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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_imgCommentary by Tracy McCue, Sumner Newscow — The Wellington school board had an interesting discussion the other night.Wellington school board member Larry Mangan at the Oct. 9 meeting posed a legitimate question to the other elected members in the room: Does the Sellers Park football stadium fit the standards of the American Disabilities Act?That set off a debate amongst the members, and the answer to the question was never reached. About a decade ago, the school district installed bleachers on the visitor’s side which were indeed ADA compliant for wheelchair citizens. Wellington Superintendent Rick Weiss said by the letter of the law he was told that would make the stadium ADA compliant.However, he said if the stadium was to be completely rebuilt it would not meet ADA standards. The home stands are not compliant, nor were the restrooms or the paths leading to the stands. The discussion, as it always does, started to gravitate toward costs. How much would it cost the school district to make those stands ADA accessible? Someone threw out a figure of $250,000.I’m not sure if that was just a rough guess or based on sound reasoning, but $250,000? More than 99 percent of the homes in Wellington can not be sold for that kind of money but you are saying to rebuild the Sellers Park stands it will cost that much? I would like some more concrete figures. Wellington board member Jason Newberry said that it was best to leave the issue alone, not alert anyone that might force the school district to address it. Attaboy. The best solution to a problem is to ignore it.Board member Angie Ratcliff took it a step further with this quote.“I know one thing, I’m not in favor of spending school funds out there. We have plenty of other places to spend our our money on curriculum, textbooks and computers.”Ah, the education vs. athletic debate. If we invest just an ounce into athletic facilities, we are shortchanging our students in the classroom. Has anyone ever thought that sports can be part of the educational process? And can anyone really prove that athletic funding has hurt education endeavors when it is about 1 percent of the total budget?Let me ask Mr. Newberry and Ms. Ratcliff a pertinent question.Let’s say you unfortunately become disabled for whatever reason, whether it be in an automobile accident or a disease and you become strapped to a wheelchair. Would you be OK, knowing you would be unable to attend a football game, or perhaps an outdoor concert at Sellers Park, or a fireworks show, or even a graduation ceremony if the commencement exercise was moved back to the field?Or how about this. What if you had a child or grandchild who is disabled and wishes to attend a football game with his/her friends on a Friday night to cheer on the Crusaders? Are you ok with him/her sitting on the visitor’s side amongst a bunch of Andale fans, while his/her friends are cheering on the Crusaders on the other side?I wouldn’t be.Here’s the things about disabilities. Nobody chooses to be in a wheelchair.I’m sure a lot of you have been on crutches for a certain length of time because of a broken foot or whatever. I was on crutches for about two months. It stunk. Not only was it a pain to get from one place to the other, but for me I didn’t particularly like having a target on my back – with people staring at me or asking the inevitable question, “what did you do?”But I am lucky. I got better and walked again. Some people don’t have that luxury.  The thought that someone has to spend an eternity in a wheelchair is a tough way to live life.And that is why I support ADA legislation, and why I believe we have a moral obligation at every turn to try to make life as normal as possible for those who suffer from disabilities.The question whether Sellers Stadium is ADA accessible by the “letter of the law” is irrelevant. The question is can a person with disabilities attend a Wellington football game without being discriminated against?The answer is no.The Wellington football field has gone through incredible transformation lately – all I remind you through private donations and grassroots efforts. The stadium again rises to the level of our Crusader football team.But making the home stands ADA compatible is something that can’t be done by the private sector due to the various governmental laws. It’s an issue the board has to address.The question at the Oct. 9 meeting was whether or not to pay for a study to see what the costs of the stadium will be to make it ADA accessible.  I urge the board to follow through and get a study completed.Then, the board working with the community at large, can figure out what the best course of action can be in making our stadium accessible for everyone.Follow us on Twitter. Close Forgot password? Please put in your email: Send me my password! Close message Login This blog post All blog posts Subscribe to this blog post’s comments through… RSS Feed Subscribe via email Subscribe Subscribe to this blog’s comments through… RSS Feed Subscribe via email Subscribe Follow the discussion Comments (21) Logging you in… Close Login to IntenseDebate Or create an account Username or Email: Password: Forgot login? Cancel Login Close WordPress.com Username or Email: Password: Lost your password? Cancel Login Dashboard | Edit profile | Logout Logged in as Admin Options Disable comments for this page Save Settings Sort by: Date Rating Last Activity Loading comments… You are about to flag this comment as being inappropriate. Please explain why you are flagging this comment in the text box below and submit your report. The blog admin will be notified. Thank you for your input. +17 Vote up Vote down WHSMOM · 303 weeks ago let’s just “sweep it under the rug” kind of statement to me by some current board members…what is going to happen to that budget when someone decides to stand up and sue for discrimination??? or if someone with a disability gets hurt??? and as for spending the budget on things for the classrooms…HA HA!!! maybe if we would see more school board members visiting classrooms talking AND listening to the teachers would be nice….and I mean ALL the schools…NOT just a chosen few… Great article Mr. McCue Report Reply 1 reply · active 303 weeks ago +9 Vote up Vote down Seen it happen · 303 weeks ago I am in the older group but 2 years ago at the football games that I attended, I personally seen two different people fall on the steps. One was 60’s ( in that area) and one was a school age that wasn’t running for once but going up stairs and very lucky they both did not break a leg. We haven’t been back as it is to hard to get around in the bleachers. Don’t wait till school gets a law suit over this. Get er done Report Reply 0 replies · active 303 weeks ago +28 Vote up Vote down Rita & Jim Rutledge · 303 weeks ago As a parent that has a child that graduated from this district in 1993 and is permanently disabled, I am appalled that this issues is even being debated 21 years after the fact. At time she could not get in the stands and to this day still could not if she wanted to. In 1997 she sat in a wheelchair on the old track to watch her sister graduate, not with the rest of her family. The school buildings may be accessible, so why not the rest of the facilities. Where is the logic in this picture? I don’t have a student in the district at this time but I have had and if they are waiting for someone to alert them of the issue of ADA maybe I will be that person. Report Reply 0 replies · active 303 weeks ago +11 Vote up Vote down WellMom · 303 weeks ago Wellington board member Jason Newberry said that it was best to leave the issue alone, not alert anyone that might force the school district to address it. Trust me, the people and family members of those in wheelchairs don’t need it to be pointed out that certain buildings etc have issues. Compliant and usable are often times different. You especially don’t forget every activity your child misses out on that their peers from school get to attend. Report Reply 1 reply · active 303 weeks ago +8 Vote up Vote down Sally · 303 weeks ago turn it in to ada. maybe newberry can pay for it then. Report Reply 0 replies · active 303 weeks ago -11 Vote up Vote down notlla · 303 weeks ago Raise the Sales Tax , tha`ts the answer to every thing. or maybe we could build a new stadium out at the High school. Report Reply 0 replies · active 303 weeks ago -2 Vote up Vote down Jason Newberry · 303 weeks ago Actually that was not exactly what I meant Tracy. My thinking is that per the district’s legal counsel we are compliant in regard to the ADA seating. I know it is on the visitors side, and sure I would like to see it on both as well, but there are other things that should probably be addressed first (sidewalks,restrooms). That is why I brought up the restrooms. There is more to being ADA compliant than seating on the home side, and we have to be ready to deal with those issues as well. Thanks. Report Reply 3 replies · active 303 weeks ago +15 Vote up Vote down Levi · 303 weeks ago To those against it: Put yourself in a wheelchair and try to access it just one time by yourself. Then imagine your life that way. Report Reply 0 replies · active 303 weeks ago -6 Vote up Vote down nobody · 303 weeks ago I think is a valid concern but if you know anything about the financial crisis the school district faces; well you might understand that this could cost a lot of people their jobs. I think that community fundraising might be a better idea. I totally agree that all people should be able to access all school facilities. Maybe some of the business owners who are benefiting from Gov Brownback’s tax relief could step up and share a little? Report Reply 0 replies · active 303 weeks ago +19 Vote up Vote down Meadow Lanes · 303 weeks ago As a parent of a special needs student who graduated over 10 years ago, I look back at all the changes that have happened over that time frame to the stadium to accommodate these students. absolutely nothing has been done, it is still the same. Its time to fix this. Its a shame that we have to watch a parent carry a special needs student into the stands so that they can sit with there classmates. Report Reply 0 replies · active 303 weeks ago 12Next » Post a new comment Enter text right here! Comment as a Guest, or login: Login to IntenseDebate Login to WordPress.com Login to Twitter Go back Tweet this comment Connected as (Logout) Email (optional) Not displayed publicly. Name Email Website (optional) Displayed next to your comments. Not displayed publicly. If you have a website, link to it here. Posting anonymously. Tweet this comment Submit Comment Subscribe to None Replies All new comments Comments by IntenseDebate Enter text right here! Reply as a Guest, or login: Login to IntenseDebate Login to WordPress.com Login to Twitter Go back Tweet this comment Connected as (Logout) Email (optional) Not displayed publicly. Name Email Website (optional) Displayed next to your comments. Not displayed publicly. If you have a website, link to it here. 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first_imgOnly two playoff spots for 2020, one in the AFC and one in the NFC, were open for the taking when the NFL’s final week of the regular season arrived. They were snagged by the Titans and Eagles hours before the 49ers beat the Seahawks on “Sunday Night Football” in incredible fashion to clinch the NFC West and complete the NFL playoff bracket for 2020.The final playoff standings based on the Week 17 results also bring a surprising postseason matchup in the AFC. The Patriots were upset by the Dolphins to close the regular season, and that loss, coupled with the Chiefs’ win over the Chargers, dropped New England to the No. 3 seed, out of position for a first-round bye. Now the Patriots have to play on wild-card weekend, when they will host the Titans. The Saints had a chance to clinch the No. 1 seed and/or a first-round bye in the playoffs entering Week 17, but even though they took care of their business against the Panthers, wins by the 49ers and Packers prevented a New Orleans jump. Now the Vikings will have to play their wild-card game in the Superdome.4. Philadelphia Eagles vs. 5. Seattle SeahawksThis will be a matchup of two relentless teams led by MVP-caliber quarterbacks, a formula for a dandy of a wild-card game even though the Eagles limped into the playoffs with their Week 17 win over the Giants. For all the injuries Philadelphia has dealt with this season, its playoff visitor is short on personnel at key positions, too. (SN Illustration) https://images.daznservices.com/di/library/sporting_news/d9/5/nfl-playoff-bracket-122919-ftr_18s8qw5w48zni1rvgnrljrc017.png?t=1427033207&w=500&quality=80 MORE NFL:Playoff picture analysis | 2020 NFL Draft orderSpeaking of teams entering the playoffs in an unfavorable position, because the Saints are stuck in the No. 3 seed despite their 13-3 record, the Vikings will have to play their wild-card game in New Orleans.Below is the full NFL playoff bracket for 2020, plus a quick overview of the wild-card matchups.NFL playoff bracket 2020 Who’s in the NFL playoffs 2020?Though the seeding in the NFC was not settled until the 49ers beat the Seahawks on Sunday night to close the regular season, the field of 12 playoff teams was determined earlier in Week 17 when the Eagles clinched the final playoff spot.With their win over the Texans in Week 17, the Titans earned the sixth and final playoff spot in the AFC over the Steelers and Raiders, both of whom lost to close the season.Below is the full NFL playoff field for 2020.AFC standingsSeedTeamRecord1.Baltimore Ravens14-22.Kansas City Chiefs12-43.New England Patriots12-44.Houston Texans10-65.Buffalo Bills10-66.Tennessee Titans9-7Eliminated: Steelers (8-8), Raiders (7-9), Colts (7-7); Jets (7-9); Broncos (7-9); Browns (6-10); Jaguars (6-10); Chargers (5-11); Dolphins (5-11); Bengals (2-14)NFC standingsSeedTeamRecord1.San Francisco 49ers13-32.Green Bay Packers13-33.New Orleans Saints13-34.Philadelphia Eagles9-75.Seattle Seahawks11-56.Minnesota Vikings10-6Eliminated: Rams (9-7); Cowboys (8-8); Bears (8-8); Buccaneers (7-9); Falcons (7-9); Cardinals (5-10-1); Panthers (5-11); Giants (4-12); Lions (3-12-1); Redskins (3-13)AFC playoff matchups1. Baltimore Ravens (first-round bye)2. Kansas City Chiefs (first-round bye)3. New England Patriots vs. 6. Tennessee TitansNew England’s loss to the Miami in Week 17, coupled with Kansas City’s win over the Los Angeles Chargers, denied the Patriots the comfort of a first-round bye in the AFC playoffs. They’ll play their wild-card game at home against the Titans, who sneaked into the playoffs with their Week 17 win over the Texans.4. Houston Texans vs. 5. Buffalo BillsHouston became locked into this seed before it even took the field against Tennessee in Week 17, and Buffalo has been locked into the No. 5 spot since Week 16. This should be a closely contested wild-card game in Houston, with Deshaun Watson facing the Bills’ stingy defense.NFC playoff matchups1. San Francisco 49ers (first-round bye)2. Green Bay Packers (first-round bye)3. New Orleans Saints vs. 6. Minnesota Vikingslast_img read more