Latest Articles

Open AccessReview
Mucormycosis in Burn Patients
J. Fungi 2019, 5(1), 25; https://doi.org/10.3390/jof5010025 (registering DOI) -
Abstract
Patients with extensive burns are an important group at risk for cutaneous mucormycosis. This study aimed to perform a systematic review of all reported mucormycosis cases in burn patients from 1990 onward. A Medline search yielded identification of 7 case series, 3 outbreaks, [...] Read more.
Patients with extensive burns are an important group at risk for cutaneous mucormycosis. This study aimed to perform a systematic review of all reported mucormycosis cases in burn patients from 1990 onward. A Medline search yielded identification of 7 case series, 3 outbreaks, and 25 individual cases reports. The prevalence reached 0.04%–0.6%. The median age was 42–48 in the case series and outbreaks, except for the studies from military centers (23.5–32.5) and in individual reports (29.5). The median total body surface area reached 42.5%–65%. Various skin lesions were described, none being pathognomonic: the diagnosis was mainly reached because of extensive necrotic lesions sometimes associated with sepsis. Most patients were treated with systemic amphotericin B or liposomal amphotericin B, and all underwent debridement and/or amputation. Mortality reached 33%–100% in the case series, 29%–62% during outbreaks, and 40% in individual cases. Most patients were diagnosed using histopathology and/or culture. Mucorales qPCR showed detection of circulating DNA 2–24 days before the standard diagnosis. Species included the main clinically relevant mucorales (i.e., Mucor, Rhizopus, Absidia/Lichtheimia, Rhizomucor) but also more uncommon mucorales such as Saksenaea or Apophysomyces. Contact with soil was reported in most individual cases. Bandages were identified as the source of contamination in two nosocomial outbreaks. Full article
Open AccessArticle
The Percolation Properties of Electrical Conductivity and Permeability for Fractal Porous Media
Energies 2019, 12(6), 1085; https://doi.org/10.3390/en12061085 (registering DOI) -
Abstract
Many cases have indicated that the conductivity and permeability of porous media may decrease to zero at a nonzero percolation porosity instead of zero porosity. However, there is still a lack of a theoretical basis for the percolation mechanisms of the conductivity and [...] Read more.
Many cases have indicated that the conductivity and permeability of porous media may decrease to zero at a nonzero percolation porosity instead of zero porosity. However, there is still a lack of a theoretical basis for the percolation mechanisms of the conductivity and permeability. In this paper, the analytical percolation expressions of both conductivity and permeability are derived based on fractal theory by introducing the critical porosity. The percolation models of the conductivity and permeability were found to be closely related to the critical porosity and microstructural parameters. The simulation results demonstrated that the existence of the critical could lead to the non-Archie phenomenon. Meanwhile, the increasing critical porosity could significantly decrease the permeability and the conductivity at low porosity. Besides, the complex microstructure could result in more stagnant pores and a higher critical porosity. This study proves the importance of the critical porosity in accurately evaluating the conductivity and permeability, and reveals the percolation mechanisms of the conductivity and permeability in complex reservoirs. By comparing the predicted conductivity and permeability with the available experimental data, the validity of the proposed percolation models is verified. Full article
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Open AccessReview
The Role of MicroRNAs in Recurrence and Metastasis of Head and Neck Squamous Cell Carcinoma
Cancers 2019, 11(3), 395; https://doi.org/10.3390/cancers11030395 (registering DOI) -
Abstract
Head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) affects 650,000 people worldwide and has a dismal 50% 5-year survival rate. Recurrence and metastasis are believed the two most important factors causing this high mortality. Understanding the biological process and the underlying mechanisms of recurrence [...] Read more.
Head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) affects 650,000 people worldwide and has a dismal 50% 5-year survival rate. Recurrence and metastasis are believed the two most important factors causing this high mortality. Understanding the biological process and the underlying mechanisms of recurrence and metastasis is critical to develop novel and effective treatment, which is expected to improve patients’ survival of HNSCC. MicroRNAs are small, non-coding nucleotides that regulate gene expression at the transcriptional and post-transcriptional level. Oncogenic and tumor-suppressive microRNAs have shown to regulate nearly every step of recurrence and metastasis, ranging from migration and invasion, epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT), anoikis, to gain of cancer stem cell property. This review encompasses an overview of microRNAs involved in these processes. The recent advances of utilizing microRNA as biomarkers and targets for treatment, particularly on controlling recurrence and metastasis are also reviewed. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Food Safety Satisfaction in China and Its Influencing Factors: Empirical Study with a Hierarchical Linear Model
Safety 2019, 5(1), 17; https://doi.org/10.3390/safety5010017 (registering DOI) -
Abstract
Food safety is one of the residents’ initial demands in daily life, and the negative perception of food safety potentially leads to public panic and dissatisfaction with government performance. Existing literature only focused on certain regions in China by using different indicators, and [...] Read more.
Food safety is one of the residents’ initial demands in daily life, and the negative perception of food safety potentially leads to public panic and dissatisfaction with government performance. Existing literature only focused on certain regions in China by using different indicators, and their results varied and lacked comparability. This paper explores influencing factors of the public’s satisfaction with food safety by conducting a nationwide survey in China. Factors cover several demographic variables while considering the nature of governments to reveal the difference among provinces. The results show that demographic factors such as gender, age, type of residence, education, and census register are positively correlated with food safety satisfaction, while annual income is not significant. Evaluation of government regulation efforts has a positive correlation with food safety satisfaction. People with higher trust in the government show higher satisfaction with the food safety situation. On the province level, per capita GDP, per capita food safety fiscal expenditure, and food safety fiscal expenditure level are positively correlated with food safety satisfaction. The empirical findings are helpful for government regulations; we thereby discuss our analytical results and suggest some governmental policies. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Improving GNSS Zenith Wet Delay Interpolation by Utilizing Tropospheric Gradients: Experiments with a Dense Station Network in Central Europe in the Warm Season
Remote Sens. 2019, 11(6), 674; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs11060674 (registering DOI) -
Abstract
The Benchmark data set collected within the European COST Action ES1206 has aimed to support the development and validation of advanced Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) tropospheric products, in particular high-resolution zenith delays and tropospheric gradients. In this work we utilize this unique [...] Read more.
The Benchmark data set collected within the European COST Action ES1206 has aimed to support the development and validation of advanced Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) tropospheric products, in particular high-resolution zenith delays and tropospheric gradients. In this work we utilize this unique data set to show that the interpolation of GNSS Zenith Wet Delays (ZWDs) can be improved by utilizing tropospheric gradients. To do this we first prove the concept with simulated observations, that is, zenith delays and tropospheric gradients derived from a Numerical Weather Model. We show how tropospheric gradients can be converted to ZWD gradients. Then the ZWD gradients together with the ZWDs at selected reference stations are used in an inverse distance weighting interpolation scheme to estimate the ZWD at some target station. For a station configuration with an average station distance of 50 km in Germany and a period of two months (May and June 2013), we find an improvement of 20% in interpolated ZWDs when tropospheric gradients are taken into account. Next, we replace the simulated by real observations, that is, zenith delays and tropospheric gradients from a Precise Point Positioning (PPP) solution provided with the G-Nut/Tefnut analysis software. Here we find an improvement of 10% in interpolated ZWDs when tropospheric gradients are taken into account. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Dynamics of Ebola Disease in the Framework of Different Fractional Derivatives
Entropy 2019, 21(3), 303; https://doi.org/10.3390/e21030303 (registering DOI) -
Abstract
In recent years the world has witnessed the arrival of deadly infectious diseases that have taken many lives across the globe. To fight back these diseases or control their spread, mankind relies on modeling and medicine to control, cure, and predict the behavior [...] Read more.
In recent years the world has witnessed the arrival of deadly infectious diseases that have taken many lives across the globe. To fight back these diseases or control their spread, mankind relies on modeling and medicine to control, cure, and predict the behavior of such problems. In the case of Ebola, we observe spread that follows a fading memory process and also shows crossover behavior. Therefore, to capture this kind of spread one needs to use differential operators that posses crossover properties and fading memory. We analyze the Ebola disease model by considering three differential operators, that is the Caputo, Caputo–Fabrizio, and the Atangana–Baleanu operators. We present brief detail and some mathematical analysis for each operator applied to the Ebola model. We present a numerical approach for the solution of each operator. Further, numerical results for each operator with various values of the fractional order parameter α are presented. A comparison of the suggested operators on the Ebola disease model in the form of graphics is presented. We show that by decreasing the value of the fractional order parameter α, the number of individuals infected by Ebola decreases efficiently and conclude that for disease elimination, the Atangana–Baleanu operator is more useful than the other two. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
MicroRNA Sequencing Revealed Citrus Adaptation to Long-Term Boron Toxicity through Modulation of Root Development by miR319 and miR171
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2019, 20(6), 1422; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms20061422 (registering DOI) -
Abstract
Boron (B) toxicity in Citrus is a common physiological disorder leading to reductions in both productivity and quality. Studies on how Citrus roots evade B toxicity may provide new insight into plant tolerance to B toxicity. Here, using Illumina sequencing, differentially expressed microRNAs [...] Read more.
Boron (B) toxicity in Citrus is a common physiological disorder leading to reductions in both productivity and quality. Studies on how Citrus roots evade B toxicity may provide new insight into plant tolerance to B toxicity. Here, using Illumina sequencing, differentially expressed microRNAs (miRNAs) were identified in B toxicity-treated Citrus sinensis (tolerant) and C. grandis (intolerant) roots. The results showed that 37 miRNAs in C. grandis and 11 miRNAs in C. sinensis were differentially expressed when exposed to B toxicity. Among them, miR319, miR171, and miR396g-5p were confirmed via 5′-RACE and qRT-PCR to target a myeloblastosis (MYB) transcription factor gene, a SCARECROW-like protein gene, and a cation transporting ATPase gene, respectively. Maintenance of SCARECROW expression in B treated Citrus roots might fulfill stem cell maintenance, quiescent center, and endodermis specification, thus allowing regular root elongation under B-toxic stress. Down-regulation of MYB due to up-regulation of miR319 in B toxicity-treated C. grandis roots might decrease the number of root tips, thereby dramatically changing root system architecture. Our findings suggested that miR319 and miR171 play a pivotal role in Citrus adaptation to long-term B toxicity by targeting MYB and SCARECROW, respectively, both of which are responsible for root growth and development. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Chemical Reactivity Theory and Empirical Bioactivity Scores as Computational Peptidology Alternative Tools for the Study of Two Anticancer Peptides of Marine Origin
Molecules 2019, 24(6), 1115; https://doi.org/10.3390/molecules24061115 (registering DOI) -
Abstract
This work presents an account of the reactivity behavior of the anticancer marine drugs, Soblidotin and Tasidotin, based on the calculation of the global and local descriptors resulting from Chemical Reactivity Theory (CRT), also known as Conceptual DFT, for their consideration as a [...] Read more.
This work presents an account of the reactivity behavior of the anticancer marine drugs, Soblidotin and Tasidotin, based on the calculation of the global and local descriptors resulting from Chemical Reactivity Theory (CRT), also known as Conceptual DFT, for their consideration as a useful complement to approximations based on Molecular Docking. The information on the global and local reactivity descriptors of the Soblidotin and Tasidotin molecules, obtained through our proposed methodology, may be used for the design of new pharmaceutical analogs by relying on the chemical interactions between these peptides and their protein-type biological receptors. It can be concluded that the CRT approximation to the global and local chemical reactivity, based on the descriptors, can provide interesting information for the consideration of both molecules as potential therapeutic drugs. This is complemented by a study on Advanced Glycation Endproduct (AGE) inhibition, by comparison with the usual molecular systems considered for the task, as a re-purposing study. Finally, the bioactivity scores for Soblidotin and Tasidotin are predicted through an empirical procedure, based on comparison with molecular structures with well-known pharmacological properties. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Temperature-Related Summer Mortality Under Multiple Climate, Population, and Adaptation Scenarios
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(6), 1026; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16061026 (registering DOI) -
Abstract
Projections of the magnitude and pattern of possible health risks from climate change should be based on multiple climate and development scenarios to describe the range of uncertainties, to inform effective and efficient policies. For a better understanding of climate change-related risks in [...] Read more.
Projections of the magnitude and pattern of possible health risks from climate change should be based on multiple climate and development scenarios to describe the range of uncertainties, to inform effective and efficient policies. For a better understanding of climate change-related risks in seven metropolitan cities of South Korea, we estimated temperature-related summer (June to August) mortality until 2100 using projected changes in climate, population, and adaptation. In addition, we extracted the variations in the mortality estimates associated with uncertainties in climate, population, and adaptation scenarios using 25 climate models, two Representative Concentration Pathways (RCP 4.5 and 8.5), three population scenarios (high, medium and low variants), and four adaptation scenarios (absolute threshold shift, slope reduction in the temperature-mortality relationship, a combination of slope reduction and threshold shift, and a sigmoid function based on the historical trend). Compared to the baseline period (1991–2015), temperature-attributable mortality in South Korea during summer in the 2090s is projected to increase 5.1 times for RCP 4.5 and 12.9 times for RCP 8.5 due to climate and population changes. Estimated future mortality varies by up to +44%/−55%, −80%, −60%, and +12%/−11% associated with the choice of climate models, adaptation, climate, and population scenarios, respectively, compared to the mortality estimated for the median of the climate models, no adaptation, RCP 8.5, and medium population variant. Health system choices about adaptation are the most important determinants of future mortality after climate projections. The range of possible future mortality underscores the importance of flexible, iterative risk management. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Filtering of Mammograms Based on Convolution with Directional Fractal Masks to Enhance Microcalcifications
Appl. Sci. 2019, 9(6), 1194; https://doi.org/10.3390/app9061194 (registering DOI) -
Abstract
The image processing of mammograms is very important for the early detection of breast pathologies, including cancer. This paper proposes a new technique based on directional fractal filtering for detecting microcalcification clusters or irregularly shaped microcalcifications. The proposed algorithm has two parts: a [...] Read more.
The image processing of mammograms is very important for the early detection of breast pathologies, including cancer. This paper proposes a new technique based on directional fractal filtering for detecting microcalcification clusters or irregularly shaped microcalcifications. The proposed algorithm has two parts: a preprocessing step for detecting and locating microcalcification; and a second zooming, enhancement, and segmentation step. Detection is performed by image convolution using a set of masks with interesting fractal properties. Combined with other simple mathematical operations, remarkable contrast enhancement and segmentation are produced. The final result permits the clear delineation of the shape of individual microcalcifications. A comparison is made with other microcalcification enhancement techniques described in the literature. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Primality, Fractality, and Image Analysis
Entropy 2019, 21(3), 304; https://doi.org/10.3390/e21030304 (registering DOI) -
Abstract
This paper deals with the hidden structure of prime numbers. Previous numerical studies have already indicated a fractal-like behavior of prime-indexed primes. The construction of binary images enables us to generalize this result. In fact, two-integer sequences can easily be converted into a [...] Read more.
This paper deals with the hidden structure of prime numbers. Previous numerical studies have already indicated a fractal-like behavior of prime-indexed primes. The construction of binary images enables us to generalize this result. In fact, two-integer sequences can easily be converted into a two-color image. In particular, the resulting method shows that both the coprimality condition and Ramanujan primes resemble the Minkowski island and Cantor set, respectively. Furthermore, the comparison between prime-indexed primes and Ramanujan primes is introduced and discussed. Thus the Cantor set covers a relevant role in the fractal-like description of prime numbers. The results confirm the feasibility of the method based on binary images. The link between fractal sets and chaotic dynamical systems may allow the characterization of the Hénon map only in terms of prime numbers. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Options for Sustainable Intensification of Maize Production in Ethiopia
Sustainability 2019, 11(6), 1707; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11061707 (registering DOI) -
Abstract
The agricultural intensification of farming systems in sub-Saharan Africa is a prerequisite to alleviate rural poverty and to improve livelihood. In this modelling exercise, we identified sustainable intensification scenarios for maize-based cropping systems in Ethiopia. We evaluated Conventional Intensification (CI) as continuous maize [...] Read more.
The agricultural intensification of farming systems in sub-Saharan Africa is a prerequisite to alleviate rural poverty and to improve livelihood. In this modelling exercise, we identified sustainable intensification scenarios for maize-based cropping systems in Ethiopia. We evaluated Conventional Intensification (CI) as continuous maize monocropping using higher Mineral Fertilizer (MF) rates with and without the incorporation of Crop Residues (CR) in the soil. We also evaluated the effect of groundnut in rotation with the maize-based cropping system with the current Farmer’s Practice + Rotation (FP + Rotation) and increased MF application rates (CI + Rotation) combined with CR incorporation. The results suggest that, under CI, there was a positive effect of MF and CR. The incorporation of only CR in the field increased the maize yield by 45.3% compared to the farmer’s yield under current MF rates. CR combined with higher MF (60 kg N ha−1 + 20 kg P ha−1) increased the yield by 134.6%. Incorporating CR and MF was also beneficial under rotation with groundnut. The maize yields increased up to 110.1% depending upon the scenarios tested. In the scenario where CR was not incorporated in the field, the maize yield declined by 21.9%. The Gross Economic Profit suggests that groundnut in rotation with maize is advantageous across Ethiopia in terms of the net return with a few exceptions. Full article
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