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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_imgThe company Air Pannonia, a phenomenal business and tourist story from Osijek, has strengthened its fleet with the new Cessna Citation 525A-CJ2 aircraft.AIR PANNONIA is a family business started by an airline with a tradition of 23 years, focused on the transport of business users and medical transport of patients, and actively participates in the development of health tourism and tourism in general in Slavonia.It is an aircraft that is one of the most comfortable aircraft in this class, in addition to safety and reliability, it has a higher capacity and speed when traveling to distant destinations and will help us in even better positioning in the European and world market.By expanding its services and penetrating the market, Air Pannonia has become a desirable company for cooperation with many people in the business, showbiz and sports world, and therefore the need has been created to buy a new aircraft, says Zrinka Vlašić Kujundžija from Air Panonia and adds “Consequently, the need to create new jobs is logical, so in addition to the existing capacities of the hangar, service, two aircraft, our air headquarters in Osijek, we hired three new pilots and established a sales center in Osijek.”Also, Air Panonia are one of the initiators and founders of the Health Tourism Cluster Pannonian Health in Osijek, which was established at the beginning of the year. Thus, at a time when Slavonia is mentioned mostly in the context of emigration, the company Air Panonia is another proof that Slavonia can succeed.In the meantime, there is no need to worry about it. ”RELATED NEWS:last_img read more

first_imgNHL free agency 2019: Complete list of all 31 teams’ UFA, RFA players With Sebastian Aho staying in Carolina, the Canadiens looked to a familiar face to help maintain their current roster.The Habs announced on Thursday restricted free agent winger Artturi Lehkonen re-signed to a two-year deal with an AAV of $2.4 million. The 24-year-old played all 82 games for the first time in his three-year career last season recording a career-high 31 points (11-20-31) in the process. Canadiens agree to terms on a 2-year contract with forward Artturi Lehkonen (AAV of $2.4 million).DETAILS ➡ https://t.co/Y3kvBkHsZr#GoHabsGo pic.twitter.com/zHhzlDkxLp— Canadiens Montréal (@CanadiensMTL) July 11, 2019A second-round pick by Montreal in 2013, the Finland native should surpass 300 games played in a Canadiens uniform early into the second year of his contract if he remains healthy.Lehkonen re-signed with Montreal the same day as fellow arbitration-filer Joel Armia, who signed a two-year contract with an AAV of $2.6 million.CapFriendly projects the Canadiens have $4,844,524 remaining in cap space with only Charles Hudon left to bring back from last year’s active roster. Hudon has his arbitration hearing scheduled for Aug. 2.last_img read more

first_imgLast year when we launched “the dollar for peace campaign” to strengthen and expand the peace clubs in schools and communities initiative, no one thought of the Ebola epidemic that stunned the people and economy of the country.The news of the Ebola outbreak, as we were rounding up our fundraising campaign, did not resonate with most Liberians and again, no one within Messengers of Peace (MOP)-Liberia knew we were actually raising funds for Ebola prevention and control activities.The MOP takes a rear view look at our 2014 report card, the challenges, achievements and impact of our programs. As you have noticed from our weekly column, we have worked hard with the Liberian public and communities to enhance the contents of our programs.We didn’t commemorate the International Day of Peace, as we wanted to because of the Ebola crisis. The focus of so many of our efforts, during 2014, continued to center on the epidemic. While we did not get to expand our peace clubs into other counties and schools due to the closure of schools, we were able to engage many young persons in the fight against Ebola.MOP-Liberia mobilized over 100 young volunteers in and around Montserrado for community education outreach program. We produced several information and educational materials on Ebola. We helped in the distribution of Ebola awareness materials, raising promotional items and training hundreds of children in the techniques of basic hand washing.In post-Ebola recovery, MOP-Liberia’s priority for this year would focus on the campaign “Ebola Educates,” to deal with EVD myths, issues of false information, stigma and discrimination and conspiracy theory of source of infection.There is an urgent need to improve the coordination of efforts and the sharing of information. We need to prepare the next generation of young people for future outbreak and finance, according to Joachim von Amsberg, a Vice President at the World Bank, “…can be a strong driver of preparedness”. We can no longer be seen to be tardy and sluggish in our approach to disease outbreaks. We must learn from our past mistakes, document our success stories and educate generations on how our resilience and tenacity paid off.Building on last year’s debut and as the fight to burn out the EVD continues, amid hopeful signs of the disease receding, MOP-Liberia hopes to raise additional funds to tell the stories of how it all began; how we managed to cope with the deadliest disease of our generation and how survivors were re-integrated into the society.The purpose of the MOP-Liberia is to build and strengthen the support we need to sustain our peace advocacy efforts. Thanks to you for your support during the year 2014. Even though we lost a significant few of our partnership during 2014, we would like to take this opportunity to thank our strategic partners, Daily Observer, Liberia Peacebuilding Office (PBO), The Carter Center Liberia, Gbowee Peace Foundation Africa, Center for Justice and Peacebuilding (CJP), Shirley Ann Sullivan Educational Foundation (SASEF), UNMIL, board-members, volunteer peace messengers and Friends of MOP-Liberia that stood with us through our very difficult and happy moments. We owe our growth to you.We hope that as we launch our next fund raising campaign, it will stimulate us all to better collaboration in 2015.Until next week, when we come to you with another article on: “Ebola Educates”, Peace First, Peace above all else, May Peace prevail on earth.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

first_imgWASHINGTON — President Donald Trump says parts of the government will stay shut as long as Democrats refuse to build more barriers on the U.S.-Mexico border, seemingly dashing hope for a Christmas miracle that would soon allow several departments to reopen and employees to return to work.Asked when the government would reopen, Trump said: “I can’t tell you when the government’s going to be open. I can tell you it’s not going to be open until we have a wall or fence, whatever they’d like to call it.”“I’ll call it whatever they want but it’s all the same thing,” he said at the White House after offering holiday greetings to U.S. troops stationed around the country and the world.Trump argued that drug flows and human trafficking into the U.S. can only be stopped by a wall.“We can’t do it without a barrier. We can’t do it without a wall,” he told reporters.Democrats oppose spending any money on a wall or fence, pushing instead for increased use of technology to control access at the border.Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York and Rep. Nancy Pelosi of California, the Democratic leaders of Congress, blame Trump for the stalemate and for “plunging the country into chaos.” They pointed to problems beyond the shutdown, including heavy losses on Wall Street and Trump’s decision to fire his defense secretary.“The president wanted the shutdown, but he seems not to know how to get himself out of it,” they said in the statement.Trump had said he’d be “proud” to shut down the government in a fight over the wall, but now blames Democrats for refusing to vote for a House-passed bill that includes the $5.7 billion he wants for the wall.last_img read more