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first_imgThe great whales are carnivores, feeding on tiny, shrimp-like animals such as krill. Moreover, the microbes that live in whales’ guts — the microbiome — resemble those of other meat-eaters.But scientists now have evidence that the whale microbiome shares traits with that of creatures not known to eat meat: cows.Scientists led by Peter Girguis, professor of organismic and evolutionary biology at Harvard, have found that the gut microbiome of right whales and other baleen species shares characteristics with those of both cows and meat-eating predators. The dual microbial communities allow whales to extract the most nutrition possible from their diet, digesting not only the copepods they eat, but their chitin-rich shells as well. The study is described in a Sept. 22 paper in Nature Communications.Among the co-authors of the paper are James McCarthy, professor of biological oceanography and Alexander Agassiz Professor of Biological Oceanography in the Museum of Comparative Zoology; Annabel Beichman ’14, now a graduate student at the University of California, Los Angeles; Joe Roman from the University of Vermont; Jarrod Scott and David Emerson, both from the Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences in Maine; and Jon Sanders, a former graduate student in Girguis’ lab.“From one point of view, whales look like carnivores,” Girguis said. “They have the same kind of microbes that we find in lions and tigers that have very meat-rich diets. But they also have abundant communities of anaerobic bacteria, similar to those that [animals] use to break down cellulose.“However, there’s not a lot of cellulose in the ocean, but there is a lot of chitin, which is in the exoskeletons of copepods that baleen whales eat,” Girguis continued. “What our paper suggests is the whale foregut is much like a cow’s gut, and we posit that chitin-degrading anaerobic microbial community thrives in there, breaking down that material and making it available to the whale.”Those exoskeletons, Girguis said, represent as much as 10 percent of the whale’s total food intake, and would otherwise simply be defecated. By allowing whales to access the nutrition in the chitin-rich material, whales are able to extract the greatest possible benefit from their diet.“It’s almost like a pre-adaptation,” he said “that may give them a differential advantage in harnessing energy from their food. The morphology of their gut comes from their ancestors, the very same ancestors to cows, camels, and others. It serves them well as carnivores because it allows them to maximally extract nutrition from their food.”Ultimately, Girguis said, the study addresses questions that reach beyond the guts of whales.“This is really a question of what we can call phylogenetic inertia,” he said. “Because what we’re really thinking about is: When you look at the microbiome of an organism, you can, to some degree, look back in time and see its ancestors, because organisms that are related to one another seem to have similar microbiomes.“But not all organisms that are related live in the same kind of environment,” he continued. “So the question is, how different does your environment need to be before it changes your microbiome? This is a fundamental question about the relationship between your ancestry versus your current environment.”Many such questions might not have been asked, Girguis said, were it not for then-undergraduate Beichman. The second author of the study, Beichman kick-started the study when she and Roman took on the unenviable task of following pods of right whales at sea and collecting samples of their feces to determine which microbes were present.“There’s no other way to get the fecal samples but to collect them from the ocean,” Roman said.“It was a thrill to set out each morning into uncertain weather to search for elusive right whales, then to extract and sequence DNA from our smelly trophies,” Beichman said. “It had always been my passion to use the latest advances in genetic sequencing technology to answer questions about species of conservation concern, and so I wanted to add a genetic component to the study.“Working with my advisers to conceive the research questions based on the scientific literature, collect fecal samples in the field, and carry out DNA sequencing and analysis gave me invaluable experience at every stage of the study,” she added. “We all had different theories as to what the whale gut community might look like. What none of us expected was to see so much divergence from terrestrial mammals, or these shared characteristics with both terrestrial carnivores’ and herbivores’ microbiomes.”“Given what we know about whales’ ancestry — that they’re related to ruminants [animals that get nutrients from plants by fermenting them in an early stage stomach], and that they still have a multi-chambered foregut — there were several things we might find,” Girguis said. “One hypothesis was that their microbiome would look like those of other meat-eaters like lions and tigers, and the foregut was just vestigial. The other hypothesis was that it allowed a different group of microbes to do something we hadn’t thought about. What we found was that whales have a microbiome that looks halfway like a ruminant and halfway like a carnivore.”“We’ve come to better understand the evolution of whales over the past few decades, and see where they fit on the evolutionary tree. But we have not understood the microbial changes that have allowed them to become one of the most successful groups of animals in the ocean,” said Roman. “This study helps explain that.”Going forward, Girguis and colleagues hope to sample the microbial community in whales’ stomach chambers, and to extend the study to toothed whales, which don’t have such chitin-rich diets. The team also has drawn interest from aquariums, which may be able to use information about the gut microbes in whales to better care for animals kept in captivity.“A lot of aquariums … they know when their whales are healthy or not, but they don’t always have a causal factor, and these gut microbes may be a big clue,” Girguis said. “As long as people keep whales in captivity, there is value in this type of research, because it can keep them as healthy as possible.”While the study may not provide a definitive answer to questions of phylogenetic inertia, it does suggest that some morphological features, if they can provide an advantage, are retained, despite dramatic changes in a creature’s environment.“We now have this snapshot that addresses this question of how a creature’s evolutionary past interacts with its microbiome, and how its diet today influences its microbiome,” he said. “The answer is … if that morphological feature, if it has value to a species, then it may well be something that’s capitalized on over evolutionary time.”last_img read more

first_imgGovernor Jim Douglas yesterday received a letter from Chairman of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, James Oberstar (D-MN) commending Vermont for ranking first in nation for “the percentage of wastewater infrastructure Recovery Act funds put out to bid, under contract, and underway.”  Vermont has committed all of its wastewater infrastructure funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA).“The entire Recovery Act team, from our Office of Economic Stimulus and Recovery to the Department of Environmental Conservation, has done a tremendous job ensuring that we are getting these critical infrastructure funds into our communities and creating jobs expeditiously,” said Governor Douglas.  “When Congress passed the Recovery Act last year, it was up to the states to implement much of the funding.  We are doing our part to get the money into our economy quickly, while being responsible stewards of the public’s resources.”Wastewater infrastructure projects funded through ARRA include the Twin Oaks stormwater project in South Burlington, the combined sewer overflow elimination project in Springfield and a solar panel installation project at the wastewater treatment plant in Montpelier, among others.  Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Justin Johnson said of the state’s work, “With a combination of smart work and good sense, Vermont was able to identify good projects and get the stimulus funds obligated quickly and efficiently.”Source: Governor’s office. 5.7.2010###last_img read more

first_imgIt’s hard to believe that just over three months ago, I was sitting in my basement apartment among a mound of boxes that, just days prior, had been my life. Everything I owned except the essentials was packed away.My mixing bowls, measuring cups, baking pans. A set of vintage ceramic jars that hold dry ingredients. All of it was packed neatly into a box labeled “Goodwill.” Even my full-sized bed with the flannel sheets and the big down comforter and the rocking chair and my little wooden desk (damn, I miss that thing) were among my giveaways.But that’s just it. Those things were all things. I didn’t need them per say, and that’s what I wanted to see for myself – just how much I could do without. I packed all that crap (and much, much more) into my minivan, parked it in my very patient parents’ driveway, and said hasta luega to my former self, that former life.Even once the project launched, it didn’t seem real. It’s taken nearly every single one of these past 90-some days for this lifestyle to sink in. In the first month alone I must have done three additional purges before I truly felt like I was operating on the bare necessities. But now, it doesn’t feel so strange to be using the same spork (yes, spork) and bowl every day, the same coffee mug, the same Eddie Bauer outfit. If anything, staying in a house where my glass gets used once before ending up in the dishwasher seems much stranger.I’ve spent a lot of hours sifting through video footage both old and new this past week to pare down into three minutes just what’s been going on these past three months (that’s no easy task, by the way). There have been times that were particularly rough, sleepless nights I was sure my Go would get blown away in a storm, or mornings I would awake to the mess a raccoon made of my week’s worth of food.But as I was replaying interviews and browsing through videos, those moments didn’t surface. What I thought of, instead, were the incredible people I’ve met and reconnected with along the way. From the Carolina coast to the highlands of Pennsylvania, I’ve met people from every walk of life who have inspired me in ways I’m sure even I can’t fully grasp right now.This video barely even begins to scratch the surface of showing just who those faces were, but they, and ultimately you, are the ones who make this project what it is. Without the support of our readers and people who want to help me fulfill this crazy dream of mine, I would never be able to swallow my self-doubts and press on.So thank you to all of you amazing people out there who let me bum on your couch, eat your food, wash my stinky synthetics in your washing machine, hang my paddling gear up in your front yard, and plug 4,032 different cables and cords into your power outlets. Thank you to the strangers out there who have welcomed me with open arms and shown me a little glimpse of your backyard adventures. Thank you, Panera, for letting me poach Internet even though I usually only buy one cookie.Thank you, thank you, thank you.last_img read more

first_img 12SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr,Rich Jones A published author and engaging speaker, Rich Jones is President/CEO/Principal for Leaders2Leadership LLC. Prior to starting his own strategic planning agency he was Senior Vice President of Sales, … Web: Details The ProblemThe key problem with integration today is best explained in these eight painful truths about the modern credit union industry:Competition is fiercer than ever.Being competitive means credit unions need to bring members the access, products and services they want—which requires help from third-party providers.Each third-party provider requires integration into their core operating system.Almost all core operating systems require the use of a proprietary application program interface (API) that comes with a license fee.Every time integration takes place, credit unions pay significant fees for development and professional services.Vendors and core providers need to share member information back and forth to have a functional relationship.Almost all vendor-to-core integrations access the same fields, yet every integration requires its own development and professional services support.This duplicative cost is driving up operating expense (OPEX) and is overwhelming IT staff to the point where new technologies are put into long queues before they can be implemented.The New ParadigmCore providers need to accept that they do not own the member data; the credit union does. The core provider is the transaction machine to process member activity and store balances. In today’s industry, where a typical credit union manages 50 or more third-party vendors, it is simply unacceptable that core providers hold member data hostage with proprietary APIs and expensive barriers.If vendors are going to insist that they not only hold a piece of the 360-degree member view, but also receive data sharing to and from the core system, then this data sharing must become faster and cheaper to enable.The SolutionTo remove expensive, time-consuming proprietary integration APIs from the process, credit unions need to require all vendors, core and otherwise, to use an integration standard. In the healthcare and insurance industries, standardization has saved companies millions of dollars in integration expenses and enabled them to bring innovations that meet their customers’ needs to market much faster.This is where the Credit Union Financial Exchange (CUFX) comes in. Spearheaded by CUNA Technology Council, CUFX is an ambitious initiative that seeks to end integration nightmares for credit unions nationwide by creating a single standard for the entire industry.Five Steps to Become The SolutionDemand your core provider accept CUFX Standard for all integrations.Include the use of CUFX Standard in all contracts that require integration.Choose vendors and core providers that actively accept CUFX as the integration standard.Talk to CUFX Standard ( before you sign a contract that requires integration.Contribute to this cooperative initiative designed to remove the costly, time-consuming barriers to core and vendor-to-vendor integrations for the entire credit union movement.When we cooperate as a movement, we stand a chance to break the cycle of expensive integrations and to make credit union member data more accessible and available. Only by working together can we ease this burden and shift the paradigm towards acceptance that ALL member and transaction data is ours—and ours alone.last_img read more

first_imgDespite the emergence of innovative payment platforms and technology providers, more than a third of business-to-consumer disbursement payments are still made by check. That can be an expensive and slow process, especially when there’s a better way to pay.Digital disbursement solutions provide fast and secure payment delivery options and simplify the time-consuming task of paying large numbers of consumers or workers. A digital approach, complete with real-time reconciliation and tracking, also lets all parties monitor payment status during each step of the process, which can reduce operational overhead and improve satisfaction.U.S. companies make more than 1.9 billion payments to consumers annually, according to the Aite Group.  Those payments, known as disbursements, include insurance claims, rewards, rebates and payments from businesses to workers. For gig economy workers, freelancers and even those receiving regular paychecks, digital payment options help them get paid faster and, in some cases, as quickly as money is earned. ShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr continue reading »last_img read more

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first_imgThe ongoing threat of the novel coronavirus now raises questions about the timeline of the Tokyo Olympics, slated for July and August of this year. Indonesia has shown firm support for the games to proceed according to schedule.Indonesia’s National Olympic Committee (NOC) chief Raja Sapta “Okto” Oktohari said on Monday that his party had sent a letter to both Japanese and Chinese NOCs regarding the current situation of the coronavirus outbreak, which had affected both countries. In addition to offering sympathy, Okto said, his organization offered any support that Japan might need to overcome the difficulty of organizing the event amid the outbreak.“We are offering any assistance to and support for our friend Japan, which has been working hard to stage the Tokyo Olympics,” he said on the sidelines of Indonesia’s annual NOC meeting in Jakarta. As of Monday afternoon, Japan recorded 256 cases of the coronavirus and six deaths. The Tokyo Olympics is set to be held from July 24 to Aug. 9.Last week, International Olympic Committee (IOC) senior member Dick Pound said it was not impossible to reschedule the Olympics to next year but wanted athletes who were training for Tokyo to know the IOC was fully committed to having them at the opening ceremonies on July 24, Reuters reported.The World Health Organization has met the 2020 Olympics organizers to advise them on the coronavirus situation, and “no decision has been made to cancel the major sporting event in the midst of the coronavirus outbreak”, CNBC reported.Okto said Indonesia had displayed similar support for the Philippines SEA Games last December, which had been criticized over lack of readiness in organizing the multisport event. “We showed some support while others opted to criticize the organizers during the Philippines SEA Games,” he said.“And the result was positive as we got many services and positive feedback from the host, the Philippines.”Team Indonesia’s Tokyo Olympics chief of mission Rosan Roeslani said the current coronavirus outbreak had caused him to postpone his plan to visit Japan to conduct a survey before the games in Tokyo. The survey was previously scheduled for the third week of March.“Our preparation is still ongoing. We will keep communicating with the IOC,” he said.Earlier, Youth and Sports Minister Zainudin Amali said that his ministry would wait for the IOC or the decisions of other world authorities on the upcoming Tokyo Olympics. He said Indonesia would obey any final recommendation issued regarding the Olympics.This is similar to the minister’s gesture when facing the same crisis with the Philippines Para Games, which were eventually postponed indefinitely due to the coronavirus outbreak.Topics : Indonesia’s full support of Japan in staging the quadrennial event may also aim to aid the country’s mission to win its bid for the 2032 Olympics.The Indonesian NOC plans to use the Tokyo Games to showcase the country’s readiness to host the Olympics by establishing Rumah Indonesia (House of Indonesia) to promote the country and garner support from other Olympic participants.Rumah Indonesia is projected to cost Rp 200 billion (US$13.8 million). The house will be built in a strategic location inside the athletes’ villages in Tokyo.Indonesia will compete against Brisbane, Australia, and a joint bid by North and South Korea to host the 2032 Olympics.last_img read more

first_imgTransportation Minister Budi Karya Sumadi inaugurated the reactivated Cianjur-Cipatat railroad network in West Java on Monday as part of the government’s plan to reduce road traffic, especially in Bogor, Sukabumi and Padalarang and the surrounding areas.The 57-kilometer Cianjur-Padalarang railroad network is made up of three segments. The first segment, connecting Canjur and Ciranjang, was already reactivated in 2019, but the current activation extends the network to Cipatat district in West Bandung regency.The ministry spent Rp 118.8 billion (US$8 million) from its 2019 budget to reactivate the Ciranjang-Cipatat segment, which includes work to repair and straighten rail tracks. It aims to start work on the final segment of the network, which will connect the stations of Cipatat and Padalarang, by 2022. “Currently, the volume of traffic from Jakarta and its surrounding regions to the southern part of West Java is quite high, and that frequently causes congestion. The [reactivation] will hopefully improve connectivity for people in Bogor, Sukabumi, Padalarang and the surrounding region,” Budi said in a statement released on Monday.Through the rail network reactivation, the ministry hopes to cut travel time between Cipatat and Sukabumi to 2.5 hours by train, 30 minutes less than the average travel time by road. The ministry also hopes to increase the number of daily train passengers on the route from around 2,100 to 6,500.Furthermore, the ministry hopes to rail freight capacity from 30 tons per day to 42 tons by adding a sixth car to freight trains.“Connectivity on this railroad is part of our effort to increase the availability of passenger and freight transportation services. Hopefully, both industries and commercial sector players will shift from using the road network to rail-based transportation,” Budi said.To develop Indonesia’s aging rail infrastructure, President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s administration had planned to build 3,258 km of additional tracks and reactivate abandoned networks, according to the 2015-2019 National Medium-Term Development Plan (RPJMN).However, Transportation Ministry data show that the government only built and reactivated 852 km of tracks between 2015 and 2018, far below the RPJMN target.Topics :last_img read more

first_imgBACOLOD City – Mayor Evelio “Bing”Leonardia has directed all barangay officials to comply with the strictimplementation the city’s “no segregation, no collection” policy. “If it becomes necessary, we will makea sample. If we will be forced to do so, then we have to impose sanctions,”warned Leonardia. Solid Waste Management Boardsecretariat Atty. Vicente Petierre III explained that under the law, anybodycan file a case to any person violating RA 9003. The city government had intended tostart implementing the policy on March 1, but was deferred next month to givebarangay officials ample time to enforce it, since they are presently tied upwith five other major tasks as ordered by the national government. The “no segregation, no collection”policy is in compliance with Republic Act (RA) 9003, or the Ecological SolidWaste Management Act of 2000. center_img “It is stated clearly under the lawthat this is segregation at source, which means the first person that will takecare the compliance is the barangay, Petierre claimed. For his part, Vice Mayor El CidFamiliaran, head of the Solid Waste Action Team, reminded all village headsthat the Environment Management Board will issue a notice of violation tonon-compliant barangays. He added that they will review the Environment Code ofthe city in order to penalize violators./PN Those who will be caught notsupporting or uncooperative may face sanctions. last_img read more

first_imgBacolod City police chief Colonel Henry Biñas says they are considering “inside job” as a possible motive behind the robbery and killing of a Belgian national earlier this week in the city’s Villa Angela Subdivision in Barangay Villamonte. BCPO BY DOMINIQUE GABRIEL BAÑAGABACOLOD City – Police investigators are considering “inside job” as a possible motive behind the robbery and killing of Belgian-national Carl Nolens earlier this week in the city’s Villa Angela Subdivision in Barangay Villamonte.Colonel Henry Biñas, city police director, said after interviewing Nolens’ wife, they discovered that one the victims’ servants left their house the day before the crime and has not been in contact with them ever since.Biñas also said based on the modus carried out by the suspects, they believe the crime was committed by the notorious Epogon crime group. The police chief said the Epogon group is heavily involved in armed robberies, thefts, illegal drugs, and gun-for-hire activities.He added the BCPO has already set up a task force in order to expedite the investigation process.Earlier on Wednesday, Nolens was killed after four unidentified robbers attacked his home.Investigation revealed that the four suspects gained entry into the foreigner’s home by destroying the grills of the perimeter wall.The suspects then climbed up into the balcony and destroyed the sliding door.Once inside the suspects forcibly took the bag owned by the victim’s wife, which contains an undetermined amount of cash and jewelry.However, Nolens resisted against the suspects and he was shot in the stomach using an M16 assault rifle, while Nolens’ wife managed to jump off the balcony. The suspects then proceeded to the victim’s in-law and servants, hogtied them and fled.Nolens and his wife were rushed to the Metro Bacolod Hospital and Medical Center, where Nolens was declared dead on arrival by hospital staff./PNlast_img read more