an equivalent amount of energy as natural gas. The effects of flowing hydrogen at this rate in an existing natural gas pipeline on two flow parameters (the compressibility factor and the velocity gradient) which are crucial to the safety of the pipeline were investigated. The compressibility factor behaviour revealed the presence of a wide range of values as the proportions of hydrogen and natural gas in the blends changed, signifying disparate flow behaviours and consequent varying flow challenges. The velocity profiles showed that hydrogen can be transported in natural gas pipelines via blending with natural gas by up to 40% of hydrogen in the blend without exceeding the erosional velocity limits of the pipeline. However, when the proportion of hydrogen reached 60%, the erosional velocity limit was reached at 290 km, so that beyond this distance, the pipeline would be subject to internal erosion. The use of compressor stations was shown to be effective in remedying this challenge. This study provides more insights into the volumetric and safety considerations of adopting existing natural gas pipelines for the transportation of hydrogen and blends of hydrogen and natural gas. Full article
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Article
Audience Competency in Romans and Paul’s Flexible Use of Scripture
by
Religions 2021, 12(11), 916; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12110916 (registering DOI) - 21 Oct 2021
Abstract
A phenomenon noticeable in many of Paul’s quotations of Scripture is the way that they do not follow the texts he cites verbatim. This prompts the question as to whether his audience would be competent enough to detect these differences. This study considers [...] Read more.
A phenomenon noticeable in many of Paul’s quotations of Scripture is the way that they do not follow the texts he cites verbatim. This prompts the question as to whether his audience would be competent enough to detect these differences. This study considers aspects such as text variations, memory, notetaking, and rhetorical argument as potential factors related to Paul’s flexible use of Scripture in Romans. The study then probes whether Paul’s audience, particularly believing gentiles in Rome, would have known Jewish Scripture well enough to evaluate Paul’s use of Scripture. Through congregational longevity, plurality of audience, synagogue influence, and other factors, it is concluded that there is indeed competency among Paul’s auditors, but there is no evidence suggesting that he is concerned about their reacting negatively to the elasticity of his quotations. Full article
Article
Secure OFDM with Peak-to-Average Power Ratio Reduction Using the Spectral Phase of Chaotic Signals
by and
Entropy 2021, 23(11), 1380; https://doi.org/10.3390/e23111380 (registering DOI) - 21 Oct 2021
Abstract
In this paper, a new physical layer security technique is proposed for Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplexing (OFDM) communication systems. The security is achieved by modifying the OFDM symbols using the phase information of chaos in the frequency spectrum. In addition, this scheme reduces [...] Read more.
In this paper, a new physical layer security technique is proposed for Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplexing (OFDM) communication systems. The security is achieved by modifying the OFDM symbols using the phase information of chaos in the frequency spectrum. In addition, this scheme reduces the Peak to Average Power Ratio (PAPR), which is one of the major drawbacks of OFDM. The Selected Mapping (SLM) technique for PAPR reduction is employed to exploit the random characteristics of chaotic sequences. The reduction with this algorithm is shown to be similar to that of other SLM schemes, but it has lower computational complexity and side information does not have to be sent to the receiver. The security of this technique stems from the noise like behavior of chaotic sequences and their dependence on the initial conditions of the chaotic generator (which are used as the key). Even a slight difference in the initial conditions will result in a different phase sequence, which prevents an eavesdropper from recovering the transmitted OFDM symbols. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Machine Learning for Communications)
Article
Diagnostic Performance of [18F]FDG PET in Staging Grade 1–2, Estrogen Receptor Positive Breast Cancer
by , , , , , , , , and
Diagnostics 2021, 11(11), 1954; https://doi.org/10.3390/diagnostics11111954 (registering DOI) - 21 Oct 2021
Abstract
Positron emission tomography using [18F]fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG PET) potentially underperforms for staging of patients with grade 1–2 estrogen receptor positive (ER+) breast cancer. The aim of this study was to retrospectively investigate the diagnostic accuracy of FDG PET in this patient population. [...] Read more.
Positron emission tomography using [18F]fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG PET) potentially underperforms for staging of patients with grade 1–2 estrogen receptor positive (ER+) breast cancer. The aim of this study was to retrospectively investigate the diagnostic accuracy of FDG PET in this patient population. Suspect tumor lesions detected on conventional imaging and FDG PET were confirmed with pathology or follow up. PET-positive lesions were (semi)quantified with standardized uptake values (SUV) and these were correlated with various pathological features, including the histological subtype. Pre-operative imaging detected 155 pathologically verified lesions (in 74 patients). A total of 115/155 (74.2%) lesions identified on FDG PET were classified as true positive, i.e., malignant (in 67 patients) and 17/155 (10.8%) lesions as false positive, i.e., benign (in 9 patients); 7/155 (4.5%) as false negative (in 7 patients) and 16/155 (10.3%) as true negative (in 14 patients). FDG PET incorrectly staged 16/70 (22.9%) patients. The FDG uptake correlated with histological subtype, showing higher uptake in ductal carcinoma, compared to lobular carcinoma (p < 0.05). Conclusion: Within this study, FDG PET inadequately staged 22.9% of grade 1–2, ER + BC cases. Incorrect staging can lead to inappropriate treatment choices, potentially affecting survival and quality of life. Prospective studies investigating novel radiotracers are urgently needed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Quantitative PET and SPECT)
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Review
The Synthesis and Properties of TIPA-Dominated Porous Metal-Organic Frameworks
by , , and
Nanomaterials 2021, 11(11), 2791; https://doi.org/10.3390/nano11112791 (registering DOI) - 21 Oct 2021
Abstract
Metal-Organic Frameworks (MOFs) as a class of crystalline materials are constructed using metal nodes and organic spacers. Polydentate N-donor ligands play a mainstay-type role in the construction of metal−organic frameworks, especially cationic MOFs. Highly stable cationic MOFs with high porosity and open channels [...] Read more.
Metal-Organic Frameworks (MOFs) as a class of crystalline materials are constructed using metal nodes and organic spacers. Polydentate N-donor ligands play a mainstay-type role in the construction of metal−organic frameworks, especially cationic MOFs. Highly stable cationic MOFs with high porosity and open channels exhibit distinct advantages, they can act as a powerful ion exchange platform for the capture of toxic heavy-metal oxoanions through a Single-Crystal to Single-Crystal (SC-SC) pattern. Porous luminescent MOFs can act as nano-sized containers to encapsulate guest emitters and construct multi-emitter materials for chemical sensing. This feature article reviews the synthesis and application of porous Metal-Organic Frameworks based on tridentate ligand tris (4-(1H-imidazol-1-yl) phenyl) amine (TIPA) and focuses on design strategies for the synthesis of TIPA-dominated Metal-Organic Frameworks with high porosity and stability. The design strategies are integrated into four types: small organic molecule as auxiliaries, inorganic oxyanion as auxiliaries, small organic molecule as secondary linkers, and metal clusters as nodes. The applications of ratiometric sensing, the adsorption of oxyanions contaminants from water, and small molecule gas storage are summarized. We hope to provide experience and inspiration in the design and construction of highly porous MOFs base on polydentate N-donor ligands. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advanced Metal-Organic Frameworks)
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Article
Quantification of the Rupture Potential of Patient-Specific Intracranial Aneurysms under Contact Constraints
by and
Bioengineering 2021, 8(11), 149; https://doi.org/10.3390/bioengineering8110149 (registering DOI) - 21 Oct 2021
Abstract
Intracranial aneurysms (IAs) are localized enlargements of cerebral blood vessels that cause substantial rates of mortality and morbidity in humans. The rupture possibility of these aneurysms is a critical medical challenge for physicians during treatment planning. This treatment planning while assessing the rupture [...] Read more.
Intracranial aneurysms (IAs) are localized enlargements of cerebral blood vessels that cause substantial rates of mortality and morbidity in humans. The rupture possibility of these aneurysms is a critical medical challenge for physicians during treatment planning. This treatment planning while assessing the rupture potential of aneurysms becomes more complicated when they are constrained by an adjacent structure such as optic nerve tissues or bones, which is not widely studied yet. In this work, we considered and studied a constitutive model to investigate the bio-mechanical response of image-based patient-specific IA data using cardiovascular structural mechanics equations. We performed biomechanical modeling and simulations of four different patient-specific aneurysms’ data (three middle cerebral arteries and one internal carotid artery) to assess the rupture potential of those aneurysms under a plane contact constraint. Our results suggest that aneurysms with plane contact constraints produce less or almost similar maximum wall effective stress compared to aneurysms with no contact constraints. In our research findings, we observed that a plane contact constraint on top of an internal carotid artery might work as a protective wall due to the 16.6% reduction in maximum wall effective stress than that for the case where there is no contact on top of the aneurysm. Full article
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Article
Resistance to Boscalid, Fluopyram and Fluxapyroxad in Blumeriella jaapii from Michigan (U.S.A.): Molecular Characterization and Assessment of Practical Resistance in Commercial Cherry Orchards
by , , , , , and
Microorganisms 2021, 9(11), 2198; https://doi.org/10.3390/microorganisms9112198 (registering DOI) - 21 Oct 2021
Abstract
Management of cherry leaf spot disease, caused by the fungus Blumeriella jaapii, with succinate dehydrogenase inhibitor (SDHI) fungicides has been ongoing in Michigan tart cherry orchards for the past 17 years. After boscalid-resistant B. jaapii were first isolated from commercial orchards in [...] Read more.
Management of cherry leaf spot disease, caused by the fungus Blumeriella jaapii, with succinate dehydrogenase inhibitor (SDHI) fungicides has been ongoing in Michigan tart cherry orchards for the past 17 years. After boscalid-resistant B. jaapii were first isolated from commercial orchards in 2010, premixes of SDHI fungicides fluopyram or fluxapyroxad with a quinone outside inhibitor were registered in 2012. Here, we report widespread resistance to fluopyram (FluoR), fluxapyroxad (FluxR), and boscalid (BoscR) in commercial orchard populations of B. jaapii in Michigan from surveys conducted between 2016 and 2019. A total of 26% of 1610 isolates from the 2016–2017 surveys exhibited the fully-resistant BoscR FluoR FluxR phenotype and only 7% were sensitive to all three SDHIs. Practical resistance to fluopyram and fluxapyroxad was detected in 29 of 35 and 14 of 35 commercial tart cherry orchards, respectively, in surveys conducted in 2018 and 2019. Sequencing of the SdhB, SdhC, and SdhD target genes from 22 isolates with varying resistance phenotypes showed that BoscS FluoR FluxS isolates harbored either an I262V substitution in SdhB or an S84L substitution in SdhC. BoscR FluoR FluxR isolates harbored an N86S substitution in SdhC, or contained the N86S substitution with the additional I262V substitution in SdhB. One BoscR FluoR FluxR isolate contained both the I262V substitution in SdhB and the S84L substitution in SdhC. These mutational analyses suggest that BoscR FluoR FluxR isolates evolved from fully sensitive BoscS, FluoS, FluxS isolates in the population and not from boscalid-resistant isolates that were prevalent in the 2010–2012 time period. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Fungicide Resistance in Plant Pathogens)
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