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Archive for the ‘Female Genetics’ Category

Solution for a scourge? University of Minnesota scientist is progressing with carp-killer tool – Minneapolis Star Tribune

Sam Erickson followed his love of science to outer space one summer during an internship at NASA. He came away fascinated by seeing into deep space by interpreting interaction between matter and infrared radiation.

Now a full-fledged researcher at the University of Minnesotas College of Biological Sciences, the 25-year-old Alaska native is immersed in something far more earthly: killing carp. His fast-moving genetic engineering project is drawing attention from around the country as a potential tool to stop the spread of invasive carp.

I want to make a special fish, Erickson said in a recent interview at Gortner Laboratory in Falcon Heights.

In short, he plans to produce batches of male carp that would destroy the eggs of female carp during spawning season. The modified male fish would spray the eggs as if fertilizing them. But the seminal fluid thanks to DNA editing would instead cause the embryonic eggs to biologically self-destruct in a form of birth control that wouldnt affect other species nor create mutant carp in the wild.

His goal is to achieve the result in a controlled setting using common carp. From there, it will be up to federal regulators and fisheries biologists to decide whether to translate the technology to constrain reproduction of invasive carp in public waters.

What were developing is a tool, Erickson said. If we could make this work, it would be a total game-changer.

Supervised by University of Minnesota assistant professor Michael Smanski, Erickson recently received approval to accelerate his project by hiring a handful of undergraduate assistants. He also traveled last month to Springfield, Ill., to present his research plan to the 2020 Midwest Fish and Wildlife Conference.

Were pretty excited about where his project is at, said Nick Phelps, director of the Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center at the U. Things are sure moving fast. Theres excitement and caution.

Ericksons research has received funding from Minnesotas Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund. No breeding populations of invasive carp have been detected in Minnesota, but the Department of Natural Resources has confirmed several individual fish captures and the agency has worked to keep the voracious eaters from migrating upstream from the lower Mississippi River. Silver carp, bighead carp and other Asian carps pose a threat to rivers and lakes in the state because they would compete with native species for food and habitat.

Erickson views his birth control project as one possible piece in the universitys integrated Asian carp research approach to keep invasive carp out of state waters. Already the DNR has supported electric barriers and underwater sound and bubble deterrents at key migration points. Another Asian carp-control milestone was closing the Mississippi River lock at Upper St. Anthony Falls in Minneapolis in 2015.

Shooting star

Growing up in Anchorage, Erickson had never heard of Macalester College in St. Paul. But he visited the campus at the urging of a friend and felt like he fit in. He majored in chemistry and worked for a year at 3M in battery technology. But his interests tilted toward the natural world and how to better live in cooperation with nature, he said. Erickson met with Smanski about research opportunities at the university and was hired on the spot.

Smanski, one of the universitys top biological engineers, said carp is not an easy organism to work with and Erickson lacked experience in the field. But he hired the young researcher and assigned him to the carp birth control project because he seemed to have a rare blend of determination and intelligence.

I could tell right away when I was talking to him that he was like a shooting star, Smanski said. If you set a problem in front of him, he wont stop until he solves it Hes taken this farther than anyone else.

In two short years, Smanksi said, Erickson has mastered genetic engineering to the point that his research is starting to bear fruit.

With his new complement of research assistants, Erickson aims to clear his projects first major hurdle sometime this year. The challenge is to model his experiment in minnow-sized freshwater zebrafish. The full genetic code of zebrafish like common carp is already known.

Ericksons task is to make a small change to the DNA sequence of male zebrafish, kind of like inserting a DNA cassette into the fish, he said. During reproduction, the alteration will create lethal overexpression of genes in the embryonic eggs laid by females.

By analogy, Erickson said, the normal mating process is like a symphony with a single conductor turning on genes inside each embryo, Erickson said. But the DNA modification sends in a mess of conductors and the mixed signals destroy each embryo within 24 hours.

In the lab we have to make sure were causing the disruption with no off-target effects, he said. If we can do this in zebrafish, we hope to translate it. They are genetically similar to carp.

Ericksons upcoming experimentation with tank-dwelling live carp could be painfully slow because the fish only mate once a year. But hes working his way around that problem by altering lighting conditions and changing other stimuli in his lab to stagger when batches of fish are ready to reproduce.

The birth control process projected to be affordable for fisheries managers if it receives approval is already proven to work in yeast and insects. And Erickson said the same principles of molecular genetics have been used to create an altered, fast-growing version of Atlantic salmon approved for human consumption in the U.S.

Were not building a new carp from the bottom up but its kind of a whole new paradigm, so we have to get it done right, he said.

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Solution for a scourge? University of Minnesota scientist is progressing with carp-killer tool - Minneapolis Star Tribune

Art Lander’s Outdoors: Although rare at backyard bird feeders, the Eastern Towhee is common in Ky. – User-generated content

Eastern Towhee (Photo by Brian Kushner, Audubon Society)

Editors Note: This is the tenth article in an occasional series about backyard birds.

The Eastern Towhee (Pipilo erythrophthalmus) is an infrequent visitor to backyard bird feeders.

Consider yourself lucky to see this large sparrow, with distinctive plumage, feeding on the ground beneath one of your hanging feeders during the late winter or early spring. Towhees observed this time of year are likely migrants passing through, on the way northward, back to their breeding grounds.

Kate Slankard, an avian biologist for the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources (KDFWR) said the Eastern Towhee is common statewide, but not a yard bird. They live at the woods edge, in shrubby areas. You have to go looking for them.

Eastern Towhee (Photo by Lisa Hurt, Audubon Society)

Geographic Range and Distribution in Kentucky

For decades this species was known to biologists and bird watchers as the Rufous-sided Towhee, but in 1995 there was a name change, as explained in a posting on the Audubon Society website.

The study of birds, like any science, remains a work in progress. New (DNA) findings or other (characteristic features) bring changes in the classification of species, which often result in new names.

The Rufous-sided Towhee was found across North America (but) differences between its western and eastern forms in plumage, songs and genetics brought an official split into two distinct species: the Spotted Towhee (Pipilo maculatus) in the West, the Eastern Towhee in the East.

The geographic range of the Eastern Towhee extends from east Texas, north to Minnesota, east to southern Maine, and down the Atlantic Coast to Florida.

Its breeding range includes the Great Lakes states, and as far south as West Virginia and Missouri. Its wintering range is in southern Texas and Louisiana.

The Eastern Towhee is found year-round in Kentucky and throughout most of the southeastern U.S. In Kentucky, this species is as widely distributed as any of the states resident birds, most abundant in forests with shrubby understory. Some birds move around seasonally, in-state.

There are four subspecies throughout its range and the first description in the scientific literature was made by Swedish naturalist Carl Linnaeus in 1758.

Spotted Towhee (Photo by Virginia Short, Audubon Society)

The Eastern Towhee is a large sparrow. Its total length ranges from seven to nine inches, with a wingspan of eight to 12 inches. Its bodyweight averages about 1 1/2 ounces.

Adults have dark brown to black heads, rufous (reddish-brown) sides, a white belly, and a long dark tail with white edges. Their eyes are red.

The Eastern Towhees call sounds like Drink your teeeee.

Habitat

In Kentucky, its preferred habitat is semi-open and forested areas, with dense cover of weeds, tangles of grapevines, blackberry thickets, or shrubs. This includes brushy forest edges, regenerating clear-cuts, reclaimed strip mines, overgrown fencerows and abandoned fields.

In the mountain counties, the Eastern Towhee thrives in mixed pine and hardwood forests, with a dense understory of blueberries or mountain laurel.

Food Habits

The Eastern Towhee forages on the ground most of the time, noisily scratching in the leaf-litter, but sometimes in shrubs or on tree limbs close to the ground.

Its diet varies with the season and region, but is mostly insects, seeds (including small acorns), berries and small fruits.

In summer the Eastern Towhee eats mostly insects, including beetles, caterpillars, moths, bugs and ants, but it may also consume spiders, snails, millipedes and rarely small animals salamanders, lizards, or snakes.

Reproduction and Nesting

The male defends its nesting territory by singing, often from a high perch. In courtship, he may give a soft whispered version of his song, may chase his female, or rapidly spread his tail feathers as a display.

The Eastern Towhee nests on the ground, usually under a shrub, or in low bushes usually less than five feet above the ground.

The nest is built by the female and is an open cup of grass, twigs, weeds, rootlets, and strips of bark, lined with finer materials like feathers, thin grasses, moss or sometimes animal hair.

In Kentucky, territorial singing begins in March, and clutches usually appear in early April. A second brood may appear in late May, or during the summer, as late as early August.

On average the female lays three to four creamy-white to very pale gray eggs, with spots of brown often concentrated at the larger end of the egg.

Incubation is about 12 to 13 days.

Both parents feed the nestlings, and the young leave the nest about 10 to 12 days after hatching, but usually remain with parents for some time before going out on their own.

Keep an eye out for this large sparrow that could be mistaken for a robin at a distance if it werent for its white breast. The Eastern Towhee is a bird of the woods edge that only infrequently visits backyards along the suburban/rural interface.

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Art Lander's Outdoors: Although rare at backyard bird feeders, the Eastern Towhee is common in Ky. - User-generated content

Will warmer weather stop the spread of the coronavirus? – Deutsche Welle

Could warmer weather slow the spread of the coronavirus? If all goes well, the new virusSARS-CoV-2, may behave like the influenza virus. Then spring, with its rising temperatures, would kill the pathogens - and stop the spread of the COVID-19 disease. The coronavirus season would pass awayjust like the annual flu wave, which starts to ebb when winter ends.

Spring may be the season of hope, but it's still too early to say accurately whether SARS-CoV-2 behavesas the influenza virus. Virologist Thomas Pietschmann says, experts can't yet predict the trajectory of the virus because "honestly speaking, we do notknow the virus yet."

Pietschmann is a molecular virologist at the Center for Experimental and Clinical Infection Research, called Twincore, in Hanover, Germany. He researches so-called RNA viruses, including for example the hepatitis C virus. SARS-CoV-2 belongs to this group.

Virus? Unknown!

"What's special about this virus is that humans are confronted with it for the first time. From the data we have from China, we can conclude that the virus has only once passed from an animal to humans and spread from there," says Pietschmann.

Unlike influenza viruses,which nearly everyone has been in contact with at some point, our immune system is not prepared for an attack with corona pathogens.

In addition, the external conditions in the northern hemisphere are currently virtually perfect for the rapid spread of the virus. For one thing, there's the temperature. Respiratory viruses, i.e. those that spread via the respiratory tract, have a particularly easy time when the weather iscool. "Viruses have greater stability at low temperatures. This is similar to food that keeps longest in the refrigerator," says Pietschmann.

Cool and dry, please!

The warmer it gets, the more difficult the conditions are for many viruses. "The corona virus is surrounded by a lipid layer, in other words, a layer of fat," Pietschmann explains. This layer is not very heat-resistant, which means that the virus quickly breaks down when temperatures rise. "Other viruses, such as the norovirus, are more stable because they consist mainly of proteins and genetic material."

Read more:Why coronavirus fears are disproportionate compared with other health risks

For other pathogens, temperature only playsa subordinate role. The dengue virus, for example, is mainly found in tropical and subtropical regions. But this has less to do with the pathogens liking warm weather:"In this case, it is not the temperature that plays the main role in the spread of the pathogens, but the animal that transmits the virus," Pietschmann says..

Air humidity also influences the transmissibility of respiratory viruses. Once the pathogens have been expelled from the respiratory tract with a strong sneeze, they literally hang in the air. "On cold and usually dry winter days, the small droplets, together with the viruses, float in the air longer than when the air humidity is high," Pietschmann elaborates.

In this way the pathogens can spread rapidly. However, at first they do this quietly and secretly. From the first contact with the pathogens to the first symptoms of the disease, several weeks can pass. The length of this incubation period depends on the characteristics and biology of the virus.

Double X chromosome and estrogen

Fever, pain and chills are typical symptoms of a viral disease and a sign that the body is fighting off the invaders. How successful this fight is depends not only on the age and health of the infected person, on his or her gender. In the case of the coronavirus, the data shows that women have higher survival chances than men. At 2.8 percent, themortality rate of menis significantly higher than that of women, at 1.7 percent.

According to Pietschmann, this difference can beexplained by genetics. "Some immune-relevant genes, for example genes that are responsible for recognizing pathogens, are encoded on the X chromosome. Because women have two X chromosomes and men have only one, the female sex has an advantage here."

Read more:Corona-phobia: Like SARS, coronavirus fear feeds racism

The female sex hormone estrogen also helps women fend of viral diseases. "Some immune-relevant genes also have binding sites for estrogens, where these genes are switched on. This means that these genes are also controlled by the hormones," says Pietschmann.

Perhaps the corona season will indeed end with the beginning of spring in the northern hemisphere. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), however, there are more than 20 cases of SARS-CoV-2 in Australia and one case in Brazil - in the southern hemisphere. Where winter is yet to come.

According to the World Health Organization, there is no evidence to support claims that a saline solution will "kill the virus and protect you.

Certain brands of mouthwash may eliminate particular microbes from your saliva for a few minutes, but, according to the WHO, this does not protect you from the new coronavirus.

This dubious claim has been spreading like wildfire across social media. Though it is possible that garlic may have some antimicrobial properties, there is no evidence to suggest from the current coronavirus outbreak that eating this bulb will protect people from the virus.

There is no evidence to suggest pets, such as cats and dogs, can be infected or transmit the coronavirus. Regularly washing your hands with soap and water after touching your beloved moggy or pooch will help stop the spread of bacteria that they commonly carry, such as E. coli and salmonella.

People receiving parcels from China are not at risk of contracting the new coronavirus, as the virus does not survive long on objects. Due to the poor survivability of the coronavirus on surfaces, there is a very low risk of spread from products or packaging that are shipped over a period of days or weeks.

The new coronavirus needs its own vaccine. Pneumonia vaccines such as the pneumococcal and the Haemophilus influenzae type B (Hib) vaccine will not protect you against the coronavirus.

Bleach/chlorine-based disinfectants, solvents, 75% ethanol, peracetic acid and chloroform can kill the 2019-nCoV on hard surfaces; however, they have little or no impact if you put them on your skin.

To avoid a coronavirus infection, always cook raw foods thoroughly. It is also advisable to avoid direct contact with people who are sick.

Frequently washing your hands with soap and water can help prevent an infection. You can also use an alcohol-based sanitizing gel instead. If you have to cough or sneeze, cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your elbow. If you have contracted the disease without knowing it, coughing or sneezing in this manner might help to reduce the spread.

Author: Jessie Wingard

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Will warmer weather stop the spread of the coronavirus? - Deutsche Welle

Believe it or not, this perfectly preserved bird is actually 46,000 years old – SYFY WIRE

If we're ever discovered frozen and buried in Siberian permafrost someday, we can only dream of looking this pristine at the ripe age of 46,000 years old!

While on a 2018hunting expedition searching for fossilized mammoth tusks near the village of Belaya Gora in Siberia, two men stumbled across the rigid, frozen carcass of a small Ice Age bird that once flew the friendly skies nearly 50 millennia ago.The feathered survivor was in remarkably good condition due to it being protected from biologicaldecay and hungry animal scavengers by the region's frigid icygroundcover.

Love Daln, professor of evolutionary genetics at the Centre for Palaeogenetics in Stockholm, was accompanying the pair of ivory hunters, Boris Berezhnov and Spartak Khabrov, when they unearthedthe rare Ice Age remnant, and was shocked to observe its incredibly well-preserved state.

The results of this fortuitous discovery were made public in a new study published in the online journalCommunications Biology, which details the identification and historyof theonly near-intact bird carcass ever documented from thelast ice age.The location of its final resting place was near the banks of the Indigirka River in Siberia, where it shared a home populated with various Pleistocene Epoch creatureslikemajesticmammoths,horses,woolly rhinos,bison, andlynx.

After determining the frozen flier's age to be approximately 46,000 years old using radiocarbon dating techniques with delicate samples offeathers and a tiny piece of tissue, Daln and his colleagues played detective to pinpointthe precise species the bird belonged to. Via DNAsequencing, lead study author andpostdoctoral researcher Nicolas Dussex of Stockholm University pieced together its specific signature of mitochondrial DNA, and matched its lineage to that of afemale horned lark (Eremophila alpestris).

The level of preservation of this bird is absolutely stunning,"Daln tells SYFY WIRE."Considering its age, its possibly one of the best preserved pre-historic specimens ever discovered.

Further research found the bird to be an ancestorof two sub-species of modern horned lark, one residingon the remote Eurasian tundraand the other in Mongolia and surrounding countries, providing new clues to how climate change possibly affected the divergence.

"When the local Russians came and showed the bird, I had had trouble believing that it really could be that old," he recalls. "I thought that perhaps it was a bird that had flown into the tunnel a few years ago and died there. But the locals insisted that it had been found in the permafrost far inside the tunnel. So we decided to collect samples from it for radiocarbon dating, and when we got the results it was clear that it was not only old, but actually [circa] 46,000 years old. So it is several tens of thousands of years older than, for example, the cave lion cubs and wolf head found in the same site."

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Believe it or not, this perfectly preserved bird is actually 46,000 years old - SYFY WIRE

First Cheetah Cubs Born as Result of Embryo Transfer – The Southern Maryland Chronicle

News Release, Smithsonian National Zoo

Scientists at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute (SCBI) and the Columbus Zoo have successfully transferred cheetah embryos produced by in vitro fertilization (IVF) to a surrogate cheetah mom for the first time. Two cubs were born Feb. 19 to 3-year-old mom Izzy, though the cubs biological mom is 6 1/2-year-old Kibibi. Cheetahs naturally have low genetic diversity due to near extinction at the end of the last ice age. However, techniques scientists use to boost genetic diversity and health in other endangered and vulnerable species have not had much success in cheetahs. IVF embryo transfer will help scientists and zoos build the most robust and genetically healthy insurance population of cheetahs in human care possible, and potentially could even help the genetics of wild cheetahs.

For the embryo-transfer procedure, scientists collected semen from a male cheetah living at Fossil Rim Wildlife Center in Texas in February 2019 and froze it. They then harvested eggs from Kibibi at the Columbus Zoo Nov. 19, 2019, and performed IVF, fertilizing the eggs in a laboratory with the sperm collected in Texas earlier that year. The fertilized embryos were then transferred to Izzys oviduct Nov. 21, 2019. It was only the third time scientists had ever attempted the procedure. Kibibi had never given birth to a cub and is genetically valuable, but she is unlikely to ever reproduce on her own. Her valuable genes were at risk of never being passed on. Izzy, the surrogate, is less genetically valuable and is not currently recommended to breed, but she was hand-raised as a cub and very comfortable with keepers, which made her a good candidate as a surrogate cheetah mom.

The success of this groundbreaking procedure would not have been possible without the incredible dedication, collaboration and scientific expertise of the teams at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute, Fossil Rim Wildlife Center and the ColumbusZoo and Aquarium, said Tom Stalf, president and CEO of the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium. The additional knowledge we gained throughout this process will serve as an importantresource in the future, and we are proud towork with our zoological colleagues on perfecting innovative methods that ultimately can have a direct impacton protecting rare species like cheetahs.

In December 2019, about a month after the procedure, veterinarians at the Columbus Zoo detected two fetuses on an ultrasound. Cheetah pregnancies typically last between 90 and 96 days. Izzy was monitored closely during her pregnancy and received regular ultrasounds and radiographs. Veterinarians and keepers at the Columbus Zoo noticed Izzy began showing signs she was in labor Wednesday, Feb. 19. The cubs were born later that evening at 9:50 p.m. and 10:20 p.m.They have been observed nursing, and the first-day birth weights were 480 grams for the male and 350 grams for the female.

SCBI scientists have been studying IVF and embryo transfer in cheetahs for 15 years. In 2005, they began working on collecting and inseminating oocytes, or eggs, in the lab. By 2011, they were able to harvest eggs and fertilize them and routinely produce embryos. Embryo transfer was the next step in their research.

We have been performing artificial inseminations in cheetahs for decades, and there hasnt been a cub born in almost 20 years, said Adrienne Crosier, cheetah biologist at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute and one of the scientists who performed the embryo transfer. Just the fact that we were successful with embryo transfer after only the third attempt gives me hope for the future of this technique for improving cheetah management, potentially on a global scale. This is a huge scientific breakthrough and, in many ways, is much better because it gives us much more flexibility with limited genetic material. This is an amazing milestone for cheetahswe can extend a cheetahs biological clock.

Approximately one-third of the cheetah population living in zoos is removed from the breeding matrix due to age, health or behavior, and cheetahs ability to reproduce after 8 years of age declines significantly. The Association of Zoos and Aquariums Cheetah Species Survival Plan (SSP) has been working to increase the number of cubs born each year and maximize the effective breeding population, or the number of individuals contributing genetically to offspring.

For me, the birth of these IVF cubs is a significant breakthrough for cheetah reproduction, but the implications are enormous, said Pierre Comizzoli, a reproductive biologist at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute and one of the scientists who performed the embryo transfer. We continue to improve our understanding of fertility and develop new tools for other species. This is how we make rapid progress with rare and endangered species. One species breakthrough opens the door for another.

Nearly all cheetahs recommended breeding by the SSP live at large off-exhibit facilities like SCBI, Fossil Rim Wildlife Center and The Wilds, which can care for more cats and collectively manage tens of thousands of acres, which has increased the number of cubs born each year. Embryo transfer will help ensure that more cheetahs breed contributing to the genetic diversity of the population and its sustainability. Male cheetahs can father cubs with the females who are their best genetic matches without having to move to the same zoos or facilities as the females. Scientists can collect sperm samples from males, freeze them and then use the sperm for embryo transfer at any point in the future.

Cheetahs are listed as vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. During the past 50 years, cheetahs have become extinct in at least 13 countries in Africa, and there are about 7,500 cheetahs remaining in the wild. Habitat destruction, conflict with humans and hunting have caused their numbers to decline.

The Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute plays a leading role in the Smithsonians global efforts to save wildlife species from extinction and train future generations of conservationists. SCBI spearheads research programs at its headquarters in Front Royal, Virginia, the Smithsonians National Zoo in Washington, D.C., and at field research stations and training sites worldwide. SCBI scientists tackle some of todays most complex conservation challenges by applying and sharing what they learn about animal behavior and reproduction, ecology, genetics, migration, and conservation sustainability.

The Southern Maryland Chronicle is a local, small business entrusted to provide factual, unbiased reporting to the Southern Maryland Community.While we look to local businesses for advertising, we hope to keep that cost as low as possible in order to attract even the smallest of local businesses and help them get out to the public. We must also be able to pay employees(part-time and full-time), along with equipment, and website related things. We never want to make the Chronicle a pay-wall style news site.

To that end, we are looking to the community to offer donations. Whether its a one-time donation or you set up a reoccurring monthly donation. It is all appreciated. All donations at this time will be going to furthering the Chronicle through hiring individuals that have the same goals of providing fair, and unbiased news to the community. For now, donations will be going to a business PayPal account I have set-up for the Southern Maryland Chronicle, KDC Designs. All business transactions currently occur within this PayPal account. If you have any questions regarding this you can email me at davidhiggins@southernmarylandchronicle.com

Thank you for all of your support and I hope to continue bringing Southern Maryland the best news possible for a very long time. David M. Higgins II

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First Cheetah Cubs Born as Result of Embryo Transfer - The Southern Maryland Chronicle

Why Some COVID-19 Cases Are Worse than Others – The Scientist

Like many other respiratory conditions, COVID-19the disease caused by SARS-CoV-2can vary widely among patients. The vast majority of confirmed cases are considered mild, involving mostly cold-like symptoms to mild pneumonia, according to the latest and largest set of data on the new coronavirus outbreak released February 17 by the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

Fourteen percent of confirmed cases have been severe, involving serious pneumonia and shortness of breath. Another 5 percent of patients confirmed to have the disease developed respiratory failure, septic shock, and/or multi-organ failurewhat the agency calls critical cases potentially resulting in death. Roughly 2.3 percent of confirmed cases did result in death.

Scientists are working to understand why some people suffer more from the virus than others. It is also unclear why the new coronaviruslike its cousins SARS and MERSappears to be more deadly than other coronaviruses that regularly circulate among people each winter and typically cause cold symptoms. I think its going to take a really, really long time to understand the mechanistic, biological basis of why some people get sicker than others, says Angela Rasmussen, a virologist at Columbia Universitys Mailman School of Public Health.

In the meantime, the latest data from China and research on other coronaviruses provide some hints.

The latest data from China stem from an analysis of nearly 45,000 confirmed cases, and on the whole suggest that the people most likely to develop severe forms of COVID-19 are those with pre-existing illnesses and the elderly.

While less than 1 percent of people who were otherwise healthy died from the disease, the fatality rate for people with cardiovascular disease was 10.5 percent. That figure was 7.3 percent for diabetes patients and around 6 percent for those with chronic respiratory disease, hypertension, or cancer.

While overall, 2.3 percent of known cases proved fatalwhich many experts say is likely an overestimate of the mortality rate, given that many mild cases might go undiagnosedpatients 80 years or older were most at risk, with 14.8 percent of them dying. Deaths occurred in every age group except in children under the age of nine, and, generally speaking, we see relatively few cases among children, World Health Organization Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said last week.

This pattern of increasing severity with age differs from that of some other viral outbreaks, notably the 1918 flu pandemic, for which mortality was high in young children and in people between 20 and 40 years of age. However, its broadly consistent with records of the SARS and MERS coronavirus outbreaks, notes Lisa Gralinski, a virologist at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. If youre over fifty or sixty and you have some other health issues and if youre unlucky enough to be exposed to this virus, it could be very bad, she says.

I think its going to take a really, really long time to understand the mechanistic, biological basis of why some people get sicker than others.

Angela Rasmussen, Columbia University

Scientists dont know what exactly happens in older age groups. But based on research on other respiratory viruses, experts theorize that whether a coronavirus infection takes a turn for the worse depends on a persons immune response. The virus matters, but the host response matters at least as much, and probably more, says Stanley Perlman, a virologist and pediatric infectious disease specialist at the University of Iowa.

Once SARS-CoV-2 gets inside the human respiratory tract, its thought to infect and multiply in cells lining the airway, causing damage that kicks the immune system into action. In most people, it should trigger a wave of local inflammation, recruiting immune cells in the vicinity to eradicate the pathogen. The immune response then recedes, and patients recover.

For reasons that arent entirely clear, some peopleespecially the elderly and sickmay have dysfunctional immune systems that fail to keep the response to particular pathogens in check. This could cause an uncontrolled immune response, triggering an overproduction of immune cells and their signaling molecules and leading to a cytokine storm often associated with a flood of immune cells into the lung. Thats when you end up with a lot of these really severe inflammatory disease conditions like pneumonia, shortness of breath, inflammation of the airway, and so forth, says Rasmussen.

Local inflammation can turn into widespread inflammation of the lungs, which then has ripple effects across all organs of the body. This could also happen if the virus replicates faster than the immune system can respond, so that it then has to play catch-up to contain the pathogena situation that could also cause the immune defense to spiral out of control. With mice, we know that in some cases, particularly for SARS and MERS coronaviruses, virus replication is very rapid and in some cases overwhelming to the immune system, says Perlman.

Its harder to explain why young, healthy people also sometimes die from the diseasefor instance, Li Wenliang, a 34-year-old doctor who first sounded the alarm about the virus. He died a few weeks after contracting the pathogen.

Genetic and environmental risk factors might help explain the severity of infections. Though its clear that genetic factors can strongly determine the outcome of viral infections in miceas some of Rasmussens work has shown for Ebola, for instanceresearchers havent yet been able to tease out specific genes or variants in mice, let alone in people, that are responsible for varying degrees of illness. Environmental factors, such as smoking or air quality, may also play a role in disease severity, Rasmussen adds.

A lot of research has gone into understanding what causes respiratory failure that results from systemic inflammation of the lungsalso called acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS)that can occur from coronaviruses and other infections. Yet researchers still dont know how it occurs exactly, let alone how to treat it, Gralinksi notes. Its still a really poorly understood issue.

An intriguing finding in the new data released last week is that although similar numbers of men and women have contracted SARS-CoV-2, more men are dying from the disease. The death rate for males was 2.8 percent and 1.7 percent for women. Rasmussen is quick to caution that although the data encompass nearly 45,000 patients, thats still not that many people to determine if theres really a gender biasyoud have to look at this in a much larger population of patients in a number of different countries, she says.

That said, if there is a bias, it would be consistent with what epidemiologists have observed during the SARS and MERS outbreaks. In the 2003 SARS outbreak in Hong Kong, for instance, nearly 22 percent of infected men died, compared to around 13 percent of women. In an analysis of MERS infections between 2017 and 2018, around 32 percent of men died, and nearly 26 percent of women. The difference could have something to do with the fact that the gene for the ACE-2 receptor, which is used by both SARS-CoV-2 and the SARS virus to enter host cells, is found on the X chromosome, she speculates. If its a particular variant of the protein that makes people more susceptible to the virus, then females could compensate for that one bad variant because theyd have two copies of the X chromosome, whereas men would be stuck with only one copy. Or, it could be that men are more likely to be smokers and so their lungs are already a bit compromised. Theres definitely more to be teased out there, Gralinski says.

Some of Perlmans research, which demonstrated that the sex disparity also holds true in SARS-infected mice, points to the hormone estrogen as possibly having protective effects: Removing the ovaries of infected female mice or blocking the estrogen receptor made the animals more likely to die compared to infected control mice. The effects are probably more pronounced in mice than in people, Perlman tells The New York Times.

Whether patients develop antibodies after SARS-CoV-2 infection that will protect them against future infections is still a mystery. Surveys of SARS patients around five or 10 years after their recovery suggest that the coronavirus antibodies dont persist for very long, Gralinski says. They found either very low levels or no antibodies that were able to recognize SARS proteins.

However, for the new coronavirus, we would expect some immunity, at least in the short term, she says.

There are seven coronaviruses known to infect people. Four of them229E, NL63, OC43, and HKU1typically cause a cold and only rarely result in death. The other threeMERS-CoV, SARS-CoV, and the new SARS-CoV-2have varying degrees of lethality. In the 2003 SARS outbreak, 10 percent of infected people died. Between 2012 and 2019, MERS killed 23 percent of infected people. Although the case fatality rate of COVID-19 is lower, the virus has already killed more people than the other two outbreaks combined, which some have attributed to the pathogens fast transmission.

The cold-causing coronaviruses, as well as many other viruses that cause common colds, are typically restricted to the upper respiratory tract, that is, the nose and sinuses. Both SARS-CoV and SARS-CoV-2, however, are capable of invading deep into the lungs, something that is associated with more severe disease.

One possible reason for this is that the virus binds to the ACE-2 receptor on human cells in order to gain entry. This receptor is present in ciliated epithelial cells in the upper and lower airway, as well as in type II pneumocytes, which reside in the alveoli in the lower airway and produce lung-lubricating proteins. The type II pneumocytes are . . . important for lung function, so this is part of why the lower respiratory disease can be so severe, notes Gralinksi.

The new coronavirus also appears to use the ACE-2 receptor, which may help partially explain why, like SARS, it is more deadly than the other four coronaviruses. Those pathogens use different receptors, except for NL63, which also uses the ACE-2 receptor but binds to it with less affinity, says Gralinski. (MERS is thought to use an entirely different receptor, which is also present in the lower airways.)

To understand these questions fully will take time, research, and consistent funding for long-term studies. Coronavirus funding has been criticized for following a boom-and-bust cycle; viral spillovers from animals to people cause an initial surge of interest that tends to wane until the next outbreak occurs, Rasmussen warns.

Im hopeful that in this case it will be really apparent to everybody in the world that we need to be funding this type of basic science, fundamental science, to understand these mechanisms of disease, she says. Otherwise, were going to be in the same situation when the next outbreak happenswhether its a coronavirus or something else.

Katarina Zimmer is a New Yorkbased freelance journalist. Find her on Twitter@katarinazimmer.

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Why Some COVID-19 Cases Are Worse than Others - The Scientist

Genomic evidence for two phylogenetic species and long-term population bottlenecks in red pandas – Science Advances

Abstract

The red panda (Ailurus fulgens), an endangered Himalaya-endemic mammal, has been classified as two subspecies or even two species the Himalayan red panda (A. fulgens) and the Chinese red panda (Ailurus styani) based on differences in morphology and biogeography. However, this classification has remained controversial largely due to lack of genetic evidence, directly impairing scientific conservation management. Data from 65 whole genomes, 49 Y-chromosomes, and 49 mitochondrial genomes provide the first comprehensive genetic evidence for species divergence in red pandas, demonstrating substantial inter-species genetic divergence for all three markers and correcting species-distribution boundaries. Combined with morphological evidence, these data thus clearly define two phylogenetic species in red pandas. We also demonstrate different demographic trajectories in the two species: A. styani has experienced two population bottlenecks and one large population expansion over time, whereas A. fulgens has experienced three bottlenecks and one very small expansion, resulting in very low genetic diversity, high linkage disequilibrium, and high genetic load.

The delimitation of species, subspecies, and population is fundamental for insights into the biology and evolution of species and effective conservation management. Traditionally, species, subspecies, or population delimitation is based on reproductive isolation, geographic isolation, and/or morphological differences and does not consider the role of gene flow. The misclassification of basal taxa will result in erroneous or misleading conclusions about the species evolutionary history and adaptive mechanisms, and potentially inappropriate conservation management decisions for threatened species (1, 2).

The red panda (Ailurus fulgens), an endangered Himalaya-endemic mammal, was once widely distributed across Eurasia but is now restricted at the southeastern and southern edges of the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau within an altitude range of 2200 to 4800 m (3). On the basis of differences in morphology (e.g., skull morphology, coat color, and tail ring) and geographic distribution (Fig. 1 and table S1), red pandas are classified into two subspecies, the Himalayan subspecies (A. f. fulgens Cuvier, 1825) and the Chinese subspecies (A. f. styani Thomas, 1902) (4, 5). Morphologically, the Chinese subspecies has much larger zygomatic breadth, the greatest skull length, stronger frontal convexity, more distinct tail rings, and redder face coat color with less white on it (Fig. 1) (5, 6). On the basis of these morphological differences, C. Groves even proposed that the two subspecies should be updated as two distinct species: the Himalayan red panda (A. fulgens) and the Chinese red panda (A. styani) (6). The Nujiang River is considered the geographic boundary between the two species (7). The Himalayan red panda is distributed in Nepal, Bhutan, northern India, northern Myanmar, and Tibet and western Yunnan Province of China, while the Chinese red panda inhabits Yunnan and Sichuan provinces of China. The subspecies or species classification has remained controversial largely due to the lack of genetic evidence, and their distribution boundary may also be inaccurate because of the morphological similarity of red pandas on both sides of the Nujiang River (6, 8, 9). For instance, the skull size and morphology of red pandas from southeastern Tibet were more similar to those of the Chinese red panda than the Himalayan red panda (6). Although previous studies attempted to use mitochondrial DNA or microsatellite markers to explore this problem, the very small sample size from the Himalayan red panda and the limited ability of the molecular markers resulted in failure to resolve the species delimitation (1012). Next-generation sequencing technology not only provides whole-genome data but also enables the identification of Y chromosome sequences in nonmodel animals, which were difficult to obtain previously (13, 14). Thus, it is now feasible to use whole genomes, Y chromosomes, and mitochondrial genomes to comprehensively delimit species, subspecies, and populations. Here, with sufficient sampling of the Himalayan red panda, we performed whole-genome resequencing, Y chromosome single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) genotyping, and mitochondrial genome assembly of wild red pandas covering most of the distribution ranges of the two species, aiming to clarify species differentiation, population divergence, demographic history, and the impacts of population bottlenecks on genetic evolutionary potential.

(A and C) The Chinese red panda. (B and D) The Himalayan red panda. (A and B) The face coat color of the Chinese red panda is redder with less white on it than that of the Himalayan red panda. (C and D) The tail rings of the Chinese red panda are more distinct than those of the Himalayan red panda, with the dark rings being more dark red and the pale rings being more whitish. Photo credit: (A) Yunfang Xiu, Straits (Fuzhou) Giant Panda Research and Exchange Center, China; does not require permission. (B) Arjun Thapa, Institute of Zoology, Chinese Academy of Sciences. (C) Yibo Hu, Institute of Zoology, Chinese Academy of Sciences. (D) Chiranjibi Prasad Pokheral, Central Zoo, Jawalkhel, Lalitpur, Nepal; does not require permission.

We performed whole-genome resequencing for 65 wild red pandas, with an average of 98.7% genome coverage and 13.9-fold sequencing depth for each individual based on the red panda reference genome (belonging to the Chinese red panda) of 2.34 Gb (15). Using the SNP-calling strategy of the Genome Analysis Toolkit (GATK), we identified a total of 4,932,036 SNPs for further analysis (table S4). On the basis of the whole-genome SNPs, the phylogenetic tree, principal components analysis (PCA), and ADMIXTURE results revealed substantial genetic divergence between the two species, providing the first genomic evidence of species differentiation (Fig. 2, B to D). The middle Himalaya population (MH) belonging to the Himalayan red panda was first divergent from the populations of the Chinese red panda (Fig. 2, B and D). Furthermore, four distinct genetic populations were identified: MH (n = 18), eastern Himalaya-Gaoligong (EH-GLG, n = 3 and 13, respectively), Xiaoxiangling-Liangshan (XXL-LS, n = 12 and 8, respectively), and Qionglai (QL, n = 10) (Fig. 2, B to D; fig. S1; and table S5). The individual SLL1 is the only sampled red panda from the Saluli Mountains (SLL), and its genetic assignment implied gene flow between the SLL population and its adjacent XXL and GLG populations (Fig. 2C). Because of the very small sample size, SLL1 was excluded in any population-level analyses. Traditionally, MH, EH, and the GLG individuals at the western side of the Nujiang River were classified as the Himalayan red panda, while the GLG individuals at the eastern side of Nujiang River, XXL, LS, and QL belonged to the Chinese red panda (7). Our results did not support the Nujiang River as the species distribution boundary because the EH and part of the GLG population at the western side of the Nujiang River clustered into a genetic population with other GLG individuals at the eastern side (Fig. 2, B to D). This EH-GLG genetic clustering was supported by morphological evidence that the morphology of red panda skulls from southeastern Tibet (namely, the EH population in this study) was more similar to that of the Chinese red panda than the Himalayan red panda (6). In addition, two individuals from Myanmar (GLG5 and GLG6) also clustered within the EH-GLG genetic cluster, suggesting that the Myanmar population belongs to the Chinese red panda. Thus, we infer that the Yalu Zangbu River, the largest geographic barrier to dispersal between the two species, may be the potential boundary for species distribution (Fig. 2A), although additional samples need to be collected from Bhutan and India to verify this inference.

(A) The geographic distribution of wild red panda samples under the background of habitat suitability. Red, QL population; purple, XXL-LS population; blue, SLL population; pink, EH-GLG; dark red, MH. (B) Maximum likelihood phylogenetic tree based on whole-genome SNPs, with the ferret as the outgroup. The values on the tree nodes indicate the bootstrap support of 50%. (C) ADMIXTURE result based on whole-genome SNPs with K = 2 to 7. (D) PCA result based on whole-genome SNPs. (E) Network map based on eight Y chromosome SNP haplotypes. (F) Network map based on 41 mitochondrial genome haplotypes.

Within the Chinese red panda, we further found population genetic differentiation. EH-GLG first diverged with XXL-LS-QL and then QL separated from XXL-LS (Fig. 2, B and C). Notably, we did not detect genetic substructure within EH-GLG spanning the famous Three Parallel Rivers (Nujiang River, Lancangjiang, and Jinshajiang), suggesting that the three large rivers did not hinder the gene flow of red pandas. This result is consistent with data from microsatellite markers (12).

Our Y chromosome SNP and mitochondrial genome results also supported the substantial divergence between the two species (Fig. 2, E and F; figs. S2 and S3; and tables S6 to S8). The haplotype networks and phylogenetic trees of both eight Y chromosome SNP (Y-SNP) haplotypes from 49 male individuals and 41 mitochondrial genome haplotypes from 49 individuals showed that the MH haplotypes (Himalayan red panda) clustered together and separated from the haplotypes of the Chinese red panda, highlighting the notable genetic divergence between the two species. In summary, regardless of the whole-genome SNPs, Y-SNPs, or mitochondrial genomes, notable genetic differentiation was found between the two species. Our comprehensive investigations reveal two evolutionarily significant units in red pandas. Under the phylogenetic species concept (16), it is reasonable to propose two species: the Himalayan red panda (A. fulgens) and the Chinese red panda (A. styani). This phylogenetic species classification was supported by their morphological differences (6).

The Y chromosome SNP and mitochondrial genome results revealed a female-biased gene flow pattern in red pandas (Fig. 2, E and F). Within the Chinese red panda, we observed different phylogeographic patterns between the mitochondrial genome and Y chromosome. The distribution of mitochondrial haplotypes was mixed and was not associated with the geographic sources of the individuals. By contrast, the distribution of Y-SNP haplotypes demonstrated an obvious phylogeographic structure: The haplotypes of EH-GLG were separated from those of XXL-LS-QL, and no shared Y-SNP haplotypes were found. These contrasting phylogeographic patterns reflected a female-mediated historical gene flow, implying female-biased dispersal and male-biased philopatry in red pandas. This dispersal pattern differs from the male-biased dispersal found in most mammals (17) but is similar to that of another bamboo-eating mammal, the giant panda (18, 19).

The pairwise sequentially Markovian coalescent (PSMC) analysis results showed that the demographic history of red panda could be traced back to approximately 3 million years (Ma) ago, and the two red panda species experienced obviously different demographic histories (Fig. 3A). The Chinese red panda from EH-GLG, XXL-LS, and QL experienced similar demographic trajectories: two population bottlenecks and one large population expansion. This species suffered from an obvious population decline approximately 0.8 Ma ago, which coincided with the occurrence of the Naynayxungla Glaciation (0.78 to 0.5 Ma ago). The population decline resulted in the first bottleneck approximately 0.3 Ma ago, mostly likely caused by the Penultimate Glaciation (0.3 to 0.13 Ma ago) (20). After the glaciations, the populations started to expand and reached a climax approximately 50 thousand years (ka) ago. Then, the arrival of the last glaciations again resulted in rapid population decline, and the second bottleneck occurred during the Last Glacial Maximum (~20 ka ago) (20).

(A) PSMC analysis revealed different demographic histories of the two species, with a generation time (g) of 6 years and a mutation rate () of 7.9 109 per site per generation. The time axis is logarithmic transformed. (B) Fastsimcoal2 simulation reconstructed the divergence, admixture, and demographic history of red panda species and populations. The time axis is logarithmic transformed, and the number of migrants per year between two adjacent populations is shown beside each arrow. (C) TreeMix analysis detected significant gene flow from the EH-GLG to XXL-LS populations. s.e., standard error.

The Himalayan red panda from MH underwent a demographic history differing from that of the Chinese red panda: three population bottlenecks and one small expansion (Fig. 3A). The difference began with the first population bottleneck approximately 0.25 Ma ago. In contrast to the subsequent population recovery of the Chinese red panda, the Himalayan red panda continued to decrease and then went through a second bottleneck approximately 90 ka ago. Afterward, the population started to increase very slowly, but soon the population again decreased due to the last glaciations. The PSMC results showed that even at the climax of population growth (~50 ka ago), the effective population size of the Himalayan red panda was only approximately 35% that of the Chinese red panda. In addition, the Bayesian skyline plot (BSP) analyses based on mitochondrial genomes indicated that both species experienced recent population declines most likely caused by the Last Glacial Maximum, supporting the PSMC results (fig. S4). The different demographic trajectories may result from geographic and climate differences. The Chinese red panda was mainly distributed in the Hengduan Mountains rather than the platform or adjacent edges of the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau and thus might have suffered less impact of the Pleistocene glaciations. The interglacial warm climate and the vast region of the Hengduan Mountains might have facilitated the rapid population expansion of the Chinese red panda (3). By contrast, the Himalayan red panda lived in the adjacent southern edge of the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau and might have suffered severe impact of the Pleistocene glaciations. Even during the interglacial period, the geographic proximity to glaciers and limited potential habitat might have restricted this species population recovery (21). In Holocene, the climate might have less impact on red panda populations (21), while increasing human activities became the main factor driving recent red panda population declines, which have been detected by microsatellite marker-based Bayesian population simulations (12).

We further uncovered the species/population divergence history using Fastsimcoal2 simulation. On the basis of the comparison of alternative population divergence models, we determined the best-support divergence/demography model (Fig. 3B, fig. S5, and table S9). The divergence between the Himalayan (MH) and Chinese red pandas (EH-GLG, XXL-LS, and QL) occurred 0.22 Ma ago, coincident with the first population bottleneck of the two species caused by the Penultimate Glaciation. Next, EH-GLG and XXL-LS-QL diverged 0.104 Ma ago. The divergence may have resulted from the widely unsuitable habitat located in the Daxueshan and SLL Mountains (21). Last, XXL-LS and QL diverged 26 ka ago, which was most likely caused by the Last Glacial Maximum. After the population divergence, MH, EH-GLG, and QL suffered from population decline, whereas XXL-LS experienced population growth. Asymmetrical gene flow was detected between adjacent divergent populations (Fig. 3B). After the early divergence between the two species, more gene flow occurred from the Chinese red panda to the Himalayan red panda. Regardless of historical or current gene flow, EH-GLG seemed to be the source population of gene flow with more gene flow into other adjacent populations, among the four genetic populations (Fig. 3B). This implies that EH-GLG might be the historical dispersal source of red pandas. TreeMix analysis also detected significant gene flow from EH-GLG to XXL-LS (Fig. 3C and fig. S6), consistent with the Fastsimcoal2 result.

Whole-genome variation analysis revealed that EH-GLG had the highest genetic diversity ( = 6.994 104, w = 5.271 104), whereas the Himalayan red panda (MH) had the lowest genetic diversity ( = 3.523 104, w = 2.428 104) (Fig. 4A and table S10). Y-SNP and mitochondrial genomic variations also showed that the Himalayan red panda (MH) had the lowest genetic variations (Fig. 4A and table S10). Genome-wide linkage disequilibrium (LD) analysis demonstrated that the Himalayan red panda (MH) had higher level of LD and slower LD decay with a reduced R2 correlation coefficient becoming stable at a distance of approximately 100 kb, whereas the populations of the Chinese red panda exhibited rapid LD decay with a reduced R2 becoming stable at a distance of approximately 40 kb (Fig. 4B). The genomic variations and LD patterns imply different demographic histories of the two species and, in particular, reflect the genetic impacts of long-term population bottlenecks in the Himalayan red panda.

(A) Genetic variations (nucleotide diversity) of different species and populations based on whole-genome SNPs, mitochondrial genomes, and Y chromosome SNPs. (B) LD of the four populations. (C) Ratios of homozygous derived deleterious or LoF variants to homozygous derived synonymous variants for different populations. The horizontal bars denote population means. (D) Distribution of ratios (non-MH/MH) and Z(FST) values. Data points located to the left of the left vertical dashed lines and the right of the right vertical dashed lines (corresponding to the 5% left and right tails of the empirical ratio distribution, respectively) and above the horizontal dashed line [the 5% right tail of the empirical Z(FST) distribution] were identified as selected regions for the MH (the Himalayan red panda, green points) and non-MH (the Chinese red panda, blue points) populations.

We further analyzed the relationship between demographic history and genetic loads carried by different red panda populations, as deleterious variations should be removed more efficiently in larger populations (22, 23). We investigated the distributions of four types of variations [loss of function (LoF), deleterious, tolerated, and synonymous mutations] in protein-coding genes. We found that the ratios of homozygous derived deleterious or LoF variants to homozygous derived synonymous variants were higher in the Himalayan red panda (MH) than in the Chinese red panda; by contrast, the ratios of nonhomozygous derived deleterious or LoF variants to nonhomozygous derived synonymous variants were comparable between the two species (Fig. 4C). This genetic load pattern showed that the Himalayan red panda experiencing long-term population bottlenecks carried more homozygous LoF and deleterious mutations and thus suffers a higher risk of continuing population decline.

Considering that the two red panda species live in different geographic ranges and climate environments and experienced long-term genetic divergence, we mainly focused on the identification of genomic signatures of selection and local adaptation between the two species. Using FST and methods, we identified 146 genes with top 5% maximum FST values and top 5% minimum 1/2 values in the Himalayan red panda (MH) (Fig. 4D and table S11). The functional enrichment found that some genes were enriched in the Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes (KEGG) pathways of vascular smooth muscle contraction (ko04270, P = 1.18 108) and melanogenesis (ko04916, P = 2.36 104) and the gene ontology (GO) term of positive regulation of endothelial cell proliferation (GO:0001938, P = 0.0197) (tables S12 and S13). The selection of these genes might be related with the distinct coat color of the Himalayan red panda and the adaptation to hypoxia and microclimate in high-elevation habitat (6).

In the Chinese red panda (EH-GLG, XXL-LS, and QL), we identified 178 genes under selection (Fig. 4D and table S14), which were partly enriched in the nonhomologous end-joining pathway (ko03450, P = 9.89 103) and the GO terms of regulation of response to DNA damage stimulus (GO:2001020, P = 3.35 103), cellular response to x-ray (GO:0071481, P = 3.69 103), double-strand break repair via nonhomologous end joining (GO:0006303, P = 0.0189), endothelial cell differentiation (GO:0045446, P = 0.0187), and regulation of response to oxidative stress (GO:1902882, P = 0.021) (tables S15 to S16). These selected genes were most likely involved in the adaptation to high ultraviolet radiation and hypoxia and microclimate in the Hengduan Mountains where the Chinese red panda mainly lives. Considering the recent divergence (0.22 Ma ago) between the Himalayan and Chinese red pandas, the ancestor of the two species should have adapted to a high-elevation environment before divergence because the latest and most significant uplift of the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau have occurred 1.1 to 0.6 Ma ago and caused the altitude to increase up to 3000 m (24). Finding their common genetic mechanisms for high-elevation adaptation proved to be difficult based on our comparison of population genome data. The above functional enrichment results more likely reflected the adaptation of both red pandas to the local microclimate and habitat environment. Recent study showed that the two red panda species have separate climatic spaces dominated by precipitation-associated variables in the Himalayan red panda and by temperature-associated variables in the Chinese red panda (21).

Our analyses of whole genomes, Y chromosomes, and mitochondrial genomes revealed substantial genetic differentiation between the Himalayan and Chinese red pandas and provide the most comprehensive genetic evidence of species delimitation. When combined with previously identified morphological differences (6), the classification of two phylogenetic species is well defined. Our genomic evidence rejected the previous viewpoint of the Nujiang River as the species distribution boundary and revealed that the red pandas living in southeastern Tibet and northern Myanmar belong to the Chinese red panda, while the red pandas inhabiting southern Tibet belong to the Himalayan red panda together with the Nepalese individuals. We infer that the Yalu Zangbu River is most likely the geographic boundary for species distribution because this river is the largest geographic barrier between the two species. However, further verification with samples from Bhutan and India is needed. The delimitation of two red panda species has crucial implications for their conservation, and effective species-specific conservation plans could be formulated to protect the declining red panda populations (25). For a long time, the unclear status of species classification and distribution boundary hindered the scientific design of conservation measures. Because of the wrong distribution boundary, the EH-GLG population was split to belong to two species, which could result in inappropriate conservation measures for EH-GLG population and possibly detrimental interbreeding between the two species in captivity. Within the Chinese red panda, our results revealed three genetic populations: EH-GLG, XXL-LS, and QL, suggesting three management units for scientific conservation. In particular, the EH-GLG population spans southeastern Tibet and northwestern Yunnan of China, northern Myanmar, and northeastern India, which needs transboundary international cooperation for effective conservation. The QL population has the lowest genomic diversity and thus needs more attention to the conservation of its genetic evolutionary potential.

Our findings uncover the genetic impacts of long-term population bottlenecks in the Himalayan red panda, thus providing critical insights into the genetic status and evolutionary history of this poorly understood species. The long-term population bottleneck severely impaired its genetic evolutionary potential, resulting in the lowest genetic diversity but higher genetic load. The Himalayan red panda was estimated to have a small population size (26), and thus maintaining and increasing this species population size and genetic diversity are critical for their long-term persistence. In particular, the Himalayan red panda population spans southern Tibet of China, Nepal, India, and Bhutan, which needs urgent transboundary international cooperation to protect this decreasing species.

Our findings reveal that in addition to Pleistocene glaciations and recent human activity, female-biased gene flow has played an important role in shaping the demographic trajectories and genetic structure of red pandas. As a Himalaya-endemic species, our findings will also help understand the phylogeographic patterns of fauna distributed in the Himalaya-Hengduan Mountains biodiversity hotspot.

We collected blood, muscle, and skin samples of 65 wild red pandas from seven main geographic populations for whole-genome resequencing. Of the 65 individuals, 18 individuals were from the middle Himalayan Mountains (MH), 3 from the eastern Himalayan Mountains (EH), 13 from the Gaoligong Mountains (GLG), 1 from the Saluli Mountains (SLL), 12 from the Xiaoxiangling Mountains (XXL), 8 from the Liangshan Mountains (LS), and 10 from the Qionglai Mountains (QL) (Fig. 2A and table S2). For Y chromosome SNP genotyping, we first used red pandaspecific sex determination primers (27) to identify the sexes of the available wild samples. As a result, 49 wild male red pandas were used, including 13 from the MH population, 2 from EH, 10 from GLG, 8 from XXL, 5 from LS, and 11 from QL (table S2). For mitochondrial genome assembly, we successfully assembled 49 complete mitochondrial genomes from the whole-genome resequencing data for 49 of 65 wild red pandas, including 13 from MH, 2 from EH, 9 from GLG, 12 from XXL, 4 from LS, and 9 from QL (table S2).

We extracted genomic DNA from blood, muscle, and skin samples using the QIAGEN DNeasy Blood & Tissue Kit. Then, we constructed genomic libraries of insert size 200 to 500 base pairs and performed genome resequencing of the average 10 for each individual using the Illumina HiSeq 2000 and X Ten sequencing platforms (table S3). To identify population-level SNPs, the Illumina sequencing reads were aligned to the red panda reference genome (15) with Burrows-Wheeler Alignment (BWA) tool v0.7.8 (28), and polymerase chain reaction (PCR) duplicates were removed by SAMtools v0.1.19 (29). The UnifiedGenotyper method in GATK v3.1-1-g07a4bf8 software (30) was used for SNP calling with default parameters across the 65 individuals. To obtain reliable SNP, we performed a filtering step with the following set of parameters: depth 4, MQ 40, FS 60, QD 4, maf 0.05, and miss 0.2.

Previously, we de novo sequenced a wild male red panda genome (15), which enabled us to develop Y chromosome SNPs. Using a genome synteny searching strategy and the female dog genome (boxer breed) and the dog male-specific Y chromosome sequences (Doberman breed) as the reference, Fan et al. recently identified a set of nine male-specific Y chromosome scaffolds with a total length of 964 kb from the male red panda genome assembly (table S5) (31). Using the 964-kb male-specific Y chromosome scaffolds as the reference, we aligned the whole-genome resequencing reads of 18 male red pandas to the reference genome using BWA and then performed SNP calling using SAMtools and GATK. As a result, a total of 63 Y-SNPs were identified. Furthermore, we screened 22 Y-SNPs with confirmed polymorphism and good PCR/sequencing performance. Then, we genotyped these Y-SNPs for a total of 49 male red pandas. With the genotyping of more individuals, we found five additional Y-SNPs. As a whole, the dataset of 49 male red pandas with 27 Y-SNPs was used for subsequent paternal population genetics analysis (tables S2, S6, and S7).

We used the Assembly by Reduced Complexity method (32) to assemble mitochondrial genome with the published red panda mitochondrial genome as a reference (33) (GenBank accession: AM711897). First, the sequencing reads of each of the 65 red pandas were mapped onto the mitochondrial genome reference. Second, the mitochondrial genome reference was classified into multiple bins, and the alignment results were used to distribute reads into specific bins. Third, assembly was performed for each bin to produce contigs. Last, the initial reference was replaced with assembled contigs, and the above processes were iterated until stopping criteria have been met (32). The mitochondrial genome sequence used lastly excluded the highly repetitive sequences within the D-loop region.

We conducted PCA for whole-genome SNPs using the program GCTA v1.24.2 (34). A maximum likelihood phylogenetic tree was constructed by RAxML software (35) with the GTRGAMMA model and 100 bootstraps, and the ascertainment bias correction was performed to correct for the impact of invariable sites in the data. Ferret was used as the outgroup (36). Population genetic structure was inferred by ADMIXTURE v1.23 software (37) with default settings. We did not assume any prior information about the genetic structure and predefined the number of genetic clusters (K) from two to seven. We used POPART v1.7 (38) to construct a median-joining network for the Y-SNP haplotypes and mitochondrial genome haplotypes. We constructed the phylogenetic tree based on mitochondrial genomes of 15,238 bp (excluding the D-loop region) using BEAST v1.8.2 (39) with ferret as the outgroup. The best substitution model of GTR + I was selected on the basis of the Bayesian Information Criterion by ModelGenerator v0.85 (40). A strict clock rate was selected on the basis of the assessment of coefficient of variation. A total of 8 108 iterations were implemented with 10% burn-ins. The BEAST running results were assessed by Tracer v1.5 and were annotated by TreeAnnotator v1.10. We constructed the phylogenetic tree based on Y-SNPs data using the maximum likelihood method implemented in RAxML (35), with the ascertainment bias correction and ferret as the outgroup.

To reconstruct the detailed demographic history of each red panda population, we applied the simulation PSMC v0.6.4-r49 (41) to the whole diploid genome sequences, with the following set of parameters: -N 30 t 15 r 5 -p 4 + 25*2 + 4 + 6. We excluded sex-chromosome sequences of the red panda genome by aligning the red panda genome with the dog genome. We selected two to three high-depth sequenced individuals from each population for PSMC analysis (table S3). We estimated the nucleotide mutation rate of red panda using ferret as the comparison species and the following formula: = D g/2T, where D is the observed frequency of pairwise differences between two species, T is the estimated divergence time, and g is the estimated generation time for the two species (42). In this study, the generation time (g) was set to 6 years (26), the estimated divergence time was set to 39.9 Ma ago (15), and D was estimated to be 0.10558. On the basis of the above formula and the corresponding values, a mutation rate of 7.9 109 mutations per site per generation was estimated for the red panda. In addition, we performed BSP analyses based on mitochondrial genomes of 15,994 bp for two species separately, using BEAST v1.8.2. The best substitution model of HKY + I was selected by ModelGenerator v0.85. A strict clock rate was selected with a nucleotide substitution rate (43) of 1.9 108. A total of 8 108 iterations were implemented with 10% burn-ins. The BEAST running results were assessed, and the BSP plots were produced by Tracer v1.5.

We used the flexible and robust simulation-based composite-likelihood approach implemented in Fastsimcoal2 v2.5.2.21 (44) to infer species/population divergence and demographic history with the following parameters: -n 100000 -N 100000 -d -M 0.001 -l 10 -L 40 -q --multiSFS -C10 -c8. Because of the memory limit of Fastsimcoal2 running, we selected 55 individuals among 65 red pandas for simulation analysis (table S2). Four alternative population divergence and demographic models were explored. For each model, we ran the program 50 times with varying starting points to ensure convergence and retained the fitting with the highest likelihood. The best model was selected through the maximum value of the likelihoods. Parametric bootstrap estimates were obtained on the basis of 100 simulated data sets (table S9). In addition, we performed population-level admixture analysis for detecting gene flow among genetic populations using the TreeMix method (45) with the following running parameters: treemix bootstrap k 1000 se noss m 1~5.

For whole-genome data, the nucleotide diversity () (46) and Wattersons estimator (w) (47) of each genetic population were calculated using VariScan v2.0.3 (48). A sliding window approach was used with a 50-kb window sliding in 10-kb steps. We estimated the genetic diversity for the mitochondrial genome data of 15,994 bp and Y-SNPs data using DNASP v5.10.01 (49). To assess the LD pattern in red pandas, the correlation coefficient (R2) between any two loci in each genetic population was calculated using vcftools v0.1.14 (50). Parameters were set as follows: --ld window -bp 500000 geno -r2. Average R2 values were calculated for pairwise markers with the same distance.

We used ANNOVAR (51) to annotate and classify the effects of SNP variants on protein-coding gene sequences. Then, the coding sequence variants were classified as LoF, missense, and synonymous variants. LoF variant denoted variants with gain of a stop codon. The missense variants were further categorized as deleterious and tolerated missense mutations by SIFT 4G (52). We determined the ancestral allele at each SNP position through comparison with the ferret genome (36). To detect the genetic load of each red panda population, for each individual, we counted the relative proportions of homozygous ancestral, heterozygous, and homozygous derived alleles for LoF, deleterious, tolerated, and synonymous variants, respectively. Furthermore, we calculated the ratio of homozygous derived LoF variants (or deleterious variants) to homozygous derived synonymous variants and the ratio of nonhomozygous derived LoF variants (or deleterious variants) to nonhomozygous derived synonymous variants for each individual.

In general, positive selection gives rise to lower genetic diversity within populations and higher genetic differentiation between populations (53). The genetic differentiation index FST (54) and the average proportion of pairwise mismatches over all compared sequences (55) have been widely used to detect selection (53). To detect selection signals possibly associated with local adaptation, we used a sliding-window method (50-kb windows with 25-kb increments) to calculate the genome-wide distribution of FST values and ratios for the two species, implemented in vcftools v0.1.14. We applied z transformation for FST values and log2 transformation for ratios and considered the windows with the top 5% Z(FST) and log2( ratio) values simultaneously as the candidate outliers under strong selection. All outlier windows were assigned to corresponding SNPs and genes. We used the GeneTrail2 method (56) to perform KEGG pathway and GO term enrichment analyses for selected genes located in specific regions. Each significantly enriched category included at least two genes, and the hypergeometric test was used to estimate significance (P < 0.05).

Supplementary material for this article is available at http://advances.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/6/9/eaax5751/DC1

Fig. S1. PCA plot of red panda whole-genome SNPs data, with PC1, PC2, and PC3 explaining 28.5, 4.1, and 3.6% of the observed variations, respectively.

Fig. S2. Phylogenetic tree based on 41 mitochondrial genome haplotypes, showing two significant species lineages (A. fulgens and A. styani).

Fig. S3. Phylogenetic tree based on eight Y chromosome SNPs haplotypes, showing two significant species lineages (A. fulgens and A. styani).

Fig. S4. Bayesian skyline plot (BSP) analysis results based on mitochondrial genomes.

Fig. S5. Four alternative population divergence models for Fastsimcoal2 simulations, with the maximum estimated likelihood values shown.

Fig. S6. Residual fit from the maximum likelihood tree estimated by TreeMix.

Table S1. Summary of the morphological differences between the Himalayan and Chinese red pandas.

Table S2. Sample information for whole-genome resequencing, Y chromosome SNP genotyping, mitochondrial genome assembly, and Fastsimcoal2 analysis.

Table S3. Summary of whole-genome resequencing data for 65 red panda individuals that include the individuals for PSMC analysis.

Table S4. Summary of SNP calling based on 65 red panda individuals.

Table S5. Cross-validation error result for varying values of K in the ADMIXTURE analysis.

Table S6. PCR primer information for validating the six male-specific Y-scaffolds of red pandas.

Table S7. PCR primer information for amplifying the SNPs on the male-specific Y-scaffolds.

Table S8. Eight Y-SNP haplotypes identified from 27 Y-SNPs of 49 male red panda individuals.

Table S9. Confidence intervals of key parameters for the best population divergence and demographic model estimated by Fastsimcoal2.

Table S10. Genetic diversity of whole genome, Y chromosome, and mitochondrial genome for different species and populations of red pandas.

Table S11. The 146 genes under selection with top 5% maximum FST values and top 5% minimum 1/2 values in the Himalayan red panda (MH).

Table S12. Significantly enriched KEGG pathways for the 146 genes under selection in the Himalayan red panda (MH).

Table S13. Significantly enriched GO terms of biological processes for the 146 genes under selection in the Himalayan red panda (MH).

Table S14. The 178 genes under selection with top 5% maximum FST values and top 5% minimum 1/2 values in the Chinese red panda (EH-GLG, XXL-LS, and QL).

Table S15. Significantly enriched KEGG pathways for the 178 genes under selection in the Chinese red panda (EH-GLG, XXL-LS, and QL).

Table S16. Significantly enriched GO terms of biological processes for the 178 genes under selection in the Chinese red panda (EH-GLG, XXL-LS, and QL).

This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial license, which permits use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, so long as the resultant use is not for commercial advantage and provided the original work is properly cited.

R. I. Pocock, The fauna of british india including ceylon and burma, in Mammalia, Volume II (Taylor and Francis, 1941).

C. Groves, in Red Panda: Biology and Conservation of the First Panda, A. R. Glatston, Ed. (Academic Press, 2011), pp. 101124.

Y. Gao, Fauna Sinica, Mammalia, Vol. 8: Carnivora (Science Press, 1987).

A. R. Glatston, Status Survey and Conservation Action Plan for Procyonids and Ailurids: The Red Panda, Olingos, Coatis, Raccoons, and their Relatives (IUCN, 1994).

Y. Shi, J. Li, B. Li, Uplift and Environmental Changes of Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau in the Late Cenozoic (Science and Technology Press, 1998).

A. Glatston, F. Wei, Than, Zaw, Sherpa, A. Ailurus fulgens. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2015: e.T714A45195924 (2015).

T. M. Keane, T. J. Naughton, J. O. McInerney, Modelgenerator: Amino Acid and Nucleotide Substitution Model Selection (National University of Ireland, 2004).

M. Nei, Molecular Evolutionary Genetics (Columbia Univ. Press, 1987).

Continued here:
Genomic evidence for two phylogenetic species and long-term population bottlenecks in red pandas - Science Advances

46,000-year-old bird, frozen in Siberian permafrost, looks like it ‘died a few days ago’ – Livescience.com

For the last 46,000 years, a small bird that died during the last ice age has sat frozen, shielded from decay and scavengers, until two Russian men hunting for fossil mammoth tusks discovered its body in Siberian permafrost.

The bird was in such good shape, it looked "like it [had] died just a few days ago," said Love Daln, a professor of evolutionary genetics at the Centre for Palaeogenetics in Stockholm, who was with the ivory hunters, Boris Berezhnov and Spartak Khabrov, when they discovered the bird.

"[The bird] is in pristine condition," Daln told Live Science in an email. The find is extraordinary because "small animals like this would normally disintegrate very quickly after death, due to scavengers and microbial activity."

Related: Photos: Is ice age cat mummy a lion or a lynx?

The frozen flier is one-of-a-kind find, too: It's the only near-intact bird carcass documented from the last ice age, Daln added.

When the fossil hunters first uncovered the bird in September 2018, Daln and his colleagues had no idea of the mystery bird's age or species. So, Daln "collected a couple of feathers and a small piece of tissue for radiocarbon dating and DNA sequencing," he said.

He brought the ice age samples to his lab, where postdoctoral researcher Nicolas Dussex, the lead author of a new study on the bird, analyzed the remains.

Radiocarbon dating revealed that the bird lived during the same time as other ice age beasts, including mammoths, horses, woolly rhinos, bison and lynx.

To discover the bird's species, the researchers sequenced its mitochondrial DNA, genetic data that is passed down through the maternal line. Although the bird's mitochondrial DNA was fragmentary there were "many millions of short DNA sequences," Daln said, a common occurrence in ancient specimens the team was able to piece together these short sequences with the help of a computer program.

Then, the scientists took the finished mitochondrial DNA puzzle and searched for a match in an online database that has the genetic sequences of nearly every bird alive today. The results revealed that the ice age bird was a female horned lark (Eremophila alpestris).

This discovery sheds light on the transformation of the so-called mammoth steppe. When this bird was alive, the land was a mix of steppe (unforested grassland) and tundra (treeless, frozen ground), according to pollen records from 50,000 to 30,000 years ago.

When the last ice age ended about 11,700 years ago, the mammoth steppe transitioned into the three main Eurasian environments that exist today: the northern tundra, the taiga (a coniferous forest) in the middle, and the steppe in the south, said Daln, the senior researcher on the new study.

Nowadays, there are two subspecies of horned lark: "one living on the tundra in the far north of Eurasia and the other in the steppe in the south, in Mongolia and its neighboring countries," Daln said.

It appears that the newly discovered bird is an "ancestor of two different subspecies of horned lark," he said. As the environment changed, however, the horned lark diverged into the two evolutionary lineages that exist today, Daln said.

"So all in all, this study provides an example on how climate change at the end of the last ice age could have led to the formation of new subspecies," he said.

The study was published online Feb. 21 in the journal Communications Biology.

Originally published on Live Science.

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46,000-year-old bird, frozen in Siberian permafrost, looks like it 'died a few days ago' - Livescience.com

Why Boys Are Failing – Catholic Citizens of Illinois

By Anthony Esolen, Crisis, February 24, 2020

When he was 13 years old, a mere boy was effectively the American ambassador to Russia, in Saint Petersburg. This was because the lad was fluent in French while his nominal superior, the ambassador himself, was not. The boy had already, at his fathers instruction, translated works of Plutarch from Greek and poems by Horace from Latin. His name was John Quincy Adams.

When Gian Carlo Menotti was 11 years old, he wrote his first opera, both the libretto and the music: The Death of Pierrot. You may know him for his popular opera Amahl and the Night Visitors. His first formal training in music came when he entered the Milan Conservatory, at age 12.

When he was 14 years old, Srinivasa Ramanujan discovered the general solution to quadratic equations (those of the form ax^4 + bx^3 + cx^2 + dx + e = 0), which had evaded mankind until 1540. Without formal instruction, the boy had already mastered college level mathematics. In this respect, as in his deeply religious sensibility, he was like Pascalwho, according to his sister, played with conic sections when he was a small child.

When he was 15 years old, a very bright Jewish boy living in New York City left school to work for his familys jewelry company. He worked hard and became a vice president, but his real love was poetry. Eventually he left the company and went to Europe to study for three years on his own. His name was Louis Untermeyer, and he was for several generations the single man most responsible for bringing poetry to American schoolchildren.

We have undertaken a great experiment unknown to any society until a hundred years ago. It is the education of boys en masse by women, always indoors and in the company of girls. I think we can say, with reservations, that the experiment has failed.

When he was 13 years old, Thomas Edison, who had hardly ever gone to school but was taught mainly by his mother and through his own reading, was earning fifty dollars a week selling newspapers and candy on the railroad trains in and out of Detroit. He used the profits to buy scientific equipment. He was well on his way to becoming the Wizard of Menlo Park.

When he was four years old, Liberace began to play the piano. At eight, he met the great Paderewski, whose techniques he had been studying assiduously. The two became friends ever after. The boy was his familys main financial support during the Great Depression.

We might multiply examples forever, of boys doing things that astonished their elders: Mozart, Michelangelo, Bach, Haydn, Capablanca, Morphy, and Newton. And shall we forget Our Lord at age 12, spending a couple of days all by Himself in the Temple, engaging the rabbis in debate and stunning them with His questions and answers?

Where are these boys now?

I draw a conclusion that never occurred to me when I was younger. We have undertaken a great experiment unknown to any society until a hundred years ago. It is the education of boys en masse by women, always indoors and in the company of girls. I think we can say, with reservations, that the experiment has failed.

Im not saying that no woman can teach boys, because that is obviously not true. Many a woman can do so very well. There are women who simply like boys and their ways, and who take no perverse delight in trying to force-feed them a feminine etiquette. Such women may prefer to teach Treasure Island to boys than to teach Anne of Green Gables to girls. They will know better than to expect boys to catch fire from stories of gossip and social climbing, however finely written. My observation is of a general truth, not a universal one.

I understand, too, that there is much blame to go around. If in other respects boys had a healthy world to grow up in, their often uninspiring experiences in the schoolroom would not harm them so muchif they all had a father in the home, for instancebut millions do not. If they spent most of their waking hours outdoors, exploring, hunting, fishing, and playingbut school, television, and computers have seen to that. If they were learning to plow the earth, cut down trees, dig wells, or lay pipes alongside older brothers and unclesbut wheres the opportunity, even supposing that the law would permit them to help? If they knew that excellence or competence were necessary for a good young lady to give them a second glancebut porn is a flick of the finger away.

For a long time, a still healthy world mitigated the effects of the experiment and masked the results. No longer. Nor will any demographic objections apply. We are comparing apples with apples. The boys come from the same homes as their sisters, the same schools, and the same social environment. Since the standard deviation for intelligence distribution among males is wider than among females, causing a flatter curve, with males dominating at both the high and the low end, we should expect somewhat more boys to enroll in college, not fewer. But we are not getting anything close to that. It is a terrible waste of mind and talent and energy, and it bodes ill for marriage. Feminists refute themselves performatively when they decline to marry men who are less competent than they are.

If we were talking about any other demographic group so obviously ill-served and so colossally underachieving, with neither poverty nor genetics nor social situation to plead even a specious excuse, there would be a national outcry. There is no such outcry, and this suggests a few things.

If we were talking about any other demographic group so obviously ill-served and so colossally underachieving, with neither poverty nor genetics nor social situation to plead even a specious excuse, there would be a national outcry. There is no such outcry, and this suggests a few things.

One is that nobody cares. If you hire a man to teach English in your school, and the girls languish because they cant stand his manners or the things he chooses to teach, you let that man go; its his fault. If you hire a woman for the same job in the same place, and the boys languish because they cant stand her manners or the things she chooses to teach, she keeps her job as long as she wants; its their fault. Again, I am speaking generally. If some individual boy or girl fails in your class, that may not be your fault. But if a whole group fails, you are not the person for that job.

Our carelessness implies, strangely enough, that we take patriarchy for granted. We speak and act as if boys must assume the entire responsibility for their failures. They are not granted the luxury of expressing anger or frustration. Crocodila feminista may shed big tears about how unfair it is to boys to tell them they must restrain or deny their hurt feelingsrestraint that is in the emotional realm analogous to the restraint they must exercise in the physical realm, restraint without which a lot of weaker people would be hobbling around with black eyes. The same women shed no tears when they imply that boys must like Beloved or lump it. Rather, they seem content to have the boys check out in sullen silence, so they do not have to deal with them and their needs. They are like female pastors of Protestant congregations who, far from being ambitious to lead men in spiritual warfare, are relieved when men do not show up; a few older fellows to tend the roof, the boiler, and the driveway are all they need.

But what if we want the boys to fail? Not, of course, that this boy should fail, a motive that would be outright wicked. I mean that theres something about how we live that fears the fearless man, the far-sighted man, the man for whom all the contemporary pieties are straw. To rob the house, you must bind the strong man first. Strong men and strong women make for strong familiesfor truly strong men and women honor strength in the other sexand strong families can resist and threaten our overlords in politics, education, entertainment, and industry. The conformists of our time are all revolutionary in the same stale, dispirited way, ruining good, old things and then turning to structures of the masses to make up for it. For those in the middle classes and above, the result has been a life of cushioned mediocrityone comfortable with the largely hidden hierarchies that keep man small and tidy, and fearful of the too near and personal hierarchies that can make man fit to participate in greatness.

However that may be, the facts speak for themselves. The experiment has failed. It is time for men to resume the responsibility to educate their sons.

This article first appeared HERE.

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Why Boys Are Failing - Catholic Citizens of Illinois

The female pace race: who will be the fastest of them all? – Brisbane Times

So, what are the ingredients behind a female quick?

Genetics clearly play a part. As Perry and Australian team fast-bowling coach Ben Sawyer both acknowledge, young gun Vlaeminck - sadly ruled out of the tournament this week with a foot injury - is unusually flexible, which Sawyer says is one of the reasons the Victorian has regularly been struck down with injury. But they also point out that Vlaeminck bowls with serious intent to reach great speeds, and runs in faster than any of her teammates.

Sawyer and former Australian head coach Fitzpatrick - who remains a coach in the Victorian pathway system - say that attitudes towards fast bowling in womens cricket have changed. Whereas in the past control and accuracy have been prioritised, pace is now king, in part to keep up with the improvement across the board in batting.

You never tell a spinner to stop spinning it," Fitzpatrick said.

Express speed: Australia's Tayla Vlaeminck.Credit:AAP

A lot of the times we try to slow kids down because theyre not consistent, and thats the absolute opposite of what we want to do. Its a lot easier to coach control than it is to coach speed."

Sawyer agrees. The simplest way to put it is we just want to encourage it. I think for too long in the womens game, we spoke about accuracy and you could really tie down a batter with a slow/medium-pace bowler and to some extent that still works, he said.

But I think we want to get way past that, encouraging the girls just to bowl as quickly as they can and be happy when they make mistakes doing that, but knowing thats pushing the game forward.

Perry says the move to full-time professionalism for female cricketers is helping ensure players reach their pace potential.

I think its certainly evolving and I think in the coming years therell certainly be an emphasis on pace, pure pace, becoming a bigger factor in the game, Perry said.

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The game wasnt professional a few years ago, so you only had a limited time to work with players.

While reverse swing is hard to generate given how little red-ball cricket female cricketers play, and the fact a ball is used from either end in one-day internationals meaning a ball never gets more than 25 overs old, Perry and Sawyer were adamant that variations and conventional swing played a crucial role.

Now I think the more consistent you are in the womens game actually works against you because batters have adapted, Perry said.

While Perry noted that people tended to associate variations with changes in pace, she suggested that there was much more to it than that, with wrist position and crease angles playing a part.

So, how fast could a woman conceivably bowl?

English academic Paul Felton is a biomechanics lecturer at Nottingham Trent University who has worked with the England and Wales Cricket Board for the best part of a decade.

He says that while women will inevitably be restricted compared to men by height, strength and slower run-ups, there should still be scope for improvement.

The knowledge around female cricket compared to male cricket is a lot more unknown, Felton said.

New Zealand quick Lea Tahuhu in action for the Renegades during the WBBL.Credit:Getty Images

There was a review paper published in 2018 by Catherine Munro and Candice Christie from Rhodes University in South Africa which highlighted only nine scientific articles featuring female cricketers had ever been published and five of these were looking at injuries. While this is improving, the number may have doubled in the last 18 months, it is going to take a while to catch up.

Much of the research in cricket has been conducted on male cricketers due to the larger population worldwide compared to females. The relevance of the results to females is often ignored and recommendations coached uniformly. Recent research, in particular in fast bowling, suggests that this approach might be wrong due to the differences between males and females from a physiological viewpoint.

Our research suggests that the optimal bowling technique in females is currently limited by strength and flexibility. I suspect that 128 kph will be surpassed since as the professionalisation of the female game continues to see strength and conditioning levels increase but by how far is difficult to predict.

For the moment, the likes of Ismail and Tahuhu hold sway.

But as Tahuhu told The Age during an interview in November, Vlaeminck - when fit - is the one to watch.

I think I might still have her at the moment. But shell continue to hunt me down and no doubt shell overtake me at some stage, Tahuhu said.

Daniel is an Age sports reporter

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The female pace race: who will be the fastest of them all? - Brisbane Times

The Harvard Club hosts the 2020 Bostons Most Influential Women Gala – The Boston Globe

The Harvard Club of Boston honored seven women at its 2020 Bostons Most Influential Women Gala on Feb. 12, selecting each of the powerhouse recipients for outstanding achievement, influence, and leadership in their field.

The gala honored Drew Faust, president emerita and Arthur Kingsley Porter University Professor at Harvard; Annapurna Poduri, director of the epilepsy genetics program and Poduri Lab at Boston Childrens Hospital and associate professor of neurology at Harvard Medical School; Laurie H. Glimcher, president and CEO of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, director of Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center, and Richard and Susan Smith Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School; Elizabeth L. Hailer, executive director of The Commonwealth Institute, a non-profit that promotes the advancement of female business leaders; Geri Denterlein, founder and CEO of public relations firm Denterlein; and Katey Stone, head coach of the Harvard womens ice hockey team.

In addition, the Harvard Club honored Sheena Collier with the Rising Star Award. Collier is the founder and CEO of The Collier Connection, which focuses on networking and resource building with the citys Black community. In addition, Collier works as a senior economic opportunity adviser for the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce.

The gala also featured a musical guest, 17-year-old Lynn native Amanda Mena, who performed on Americas Got Talent in 2018.

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The Harvard Club hosts the 2020 Bostons Most Influential Women Gala - The Boston Globe

Renowned scientist remembered for his way with people and animals – Northern Virginia Daily

David E. Wildts contributions to global conservation efforts will be felt for generations, his colleagues said in the wake of his passing.

Wildt, who died from cancer on Jan. 15 at the age of 69, was director of the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institutes Center for Species Survival in Front Royal before retiring in December 2018.

He was not only a brilliant man and a diplomat, he was one of those special people who makes other people feel special, said Kelley Snodgrass, executive director of the Fossil Rim Wildlife Center in Texas.

Heck of a guy, Snodgrass said of Wildt in a Thursday phone interview. He could go from speaking about single nucleotide polymorphisms to tractors and his favorite chainsaw.

Wildts ability to get results from a diverse group of people is one of the things Snodgrass said hell remember most about his colleague.

Those are rare qualities that are so desperately needed, said Snodgrass. He was kind of the complete package.

Wildt was a seminal leader in conservation biology, [and] his prolific breakthroughs in reproductive biology and population genetics benefitted wildlife enormously, the Smithsonian wrote in a news release published at its website, nationalzoo.si.edu/conservation.

Wildt established genome resource banks and developed ground-breaking assisted reproductive technologies for giant pandas to name just one of more than 50 endangered species, the Smithsonian release states. His scientific legacy includes more than 300 scientific papers and mentorship and training of hundreds of graduate and post-doctoral students, and colleagues around the world.

One of his most groundbreaking discoveries happened when he realized that the survival plan for one species could not automatically be applied to another species, said his wife Dr. Susie Ellis, executive director of the International Rhino Foundation, which is based in Strasburg.

[H]e started out with using domestic animals as a model for wildlife, Ellis said.

However, he realized that scientists need to work within the parameters of each species needs when they develop research protocols.

Every single animal is completely different, she said. That was a huge breakthrough for him.

Another of his proudest accomplishments was his work with black-footed ferrets, which have been endangered for more than 30 years.

Only 17 of the animals remained in the wild when Wildt started working with them, she said. His team worked diligently to create artificial insemination methods, and now, she said, there are a couple thousand.

Wildt is survived by a daughter, Chelsea Taft; her husband, Beau; grandsons Noah and Jackson; stepsons, Zachary Joseph (wife Cassie), and Maxwell Joseph (wife Stephanie); and granddaughter, Everett; as well as numerous students, the Smithsonian release states.

He also is survived by his mother Louise Wildt; brother, Alan Wildt (wife Margaret) of Virginia, Illinois, and their three children.

Wildt and Ellis are canine parents to Ivy La Fleur (IVF), a female from the first litter of dogs birthed in 2015 via in vitro fertilization, the release states. Wildts SCBI team partnered with researchers at Cornell University to successfully use in-vitro fertilization (IVF) to produce live, healthy domestic puppies from cryopreserved (frozen) embryos.

For all of his professional accomplishments and successes in helping save wildlife, those closest to him remember him as a giving friend, colleague and teacher.

He was a down-home person, a brilliant scientist, Ellis said. He always had time for his students. I think thats his true legacy.

Wildts love for animals began in his childhood growing up on a rural farm in Illinois, his wife said.

His first trip to Africa really resonated with him, Ellis said. He realized then that he wanted to work with wildlife.

Wildt worked with wildlife at various zoos, in particular Omahas Henry Doorly Zoo and the Gladys Porter Zoo in Brownsville, Texas.

He did a lot of work to get to where he was, Ellis said.

In 2017, Wildt received the Smithsonian Institutions Distinguished Scholar Award in the Sciences. He received scientific achievement awards from Illinois State University, the American Association of Zoo Veterinarians and the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.

His early pioneering work with cheetahs led to the creation of the New Opportunities in Animal Health Sciences (NOAHS Center) in 1988, the release states, fostering interdisciplinary collaboration among the National Zoo, the National Institutes of Health and the National Cancer Institute to promote the health, genetic diversity and reproduction of endangered species in zoo and wild populations.

In 2005, he was one of the founding visionaries to establish the Conservation Centers for Species Survival, now based in Texas, the release states. This unique consortium was born out of an urgent need for science-driven programs and greater collaboration between facilities managing critically endangered species and private landowners.

Theres no one that comes even close to the impact that he has, said Dr. Nucharin Songsasen, acting head of the Center for Species Survival.

Calling him a pioneer in his field of population sustainability studying big herd concepts and genome population management she said the field benefited from his training of the next generation of wildlife scientists.

Thats a huge impact, she said. I just cant imagine anyone who would measure at that level.

Being a woman in a traditionally man-driven field, she said she has appreciated Wildts encouragement and leadership.

A lot of labs and offices have a culture that excludes women, she said, but Wildt wasnt like that.

I think the one thing that I really appreciate is he [was] a very good boss, Songsasen said. I would not trade him for any other boss.

Because he led by example, she said shes adopted his leadership habits in how she responds to students training under her in particular, returning emails and following up on conversations.

He set an example for all of us, she said. Its a good example that we should all follow.

The Smithsonian has set up a fund to honor Wildts work. Donations made in his memory will support his legacy and passion for educating students by bringing renowned science leaders and eminent researchers to SCBI to inspire the next generation of conservation leaders.

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Renowned scientist remembered for his way with people and animals - Northern Virginia Daily

Power Moves: Bobbie Knight taking helm at Miles College is the latest in a lifetime of leadership – Yellowhammer News

Becoming president ofMiles College the first female chief executive in the schools 122-year history wasnt part of Bobbie Knights retirement plan.

After 37 years with Alabama Power, where she held several leadership positions, including vice president of Public Relations and vice president of the companys Birmingham Division, Knight wasnt in the market for a new, full-time job.

Indeed, Knight had plenty going on even after her 2016 retirement from the power company.

In 2017, she was elected to Miles board of trustees and co-chaired newly elected Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfins transition team. Then, in 2018, she was appointed to the Birmingham Airport Authority, where her colleagues immediately elected her chair. She also had her own consulting company, not to mention other, ongoing volunteer civic obligations.

But when longtime Miles President George French announced last year that he was leaving to become president of Clark Atlanta University, the Miles board of trustees quickly turned to Knight to serve as interim president of the 1,700-student college in Fairfield near Birmingham.

I was absolutely floored, Knight said.

I deliberated long and hard after I got over the initial shock of being asked to consider this opportunity and I have continuously prayed for the wisdom, strength and courage it will take to lead this institution with integrity, compassion and a servants heart, Knight said during a press conference announcing her appointment.

Bobbie Knight shares her plans for Miles College from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

During this transition, the job before me is clear; first, to serve the students of Miles College by ensuring they receive a quality education, that they are equipped with the tools they need to be successful here and in the future and that they enjoy a safe and fulfilling campus life. Second, my job is to maintain a fiscally sound institution. I have a business background and my plan is to use business principles and practices to keep this institution financially strong.

It didnt take long for Knight to make a mark.

In January, Miles announced it had received its single largest contribution from an individual donor in school history $1 million.

The donation came from a celebrity more often associated with another Alabama institute of higher learning: Charles Barkley, the former Auburn University and NBA basketball great and television commentator.

Barkley singled out Knight in his comments about the donation. Ive gotten to know Bobbie Knight over the last year and it was really something I wanted to do, Barkley said in a statement. To have a female president is a big deal and I want to help Bobbie be as successful as she can be.

Knight said that even though Barkley didnt attend Miles or any other historically black college or university, he understands how vitally important HBCUs have been in this country.

Barkleys donation drew national attention, and Knight hoped it would set the stage for more contributions as Miles embarked on a $100 million fundraising campaign. Before the month was over, the school announced it had received a $50,000 contribution to its football program from Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback and Hueytown native Jameis Winston.

Having someone of Jameis stature selflessly contribute to our growth here at Miles gives credence to what we are trying to accomplish, which is to give our student-athletes the best collegiate experience possible, Knight said in a news release.

That Barkley cited his relationship with Knight in making his donation is hardly the first time Knight has been recognized for her skills and for making a difference.

Knight grew up in the Birmingham neighborhood of Zion City, one of five children. Her mother worked as a pastry chef in the long-closed Pizitz department store bakery. Her dad was an inspector atStockham Valves and Fittings, at that time an important member of Birminghams heavy industrial sector. He passed away when Knight was 14.

Bobbie truly comes from humble means, said Robert Holmes, a retired Alabama Power executive and longtime civic leader who serves as vice chair of the Samford University board of trustees. Holmes watched Knight rise through the company ranks, starting with an evening shift in customer service and moving through positions of increasing importance.

She has an unparalleled work ethic, Holmes said, noting how Knight went back to school to get a law degree while working full-time.

After becoming a vice president at the power company, Knight was chosen among 21 women worldwide for the annual Leadership Foundation Fellows Program of theInternational Womens Forum. The exclusive fellowship for female executives included study at Harvard University and the Judge School of Business at Cambridge University in England.

Knight has been honored with numerous other accolades through the years, including Outstanding Alumni in Public Relations by the University of Alabama School of Communications and recipient of the Womens History Award from the Birmingham Chapter of the NAACP.

She has served on numerous civic and nonprofit boards, including Red Mountain Theatre, VOICES for Alabamas Children, the Alabama Literacy Council and United Way of Central Alabama. She helped to create Birminghams Railroad Park as a member of its founding board and served as chair of the board of the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute.

When Bobbie gets engaged in projects, she gets engaged, said Norm Davis, a retired financial services executive who has known Knight for 25 years.

Bobbie is very strategic in her thinking and her actions, said Davis, who was working with French on plans for Miles fundraising campaign when French announced his move to Atlanta.

Shes just done everything right, he said about Knights new role as college president. Shes one of those people that, when she sees something where she can make a difference, she is always willing to roll up her sleeves and go to work.

He recalls observing Knight on a scalding summer afternoon, watching practice for the Miles marching band. She is all over the campus, engaging the kids. She is working on strengthening the graduation rate, recruiting students, building relationships.

She continues to build the community, Davis added, noting that he and Knight both believe a vibrant Miles College can serve as an economic engine in Fairfield and for western Jefferson County.

I think we have the opportunity to make a huge difference in this region. Thats what I see, Knight said.

She is going to leave Miles better than how she found it, Holmes said, citing Knights passion for the community that raised her.

Bobbie wants to give back to the city, and the county and the state, from where weve both gotten so much from, said Holmes, also a Birmingham native. She is a living example of what one can do.

Power Moves, an ongoing series by Alabama NewsCenter, celebrates the contributions of multicultural leaders in Alabama. VisitAlabamaNewsCenter.comthroughout the year for inspiring stories of those working to elevate the state.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

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Power Moves: Bobbie Knight taking helm at Miles College is the latest in a lifetime of leadership - Yellowhammer News

Diverse businesses ‘critical’ to success of Birmingham – Yellowhammer News

In 2017, she was elected to Miles board of trustees and co-chaired newly elected Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfins transition team. Then, in 2018, she was appointed to the Birmingham Airport Authority, where her colleagues immediately elected her chair. She also had her own consulting company, not to mention other, ongoing volunteer civic obligations.

But when longtime Miles President George French announced last year that he was leaving to become president of Clark Atlanta University, the Miles board of trustees quickly turned to Knight to serve as interim president of the 1,700-student college in Fairfield near Birmingham.

I was absolutely floored, Knight said.

I deliberated long and hard after I got over the initial shock of being asked to consider this opportunity and I have continuously prayed for the wisdom, strength and courage it will take to lead this institution with integrity, compassion and a servants heart, Knight said during a press conference announcing her appointment.

Bobbie Knight shares her plans for Miles College from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

During this transition, the job before me is clear; first, to serve the students of Miles College by ensuring they receive a quality education, that they are equipped with the tools they need to be successful here and in the future and that they enjoy a safe and fulfilling campus life. Second, my job is to maintain a fiscally sound institution. I have a business background and my plan is to use business principles and practices to keep this institution financially strong.

It didnt take long for Knight to make a mark.

In January, Miles announced it had received its single largest contribution from an individual donor in school history $1 million.

The donation came from a celebrity more often associated with another Alabama institute of higher learning: Charles Barkley, the former Auburn University and NBA basketball great and television commentator.

Barkley singled out Knight in his comments about the donation. Ive gotten to know Bobbie Knight over the last year and it was really something I wanted to do, Barkley said in a statement. To have a female president is a big deal and I want to help Bobbie be as successful as she can be.

Knight said that even though Barkley didnt attend Miles or any other historically black college or university, he understands how vitally important HBCUs have been in this country.

Barkleys donation drew national attention, and Knight hoped it would set the stage for more contributions as Miles embarked on a $100 million fundraising campaign. Before the month was over, the school announced it had received a $50,000 contribution to its football program from Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback and Hueytown native Jameis Winston.

Having someone of Jameis stature selflessly contribute to our growth here at Miles gives credence to what we are trying to accomplish, which is to give our student-athletes the best collegiate experience possible, Knight said in a news release.

That Barkley cited his relationship with Knight in making his donation is hardly the first time Knight has been recognized for her skills and for making a difference.

Knight grew up in the Birmingham neighborhood of Zion City, one of five children. Her mother worked as a pastry chef in the long-closed Pizitz department store bakery. Her dad was an inspector atStockham Valves and Fittings, at that time an important member of Birminghams heavy industrial sector. He passed away when Knight was 14.

Bobbie truly comes from humble means, said Robert Holmes, a retired Alabama Power executive and longtime civic leader who serves as vice chair of the Samford University board of trustees. Holmes watched Knight rise through the company ranks, starting with an evening shift in customer service and moving through positions of increasing importance.

She has an unparalleled work ethic, Holmes said, noting how Knight went back to school to get a law degree while working full-time.

After becoming a vice president at the power company, Knight was chosen among 21 women worldwide for the annual Leadership Foundation Fellows Program of theInternational Womens Forum. The exclusive fellowship for female executives included study at Harvard University and the Judge School of Business at Cambridge University in England.

Knight has been honored with numerous other accolades through the years, including Outstanding Alumni in Public Relations by the University of Alabama School of Communications and recipient of the Womens History Award from the Birmingham Chapter of the NAACP.

She has served on numerous civic and nonprofit boards, including Red Mountain Theatre, VOICES for Alabamas Children, the Alabama Literacy Council and United Way of Central Alabama. She helped to create Birminghams Railroad Park as a member of its founding board and served as chair of the board of the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute.

When Bobbie gets engaged in projects, she gets engaged, said Norm Davis, a retired financial services executive who has known Knight for 25 years.

Bobbie is very strategic in her thinking and her actions, said Davis, who was working with French on plans for Miles fundraising campaign when French announced his move to Atlanta.

Shes just done everything right, he said about Knights new role as college president. Shes one of those people that, when she sees something where she can make a difference, she is always willing to roll up her sleeves and go to work.

He recalls observing Knight on a scalding summer afternoon, watching practice for the Miles marching band. She is all over the campus, engaging the kids. She is working on strengthening the graduation rate, recruiting students, building relationships.

She continues to build the community, Davis added, noting that he and Knight both believe a vibrant Miles College can serve as an economic engine in Fairfield and for western Jefferson County.

I think we have the opportunity to make a huge difference in this region. Thats what I see, Knight said.

She is going to leave Miles better than how she found it, Holmes said, citing Knights passion for the community that raised her.

Bobbie wants to give back to the city, and the county and the state, from where weve both gotten so much from, said Holmes, also a Birmingham native. She is a living example of what one can do.

Power Moves, an ongoing series by Alabama NewsCenter, celebrates the contributions of multicultural leaders in Alabama. VisitAlabamaNewsCenter.comthroughout the year for inspiring stories of those working to elevate the state.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

More here:
Diverse businesses 'critical' to success of Birmingham - Yellowhammer News

Peter Hynes: How a new wave of genetic data is set to transform dairy farming in the next decade – Farm Ireland

The calving season is in full swing for us, and our diary is filling up with numerous projects on the horizon.

e had veterinary students from UCD with us for a few weeks in January and there will be more visiting us every weekend in February to try their hands at calving cows, with more booked in for a few weeks in March.

We are all continuously learning so it's always a pleasure helping others to educate themselves.

In early January we were in Glasgow as I was asked to speak at the 30th annual Semex International Dairy Conference.

Semex is one of the leading global genetics companies, with over 1,100 bulls at stud selling in excess of 12m doses of semen globally every year. I was humbled by the response to my presentation, and myself and Paula left the event inspired.

The theme of the conference was 'Be Extraordinary' and the list of speakers lived up to that billing.

Market analyst Chris Walkland explained in great detail, backed up by 10 years of data, why 2020 will be a very positive year for global dairy markets.

Other speakers addressed why it is vital we as farmers communicate more with the public to counteract the anti-agriculture agenda.

I was particularly impressed by Dr Steven Larmer (genomics programme manager) and Jordan Leak (chief operations officer of Double A Dairy and Twin Ridge genetics).

Jordan farms 20,000 dairy cows in the US state of Idaho - Holstein, Jersey and crossbreds with a replacement rate at 28pc.

He also carries 20,000 replacement dairy stock, with all stock being genotyped using that information to make strategic breeding decisions.

It certainly seems to work for him as last year he sold 6,000 in-calf heifers to two clients in Asia, who demanded that all stock were genotyped and above a certain index.

Dr Larmer spoke about the information available to us through genomics. Fertility, milk production, health traits are all more accurately confirmed, but what really grabbed my attention was when he discussed the unknown.

Genotyping creates a wealth of information and currently what is holding it back is computer power to process the volume of data.

Steven was very adamant that within a short space of time computer power will become sufficient to process all the data.

This will unlock the genetic 'black box' to show us which cows produce less methane, require less antibiotics and ultimately ensure every genetic trait required for efficiency is considered.

The end goal is completely tailor-made breeding programmes for every dairy herd. Closing the conference Paul Larmer, CEO of Semex, summed up the last 30 years of genetics, also discussing the next decade ahead.

He said genotyped embryos will become the norm along with beef embryos being used on dairy cows, adding that GM dairy genetics is on the horizon. It's merely a case of which countries will accept GM genetics.

On the plane home, I found myself thinking why are more farmers not embracing genotyping?

We have been genotyping all females born on farm for five years now and when we look at the latest EBI proofs it certainly highlighted how it has helped us make more informed breeding decisions.

There is also a good return on investment - researchers say the payback is three to one with the cost of genotyping at a mere 22 per female being lower in Ireland than anywhere else in the world.

An estimated 15pc of genotyped stock have incorrect sires - in effect there are at least 250,000 dairy cows in Ireland with potentially incorrect parentage.

The reliability has increased further, and for those considering buying or selling dairy stock, it's surely a must-have piece of information.

Yet there are only 80,000 dairy females genotyped in Ireland. If we really want the Irish dairy herd to be highly efficient, we need to gather all available data.

It's back to calving for me now. For those of you on social media keep an eye out for the #FutureofFarming campaign over the next few weeks. Its something myself, Paula and the girls are delighted to be involved in for the year ahead.

Hopefully the spring will be kind to us all and we'll see maximum days at grass to keep the cows content.

Peter Hynes farms with his wife Paula in Aherla, Co Cork

Indo Farming

Continued here:
Peter Hynes: How a new wave of genetic data is set to transform dairy farming in the next decade - Farm Ireland

What Is VO2 Max? What To Know, According To An Exercise Physiologist – Women’s Health

You know that awkward feeling when someone references a TV show or person you don't know but you smile and nod along because you want to seem in the loop? Yeah, that totally human experience happens in fitness too. Especially around relatively obscure terms like VO2 max, which you may have overheard in a locker room or name dropped by a trainer recentlyit's become a bit of a buzzword as of late. But what is VO2 max, you ask?

Basically, its the maximum amount of oxygen your body can take in and use during exercise at your 100-percent intensity, says Stacy Sims, PhD, exercise physiologist, and author of Roar: How to Match Your Food and Fitness to Your Female Physiology for Optimum Performance, Great Health, and a Strong, Lean Body for Life.

Its often considered the best measurement of someones cardiorespiratory fitness, and Sims notes that its a reflection of how fast your body can regenerate ATP (an energy-carrying molecule burned off as fuel during exercise) in your cells.

That's kind of heady, to be honest, so another way to think about VO2 max is that it's like your PR when it comes to consuming oxygen. In theory, the more O2 you can take in, the more energy you can expend for a longer period of time. It's why athletes are hyper-focused on increasing their own in an effort to optimize their performance.

Even if you're not a fitness pro, though, you can still benefit from training to boost your VO2 max for similar reasonsbigger, better gains! Keep reading for everything you need to know about VO2 max like how to figure out your own, how to improve it, and what's a good benchmark to aim for in the first place.

There's no "perfect score" for VO2 max. Sims says a desirable number really depends on your sport or main fitness activity. "When we look at elite values, top-end cross-country women sit around 65 to 70 ml/kg/min; runners are about 60 to 65ml/kg/min; cyclists are around 55 to 60 ml/kg/min."

Generally speaking, though, this VO2 max chart notes where optimal scores should fall depending on your age:

Jewelyn Butron

Testing VO2 max is where things get a little tricky. The gold standard is direct measurement in a lab setting, says Sims. This is known as a Cardiopulmonary Exercise Testing (CPET), and it involves wearing a mask and heart rate monitor thats hooked up to a treadmill or stationary bike. The mask is connected to a machine that measures the amount of oxygen you inhale, and the amount of carbon dioxide you exhale. During the test, you continue upping the intensity of your bike or tread until your oxygen consumption value reaches a steady state, even as exercise intensity increases, explains Sims. Thats your max. The final measurement is recorded in mL/kg/min. If you're really interested in finding your true VO2 max, see if any gyms or fitness studios near you offer the service.

This, of course, is not realistic for most people, which is why an easier (albeit not as precise) way to get an approximation of you VO2 max is by investing in a fitness tracker or smartwatch that'll estimate it for you based on your heart rate and exercise intensity after collecting your data for a period of time. For the average active adult, this is the best option. Some, like the FitBit Ionic, refer to VO2 max as your "cardio fitness score," while others, like the Apple Watch, list it simply as VO2 maxyou can find yours in the Apple Health app when you click through to all health data, fyi.

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Your cardio fitness level isn't the only thing that plays a role. Sims notes that there are actually a number of internal and external factors that can have a major impact on your VO2 max:

If you have the ability to track your VO2 max regularly, it can be one way to determine your fitness level and improvement. The best way to give it a boost is through high-intensity interval training (HIIT), which helps work you body at high levels for a period of time, in order to help build up your aerobic capacity, says Sims.

Try this four-move HIIT workout video to start improving yours:

That said, while VO2 max is used in scientific research and with elite athletes, Sims doesn't recommend getting too hung up on it as a go-to performance or training marker. Instead, focus on challenging your body little by little in cardio workouts to get fitter and faster.

Original post:
What Is VO2 Max? What To Know, According To An Exercise Physiologist - Women's Health

Charles Murray Returns, Nodding to Caution but Still Courting Controversy – The New York Times

As with The Bell Curve, we will have to wait for peer reviews to carefully sift through the science. Early indications might indicate some trouble for Murray. Last month, the psychologists Michelle N. Meyer, Patrick Turley and Daniel J. Benjamin issued a sharp rebuke to his use of their research on polygenic scores in his piece for The Wall Street Journal teasing the new book. He characterized polygenic scores as providing decisive insight into I.Q. that was impervious to racism and other forms of prejudice. In fact, the psychologists assert in response, polygenic scores can and do reflect racism, sexism or other prejudices, as well as more benign environmental factors.

Murray serenely rolls out his propositions, assuring us on occasion that it is all consensus, securely known. And yet several claims are plainly contentious, even to the lay reader. Take Murrays description of male brains as systemizers and female brains as empathizers, drawing on work of the psychologist Simon Baron-Cohen. Men are drawn to things, in other words, and women to people. (Youll recognize this terminology from James Damores diversity letter to Google.) This rubric becomes an organizing principle in the book, explaining the typically gendered vocations for men and women (Things Jobs and People Jobs). What Murray avoids discussing are the profound questions surrounding one of the studies that scaffold his thinking.

In 2000, Baron-Cohen and colleagues published a study of day-old babies that found that boys looked at mobiles longer (hence systemizers) and girls at faces (empathizers). This study has never been replicated, not even by Baron-Cohen. It was also poorly designed: for one, some of the newborns were propped up; their gaze might have been mediated by how they were held. Not to mention the core question, as posed by the psychologist Cordelia Fine, who has written extensively about bias in research on sex differences in the brain: Why think that what a newborn prefers to look at provides any kind of window, however grimy, into their future abilities and interests?

Or consider Murrays interpretation of why women havent branched into more male-dominated fields over the last 30 years. Once again, he finds an explanation in the female preoccupation with people and emotion as opposed to the male orientation toward things and abstract thought. Sexism cannot be the culprit, he claims. Now that outright prohibition of women entering male-dominated fields has ended, any vestigial opposition ought to have abated in a matter of years. Never mind the wealth of research showing the very real persisting impediments that Murray dismisses. To name just one well-known example: In a study at Yale University, over 100 scientists reviewed a rsum submitted for an open position. The rsums were identical, although half were submitted under mens names and half womens names. The womens rsums were ranked significantly lower than the mens by both female and male faculty.

Why doesnt Murray attend more thoroughly to the role of the environment, to history even if to decisively repudiate their impact? On genetics, too, he dismisses aspects that might dilute the strength of his argument that outside interventions are limited in their effects on personality and social behavior. Developments in epigenetics, for example outside mechanisms that effectively turn genes on or off are waved away as hype.

Stranger still are the inconsistencies. Race is a construct is among the tenets Murray seeks to dismantle. Yet tucked midway through the book is the bland assertion that his evidence does not deny the many ways in which race is a social construct. There is no genetic basis for race. It is a social and legal definition a young, crude one at that, overlaid on the tangled realities of ancestral heredity. Ancestral populations might be more apt, he concedes. Not 40 pages later, however, hes back to huffing at the elite wisdom that race is a social construct. Murray appears to want it both ways: to gesture at a more nuanced and precise formulation but also to harness, when he chooses, the raw rhetorical power of railing against woke dogmas about race.

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Charles Murray Returns, Nodding to Caution but Still Courting Controversy - The New York Times

This Marsupial Dies After Marathon Mating. Now It’s Got Bigger Worries – WIRED

What if I told you that in Australia, a mouselike marsupial called antechinus breeds so manically during its three-week mating season that the males bleed internally and go blind, until every male lies dead? And what if I told you that this isnt the reason the species is facing an existential threat?

Reporting today in the journal Frontiers in Physiology, biologists from University of New England in Australia and the Norwegian University of Science and Technology present troubling evidence that antechinus might be ill-prepared for a warmer world. The researchers set out to look at something called phenotypic plasticity in the yellow-footed antechinus, one of the creatures 15 known species. Think of your phenotype as your bodys hardware, or physiology: your height and skin color and metabolism. This is in part coded by your genotype, the genetic software that powers the hardware. Phenotypic plasticity is the ability of a species to respond to environmental stressorslike temperature swingsby altering their physiology without mucking with all the underlying genetics.

For the antechinus, the researchers were interested in the plasticity of its metabolism. This is highly influenced by temperature: An adult antechinus metabolism shifts to expend less energy when its cold during the winter and there isnt much insect prey for it to hunt. When its warm, an antechinus can afford to expend a lot of energy because prey is plentiful.

The researchers, though, were more interested in how temperature affects antechinus babiesthat is, how being raised in cold or warm environments might affect how their metabolism works once they become adults. So they reared two groups of babies, one in colder temperatures and one in warmer temperatures. They then flipped the thermostat, exposing the individuals reared in the cold to warm temperatures and the warm-reared ones to the cold.

As the researchers expected, when the temperature switched from warm to cold the animals decreased their activity levels, which the scientists were recording using infrared sensors that logged movements. This is perfectly natural for wild animals, since in winter they have fewer insects to hunt and need to conserve their energy to keep from starving. In fact, in the dead of winter, antechinus can slip into a state called torpor, drastically lowering their body temperature and metabolic rates.

In the lab, the researchers also found that when turning up the heat on animals that had been reared in the cold, the animals increased their activity levels, just like they would in the wild as warmer spring temperatures bring more insects to hunt.

So far so gooduntil the researchers also looked at the metabolic rates, instead of just the activity levels, of the animals as they experienced temperature shifts. A metabolic rate is the measure of how much energy the animal needs to maintain function at rest. For a mammal like antechinus, that rate can change significantly when outdoor temperatures go up or down. Unlike a reptile, a mammal like antechinus has to constantly maintain its own body temperature, either spending energy to cool or warm itself.

This time, the researchers found that when the antechinus raised in the warm group shifted to the cold, they increased their metabolic rate only slightly. But those raised in the cold group that shifted to the warmth decreased their metabolic rate significantly. The discrepancy suggests that the babies brought up in cold conditions have more plastic phenotypes when it comes to adjusting to temperature changes.

So we hypothesize that perhaps these results reveal that antechinus that are raised in cold conditions have more flexibility in their physiology than those that are raised in warm conditions, says physiological ecologist Clare Stawski of University of New England in Australia and the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, lead author on the new paper. Which might show you that in the future when it's much warmer, and more consistently warm, that the antechinus might not be as flexible to changes in the climate.

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This Marsupial Dies After Marathon Mating. Now It's Got Bigger Worries - WIRED

Study: 72% of people that sleep this many hours a night secure raises – Ladders

The physiologicalcosts associated with poor sleep are well documented, but what about all of the ways in which insufficient rest stands between us and our life goals?

A new study conducted by researchers over at HealthySleep set out to determine how many ambitions are achieved and abandoned as a direct consequence of sleep quality.

With a recruitment comprised of more than 1,000 participants the team successfully established a correlation between slumber and the achievement of life goals.

Before the researchers began tracking the respondents, each was asked to complete a questionnaire in regards to their most pressing long-term objectives. The top results are as follows:

On balance, good sleepers were about twice as likely to receive career success compared to poor sleepers in addition to achieving their goals 30% more often. Some objectives, like securing a raise or a promotion, were more frequently cited than others (72% vs. 68% respectively.)

Is there anything a good nights sleep cant do? Getting proper rest night after night can contribute to improved heart health, reduced stress, increased alertness, and improved memory, among many other wellness-related benefits. Given that satisfactory snoozing can be the blueprint for a sharper mind and a healthier body, we were curious about the link between rest and success and whether there was one to be found, the authors write in the paper.

Generally speaking, medical professionals recommend adults between the ages of 26 and 64 receive about nine hours of sleep per night. This value is more accurately determined by genetics, preexisting conditions, and even weight. Given the volume of variables that depict quality rest the researchers decided to rely on markers that were relative to the individuals involved in their particular analysis.

Five hundred and ninety-one respondents identified as female, 414 respondents identified as male, and four respondents did not identify as male or female. The participants ranged in age from 18 to 75 with a median age of approximately 37.

Twenty-seven percent of the study pool received five hours of sleep or less a night, 26% received an average of six hours and 32 minutes of sleep a night and the largest portion of the recruitment (47%) managed to score an average of seven hours and 10 minutes of sleep a night. The first and last demographics served as the poor and adequate sleep control spectrum.

Poor sleep seemed to reliably contribute to procrastination. Eighty-percent of the good sleepers and 75% of the average sleepers reported putting a lot of effort into their goals compared to the 68% of bad sleepers who could say the same.

Good sleepers were both better at tracking the progress of their goals and the more likely group to secure them.

Good sleepers reported achieving an average of 68% of their potential goals, compared to bad sleepers 58%.At every echelon 50% or more, 75% or more, and 90% or more a higher percentage of good sleepers said they could reach the respective percentage of their goals, the authors conclude.Respondents who fell into the good sleeper category were better equipped to succeed in every way.They achieved more goals, put more effort into where they wanted to be, were better organized in their goal-setting approach, procrastinated less, and were more likely to adopt a positive mindset regarding their own abilities and strengths.

Here are the most occasioned goals achieved by those who habitually received quality rest:

Originally posted here:
Study: 72% of people that sleep this many hours a night secure raises - Ladders

Parabens linked to weight gain in childhood – Cosmos

By Paul Biegler

A German study has found that pregnant women who use parabens chemicals widely used as preservatives in cosmetics, foods and drugs could increase the risk of their children being overweight.

The study, published in Nature Communications, suggests weight gain may be caused by epigenetic changes that limit the ability to feel full after eating.

The team, led by Irina Lehmann from the Berlin Institute of Health, analysed 629 mums and their babies who took part in the LINA study (Lifestyle and Environmental Factors and their Influence on Newborns Allergy) between 2006 and 2008.

LINA tested whether pollutants such as tobacco smoke could affect babies. Crucially, it also measured the mothers exposure to parabens.

Parabens are antibacterials used in cosmetics such as moisturisers, shampoos and shaving cream. The agents are also found in baked goods, jams and other foods.

In 1995 parabens were put on the US Food and Drug Administrations Generally Recognised as Safe (GRAS) list but, more recently, questions have been raised about a link to breast cancer.

The chemicals are classed as endocrine disruptors and can mimic the action of the female hormone oestrogen, potentially relevant for hormone-sensitive cancers.

Lehmanns team found women who used leave on (as opposed to rinse off) skin products containing parabens had urine levels up to three times higher than women who used paraben-free products.

Then they went on to look at how the childrens weight tracked.

Between the ages of two and eight, the team found, kids of mums exposed to higher levels of parabens in pregnancy had more than double the odds of being overweight at any point.

The findings came, however, with riders.

The effect was only seen with two out of the five parabens studied, known as iso-butyl paraben (iBuP) and n-butyl paraben (nBuP). And when the researchers did a further statistical breakdown the weight gains were most pronounced in girls.

Intrigued by the result, Lehmanns group devised a mouse study to see what might be causing it.

They injected nBuP under the skin of pregnant mice, which gave them urine levels of the paraben comparable to the high exposure human mums. Then they waited to see what happened to the mouse bubs.

Quite a bit, it turned out.

Pups of paraben-treated mothers were fatter at all points during the observation period of 12 weeks. But, again, the effect was only seen in females.

Wondering if paraben might be working directly on fat cells, the team added nBuP to human and mouse fat cells in culture plates in the lab. But there was no effect on the growth of the fat cells.

Which left the live prospect that paraben could be affecting appetite itself.

The team homed in on a structure in the mouse brain called the hypothalamus. Its an area rich in receptors for leptin, a hormone that goes up after eating to tell the brain youre full.

It seemed they had found their smoking gun.

For leptin to deliver the Im full message it has to turn on production of a peptide called pro-opiomelanocortin (POMC) in the hypothalamus. If POMC isnt there you dont feel full and you get fat. The paraben babies, it turned out, had less POMC, ate more and were heavier.

When the team did a deep dive into the genetics, they found an epigenetic "gene switch" called methylation was the likely culprit. How did they know for sure? When the team blocked methylation in the baby mice whose mums got paraben, it put a lid on the weight gain.

With our mouse experiment, we demonstrated that... foetal development seems to be a sensitive time window for nBuP exposure with respect to body weight regulation, they conclude.

There are, however, reasons to take the findings cautiously.

In previous studies, it was found that mouse physiology may not be identical to humans when it comes to paraben metabolism, says Alex Polyakov, Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist at the Royal Women's Hospital in Melbourne, who was not involved in the study.

Therefore the mechanism of paraben effect on the risk of obesity in humans may be different, he says.

And questions remain unanswered: for example, why females are affected disproportionately. The authors speculate it may be linked to the female hormone oestrogen.

Nonetheless, Polyakov sees reason to tread carefully.

At this time, it would be advisable for pregnant women to avoid cosmetic compounds that contain paraben. Complete avoidance of paraben is not possible as its use is so widespread, but avoiding non-essential exposure seems like a prudent and easily achievable goal, he says.

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Parabens linked to weight gain in childhood - Cosmos

#21toWatch shortlist of people, companies and things revealed – Cambridge Independent

The 2020 shortlist for the coveted #21toWatch Awards includes some of the most daring entrepreneurs and innovations from our region.

Out of hundreds of entries received, 246 qualified candidates made it onto a longlist, which has now been whittled down to a shortlist of 56, featuring a dynamic mix of people, companies and things.

Winners of the awards, run by Burwell-based Cofinitive and supported by the Cambridge Independent, will be unveiled at an event at Arm on March 5.

The shortlist of people includes:

Entrepreneur and Cofinitive founder Faye Holland said: We are really delighted to see an equal number of women to men featuring on the People shortlist this year. In key sectors where female entrepreneurs, founders and leaders are few and far between, this really is most encouraging.

Its also been exciting to see the wide range of industries represented on this years list. Theres been a huge shift from last year with ICT now making up 33 per cent of the shortlist, although there are a number of strong contenders in the biotech and medtech sectors too.

We also have a stronger representation from cleantech and agritech as well as increased diversity around retail, industrial and more people-based solutions. All this is a clear reminder of how amazingly diverse our region is, and the huge opportunity for convergence and agglomeration we can offer these businesses.

The shortlisted companies include:

And some Cambridge companies on the things shortlist include:

The #21toWatch shortlist is independently judged by four leading experts across a range of disciplines.

For 2020, the judges are Isabel Fox, of Luminous Ventures, Tim Robinson, of Tech East, Siddhi Trivedi, of Entrepreneur, and Bruno Cotta, of the Cambridge Judge Business School Entrepreneurship Centre, who will all assess the candidates based on five criteria: innovation, challenge, influence, viability and memorability.

Tim said: What impressed me most is that so many of the shortlist are people and companies addressing major real-world challenges in climate change, ethical AI, security, precision medicine and more.

Arm and HSBC have recently joined the #21toWatch campaign as sponsors in readiness for the awards event. Itll be one to watch in its own right.

The shortlist

People

Companies

Things

Meet the judges

Bruno Cotta is executive director at Cambridge Judge Business Schools Entrepreneurship Centre. He has more than 20 years of leadership and management experience working with public, private and third sector organisations, and has led initiatives to inform and shape world-class university strategic plans, international partnerships and innovation ecosystems, including founding the Enterprise Lab at Imperial College London to support the next generation of innovators and entrepreneurs;

Isabel Fox is a mother, wellness coach, biohacker, Peloton enthusiast and horse lover. She also happens to be one of just a handful of female general partners in the UK, at Luminous Ventures, with a $30million fund and a portfolio of groundbreaking founders who are daring to disrupt the status quo;

Tim Robinson is the first chief operating officer of Tech East, the leading voice of the digital tech community in the East of England. He spent 14 years with the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) in London where he created a product technology division in 2007 and ran the information, data and technology business from 2010-14.In 2014, Tim founded his own marketing strategy consultancy in Suffolk, specialising in the technology sector.

Siddhi Trivedi is a multi-award-winning disruptor in technology with 30 years of business innovation. Her projects have featured in TechCrunch, Disrupt Berlin, Novo Nordisk Innovation Awards and many more. She is continuously searching for pioneeringideas that will change the world and features them on the global TEDx platform as curator and licence holder of TEDxLeicester.

What does it mean to get on the shortlist?

Kay McGuinness, of ANB Sensors, was one of the top 21 in 2019.

She says: Being on the Cofinitive One to Watch Top 21 list in 2019 has been great for us. We were in the process of going through a funding round, and the recognition gave our potential investors greater confidence in us as a company and the products we were developing. As we go commercial this year, the award lends greater initial credibility to our offering as a new player on the market.

But even those on the longlist neednt be disappointed if they dont make it onto the shortlist.

Richard Hobson, Herdsy, appeared on the 2019 longlist.

He says: Just being on the longlist raised our profile beyond our wildest expectations. To be highlighted amongst Cambridges brightest and best put us on the radar of several high-profile customers and investors, and lead to our company being profiled in the Sunday Times, giving us national exposure.

Being on lists doesnt usually make that much difference - but getting on this one will change your company direction forever. It was a game-changer for our small company.

People have actually heard of us now, and customers and investors Google us and rate us among the best globally as a direct result. How many lists can you say that about?

This year, Herdsy has been shortlisted in the #21toWatch Things shortlist.

Read more

#21toWatch in 2020 - nine trailblazers on Cofinitives longlist revealed

Watch the highlights and see the pictures from the Cambridge Independent Science and Technology Awards 2019

Stemnovate offers unique multi-organ drug screening on reprogrammed human cells

Agile Analog awarded Innovate UK funding towards 1m project

Cambridge technology that locks CO2 into rock will halt climate change

Six-minute lithium battery recharge for phones and cars on way

Alkane data puts Intellegens lubricants in R&D driving seat

OKRA founder calls for open data to drive up cancer care

Riverlane building operating system for quantum computers

Academy Award winning pedigree of AudioTelligence, the Cambridge start-up thats raised 3.1m

Cambridges FlexEnable folds display borders for bezel-less screen

Cambridge firm Sano Genetics bakes ethics into its genomic platform

Go here to read the rest:
#21toWatch shortlist of people, companies and things revealed - Cambridge Independent

Kobe Bryant talked family and elevating female athletes in last interview with LA Times columnist – FOX 61

Inhis last interview with a Los Angeles Timessports columnist, Kobe Bryant, of course, talked about basketball and the LA Lakers. But he also spoke about bein...

Inhis last interview with a Los Angeles Timessports columnist, Kobe Bryant, of course, talked about basketball and the LA Lakers.

But he also spoke about being a family man and how he wanted to elevate youth and womens sports, according to audio of the interview released by the LA Times Saturday.

When asked why he didnt attend many Lakers home games, Bryant said hed rather spend time at home.

I have gone through 20 years of the majority of my career with my kids Natalia and Gianna without being able to have that consistently, Bryant said.

So for me to make a trip up to the Staples Center, that means Im missing the opportunity to spend another night with my kids, and I know how fast it goes. Natalia is 16 and Gianna is 13. So that time came and went and so I want to make sure that the days Im away from them, are days that I absolutely have to, he said. Id rather just be hanging with them.

The interview is from October, just a few months before Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and 7 others were killed in a helicopter crash. Columnist Arash Markazi decided to drive two hours to meet Bryant for a 17-minute interview.

It was one of the best decisions Ive ever made in my career, Markazi wrote.

He loved Giannas curiosity

Markazi asked Bryant abouthis relationship with Gianna, who went by Gigi, and coaching her youth basketball team.

Its a trip to see her move and the expressions that she makes, Bryant said. Its a trip, you know, the genetics. Genetics is a real thing, man.

He continued: What I love about Gigi is her curiosity about the game Even in a very heated situation in a game where its very competitive and back and forth, she can detach herself and come over and ask a very specific questions, which is not common.

All of our girls can do that, Bryant said, but the part that I think is most exciting is that its her curiosity and her ability to think critically in tight situations, (thats) pretty damn cool.

Bryant was asked about imagining his daughter moving away to play ball in college, and like many fathers he admitted, you never want to see your kids leave home, but eventually they have to.

He wanted to support girls and women in sports

Bryant also shared his thoughts about elevating female athletes, saying that hed always been abig supporter of the womens game. But having daughters who play sports his oldest, Natalia, plays volleyball was a big part of his desire to help push womens sports forward.

Just trying to enhance the womens game, not just in basketball but in volleyball and other sports, is extremely important. Anything I can do to help, Im gonna do.

He pointed to coaching his team at the Mamba Sports Academy, and telling the players and coaches that it was a group effort to win. Similarly, this is a joint effort to raise the womens game, he said.

Markazi also asked Bryant about his legacy, and whether he saw the Mamba Academy and youth sports playing a big role in how he was remembered.

Hopefully, he said, if we do it the right way, were known more for what we did after than what we did during.

I think you can have a lasting impact, he said. I mean winning championships, thats great. Building families, thats great. But when you can create stories and create moments and events and companies that can provide opportunities and inspire kids and create situations where people can be better, I think that has a lasting impact, more so than winning championships does.

More:
Kobe Bryant talked family and elevating female athletes in last interview with LA Times columnist - FOX 61

People in the News – Greenville Daily Reflector

Appraiser earns highest professional status

Matt Hawk of Shackelford and Associates in Greenville has been awarded the Accredited Rural Appraiser (ARA) designation from the American Society of Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers.

Hawk earned the designation by meeting requirements in experience and education, in addition to passing written examination and abiding by the societys code of ethics.

Hawk joins a select 45 percent of the societys membership who have received the accredited status and currently maintain it through the societys continuing education program.

Accredited Rural Appraisers can ensure that an appraisal complies with regulations and requirements. They possess expertise exceeding nearly all state certification and licensing requirements.

In addition, an Accredited Rural Appraiser is connected to a national network of professional resource information.

The American Society of Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers is the largest professional society for rural property land experts, with more than 2,100 members in 31 chapters throughout the United States.

Dr. Craig Steffee joins Gastroenterology East

Gastroenterology East has announced the addition of its own in-house pathologist, Dr. Craig Steffee.

A North Carolina native, Steffee completed his undergraduate studies at Duke University as an Angier B. Duke Scholar with a B.S. in biology and genetics.

He obtained his M.D. at Wake Forest University Bowman Gray School of Medicine, where he was inducted into the Alpha Omega Alpha medical honor society.

He completed his internship and residency in Pathology at Bowman Gray School of Medicine/NC Baptist Hospital where he served as chief resident.

Steffee completed a fellowship in cytopathology at the ECU Brody School of Medicine and served on the faculty of the ECU Department of Pathology prior to entering private practice in 2000.

He is board certified in anatomic pathology, clinical pathology and cytopathology.

Steffee is skilled in surgical pathology and has been interpreting gastrointestinal biopsies in both hospital and outpatient gastroenterology endoscopy center settings in eastern North Carolina for more than 20 years.

Butler to focus on women investors at Milestone

Milestone Wealth has announced the expansion of its financial planning and wealth management services with an additional emphasis on women investors; especially those going through a life transition such as a job/career change, divorce, sale of a business, retirement or loss of a spouse or loved one. The firm long has specialized in providing financial services to medium and large-sized businesses, and is bringing its expertise to a vastly underserved market.

Belinda Butler, recently designated as a certified financial planner and moving into the role of associate wealth manager, will help lead this effort. A member of the Milestone Wealth team since 2016, Butler is suited to understand the needs of women investors and help them feel comfortable managing their financial lives, especially during and after times of significant change.

We want to help women make the best use of the resources you have to benefit your life, your family and the community, Butler said. Wealth is not just the money you have, it is your ability to use money to achieve the kind of life you want. The female portion of the market has always been underserved, and we are passionate about delivering sound financial guidance and advice in order to serve as an important catalyst and trusted partner that empowers them to take control of their financial lives.

Belinda is a tremendous asset to the Milestone Wealth team, said Dave Hunt, owner of Milestone Wealth. She will do an excellent job of connecting with women throughout our community and offering them the same high level of financial services that business owners and families have come to trust us with as we manage their wealth and investments.

Robinson recognized as 2020 Super Lawyer

Attorney Les Robinson of the Robinson Law Firm in Greenville has been recognized as a 2020 Super Lawyer.

This is the sixth consecutive year Robinson has received this honor. With more than 32 years of experience and having taken more than 3,500 cases to trial, Robinson has established himself as a seasoned trial-ready attorney representing his clients facing charges involving drugs and alcohol, violent crimes, wildlife offenses, domestic disputes and other criminal acts.

Each year, Super Lawyers rates lawyers from across the country to put together a list of the most elite attorneys in the United States. The criteria for the recognition includes 12 indicators of professional achievement and peer nominations. These indicators include verdicts/settlements, professional activity, honors/awards and experience. Through a rigorous process, the Super Lawyers recognition is only given to those attorneys with the most points earned during the evaluation.

The words Super Lawyers used to describe Robinson are experienced, skillful and relentless.

It is an honor to be recognized as one of the top attorneys in the country, Robinson said. I look forward to continuing to serve eastern North Carolina. Working diligently to prepare the best defense possible for my clients has always, and will always, remain my top priority.

Robinson was born and raised in Greenville. He graduated from East Carolina University and attended Campbell University School of Law where he received his Juris Doctorate degree in 1986.

After graduating from law school, he returned to Greenville where he entered into private practice in August 1986. Since that time, he has tried more than 3,500 bench and jury trials throughout eastern North Carolina.

Robinson repeatedly has been elected by his peers to leadership positions in local, district and state bar organizations. He served for nine years as the elected Bar Councilor representative to the North Carolina State Bar. As Bar Councilor, he served on numerous committees in the capacity as committee member, vice chairman and chairman. In addition, he is a frequent continuing legal education speaker for legal associations throughout the state. He has also given presentations for the North Carolina Advocates for Justice, North Carolina Bar Association, North Carolina Public Defenders and the North Carolina Institute of Government.

Keller Williams Realty hires new agents

Keller Williams Realty Points East has hired two new agents.

Tiki Jackson is a native of Boston, Mass., who has lived in the Greenville area for four months.

She is separated and has one child.

Jackson has been in real estate for the past 30 years.

Dan Jacobo is a native of Greenville and has lived in the area for 23 years.

He is single and in his spare time he enjoys soccer.

Jacobo has an associates degree in information technology.

He has been in real estate for one month.

Read the original post:
People in the News - Greenville Daily Reflector

Kobe Bryant talked family and elevating female athletes in last interview with LA Times columnist – KFOR Oklahoma City

(CNN) Inhis last interview with a Los Angeles Timessports columnist, Kobe Bryant, of course, talked about basketball and the LA Lakers.

But he also spoke about being a family man and how he wanted to elevate youth and womens sports, according to audio of the interview released by the LA Times Saturday.

When asked why he didnt attend many Lakers home games, Bryant said hed rather spend time at home.

I have gone through 20 years of the majority of my career with my kids Natalia and Gianna without being able to have that consistently, Bryant said.

So for me to make a trip up to the Staples Center, that means Im missing the opportunity to spend another night with my kids, and I know how fast it goes. Natalia is 16 and Gianna is 13. So that time came and went and so I want to make sure that the days Im away from them, are days that I absolutely have to, he said. Id rather just be hanging with them.

The interview is from October, just a few months before Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and 7 others were killed in a helicopter crash. Columnist Arash Markazi decided to drive two hours to meet Bryant for a 17-minute interview.

It was one of the best decisions Ive ever made in my career, Markazi wrote.

Markazi asked Bryant abouthis relationship with Gianna, who went by Gigi, and coaching her youth basketball team.

Its a trip to see her move and the expressions that she makes, Bryant said. Its a trip, you know, the genetics. Genetics is a real thing, man.

He continued: What I love about Gigi is her curiosity about the game Even in a very heated situation in a game where its very competitive and back and forth, she can detach herself and come over and ask a very specific questions, which is not common.

All of our girls can do that, Bryant said, but the part that I think is most exciting is that its her curiosity and her ability to think critically in tight situations, (thats) pretty damn cool.

Bryant was asked about imagining his daughter moving away to play ball in college, and like many fathers he admitted, you never want to see your kids leave home, but eventually they have to.

Bryant also shared his thoughts about elevating female athletes, saying that hed always been abig supporter of the womens game. But having daughters who play sports his oldest, Natalia, plays volleyball was a big part of his desire to help push womens sports forward.

Just trying to enhance the womens game, not just in basketball but in volleyball and other sports, is extremely important. Anything I can do to help, Im gonna do.

He pointed to coaching his team at the Mamba Sports Academy, and telling the players and coaches that it was a group effort to win. Similarly, this is a joint effort to raise the womens game, he said.

Markazi also asked Bryant about his legacy, and whether he saw the Mamba Academy and youth sports playing a big role in how he was remembered.

Hopefully, he said, if we do it the right way, were known more for what we did after than what we did during.

I think you can have a lasting impact, he said. I mean winning championships, thats great. Building families, thats great. But when you can create stories and create moments and events and companies that can provide opportunities and inspire kids and create situations where people can be better, I think that has a lasting impact, more so than winning championships does.

See the original post:
Kobe Bryant talked family and elevating female athletes in last interview with LA Times columnist - KFOR Oklahoma City

NXIVM’s Keith Raniere Allegedly Created an ‘Empowerment Group’ to Recruit Asian Women for Sex – Jezebel

NXIVMthe self-help organization lead by Keith Raniere that was actually a cult and possessed a secret wing that coerced women into sex through blackmailhas yet another damning accusation. Turns out, some of the sex abuse was also, allegedlyracist.

According to Times Union, a daily paper that services the NXIVM hub of Albany, Raniere created an empowerment group called One Asian to recruit East Asian women for sex. He also attempted to establish another group targeting women in sororities called Ten C, which stood for The Emperor Has No Clothes.

A newly filed federal lawsuit against Raniere alleges that he and his associates successfully lured over 100 women for One Asian, The Times Union reports. One Asian offered a special curriculum that Raniere tailored to what he characterized as women raised with more masculine values than Western women, the lawsuit reads. According to Raniere, this combination of female genetics and masculine attributes, such as discipline and self-denial, made the woman he recruited virtually perfect humans. Thus, he selected women who specifically met Ranieres criteria for potentially suitable sexual partners, the document states. One of the platniffs, a Canadian woman chosen to lead One Asian, said Ranieres right hand/Smallville actor Allison Mack told her sex was no big deal and just like playing tennis.

According to The New York Times, NXIVMs many programs became increasingly misogynistic over time, including indoctrination that instructed women that they did not deserve equal pay because they need to quit their jobs to have children, and that men are meant to be polyamorous while women are meant to be monogamous.

In June 2019, Keith Raniere was found guilty on seven counts, including racketeering, racketeering conspiracy, wire fraud conspiracy, forced labor conspiracy, sex trafficking, sex trafficking conspiracy and attempted sex trafficking. He is expected to be sentenced in Brooklyn on April 16.

Link:
NXIVM's Keith Raniere Allegedly Created an 'Empowerment Group' to Recruit Asian Women for Sex - Jezebel

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