• A 140-year-old specimen from the southern Trans-Fly region of Papua New Guinea proves that the Eastern Brownsnake, Pseudonaja textilis, was not a wartime or post-war introduction (Serpentes, Elapidae, Hydrophiinae)

      O'Shea, Mark; Doria, Giuliano; Petri, Massimo; Kaiser, Hinrich (Museo Civico di Storia Naturelle, Genova, 2016-10-20)
      Abstract: The medically important Australian elapid Pseudonaja textilis was first documented for the island of New Guinea in the 1950s, when specimens from the northern coast of the Papuan Peninsula were collected and identified. It was initially believed that these snakes were from an invasive population that established post-World War II, a concept generally accepted over following decades. More recently molecular evidence and additional specimens, from West New Guinea and the southern coast of the Papuan Peninsula, have suggested that the New Guinea populations are indigenous. However, no pre-World War II specimens have been found to dismiss the human-mediated introduction argument. We here present the earliest known Papuan voucher specimen of P. textilis, a juvenile from collections housed in Genoa made by Luigi Maria D’Albertis in 1876 that pre-dates all other vouchers and the New Guinea Campaign (1942-1945) of World War II by 77 and 66 years, respectively. We also discuss the origins of P. textilis in New Guinea, the history of its discovery, and the Pleistocene routes of its invasion from Australia.
    • A 300-year record of sedimentation in a small tilled catena in Hungary based on δ13C, δ15N, and C/N distribution

      Jakab, Gergely; Hegyi, István; Fullen, Michael A.; Szabó, Judit; Zacháry, Dóra; Szalai, Zoltán (Springer, 2018-01-04)
      Purpose Soil erosion is one of the most serious hazards that endanger sustainable food production. Moreover, it has marked effects on soil organic carbon (SOC) with direct links to global warming. At the same time, soil organic matter (SOM) changes in composition and space could influence these processes. The aim of this study was to predict soil erosion and sedimentation volume and dynamics on a typical hilly cropland area of Hungary due to forest clearance in the early eighteenth century. Materials and methods Horizontal soil samples were taken along two parallel intensively cultivated complex convex-concave slopes from the eroded upper parts at mid-slope positions and from sedimentation in toe-slopes. Samples were measured for SOC, total nitrogen (TN) content, and SOMcompounds (δ13C, δ15N, and photometric indexes). They were compared to the horizons of an in situ non-eroded profile under continuous forest. On the depositional profile cores, soil depth prior to sedimentation was calculated by the determination of sediment thickness. Results and discussion Peaks of SOC in the sedimentation profiles indicated thicker initial profiles, while peaks in C/N ratio and δ13C distribution showed the original surface to be ~ 20 cm lower. Peaks of SOC were presumed to be the results of deposition of SOC-enriched soil from the upper slope transported by selective erosion of finer particles (silts and clays). Therefore, changes in δ13C values due to tillage and delivery would fingerprint the original surface much better under the sedimentation scenario than SOC content. Distribution of δ13C also suggests that the main sedimentation phase occurred immediately after forest clearance and before the start of intense cultivation with maize. Conclusions This highlights the role of relief in sheet erosion intensity compared to intensive cultivation. Patterns of δ13C indicate the original soil surface, even in profiles deposited as sediment centuries ago. The δ13C and C/N decrease in buried in situ profiles had the same tendency as recent forest soil, indicating constant SOM quality distribution after burial. Accordingly, microbiological activity, root uptake, and metabolism have not been effective enough to modify initial soil properties.
    • A Case for Target Value Design towards Effective Low-Cost Housing Project Cost Management and Performance South-East Zone Nigeria

      Obi, Lovelin Ifeoma; Arif, Mohammed (IBEA Publications Ltd London, 2015)
      Reports over the past decade, reveal the trend of poor cost performances of many Low-cost Housing (LcH) projects. This have apparently resulted in huge monetary losses to the government as the client, declining housing supply and undermined affordability of many Low and Low-medium incomes particularly in developing countries like Nigeria. In spite of the changes with contemporary trends in Nigeria, it would appear that the techniques employed in the management of the delivery costs of the LcH projects particularly in the South-east zone are yet similar to those used over a century ago. This necessitates urgent and appropriate sustainable intervention strategies adopting cost-effective techniques. Prior studies affirms the implications of modern cost management techniques such as Target Value Design (TVD) in improving delivery cost performances on construction projects. For this reason this paper which forms an integral part of an ongoing doctoral study, aim to identify the efficacy and applicability of TVD in the context of LcH project delivery cost management. A review of relevant and extant literature identifies peculiarities on the concept of TVD and LcH projects. Findings from literature and data collected via questionnaires further identify constraints on current LcH project delivery cost management system and clearly indicates the possible applicability and integration of TVD in the system. These findings provide a platform for the next phase of the research towards developing an improved delivery cost management model for LcH projects. This is expected to engender effective government-led LcH projects delivery particularly in in South-East zone Nigeria.
    • A Case Study on the Microstructure of Fibrous Peat (West Lake, China)

      Wilkinson, Stephen; Zhao, Chaofa; Yang, Zhongxuam; Kun, Pan (Springer, 2018-09-21)
      The classification of peat soils generates a very large number of different types, from a descriptive perspective this is useful, however such a system generates too many options for engineering purposes. The behaviour of organic soils varies based on the quantity and type of organic material present within the soil. The effects of fibre content are particularly important. The West Lake in Hangzhou has been dredged many times during its history to allow it to maintain its beauty. During the most recent dredging the sludge from the lake was transported via a 4km pipeline and deposited inside the Jiangyangfan Reservoir. The organic soil situated in Jiangyangfan Ecopark is a particularly interesting peaty material. The organic sludge was mixed and homogenised during the transportation process, and then would have settled out within the reservoir. This resulted in a more than 20m thick peat layer deposited with an uneven surface. The Ecopark buildings were then constructed on top of this in 2008. A combined electron microscope and mechanical study of the microstructure and behaviour of the peat has been used to identify the engineering impact of the presence of relatively small numbers of fibres within the soil matrix. The fibres within the peat modify its behaviour such that it can no longer be understood within the typical critical state framework for soils. The peat starts to plastically deform from very small levels of applied stress, in addition it does not display a tension cut-off failure, and ultimately fails in shear.
    • A Closed-Loop Reciprocity Calibration Method for Massive MIMO in Terrestrial Broadcasting Systems

      Luo, Hua; Zhang, Yue; Huang, Li-Ke; Cosmas, John; Aggoun, Amar (IEEE, 2016-09-22)
      Massive multi-input multioutput (MIMO) is believed to be an effective technique for future terrestrial broadcasting systems. Reciprocity calibration is one of the major practical challenges for massive MIMO systems operating in time-division duplexing mode. A new closed-loop reciprocity calibration method is investigated in this paper which can support online calibration with a higher accuracy compared to the existing methods. In the first part of the proposed method, an optimized relative calibration is introduced using the same structure of traditional relative calibration, but with less impaired hardware in the reference radio chain. In the second part, a test device (TD)-based calibration is proposed which makes online calibration possible. An experiment setup is built for the measurement of the base station hardware impairments and TD-based calibration implementation. Simulation results and the error vector magnitude of UE received signal after calibration show that the performance of our proposed method is improved significantly compared to the existing relative calibration methods.
    • A comparative study of three-dimensional printing directions: The degradation and toxicological profile of a PLA/PHA blend

      Gonzalez Ausejo, Jennifer; Rydz, Joanna; Musioł, Marta; Sikorska, Wanda; Sobota, Michał; Włodarczyk, Jakub; Adamus, Grażyna; Janeczek, Henryk; Kwiecień, Iwona; Hercog, Anna; Johnston, Brian; Khan, Habib R.; Kannappan, Vinodh; Jones, Keith R.; Morris, Mark R.; Jiang, Gouzhan; Radecka, Iza; Kowalczuk, Marek (Elsevier, 2018-06)
      The use of biobased plastics is of great importance for many applications. Blending thermoplastic polylactide (PLA) with polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA) enables the formulation of a more mechanically powerful material and this enables tailored biodegradation properties. In this study we demonstrate the 3D printing of a PLA/PHA blend as a potential candidate for biocompatible material applications. The filament for 3D printing consisted of PHA, which contains predominantly 3-hydroxybutyrate units and a small amount of 3-hydroxyvalerate units, as revealed by multistage mass spectrometry (ESI-MSn). This research found that the properties of 3D printed species before and during abiotic degradation are dependent on printing orientation. Furthermore, the 3D printed specimens exhibited good biocompatibility with HEK293 cells, indicating real promise as biological scaffolds for tissue engineering applications.
    • A disease-linked ULBP6 polymorphism inhibits NKG2D-mediated target cell killing by enhancing the stability of NKG2D-ligand binding

      Zuo, Jianmin; Willcox, Carrie R; Mohammed, Fiyaz; Davey, Martin; Hunter, Stuart; Khan, Kabir; Antoun, Ayman; Katakia, Poonam; Croudace, Joanne; Inman, Charlotte; Parry, Helen; Briggs, David; Malladi, Ram; Willcox, Benjamin E; Moss, Paul (American Association for the Advancement of Science, 2017-05)
      NKG2D (natural killer group 2, member D) is an activating receptor found on the surface of immune cells, including natural killer (NK) cells, which regulates innate and adaptive immunity through recognition of the stress-induced ligands ULBP1 (UL16 binding protein 1) to ULBP6 and MICA/B. Similar to class I human leukocyte antigen (HLA), these NKG2D ligands have a major histocompatibility complex–like fold and exhibit pronounced polymorphism, which influences human disease susceptibility. However, whereas class I HLA polymorphisms occur predominantly in the α1α2 groove and affect antigen binding, the effects of most NKG2D ligand polymorphisms are unclear. We studied the molecular and functional consequences of the two major alleles of ULBP6, the most polymorphic ULBP gene, which are associated with autoimmunity and relapse after stem cell transplantation. Surface plasmon resonance and crystallography studies revealed that the arginine-to-leucine polymorphism within ULBP0602 affected the NKG2D-ULBP6 interaction by generating an energetic hotspot. This resulted in an NKG2D-ULBP0602 affinity of 15.5 nM, which is 10- to 1000-fold greater than the affinities of other ULBP-NKG2D interactions and limited NKG2D-mediated activation. In addition, soluble ULBP0602 exhibited high-affinity competitive binding for NKG2D and partially suppressed NKG2D-mediated activation of NK cells by other NKG2D ligands. These effects resulted in a decrease in a range of NKG2D-mediated effector functions. Our results reveal that ULBP polymorphisms affect the strength of human lymphocyte responses to cellular stress signals and may offer opportunities for therapeutic intervention.
    • A High-Throughput Synthetic Platform Enables the Discovery of Proteomimetic Cell Penetrating Peptides and Bioportides

      Jones, Sarah; Osman, Shaimaa; Howl, John (Springer-Verlag, 2018-02-19)
      Collectively, cell penetrating peptide (CPP) vectors and intrinsically active bioportides possess tremendous potential for drug delivery applications and the discrete modulation of intracellular targets including the sites of protein–protein interactions (PPIs). Such sequences are usually relatively short (< 25 AA), polycationic in nature and able to access the various intracellular compartments of eukaryotic cells without detrimental influences upon cellular biology. The high-throughput platform for bioportide discovery described herein exploits the discovery that many human proteins are an abundant source of potential CPP sequences which are reliably predicted using QSAR algorithms or other methods. Subsequently, microwave-enhanced solid phase peptides synthesis provides a high-throughput source of novel proteomimetic CPPs for screening purposes. By focussing upon cationic helical domains, often located within the molecular interfaces that facilitate PPIs, bioportides which act by a dominant-negative mechanism at such sites can be reliably identified within small number libraries of CPPs. Protocols that employ fluorescent peptides, routinely prepared by N-terminal acylation with carboxytetramethylrhodamine, further enable both the quantification of cellular uptake kinetics and the identification of specific site(s) of intracellular accretion. Chemical modifications of linear peptides, including strategies to promote and stabilise helicity, are compatible with the synthesis of second-generation bioportides with improved drug-like properties to further exploit the inherent selectivity of biologics.
    • A machine-learning approach to negation and speculation detection for sentiment analysis

      Cruz, Noa P.; Taboada, Maite; Mitkov, Ruslan; Department of Information Technology; University of Huelva; Huelva Spain; Department of Linguistics; Simon Fraser University; Vancouver Canada; Research Institute for Information and Language Processing; University of Wolverhampton; Wolverhampton UK (2016-09)
      Recognizing negative and speculative information is highly relevant for sentiment analysis. This paper presents a machine-learning approach to automatically detect this kind of information in the review domain. The resulting system works in two steps: in the first pass, negation/speculation cues are identified, and in the second phase the full scope of these cues is determined. The system is trained and evaluated on the Simon Fraser University Review corpus, which is extensively used in opinion mining. The results show how the proposed method outstrips the baseline by as much as roughly 20% in the negation cue detection and around 13% in the scope recognition, both in terms of F1. In speculation, the performance obtained in the cue prediction phase is close to that obtained by a human rater carrying out the same task. In the scope detection, the results are also promising and represent a substantial improvement on the baseline (up by roughly 10%). A detailed error analysis is also provided. The extrinsic evaluation shows that the correct identification of cues and scopes is vital for the task of sentiment analysis.
    • A Model for Android and iOS Applications Risk Calculation: CVSS Analysis and Enhancement Using Case-Control Studies

      Petraityte, Milda; Dehghantanha, Ali; Epiphaniou, Gregory (Elsevier, 2018)
      Various researchers have shown that the Common Vulnerability Scoring System (CVSS) has many drawbacks and may not provide a precise view of the risks related to software vulnerabilities. However, many threat intelligence platforms and industry-wide standards are relying on CVSS score to evaluate cyber security compliance. This paper suggests several improvements to the calculation of Impact and Exploitability sub-scores within the CVSS, improve its accuracy and help threat intelligence analysts to focus on the key risks associated with their assets. We will apply our suggested improvements against risks associated with several Android and iOS applications and discuss achieved improvements and advantages of our modelling, such as the importance and the impact of time on the overall CVSS score calculation.
    • A new and intuitive test for zero modification

      Wilson, Paul; Einbeck, Jochen; School of Mathematics and Computer Science, University of Wolverhampton, United Kingdom.; Department of Mathematical Sciences, Durham University, United Kingdom. (Sage, 2018-04-05)
      While there do exist several statistical tests for detecting zero modification in count data regression models, these rely on asymptotical results and do not transparently distinguish between zero inflation and zero deflation. In this manuscript, a novel non-asymptotic test is introduced which makes direct use of the fact that the distribution of the number of zeros under the null hypothesis of no zero modification can be described by a Poisson-binomial distribution. The computation of critical values from this distribution requires estimation of the mean parameter under the null hypothesis, for which a hybrid estimator involving a zero-truncated mean estimator is proposed. Power and nominal level attainment rates of the new test are studied, which turn out to be very competitive to those of the likelihood ratio test. Illustrative data examples are provided.
    • A new measure of molecular attractions between nanoparticles near kT adhesion energy

      Kendall, Kevin; Dhir, Aman; Du, Shangfeng (IOP Publishing, 2009-03)
      The weak molecular attractions of nanoparticles are important because they drive self-assembly mechanisms, allow processing in dispersions e.g. of pigments, catalysts or device structures, influence disease through the attraction of viruses to cells and also cause potential toxic effects through nanoparticle interference with biomolecules and organs. The problem is to understand these small forces which pull nanoparticles into intimate contact; forces which are comparable with 3kT/2z the thermal impact force experienced by an average Brownian particle hitting a linear repulsive potential of range z. Here we describe a new method for measuring the atomic attractions of nanoparticles based on the observation of aggregates produced by these small forces. The method is based on the tracking of individual monosize nanoparticles whose diameter can be calculated from the Stokes–Einstein analysis of the tracks in aqueous suspensions. Then the doublet aggregates are distinguished because they move slower and are also very much brighter than the dispersed nanoparticles. By finding the ratio of doublets to singlets, the adhesive energy between the particles can be calculated from known statistical thermodynamic theory using assumptions about the shape of the interaction potential. In this way, very small adhesion energies of 2kT have been measured, smaller than those seen previously by atomic force microscopy (AFM) and scanning tunneling microscopy (STM).
    • A new species of death adder (Acanthophis: Serpentes: Elapidae) from north-western Australia

      Maddock, Simon T; Ellis, Ryan J; Doughty, Paul; Smith, Lawrence A; Wüster, Wolfgang (Magnolia Press, 2015-08-28)
      Australian death adders (genus Acanthophis) are highly venomous snakes with conservative morphology and sit-and-wait predatory habits, with only moderate taxonomic diversity that nevertheless remains incompletely understood. Analyses of mitochondrial and nuclear gene sequences and morphological characteristics of death adders in northern Australia reveal the existence of a new species from the Kimberley region of Western Australia and the Northern Territory, which we describe as Acanthophis cryptamydros sp. nov. Although populations from the Kimberley were previously considered conspecific with Northern Territory death adders of the A. rugosus complex, our mtDNA analysis indicates that its closest relatives are desert death adders, A. pyrrhus. We found that A. cryptamydros sp. nov. is distinct in both mtDNA and nDNA analysis, and possesses multiple morphological characteristics that allow it to be distinguished from all other Acanthophis species. This study further supports the Kimberley region as an area with high endemic biodiversity.
    • A New Species of New Guinea Worm-Eating Snake, Genus Toxicocalamus (Serpentes: Elapidae), From the Star Mountains of Western Province, Papua New Guinea, With a Revised Dichotomous Key to the Genus

      O’Shea, Mark; Parker, Fred; Kaiser, Hinrich (2015-07)
      We describe a new species of New Guinea vermivorous snake (Toxicocalamus) from a single specimen collected at Wangbin in the Star Mountains, Western Province, Papua New Guinea. The new species is the largest known member of the genus and can be differentiated from all other Toxicocalamus by a combination of the following characters: large size (total length of the holotype 1,200 mm), dorsal head scutes in the typical ‘‘colubrid-elapid dorsal nine-scute arrangement’’; separate, single preocular and paired postoculars; single anterior temporal and single or paired posterior temporals; six supralabials, with third and fourth supralabial contacting the orbit; dorsal scales in 15–15–15 rows; 203 ventral scales, 29 subcaudal scales; and a divided anal plate. Its erstwhile status, misidentified as Micropechis ikaheka in the collection of the Museum of Comparative Zoology, demonstrates the need for detailed examination of existing collections and is indicative of hidden diversity yet to be identified, not only in the field but also on the shelves of museum collections. We also provide a revised key to the genus Toxicocalamus.
    • A new species of small and highly abbreviated caecilian (Gymnophiona: Indotyphlidae) from the Seychelles island of Praslin, and a recharacterization of Hypogeophis brevis Boulenger, 1911

      A new species of indotyphlid caecilian amphibian, Hypogeophis pti sp. nov., is described based on a series of specimens from the Seychelles island of Praslin. The type series was collected in 2013 and 2014, and a referred specimen previously identified as H. brevis Boulenger, 1911 was collected from an unspecified Seychelles locality in 1957. The new species most closely resembles the Seychelles endemic Hypogeophis brevis in being short (maximum known total length in life ca. 120 mm) and long snouted, but differs by having a less anteriorly positioned tentacular aperture and fewer primary annuli and vertebrae. In having only 67–69 vertebrae, H. pti sp. nov. is the most abbreviated extant species of caecilian reported to date. 
    • A new species of the Cyrtodactylus (Geckoella) collegalensis (Beddome, 1870) complex (Squamata: Gekkonidae) from Western India

      A new species of Cyrtodactylus (Geckoella) from the C. collegalensis complex is described based on a series of specimens from western and central India. Morphological and molecular data support the distinctiveness of the new form, which can be diagnosed from other Cyrtodactylus (including other Geckoella) species by its small body size (snout to vent length to 56 mm), the absence of precloacal and femoral pores, no enlarged preanal or femoral scales, and a dorsal scalation consisting wholly of small, granular scales. The new species is most closely related to C. collegalensis, C. speciosus and C. yakhuna, from which it differs by the presence of a patch of enlarged roughly hexagonal scales on the canthus rostralis and beneath the angle of jaw, its relatively long limbs and narrow body, and a dorsal colour pattern of 4–6 pairs of dark spots.
    • A Novel Birefrigent Photonic Crystal Fiber Surface Plasmon Resonance Biosensor

      Otupiri, R.; Akowuah, E. K.; Haxha, S.; Ademgil, H.; AbdelMalek, F.; Aggoun, A. (IEEE, 2014-08)
      A numerical analysis of a novel birefringent photonic crystal fiber (PCF) biosensor constructed on the surface plasmon resonance (SPR) model is presented in this paper. This biosensor configuration utilizes circular air holes to introduce birefringence into the structure. This PCF biosensor model shows promise in the area of multiple detection using HEx 11 and HEy 11 modes to sense more than one analyte. A numerical study of the biosensor is performed in two interrogation modes: amplitude and wavelength. Sensor resolution values with spectral interrogation yielded 5 10 5 RIU (refractive index units) for HEx 11 modes and 6 10 5 RIU for HEy 11 modes, whereas 3 10 5 RIU for HEx 11 modes and 4 10 5 RIU for HEy 11 modes are demonstrated for the amplitude interrogation.
    • A review of factors affecting electrostatic charging of pharmaceuticals and adhesive mixtures for inhalation.

      Kaialy, Waseem (Elsevier, 2016-04-30)
      Pharmaceutical powders are typically insulators consisting of relatively small particles and thus they usually exhibit significant electrostatic charging behaviours. In the inhalation field, the measurement of electrostatic charge is an imperative stage during pharmaceutical formulation development. The electrostatic charge is affected by the interplay of many factors. This article reviews the factors affecting the electrostatic charging of pharmaceutical powders with a focus on dry powder inhalations. The influences of particle resistivity, size distribution, shape distribution, surface roughness, polymorphic form and hygroscopicity, as well as the effects of moisture uptake, environmental conditions, pharmaceutical processing (i.e., milling, sieving, spray drying and blending), and storage on the electrostatic charge behaviours of pharmaceuticals, with focus on inhalation powders, were reviewed. The influence of electrostatic charge on the performance of dry powder inhaler formulations in terms of drug content homogeneity, the passage of drug through the inhaler device, drug-carrier adhesion/detachment, and drug deposition on the respiratory airways were discussed. The understanding gained is crucial to improving the safety, quality, and efficiency of the pharmaceutical inhalation products.
    • A review of photovoltaic module technologies for increased performance in tropical climate

      Ogbomo, Osarumen O.; Amalu, Emeka H.; Ekere, N.N.; Olagbegi, P.O. (Elsevier, 2016-11-23)
      The global adoption and use of photovoltaic modules (PVMs) as the main source of energy is the key to realising the UN Millennium Development Goals on Green Energy. The technology – projected to contribute about 20% of world energy supply by 2050, over 60% by 2100 and leading to 50% reduction in global CO2 emissions – is threatened by its poor performance in tropical climate. Such performance discourages its regional acceptance. The magnitude of crucial module performance influencing factors (cell temperature, wind speed and relative humidity) reach critical values of 90 °C, 0.2 m/s and 85%, respectively in tropical climates which negatively impact module performance indices which include power output (PO), power conversion efficiency (PCE) and energy payback time (EPBT). This investigation reviews PVM technologies which include cell, contact and interconnection technologies. It identifies critical technology route(s) with potential to increase operational reliability of PVMs in the tropics when adopted. The cell performance is measured by PO, PCE and EPBT while contacts and interconnections performance is measured by the degree of recombination, shading losses and also the rate of thermo-mechanical degradation. It is found that the mono-crystalline cell has the best PCE of 25% while the Cadmium Telluride (CdTe) cell has the lowest EPBT of 8-months. Results show that the poly-crystalline cell has the largest market share amounting to 54%. The CdTe cell exhibits 0% drop in PCE at high-temperatures and low irradiance operations – demonstrating least affected PO by the conditions. Further results establish that back contacts and back-to-back interconnection technologies produce the least recombination losses and demonstrate absence of shading in addition to possessing longest interconnection fatigue life. Based on these findings, the authors propose a PVM comprising CdTe cell, back contacts and back-to-back interconnection technologies as the technology with latent capacity to produce improved performance in tropical climates.