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  • In the course of a screening program on the seasonal phenol composition of wild Mediterranean medicinal and aromatic plants, broadly used for culinary purposes, Foeniculum vulgare Mill. was the focus of the present study. Hydroalcoholic extracts from fennel freeze-dried leaves, collected in different seasons along 2012 and 2013years, were quali-quantitatively analyzed through LC/MS/MS techniques. Winter extract contained, beyond several hydroxycinnamoyl quinic acids and flavonol glycosides, two chromone derivatives. Flavonol hexuronides were the main spring sample constituents. Phenol profile differences among the extracts influenced massively their bioactivity. When the antioxidant screening was performed, winter extract effectively scavenged DPPH and ABTS+ and reduced Fe3+. Although all the extracts did not show cytotoxicity, they were differently able to exert cytoprotection in H2O2-oxidized cell systems and to affect COX-2 gene expression in THP-1 cells. The most active one was winter extract, which inhibited COX-2 expression by 40%, whereas spring sample showed a weak pro-inflammatory capability.
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  • La enfermedad de Alzheimer de inicio precoz (EAIP), definida como la que se manifiesta antes de los 65 años de edad, muestra ciertas características diferentes de la enfermedad de Alzheimer de inicio tardío (EAIT). Nuestro objetivo fue analizar los trabajos más actuales que comparan la clínica, la neuropsicología, la patología, la genética y la neuroimagen de la EAIP y la EAIT, para determinar si nos enfrentamos a dos enfermedades distintas o a variantes de una misma entidad. Como resultado, hallamos consistencia en algunas características diferenciales entre los 2 cuadros clínicos. Fundamentalmente, la EAIP comienza con mayor frecuencia con una clínica atípica; la valoración cognitiva muestra mayor afectación de las funciones ejecutiva y visuoespacial y de las praxias, y menor afectación de la memoria; la neuropatología evidencia mayor densidad y una distribución más difusa de la patología tipo Alzheimer; los estudios de neuroimagen estructural y funcional muestran una afectación cortical mayor y más difusa, afectando al neocórtex (especialmente el precuneus). En conclusión, las evidencias actuales hacen pensar que la EAIP y la EAIT son variantes clínicas de una misma entidad, que en el caso de la EAIT se ve influida probablemente por factores asociados al envejecimiento.
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  • Surprisingly, a reliable method for measuring the concentration of free fluoride ions in honey is still missing from the literature, notwithstanding the generally recognized importance of the analyte and the matrix. To fill this gap, this study proposes and validates a straightforward ion-specific electrode potentiometric method for this task. The method offers very low detection and quantification limits (6.7μgkg−1 and 25μgkg−1, respectively), good linearity (R2>0.994), good sensitivity (typically 55±3mV for an order of magnitude of concentration) in an unusually low concentration interval (between 0.020 and 1mgL−1), and acceptable precision and bias. The method was applied to 30 unifloral (thistle, eucalyptus and strawberry tree) honey samples from Sardinia, Italy. The amount of free fluoride ions found in these honeys appears to be lower than the range usually found in the literature; indeed, early results suggest a possible dependence of the analyte concentration on the honey’s botanical origin.
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  • This study evaluates effectiveness of driver education teaching greater fuel efficiency (Eco-Driving) in a real world setting in Australia. The driving behaviour, measured in fuel use (litres per 100km of travel) of a sample of 1056 private drivers was monitored over seven months. 853 drivers received education in eco-driving techniques and 203 were monitored as a control group. A simple experimental design was applied comparing the pre and post training fuel use of the treated sample compared to a control sample. This study found the driver education led to a statistically significant reduction in fuel use of 4.6% or 0.51 litres per 100km compared to the control group.
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  • Iron (Fe) toxicity is recognized as one of the most widely spread soil constraints for rice production especially in West Africa. Oryza glaberrima the cultivated rice species that originated from West Africa is well-adapted to its growing ecologies. The aim of this study was to identify the promising O. glaberrima accessions tolerant to Fe toxicity from the 2106 accessions held at the AfricaRice gene bank. The screenings were conducted over a four-year period and involved evaluating the entries under Fe-toxic field conditions in West Africa, selecting good yielding accessions and repeating the testing with newly selected lines. Three accessions (TOG 7206, TOG 6218-B and TOG 7250-A) were higher yielding than O. sativa checks under stress but with similar yields under control conditions. These accessions yielded over 300g/m2 under both Fe toxicity and control conditions. In conclusion, these materials could be used as donors in breeding programs for developing high yielding rice varieties suited to Fe toxicity affected areas in West Africa.
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  • This study aimed to produce inexpensive 5-aminolevulinic acid (ALA) in a non-sterile latex rubber sheet wastewater (RSW) by Rhodopseudomonas palustris TN114 and PP803 for the possibility to use in agricultural purposes by investigating the optimum conditions, and applying of wood vinegar (WV) as an economical source of levulinic acid to enhance ALA content. The Box–Behnken Design experiment was conducted under microaerobic-light conditions for 96h with TN114, PP803 and their mixed culture (1:1) by varying initial pH, inoculum size (% v/v) and initial chemical oxygen demand (COD, mg/L). Results showed that the optimal condition (pH, % inoculum size, COD) of each set to produce extracellular ALA was found at 7.50, 6.00, 2000 for TN114; 7.50, 7.00, 3000 for PP803; and 7.50, 6.00, 4000 for a mixed culture; and each set achieved COD reduction as high as 63%, 71% and 75%, respectively. Addition of the optimal concentration of WV at mid log phase at 0.63% for TN114, and 1.25% for PP803 and the mixed culture significantly increased the ALA content by 3.7–4.2times (128, 90 and 131μM, respectively) compared to their controls. ALA production cost could be reduced approximately 31times with WV on the basis of the amount of levulinic acid used. Effluent containing ALA for using in agriculture could be achieved by treating the RSW with the selected ALA producer R. palustris strains under the optimized condition with a little WV additive.
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  • Finite mixture modeling is one of the most rapidly developing areas of statistics due to its modeling flexibility and appealing interpretability. Gaussian mixture models have been popular among researchers for decades proving their usefulness in various applications. However, when Gaussian mixture components do not provide an adequate fit for the data, more general models must be considered. Traditional remedies for deviation from normality include employing a more appropriate distribution as well as transforming data to near-normality. Merging both approaches by introducing a mixture model with components derived from the multivariate Manly transformation is proposed. Such mixture models show good performance in modeling skewness and have excellent interpretability. Forward and backward model selection algorithms are proposed to choose an appropriate multivariate transformation. At each step of these algorithms, a model with the specific combination of skewness parameters is estimated by means of the expectation–maximization algorithm. The developed technique is carefully illustrated on synthetic data and applied to several well-known datasets, with promising results.
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  • Given a many-to-one bi-modal transportation network where each origin is connected to the destination by a bottleneck-constrained highway and a parallel transit line, we investigate the parking permit management methods to minimize traffic time cost and traffic emission cost simultaneously. More importantly, the optimal supply of parking spots is also discussed in the policies of parking permit. First, we derive the total travel costs and emission costs for the two cases of sufficient and insufficient parking spot provisions at the destination. Second, we propose a bi-objective model and solve the Pareto optimal parking permit distribution, given a certain level of parking supply. Third, we investigate the optimal parking supply in the policy of parking permit distribution, with the objectives of minimizing both total travel cost and traffic emission. Fourth, we provide a model of optimizing parking supply, in the policy of free trading of parking permits. Finally, the numerical examples are presented to illustrate the effectiveness of these schemes, and the numerical results show that restricting parking supply at the city center could be efficient to reduce traffic emission.
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  • The majority of archaeological remains found at El Castillo in northern Iberia were excavated between 1910 and 1914 by Hugo Obermaier. Since the 1980s El Castillo has been studied through a detailed analysis of Obermaier's original excavation notes, the cleaning and study of the extant section, and the excavation of material in the shelter entrance. Radiocarbon dating of charcoal from the modern (1980s onwards) excavation suggested that unit 18, corresponding to Aurignacian Delta of the 1910s excavation, was significantly earlier than other Aurignacian assemblages in western Europe. Combined with a reanalysis of the lithic and osseous industry, these dates led to the suggestion that material in unit 18 and Aurignacian Delta was a transitional industry, showing a gradual transformation of the Mousterian into the Upper Palaeolithic. The conclusion has profound implications for understanding the appearance of the Upper Palaeolithic in western Europe. However, the theory has been heavily debated, with criticism focusing on the analysis of the lithic and bone assemblage as well as the chronology. We focus on the latter, and assess whether the original dates were accurate, whether they were well associated with the archaeology, and whether there was vertical and lateral variation in the age of the assemblages within unit 18 and Aurignacian Delta. New radiocarbon dates on humanly modified bone suggest that in the new area of excavation, unit 18 is found to be earlier than 42 cal kBP, with no evidence of material of a younger age. In contrast, in the old excavation area, Aurignacian Delta does include material of a younger age. This suggests that discussion of the Transitional Aurignacian can only include material from unit 18, in the new area of excavation.
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