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A Maternal High-Fat, High-Sucrose Diet Has Sex-Specific Effects on Fetal Glucocorticoids with Little Consequence for Offspring Metabolism and Voluntary Locomotor Activity in Mice

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2017-03-16
Abstract: 

Maternal overnutrition and obesity during pregnancy can have long-term effects on offspring physiology and behaviour. These developmental programming effects may be mediated by fetal exposure to glucocorticoids, which is regulated in part by placental 11β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase (11β-HSD) type 1 and 2. We tested whether a maternal high-fat, high-sucrose diet would alter expression of placental 11β-HSD1 and 2, thereby increasing fetal exposure to maternal glucocorticoids, with downstream effects on offspring physiology and behaviour. C57BL/6J mice were fed a high-fat, high-sucrose (HFHS) diet or a nutrient-matched low-fat, no-sucrose control diet prior to and during pregnancy and lactation. At day 17 of gestation, HFHS dams had ~20% lower circulating corticosterone levels than controls. Furthermore, there was a significant interaction between maternal diet and fetal sex for circulating corticosterone levels in the fetuses, whereby HFHS males tended to have higher corticosterone than control males, with no effect in female fetuses. However, placental 11β-HSD1 or 11β-HSD2 expression did not differ between diets or show an interaction between diet and sex. To assess potential long-term consequences of this sex-specific effect on fetal corticosterone, we studied locomotor activity and metabolic traits in adult offspring. Despite a sex-specific effect of maternal diet on fetal glucocorticoids, there was little evidence of sex-specific effects on offspring physiology or behaviour, although HFHS offspring of both sexes had higher circulating corticosterone at 9 weeks of age. Our results suggest the existence of as yet unknown mechanisms that mitigate the effects of altered glucocorticoid exposure early in development, making offspring resilient to the potentially negative effects of a HFHS maternal diet.

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Abundance and Distribution of Microplastics within Surface Sediments of a Key Shellfish Growing Region of Canada

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2018-05-23
Abstract: 

The abundance and distribution of microplastics within 5 sediment size classes (>5000 μm, 1000–5000 μm, 250–1000 μm, 250–0.63 μm and < 0.63 μm) were determined for 16 sites within Lambert Channel and Baynes Sound, British Columbia, Canada. This region is Canada’s premier growing area for the Pacific oyster (Crassostrea gigas). Microplastics were found at all sampling locations indicating widespread contamination of this region with these particles. Three types of microplastics were recovered: microbeads, which occurred in the greatest number (up to 25000/kg dry sediment) and microfibers and microfragments, which were much less in number compared with microbeads and occurred in similar amounts (100–300/kg dry sediment). Microbeads were recovered primarily in the < 0.63 μm and 250–0.63 μm sediment size class, whereas microfragments and microfibers were generally identified in all 5 sediment size classes. Abundance and distribution of the three types of microplastics were spatially dependent with principal component analysis (PCA) indicating that 84 percent of the variation in abundance and distribution was due to the presence of high numbers of microbeads at three locations within the study region. At these sites, microbeads expressed as a percent component of the sediment by weight was similar to key geochemical components that govern trace metal behavior and availability to benthic organisms. Microbeads have been shown to accumulate metals from the aquatic environment, hence in addition to the traditional geochemical components such as silt and organic matter, microplastics also need to be considered as a sediment component that can influence trace metal geochemistry. Our findings have shown that BC’s premier oyster growing region is highly contaminated with microplastics, notably microbeads. It would be prudent to assess the degree to which oysters from this region are ingesting microplastics. If so, it would have direct implications for Canada’s oyster farming industry with respect to the health of the oyster and the quality of product that is being farmed and sets an example for other shellfish growing regions of the world.

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Macro and Micro Plastics Sorb and Desorb Metals and Act As A Point Source of Trace Metals To Coastal Ecosystems

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2018-02-14
Abstract: 

Nine urban intertidal regions in Burrard Inlet, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, were sampled for plastic debris. Debris included macro and micro plastics and originated from a wide diversity of uses ranging from personal hygiene to solar cells. Debris was characterized for its polymer through standard physiochemical characteristics, then subject to a weak acid extraction to remove the metals, zinc, copper, cadmium and lead from the polymer. Recently manufactured low density polyethylene (LDPE), nylon, polyethylene terephthalate (PET), polypropylene (PP), polystyrene (PS) and polyvinyl chloride (PVC) were subject to the same extraction. Data was statistically analyzed by appropriate parametric and non-parametric tests when needed with significance set at P < 0.05. Polymers identified in field samples in order of abundance were; PVC (39), LDPE (28), PS (18), polyethylene (PE, 9), PP (8), nylon (8), high density polyethylene (HDPE, 7), polycarbonate (PC, 6), PET (6), polyurethane (PUR, 3) and polyoxymethylene (POM, 2). PVC and LDPE accounted for 46% of all samples. Field samples of PVC, HDPE and LDPE had significantly greater amounts of acid extracted copper and HDPE, LDPE and PUR significantly greater amounts of acid extracted zinc. PVC and LDPE had significantly greater amounts of acid extracted cadmium and PVC tended to have greater levels of acid extracted lead, significantly so for HDPE. Five of the collected items demonstrated extreme levels of acid extracted metal; greatest concentrations were 188, 6667, 698,000 and 930 μgg-1 of copper, zinc, lead and cadmium respectively recovered from an unidentified object comprised of PVC. Comparison of recently manufactured versus field samples indicated that recently manufactured samples had significantly greater amounts of acid extracted cadmium and zinc and field samples significantly greater amounts of acid extracted copper and lead which was primarily attributed to metal extracted from field samples of PVC. Plastic debris will affect metals within coastal ecosystems by; 1) providing a sorption site (copper and lead), notably for PVC 2) desorption from the plastic i.e., the “inherent” load (cadmium and zinc) and 3) serving as a point source of acute trace metal exposure to coastal ecosystems. All three mechanisms will put coastal ecosystems at risk to the toxic effects of these metals.

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Values-Led Management: The Guidance of Place-Based Values in Environmental Relationships of the Past, Present, and Future

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2018-10-01
Abstract: 

The prevalence of widespread, human-caused ecological degradation suggests that fundamental change is needed in how societies interact with the environment. In this paper we argue that durable models of environmental relationships already exist in approaches of place-based peoples, whose values connect people to their environments, provide guidance on appropriate behaviors, and structure sustained people-place relationships. To illustrate, we identify and discuss concordant values of indigenous peoples at opposite ends of the Pacific Ocean: the Māori of Aotearoa (New Zealand), and First Nations of the West Coast of Canada. We find that values of relatedness to, respect of, and reciprocity with other species and places correspond with sustained long-term relationships between people and places, and illustrate with examples from both regions. We propose that by integrating a values-led foundation into management broadly, values-led management could enable similar sustained relationships in places where they have been recently disrupted or where they are altogether lacking. We characterize values-led management as being founded on values that underpin stewardship-like relationships between people and place and that in turn guide related objectives, policies, and practices. We examine two contemporary values-led management plans that follow this structure, and provide additional examples of emergent values-led approaches elsewhere. From these we compile a set of questions that might guide the conception of place-based values-led management in decolonizing contexts, in contexts where people have a desire for place-based approaches but have not yet distilled foundational values for guidance, or in contexts where people have a united set of values but have not yet translated them into specific management approaches. We conclude by discussing both the challenges and learning opportunities that the resumption, or commencement, of values-led management might entail.

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Postfledging Survival and Local Recruitment of a Riparian Songbird in Habitat Influenced By Reservoir Operations

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2018-06-01
Abstract: 

The impact of anthropogenic activities on breeding bird populations are typically assessed using nest success despite the importance of the postfledging period and juvenile survival for the population dynamics of many birds. Using a combination of radio telemetry data collected between 2012 and 2014, and long-term monitoring data collected between 2005 and 2016, we evaluated whether postfledging survival of Yellow Warblers (Setophaga petechia) is affected when their riparian nesting habitat becomes inundated by the Upper Arrow Lakes Reservoir in the Columbia River Valley near Revelstoke, British Columbia, Canada. Thirty-eight percent of radiotagged fledglings (n = 26) survived for at least 21 days after leaving the nest. Radio-tagged birds that fledged from nests in territories that were inundated by water tended to be have lower survival than those that fledged from nests in territories that were not inundated by water. Local recruitment was low (6.4%, n = 438). Local recruitment was nevertheless positively affected by nestling condition prior to fledging. Fledglings from territories that were not inundated by water also tended to be more likely to recruit locally than those that fledged from territories that were inundated by water. In both cases, we estimated that reservoir operations that flooded habitat reduced postfledging survival or local recruitment by approximately 50%. Our study emphasizes the importance of considering the postfledging period when developing mitigation measures or management plans aimed at minimizing the impact of anthropogenic activities on bird populations.

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Pathogens and Molds Affecting Production and Quality of Cannabis sativa L.

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2019-10-17
Abstract: 

Plant pathogens infecting marijuana (Cannabis sativa L.) plants reduce growth of the crop by affecting the roots, crown, and foliage. In addition, fungi (molds) that colonize the inflorescences (buds) during development or after harvest, and which colonize internal tissues as endophytes, can reduce product quality. The pathogens and molds that affect C. sativa grown hydroponically indoors (in environmentally controlled growth rooms and greenhouses) and field-grown plants were studied over multiple years of sampling. A PCR-based assay using primers for the internal transcribed spacer region (ITS) of ribosomal DNA confirmed identity of the cultures. Root-infecting pathogens included Fusarium oxysporum, Fusarium solani, Fusarium brachygibbosum, Pythium dissotocum, Pythium myriotylum, and Pythium aphanidermatum, which caused root browning, discoloration of the crown and pith tissues, stunting and yellowing of plants, and in some instances, plant death. On the foliage, powdery mildew, caused by Golovinomyces cichoracearum, was the major pathogen observed. On inflorescences, Penicillium bud rot (caused by Penicillium olsonii and Penicillium copticola), Botrytis bud rot (Botrytis cinerea), and Fusarium bud rot (F. solani, F. oxysporum) were present to varying extents. Endophytic fungi present in crown, stem, and petiole tissues included soil-colonizing and cellulolytic fungi, such as species of Chaetomium, Trametes, Trichoderma, Penicillium, and Fusarium. Analysis of air samples in indoor growing environments revealed that species of Penicillium, Cladosporium, Aspergillus, Fusarium, Beauveria, and Trichoderma were present. The latter two species were the result of the application of biocontrol products for control of insects and diseases, respectively. Fungal communities present in unpasteurized coconut (coco) fiber growing medium are potential sources of mold contamination on cannabis plants. Swabs taken from greenhouse-grown and indoor buds pre- and post-harvest revealed the presence of Cladosporium and up to five species of Penicillium, as well as low levels of Alternaria species. Mechanical trimming of buds caused an increase in the frequency of Penicillium species, presumably by providing entry points through wounds or spreading endophytes from pith tissues. Aerial distribution of pathogen inoculum and mold spores and dissemination through vegetative propagation are important methods of spread, and entry through wound sites on roots, stems, and bud tissues facilitates pathogen establishment on cannabis plants.

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Going Too Far Is the Same as Falling Short: Kinesin-3 Family Members in Hereditary Spastic Paraplegia

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2019-09-26
Abstract: 

Proper intracellular trafficking is essential for neuronal development and function, and when any aspect of this process is dysregulated, the resulting “transportopathy” causes neurological disorders. Hereditary spastic paraplegias (HSPs) are a family of such diseases attributed to over 80 spastic gait genes (SPG), specifically characterized by lower extremity spasticity and weakness. Multiple genes in the trafficking pathway such as those relating to microtubule structure and function and organelle biogenesis are representative disease loci. Microtubule motor proteins, or kinesins, are also causal in HSP, specifically mutations in Kinesin-I/KIF5A (SPG10) and two kinesin-3 family members; KIF1A (SPG30) and KIF1C (SPG58). KIF1A is a motor enriched in neurons, and involved in the anterograde transport of a variety of vesicles that contribute to pre- and post-synaptic assembly, autophagic processes, and neuron survival. KIF1C is ubiquitously expressed and, in addition to anterograde cargo transport, also functions in retrograde transport between the Golgi and the endoplasmic reticulum. Only a handful of KIF1C cargos have been identified; however, many have crucial roles such as neuronal differentiation, outgrowth, plasticity and survival. HSP-related kinesin-3 mutants are characterized mainly as loss-of-function resulting in deficits in motility, regulation, and cargo binding. Gain-of-function mutants are also seen, and are characterized by increased microtubule-on rates and hypermotility. Both sets of mutations ultimately result in misdelivery of critical cargos within the neuron. This likely leads to deleterious cell biological cascades that likely underlie or contribute to HSP clinical pathology and ultimately, symptomology. Due to the paucity of histopathological or cell biological data assessing perturbations in cargo localization, it has been difficult to positively link these mutations to the outcomes seen in HSPs. Ultimately, the goal of this review is to encourage future academic and clinical efforts to focus on “transportopathies” through a cargo-centric lens.

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Integrated Risk Assessment for the Blue Economy

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2019-09-26
Abstract: 

With the anticipated boom in the ‘blue economy’ and associated increases in industrialization across the world’s oceans, new and complex risks are being introduced to ocean ecosystems. As a result, conservation and resource management increasingly look to factor in potential interactions among the social, ecological and economic components of these systems. Investigation of these interactions requires interdisciplinary frameworks that incorporate methods and insights from across the social and biophysical sciences. Risk assessment methods, which have been developed across numerous disciplines and applied to various real-world settings and problems, provide a unique connection point for cross-disciplinary engagement. However, research on risk is often conducted in distinct spheres by experts whose focus is on narrow sources or outcomes of risk. Movement toward a more integrated treatment of risk to ensure a balanced approach to developing and managing ocean resources requires cross-disciplinary engagement and understanding. Here, we provide a primer on risk assessment intended to encourage the development and implementation of integrated risk assessment processes in the emerging blue economy. First, we summarize the dominant framework for risk in the ecological/biophysical sciences. Then, we discuss six key insights from the long history of risk research in the social sciences that can inform integrated assessments of risk: (1) consider the subjective nature of risk, (2) understand individual social and cultural influences on risk perceptions, (3) include diverse expertise, (4) consider the social scales of analysis, (5) incorporate quantitative and qualitative approaches, and (6) understand interactions and feedbacks within systems. Finally, we show how these insights can be incorporated into risk assessment and management, and apply them to a case study of whale entanglements in fishing gear off the United States west coast.

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Molecular Evolution of Mammalian Genes with Epistatic Interactions in Fertilization

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2019-07-25
Abstract: 

Background

Genes that encode proteins associated with sperm competition, fertilization, and sexual conflicts of interest are often among the most rapidly evolving parts of animal genomes. One family of sperm-expressed genes (Zp3r, C4bpa) in the mammalian gene cluster called the regulator of complement activation (RCA) encodes proteins that bind eggs and mediate reproductive success, and are therefore expected to show high relative rates of nonsynonymous nucleotide substitution in response to sexual selection in comparison to other genes not involved in gamete binding at fertilization. We tested that working hypothesis by using phylogenetic models of codon evolution to identify episodes of diversifying positive selection. We used a comparative approach to quantify the evidence for episodic diversifying selection acting on RCA genes with known functions in fertilization (and sensitivity to sexual selection), and contrast them with other RCA genes in the same gene family that function in innate immunity (and are not sensitive to sexual selection).

Results

We expected but did not find evidence for more episodes of positive selection on Zp3r in Glires (the rodents and lagomorphs) or on C4BPA in Primates, in comparison to other paralogous RCA genes in the same taxon, or in comparison to the same orthologous RCA gene in the other taxon. That result was not unique to RCA genes: we also found little evidence for more episodes of diversifying selection on genes that encode selective sperm-binding molecules in the egg coat or zona pellucida (Zp2, Zp3) in comparison to members of the same gene family that encode structural elements of the egg coat (Zp1, Zp4). Similarly, we found little evidence for episodic diversifying selection acting on two other recently discovered genes (Juno, Izumo1) that encode essential molecules for sperm–egg fusion.

Conclusions

These negative results help to illustrate the importance of a comparative context for this type of codon model analysis. The results may also point to other phylogenetic contexts in which the effects of selection acting on these fertilization proteins might be more readily discovered and documented in mammals and other taxa.

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Ecological Lifestyles and the Scaling Of Shark Gill Surface Area

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2018-12-01
Abstract: 

Fish gill surface area varies across species and with respect to ecological lifestyles. The majority of previous studies only qualitatively describe gill surface area in relation to ecology and focus primarily on teleosts. Here, we quantitatively examined the relationship of gill surface area with respect to specific ecological lifestyle traits in elasmobranchs, which offer an independent evalu- ation of observed patterns in teleosts. As gill surface area increases ontogenetically with body mass, examination of how gill surface area varies with ecological lifestyle traits must be assessed in the context of its allometry (scaling). Thus, we examined how the relationship of gill surface area and body mass across 11 shark species from the literature and one species for which we made measurements, the Gray Smoothhound, Mustelus californicus, varied with three ecological lifestyle traits: activity level, habitat, and maximum body size. Relative gill surface area (gill surface area at a specified body mass; here we used 5,000g, termed the ‘standardized intercept’) ranged from 4,724.98 to 35,694.39 cm2 (mean and standard error: 17,796.65  2,948.61 cm2) and varied across species and the ecological lifestyle traits examined. Specifically, larger-bodied, active, oceanic species had greater relative gill surface area than smaller-bodied, less active, coastal species. In contrast, the rate at which gill surface area scaled with body mass (slope) was generally consistent across species (0.85  0.02) and did not differ statistically with activity level, habitat, or maximum body size. Our results suggest that ecology may influence relative gill surface area, rather than the rate at which gill surface area scales with body mass. Future com- parisons of gill surface area and ecological lifestyle traits using the quantitative techniques applied in this study can provide further insight into patterns dictating the relationship between gill surface area, metabolism, and ecological lifestyle traits.

Document type: 
Article