Commenced in January 2007
Frequency: Monthly
Edition: International
Paper Count: 6

Search results for: Shanna Swart

6 Deciding Graph Non-Hamiltonicity via a Closure Algorithm

Authors: E. R. Swart, S. J. Gismondi, N. R. Swart, C. E. Bell


We present an heuristic algorithm that decides graph non-Hamiltonicity. All graphs are directed, each undirected edge regarded as a pair of counter directed arcs. Each of the n! Hamilton cycles in a complete graph on n+1 vertices is mapped to an n-permutation matrix P where p(u,i)=1 if and only if the ith arc in a cycle enters vertex u, starting and ending at vertex n+1. We first create exclusion set E by noting all arcs (u, v) not in G, sufficient to code precisely all cycles excluded from G i.e. cycles not in G use at least one arc not in G. Members are pairs of components of P, {p(u,i),p(v,i+1)}, i=1, n-1. A doubly stochastic-like relaxed LP formulation of the Hamilton cycle decision problem is constructed. Each {p(u,i),p(v,i+1)} in E is coded as variable q(u,i,v,i+1)=0 i.e. shrinks the feasible region. We then implement the Weak Closure Algorithm (WCA) that tests necessary conditions of a matching, together with Boolean closure to decide 0/1 variable assignments. Each {p(u,i),p(v,j)} not in E is tested for membership in E, and if possible, added to E (q(u,i,v,j)=0) to iteratively maximize |E|. If the WCA constructs E to be maximal, the set of all {p(u,i),p(v,j)}, then G is decided non-Hamiltonian. Only non-Hamiltonian G share this maximal property. Ten non-Hamiltonian graphs (10 through 104 vertices) and 2000 randomized 31 vertex non-Hamiltonian graphs are tested and correctly decided non-Hamiltonian. For Hamiltonian G, the complement of E covers a matching, perhaps useful in searching for cycles. We also present an example where the WCA fails.

Keywords: Hamilton cycle decision problem, computational complexity theory, graph theory, theoretical computer science

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5 Multifunctional Plasmonic Ag-TiO2 Nano-biocompoistes: Surface Enhanced Raman Scattering and Anti-microbial Properties

Authors: Jai Prakash, Promod Kumar, Chantel Swart, J. H. Neethling, A. Janse van Vuuren, H. C. Swart


Ag nanoparticles (NPs) have been used as functional nanomaterials due to their optical and antibacterial properties. Similarly, TiO2 photocatalysts have also been used as suitable nanomaterials for killing cancer cells, viruses and bacteria. Here, we report on multifunctional plasmonic Ag-TiO2 nano-biocomposite synthesized by the sol-gel technique and their optical, surface enhanced Raman scattering (SERS) and antibacterial activities. The as-prepared composites of Ag–TiO2 with different silver content and TiO2 nanopowder were characterized by X-ray diffraction, scanning electron microscopy, high-resolution transmission electron microscopy, energy-dispersed X-ray analysis (EDX), UV-vis and Raman spectroscopy. The Ag NPs were found to be uniformly distributed and strongly attached to the TiO2 matrix. The novel optical response of the Ag-TiO2 nanocomposites is due to the strong electric field from the surface plasmon excitation of the Ag NPs. The Raman spectrum of Ag-TiO2 nanocomposite was found to be enhanced as compared to TiO2. The enhancement of the low frequency band is evident. This indicates the SERS effect of the TiO2 NPs in close vicinity of Ag NPs. In addition, nanocomposites showed enhancement in the SERS signals of methyl orange (MO) dye molecules with increasing Ag content. The localized electromagnetic field from the surface plasmon excitation of the Ag NPs was responsible for the SERS signals of the TiO2 NPs and MO molecules. The antimicrobial effect of the Ag–TiO2 nanocomposites with different silver content and TiO2 nanopowder were carried out against the bacterium Staphylococcus aureus. The Ag–TiO2 composites showed antibacterial activity towards S. aureus with increasing Ag content as compared to the TiO2 nanopowder. These results foresee promising applications of the functional plasmonic metal−semiconductor based nanobiocomposites for both chemical and biological samples.

Keywords: metal-Semiconductor, nano-Biocomposites, anti-microbial activity, surface enhanced Raman scattering

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4 Cell-free Bioconversion of n-Octane to n-Octanol via a Heterogeneous and Bio-Catalytic Approach

Authors: Shanna Swart, Caryn Fenner, Athanasios Kotsiopoulos, Susan Harrison


Linear alkanes are produced as by-products from the increasing use of gas-to-liquid fuel technologies for synthetic fuel production and offer great potential for value addition. Their current use as low-value fuels and solvents do not maximize this potential. Therefore, attention has been drawn towards direct activation of these aliphatic alkanes to more useful products such as alcohols, aldehydes, carboxylic acids and derivatives. Cytochrome P450 monooxygenases (P450s) can be used for activation of these aliphatic alkanes using whole-cells or cell-free systems. Some limitations of whole-cell systems include reduced mass transfer, stability and possible side reactions. Since the P450 systems are little studied as cell-free systems, they form the focus of this study. Challenges of a cell-free system include co-factor regeneration, substrate availability and enzyme stability. Enzyme immobilization offers a positive outlook on this dilemma, as it may enhance stability of the enzyme. In the present study, 2 different P450s (CYP153A6 and CYP102A1) as well as the relevant accessory enzymes required for electron transfer (ferredoxin and ferredoxin reductase) and co-factor regeneration (glucose dehydrogenase) have been expressed in E. coli and purified by metal affinity chromatography. Glucose dehydrogenase (GDH), was used as a model enzyme to assess the potential of various enzyme immobilization strategies including; surface attachment on MagReSyn® microspheres with various functionalities and on electrospun nanofibers, using self-assembly based methods forming Cross Linked Enzymes (CLE), Cross Linked Enzyme Aggregates (CLEAs) and spherezymes as well as in a sol gel. The nanofibers were synthesized by electrospinning, which required the building of an electrospinning machine. The nanofiber morphology has been analyzed by SEM and binding will be further verified by FT-IR. Covalent attachment based methods showed limitations where only ferredoxin reductase and GDH retained activity after immobilization which were largely attributed to insufficient electron transfer and inactivation caused by the crosslinkers (60% and 90% relative activity loss for the free enzyme when using 0.5% glutaraldehyde and glutaraldehyde/ethylenediamine (1:1 v/v), respectively). So far, initial experiments with GDH have shown the most potential when immobilized via their His-tag onto the surface of MagReSyn® microspheres functionalized with Ni-NTA. It was found that Crude GDH could be simultaneously purified and immobilized with sufficient activity retention. Immobilized pure and crude GDH could be recycled 9 and 10 times, respectively, with approximately 10% activity remaining. The immobilized GDH was also more stable than the free enzyme after storage for 14 days at 4˚C. This immobilization strategy will also be applied to the P450s and optimized with regards to enzyme loading and immobilization time, as well as characterized and compared with the free enzymes. It is anticipated that the proposed immobilization set-up will offer enhanced enzyme stability (as well as reusability and easy recovery), minimal mass transfer limitation, with continuous co-factor regeneration and minimal enzyme leaching. All of which provide a positive outlook on this robust multi-enzyme system for efficient activation of linear alkanes as well as the potential for immobilization of various multiple enzymes, including multimeric enzymes for different bio-catalytic applications beyond alkane activation.

Keywords: alkane activation, cytochrome P450 monooxygenase, enzyme catalysis, enzyme immobilization

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3 Nutritional Status of Food Insecure Students, UWC

Authors: E. C. Swart, E. Kunneke


Background: Disparities in food security exist between communities and households across the country, reflecting continuing social and economic inequalities. The purpose of this study was to investigate the presence of food insecurity amongst UWC students. Method: Cross-sectional study recruited 200 students via email and cellphone from an ICS generated list of randomly selected students aged 18-25. Data collection took place during the first two weeks of term 3. Individual appointments were made with consenting participants and conducted in English by trained BSc Dietetics students. Data was analysed using SPSS. The hunger scale used by Stats SA (October 2010) was used. Dietary intake was assessed using a single 24hr recall. Results: Sixty-three percent of the students reported that they do experience some food insecurity whilst 14.5% reported to go hungry due to inadequate access to food. Coping mechanisms during periods of food insecurity include: Asking a friend, neighbour, family member (40%); Borrow (15%); Steal (none); Casual jobs (12%). Anthropometric status of students did not differ statistically significantly by food security status. A statistically significantly greater proportion of Xhosa speaking students reported inadequate money for food. Students residing in residences off campus appear to be least food secure in terms of money available and limiting food intake, whilst those residing at home are less food insecure. Similar proportions of students who receive bursaries or whose parents are paying reported going hungry whilst those who supports themselves never goes hungry. Mean nutrient intake during the previous 24 hours of students who reported inadequate resources to buy food, who eat less due to inadequate resources and who goes hungry only differed statistically significantly for Vitamin B (go hungry) and for fibre (money shortage). In general the nutrient intake is lower for those who reported to eat less and go hungry except for added sugar, vitamin A and folate (go hungry), and energy, fibre, iron, riboflavin and folate (eat less). For students who reported to have inadequate money to buy food, the mean nutrient intake was higher except for calcium and thiamin. The mean body mass index of this group of students was also higher even though the difference was not statistically significant. Conclusion: Hunger is present on campus however a single 24hr recall did not confirm statistically significant lower nutrient intakes for students who reported different levels of food insecurity.

Keywords: anthropometry, dietary intake, nutritional status, students

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2 Servant Leadership and Organisational Climate in South African Private Schools: A Qualitative Study

Authors: Christo Swart, Lidia Pottas, David Maree


Background: It is a sine qua non that the South African educational system finds itself in a profound crisis and that traditional school leadership styles are outdated and hinder quality education. New thinking is mandatory to improve the status quo and school leadership has an immense role to play to improve the current situation. It is believed that the servant leadership paradigm, when practiced by school leadership, may have a significant influence on the school environment in totality. This study investigates the private school segment in search of constructive answers to assist with the educational crises in South Africa. It is assumed that where school leadership can augment a supportive and empowering environment for teachers to constructively engage in their teaching and learning activities - then many challenges facing by school system may be subjugated in a productive manner. Aim: The aim of this study is fourfold. To outline the constructs of servant leadership which are perceived by teachers of private schools as priorities to enhance a successful school environment. To describe the constructs of organizational climate which are observed by teachers of private schools as priorities to enhance a successful school environment. To investigate whether the participants perceived a link between the constructs of servant leadership and organizational climate. To consider the process to be followed to introduce the constructs of SL and OC the school system in general as perceived by participants. Method: This study utilized a qualitative approach to explore the mediation between school leadership and the organizational climate in private schools in the search for amicable answers. The participants were purposefully selected for the study. Focus group interviews were held with participants from primary and secondary schools and a focus group discussion was conducted with principals of both primary and secondary schools. The interview data were transcribed and analyzed and identical patterns of coded data were grouped together under emerging themes. Findings: It was found that the practice of servant leadership by school leadership indeed mediates a constructive and positive school climate. It was found that the constructs of empowerment, accountability, humility and courage – interlinking with one other - are prominent of servant leadership concepts that are perceived by teachers of private schools as priorities for school leadership to enhance a successful school environment. It was confirmed that the groupings of training and development, communication, trust and work environment are perceived by teachers of private schools as prominent features of organizational climate as practiced by school leadership to augment a successful school environment. It can be concluded that the participants perceived several links between the constructs of servant leadership and organizational climate that encourage a constructive school environment and that there is a definite positive consideration and motivation that the two concepts be introduced to the school system in general. It is recommended that school leadership mentors and guides teachers to take ownership of the constructs of servant leadership as well as organizational climate and that public schools be researched and consider to implement the two paradigms. The study suggests that aspirant teachers be exposed to leadership as well as organizational paradigms during their studies at university.

Keywords: empowering environment for teachers and learners, new thinking required, organizational climate, school leadership, servant leadership

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1 Development of a Human Skin Explant Model for Drug Metabolism and Toxicity Studies

Authors: K. K. Balavenkatraman, B. Bertschi, K. Bigot, A. Grevot, A. Doelemeyer, S. D. Chibout, A. Wolf, F. Pognan, N. Manevski, O. Kretz, P. Swart, K. Litherland, J. Ashton-Chess, B. Ling, R. Wettstein, D. J. Schaefer


Skin toxicity is poorly detected during preclinical studies, and drug-induced side effects in humans such as rashes, hyperplasia or more serious events like bullous pemphigus or toxic epidermal necrolysis represent an important hurdle for clinical development. In vitro keratinocyte-based epidermal skin models are suitable for the detection of chemical-induced irritancy, but do not recapitulate the biological complexity of full skin and fail to detect potential serious side-effects. Normal healthy skin explants may represent a valuable complementary tool, having the advantage of retaining the full skin architecture and the resident immune cell diversity. This study investigated several conditions for the maintenance of good morphological structure after several days of culture and the retention of phase II metabolism for 24 hours in skin explants in vitro. Human skin samples were collected with informed consent from patients undergoing plastic surgery and immediately transferred and processed in our laboratory by removing the underlying dermal fat. Punch biopsies of 4 mm diameter were cultured in an air-liquid interface using transwell filters. Different cultural conditions such as the effect of calcium, temperature and cultivation media were tested for a period of 14 days and explants were histologically examined after Hematoxylin and Eosin staining. Our results demonstrated that the use of Williams E Medium at 32°C maintained the physiological integrity of the skin for approximately one week. Upon prolonged incubation, the upper layers of the epidermis become thickened and some dead cells are present. Interestingly, these effects were prevented by addition of EGFR inhibitors such as Afatinib or Erlotinib. Phase II metabolism of the skin such as glucuronidation (4-methyl umbeliferone), sulfation (minoxidil), N-acetyltransferase (p-toluidene), catechol methylation (2,3-dehydroxy naphthalene), and glutathione conjugation (chlorodinitro benzene) were analyzed by using LCMS. Our results demonstrated that the human skin explants possess metabolic activity for a period of at least 24 hours for all the substrates tested. A time course for glucuronidation with 4-methyl umbeliferone was performed and a linear correlation was obtained over a period of 24 hours. Longer-term culture studies will indicate the possible evolution of such metabolic activities. In summary, these results demonstrate that human skin explants maintain a normal structure for several days in vitro and are metabolically active for at least the first 24 hours. Hence, with further characterisation, this model may be suitable for the study of drug-induced toxicity.

Keywords: human skin explant, phase II metabolism, epidermal growth factor receptor, toxicity

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