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  • We offer a dynamical model of phonological planning that provides a formal instantiation of how the speech production and perception systems interact during online processing. The model is developed on the basis of evidence from an experimental task that requires concurrent use of both systems, the so-called response–distractor task in which speakers hear distractor syllables while they are preparing to produce required responses. The model formalizes how ongoing response planning is affected by perception and accounts for a range of results reported across previous studies. It does so by explicitly addressing the setting of parameter values in representations. The key unit of the model is that of the dynamic field, a distribution of activation over the range of values associated with each representational parameter. The setting of parameter values takes place by the attainment of a stable distribution of activation over the entire field, stable in the sense that it persists even after the response cue in the above experiments has been removed. This and other properties of representations that have been taken as axiomatic in previous work are derived by the dynamics of the proposed model.
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  • Abiotic stress has been shown to significantly limit the growth and productivity of crops. NAC transcription factors play essential roles in response to various abiotic stresses. However, only little information regarding stress-related NAC genes is available in maize. Here, we cloned a maize NAC transcription factor ZmNAC55 and identified its function in drought stress. Transient expression and transactivation assay demonstrated that ZmNAC55 was localized in the nucleus and had transactivation activity. Expression analysis of ZmNAC55 in maize showed that this gene was induced by drought, high salinity and cold stresses and by abscisic acid (ABA). Promoter analysis demonstrated that multiple stress-related cis-acting elements exist in promoter region of ZmNAC55. Overexpression of ZmNAC55 in Arabidopsis led to hypersensitivity to ABA at the germination stage, but enhanced drought resistence compared to wild-type seedlings. Transcriptome analysis identified a number of differentially expressed genes between 35S::ZmNAC55 transgenic and wild-type plants, and many of which are involved in stress response, including twelve qRT–PCR confirmed well-known drought-responsive genes. These results highlight the important role of ZmNAC55 in positive regulates of drought resistence, and may have potential applications in transgenic breeding of drought-tolerant crops.
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  • Sucrose transporters (SUTs) belong to the major facilitator superfamily. The function of SUTs has been intensively investigated in some higher plants, whereas that in pear fruit is unknown. In this study, the cloning and functional characterization of a sucrose transporter, PbSUT2, in pear (Pyrus bretschneideri Rehd. cv. ‘Yali’) fruits are reported. PbSUT2 encoded a protein of 498 amino acid residues, and was localized in the plasma membrane of transformed onion epidermal cells and Arabidopsis protoplasts. Phylogenetic analysis revealed that PbSUT2 belonged to the SUT4 clade. The phenotype of overexpression of PbSUT2 tomato plants included early flowering, higher fruit quantity and lower plant height. Overexpression of PbSUT2 in transgenic tomato plants led to increases in the net photosynthetic rate in leaves and sucrose content in mature fruit compared with wild-type tomato plants, and a decrease in the contents of glucose, fructose and total soluble sugars in mature fruits. These results suggested that PbSUT2 affected sucrose content in sinks and the flowering phase during tomato plant growth and development.
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  • Zona radiata proteins are essential for ensuring bactericidal resistance, oocyte nutrients uptake and functional buoyancy, sperm binding and guidance to the micropyle, and protection to the growing oocyte or embryo from the physical environment.
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  • Thioredoxin reductase (TR) as a selenoprotein is involved in many cellular processes and mainly serves as a key member of the thioredoxin system, which is a crucial antioxidant system in defense against oxidative stress. We investigated selenoproteins in the important commercial microalgae Haematococcus pluvialis. HpTR1 was identified and its molecular properties were analyzed. The full-length cDNA of HpTR1 consists of 2506 base pairs encoding a putative 535-amino acid product. The conformation of HpTR1 has been characterized via sequence analysis and protein structure modelling. A comprehensive phylogenetic tree of TR1 in animals and algae was constructed, which provided an evolution history of selenoprotein from aquatic to terrestrial environment. The expression pattern of TR1 mRNA and TR activity assay indicate that Selenium is an important regulator of HpTR1 and plays different roles in a dosage dependent manner.
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  • We have performed experiments to investigate the solubility and metal–silicate partitioning of gold as a function of metal sulphur content (XS), silicate melt polymerization (NBO/T) and pressure (P). These experiments show that Au becomes less siderophile both with increasing pressure and as the metal phase becomes more sulphur-rich. For the studied range of compositions, melt polymerization has no effect on the solubility of Au. The reduction in the siderophile tendency of gold with increasing metal sulphur content is greater than expected on the basis of activity–composition relationships in the metal phase. This suggests a significant role for complexing between Au and S in the silicate melt. Our new experimental results are combined with literature data to yield a parameterisation for the exchange coefficient of Au (KdAuMet/Sil) as a function of P, T and XS:logKdAuMet/Sil=-1.10(0.04)+1.11(0.01)104T(K)-67.8(10.9)P(GPa)T(K)+5.81(0.24)log(1-XS)
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  • On-going fragmentation of tropical forest ecosystems and associated depletion of seed dispersers threatens the long-term survival of animal-dispersed plants. These threats do not only affect biodiversity and species abundance, but ultimately ecosystem functions and services. Thus, seed dispersers such as the straw-coloured fruit bat, E. helvum, which traverse long distances across fragmented landscapes, are particularly important for maintaining genetic connectivity and colonizing new sites for plant species. Using high-resolution GPS-tracking of movements, field observations and gut retention experiments, we quantify dispersal distances for small- and large-seeded fruits foraged by E. helvum during periods of colony population low (wet season) and high (dry season) in an urban and a rural landscape in the forest zone of Ghana. Gut passage time averaged 116 min (range 4–1143 min), comparable to other fruit bats. Movements were generally longer in the urban than in the rural landscape and also longer in the dry than in the wet season. As the majority of seeds are dispersed only to feeding roosts, median dispersal distances were similar for both large (42–67 m) and small (42–65 m) seeds. However, small seeds were potentially dispersed up to 75.4 km, four times further than the previous maximum distance estimated for a similar-sized frugivore. Maximum seed dispersal distances for small seeds were almost twice as long in the rural (49.7 km) compare to the urban (31.2 km) landscape. Within the urban landscape, estimated maximum dispersal distances for small seeds were three times longer during the dry season (75.4 km) compared to the wet season (22.8 km); in contrast, distances in the rural landscape were three times longer in the wet season (67 km) compared to the dry season (24.4). Dispersal distances for large seeds during the dry season (551 m) in the rural landscape were almost twice that in the wet season (319 m). We found no influence of food phenology on dispersal distances. The maximum likelihood for seed dispersal beyond feeding roosts (mean distance from food tree 263 m) was 4.7%. Small seeds were dispersed over even longer distances, >500 and >1000 m, with a likelihood of 3.0 % and 2.3 % respectively. Our data show that E. helvum retains ingested seeds for very long periods and may traverse large distances, probably making it an important long distance seed disperser in tropical Africa. We suggest E. helvumis important for ecosystem functioning and urge its conservation.
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  • How to calibrate the parameters of car-following models based on observed traffic data is a vital problem in traffic simulation. Usually, the core of calibration is cast into an optimization problem, in which the decision variables are car-following model parameters and the objective function usually characterizes the difference between empirical vehicle movements and their simulated correspondences. Since the objective function is usually nonlinear and non-convex, various greedy or stochastic algorithms had been proposed during the last two decades. However, the performance of these algorithms remains to be further examined. In this paper, we revisit this important problem with a special focus on the geometric feature of the objective function. First, we prove that, from a global perspective, most existing objective functions are Lipschitz continuous. Second, we show that, from a local perspective, many of these objective functions are relatively flat around the global optimal solution. Based on these two features, we propose a new global optimization algorithm that integrates global direct search and local gradient search to find the optimal solution in an efficient manner. We compare this new algorithm with several existing algorithms, including Nelder–Mead (NM) algorithm, sequential quadratic programming (SQP) algorithm, genetic algorithm (GA), and simultaneous perturbation stochastic approximation (SPSA) algorithm, on NGSIM trajectory datasets. Results demonstrate that the proposed algorithm has a fast convergence speed and a high probability of finding the global optimal solution. Moreover, it has only two major configuration parameters that can be easily determined in practice.
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  • Here, we describe cDNA cloning and purification of the ghrelin gene sequences and ghrelin peptides from the Japanese true mole, Mogera imaizumii. The gene spans >2.9kbp, has four exons and three introns, and shares structural similarity with those of terrestrial animals. Mature mole ghrelin peptide was predicted to be 28 amino acids long (GSSFLSPEHQKVQQRKESKKPPSKPQPR) and processed from a prepropeptide of 116 amino acids. To further elucidate molecular characteristics, we purified ghrelin peptides from mole stomach. By mass spectrometry, we found that the mole ghrelin peptides had higher ratios of the odd-number fatty acids (C9 and C11 as much as C8) attached to the third serine residue than other vertebrate ghrelin. Truncated forms of ghrelins such as [1–27], [1–19], [1–16] and [1–15], and that lacked the 14th glutamine residue (des-Gln14 ghrelin) were produced in the stomach. Marked expression of ghrelin mRNA in lung was observed as in stomach and brain. Phylogenetic analysis indicated that the branch of M. imaizumii has slightly higher dN/dS ratios (the nucleotide substitution rates at non-synonymous and synonymous sites) than did other eulipotyphlans. Peptide length was positively correlated with human ghrelin receptor activation, whereas the length of fatty-acyl chains showed no obvious functional correlation. The basal higher luciferase activities of the 5′-proximal promoter region of mole ghrelin were detected in ghrelin-negative C2C12 cells and hypoxic culture conditions impaired transcriptional activity. These results indicated that moles have acquired diverse species of ghrelin probably through distinctive fatty acid metabolism because of their food preferences. The results provide a gateway to understanding ghrelin metabolism in fossorial animals.
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  • In this work, we investigate the consequences of the Renormalization Group Equation (RGE) in the determination of the effective superpotential and the study of Dynamical Symmetry Breaking (DSB) in an N=1 supersymmetric theory including an Abelian Chern–Simons superfield coupled to N scalar superfields in (2+1) dimensional spacetime. The classical Lagrangian presents scale invariance, which is broken by radiative corrections to the effective superpotential. We calculate the effective superpotential up to two-loops by using the RGE and the beta functions and anomalous dimensions known in the literature. We then show how the RGE can be used to improve this calculation, by summing up properly defined series of leading logs (LL), next-to-leading logs (NLL) contributions, and so on... We conclude that even if the RGE improvement procedure can indeed be applied in a supersymmetric model, the effects of the consideration of the RGE are not so dramatic as it happens in the non-supersymmetric case.
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