Commenced in January 2007
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Paper Count: 4305

Search results for: natural gas

45 Comparative Study on the Influence of Different Drugs against Aluminium- Induced Nephrotoxicity and Hepatotoxicity in Rats

Authors: Azza A. Ali, Toqa M. Elnahhas, Abeer I. Abd El-Fattah, Mona M. Kamal, Karema Abu-Elfotuh

Abstract:

Background: Environmental pollution with the different aluminium (Al) containing compounds especially those in industrial waste water exposes people to higher than normal levels of Al that represents an environmental risk factor. Cosmetics, Al ware, and containers are also sources of Al besides some foods and food additives. In addition to its known neurotoxicity, Al affects other body structures like skeletal system, blood cells, liver and kidney. Accumulation of Al in kidney and liver induces nephrotoxicity and hepatotoxicity. Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is a pseudo-vitamin substance primarily present in the mitochondria. It is a powerful antioxidant and acts as radical scavenger. Wheat grass is a natural product that contains carbohydrates, proteins, vitamins, minerals, enzymes and has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anticancer and cardiovascular protection activities. Cocoa is an excellent source of iron, potent antioxidants and can protect against many diseases. Vinpocetine is an antioxidant and anti inflammatory while zinc is an essential trace element involved in cell division and its deficiency is observed in many types of liver disease. Objective: To evaluate and compare the potency of different drugs (CoQ10, wheatgrass, cocoa, vinpocetine and zinc) against nephro- and hepato-toxicity induced by Al in rats. Methods: Rats were divided to seven groups and received daily for three weeks either saline for control group or AlCl3 (70 mg/kg, IP) for Al-toxicity model groups. Five groups of Al-toxicity model (treated groups) were orally received together with Al each of the following; CoQ10 (200mg/kg), wheat grass (100mg/kg), cocoa powder (24mg/kg), vinpocetine (20mg/kg) or zinc (32mg/kg). Biochemical changes in the serum level of Alanine aminotransferase (ALT), aspartate aminotransferase (AST), alkaline phosphatase (ALP), lactate deshydrogenase (LDH) as well as total bilirubin, lipids, cholesterol, triglycerides, glucose, proteins, creatinine and urea were measured. Liver and kidney specimens from all groups were also collected for the assessment of hepatic and nephrotic level of inflammatory mediators (TNF-α, IL-6β, nuclear factor kappa B (NF-κB), Caspase-3, oxidative parameters (MDA, SOD, TAC, NO) and DNA fragmentation. Histopathological changes in liver and kidney were also evaluated. Results: Three weeks of AlCl3 (70 mg/kg, IP) exposure induced nephro- and hepato-toxicity in rats. Treatment by the all used drugs showed protection against hazards of AlCl3. The protective effects were indicated by the significant decrease in ALT, AST, ALP, LDH as well as total bilirubin, lipids, cholesterol, triglycerides, glucose, creatinine and urea levels which were increased by Al. Liver and kidney of the treated groups showed decrease in MDA, NO, TNF-α, IL-6β, NF-κB, caspase-3 and DNA fragmentation which were increased by Al, together with significant increase in total proteins, SOD and TAC which were decreased by Al. The protection against both nephro- and hepato-toxicity was more pronounced especially with CoQ10 and wheat grass than the other used drugs. Histopathological examinations confirmed the biochemical results of toxicity and of protection. Conclusion: Protection from nephrotoxicity, hepatotoxicity and the consequent degenerations induced by Al can be achieved by using different drugs as CoQ10, wheatgrass, cocoa, vinpocetine and zinc, but CoQ10 as well as wheat grass possesses the most superior protection.

Keywords: aluminum, nephrotoxicity, hepatotoxicity, coenzyme Q10, wheatgrass, cocoa, vinpocetine, zinc

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44 Geographic Information System Based Multi-Criteria Subsea Pipeline Route Optimisation

Authors: James Brown, Stella Kortekaas, Ian Finnie, George Zhang, Christine Devine, Neil Healy

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The use of GIS as an analysis tool for engineering decision making is now best practice in the offshore industry. GIS enables multidisciplinary data integration, analysis and visualisation which allows the presentation of large and intricate datasets in a simple map-interface accessible to all project stakeholders. Presenting integrated geoscience and geotechnical data in GIS enables decision makers to be well-informed. This paper is a successful case study of how GIS spatial analysis techniques were applied to help select the most favourable pipeline route. Routing a pipeline through any natural environment has numerous obstacles, whether they be topographical, geological, engineering or financial. Where the pipeline is subjected to external hydrostatic water pressure and is carrying pressurised hydrocarbons, the requirement to safely route the pipeline through hazardous terrain becomes absolutely paramount. This study illustrates how the application of modern, GIS-based pipeline routing techniques enabled the identification of a single most-favourable pipeline route crossing of a challenging seabed terrain. Conventional approaches to pipeline route determination focus on manual avoidance of primary constraints whilst endeavouring to minimise route length. Such an approach is qualitative, subjective and is liable to bias towards the discipline and expertise that is involved in the routing process. For very short routes traversing benign seabed topography in shallow water this approach may be sufficient, but for deepwater geohazardous sites, the need for an automated, multi-criteria, and quantitative approach is essential. This study combined multiple routing constraints using modern least-cost-routing algorithms deployed in GIS, hitherto unachievable with conventional approaches. The least-cost-routing procedure begins with the assignment of geocost across the study area. Geocost is defined as a numerical penalty score representing hazard posed by each routing constraint (e.g. slope angle, rugosity, vulnerability to debris flows) to the pipeline. All geocosted routing constraints are combined to generate a composite geocost map that is used to compute the least geocost route between two defined terminals. The analyses were applied to select the most favourable pipeline route for a potential gas development in deep water. The study area is geologically complex with a series of incised, potentially active, canyons carved into a steep escarpment, with evidence of extensive debris flows. A similar debris flow in the future could cause significant damage to a poorly-placed pipeline. Protruding inter-canyon spurs offer lower-gradient options for ascending an escarpment but the vulnerability of periodic failure of these spurs is not well understood. Close collaboration between geoscientists, pipeline engineers, geotechnical engineers and of course the gas export pipeline operator guided the analyses and assignment of geocosts. Shorter route length, less severe slope angles, and geohazard avoidance were the primary drivers in identifying the most favourable route.

Keywords: geocost, geohazard, pipeline route determination, pipeline route optimisation, spatial analysis

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43 An Integrated Real-Time Hydrodynamic and Coastal Risk Assessment Model

Authors: M. Reza Hashemi, Chris Small, Scott Hayward

Abstract:

The Northeast Coast of the US faces damaging effects of coastal flooding and winds due to Atlantic tropical and extratropical storms each year. Historically, several large storm events have produced substantial levels of damage to the region; most notably of which were the Great Atlantic Hurricane of 1938, Hurricane Carol, Hurricane Bob, and recently Hurricane Sandy (2012). The objective of this study was to develop an integrated modeling system that could be used as a forecasting/hindcasting tool to evaluate and communicate the risk coastal communities face from these coastal storms. This modeling system utilizes the ADvanced CIRCulation (ADCIRC) model for storm surge predictions and the Simulating Waves Nearshore (SWAN) model for the wave environment. These models were coupled, passing information to each other and computing over the same unstructured domain, allowing for the most accurate representation of the physical storm processes. The coupled SWAN-ADCIRC model was validated and has been set up to perform real-time forecast simulations (as well as hindcast). Modeled storm parameters were then passed to a coastal risk assessment tool. This tool, which is generic and universally applicable, generates spatial structural damage estimate maps on an individual structure basis for an area of interest. The required inputs for the coastal risk model included a detailed information about the individual structures, inundation levels, and wave heights for the selected region. Additionally, calculation of wind damage to structures was incorporated. The integrated coastal risk assessment system was then tested and applied to Charlestown, a small vulnerable coastal town along the southern shore of Rhode Island. The modeling system was applied to Hurricane Sandy and a synthetic storm. In both storm cases, effect of natural dunes on coastal risk was investigated. The resulting damage maps for the area (Charlestown) clearly showed that the dune eroded scenarios affected more structures, and increased the estimated damage. The system was also tested in forecast mode for a large Nor’Easters: Stella (March 2017). The results showed a good performance of the coupled model in forecast mode when compared to observations. Finally, a nearshore model XBeach was then nested within this regional grid (ADCIRC-SWAN) to simulate nearshore sediment transport processes and coastal erosion. Hurricane Irene (2011) was used to validate XBeach, on the basis of a unique beach profile dataset at the region. XBeach showed a relatively good performance, being able to estimate eroded volumes along the beach transects with a mean error of 16%. The validated model was then used to analyze the effectiveness of several erosion mitigation methods that were recommended in a recent study of coastal erosion in New England: beach nourishment, coastal bank (engineered core), and submerged breakwater as well as artificial surfing reef. It was shown that beach nourishment and coastal banks perform better to mitigate shoreline retreat and coastal erosion.

Keywords: ADCIRC, coastal flooding, storm surge, coastal risk assessment, living shorelines

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42 Glucose Uptake Rate of Insulin-Resistant Human Liver Carcinoma Cells (IR/HepG2) by Flavonoids from Enicostema littorale via IR/IRS1/AKT Pathway

Authors: Priyanka Mokashi, Aparna Khanna, Nancy Pandita

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Diabetes mellitus is a chronic metabolic disorder which will be the 7th leading cause of death by 2030. The current line of treatment for the diabetes mellitus is oral antidiabetic drugs (biguanides, sulfonylureas, meglitinides, thiazolidinediones and alpha-glycosidase inhibitors) and insulin therapy depending upon the type 1 or type 2 diabetes mellitus. But, these treatments have their disadvantages, ranging from the developing of resistance to the drugs and adverse effects caused by them. Alternative to these synthetic agents, natural products provides a new insight for the development of more efficient and safe drugs due to their therapeutic values. Enicostema littorale blume (A. Raynal) is a traditional Indian plant belongs to the Gentianaceae family. It is widely distributed in Asia, Africa, and South America. There are few reports on Swrtiamarin, major component of this plant for its antidiabetic activity. However, the antidiabetic activity of flavonoids from E. littorale and their mechanism of action have not yet been elucidated. Flavonoids have a positive relationship with disease prevention and can act on various molecular targets and regulate different signaling pathways in pancreatic β-cells, adipocytes, hepatocytes and skeletal myofibers. They may exert beneficial effects in diabetes by (i) improving hyperglycemia through regulation of glucose metabolism in hepatocytes; (ii) enhancing insulin secretion and reducing apoptosis and promoting proliferation of pancreatic β-cells; (iii) increasing glucose uptake in hepatocytes, skeletal muscle and white adipose tissue (iv) reducing insulin resistance, inflammation and oxidative stress. Therefore, we have isolated four flavonoid rich fractions, Fraction A (FA), Fraction B (FB), Fraction C (FC), Fraction D (FD) from crude alcoholic hot (AH) extract from E. littorale, identified by LC/MS. Total eight flavonoids were identified on the basis of fragmentation pattern. Flavonoid FA showed the presence of swertisin, isovitexin, and saponarin; FB showed genkwanin, quercetin, isovitexin, FC showed apigenin, swertisin, quercetin, 5-O-glucosylswertisin and 5-O-glucosylisoswertisin whereas FD showed the presence of swertisin. Further, these fractions were assessed for their antidiabetic activity on stimulating glucose uptake in insulin-resistant HepG2 cell line model (IR/HepG2). The results showed that FD containing C-glycoside Swertisin has significantly increased the glucose uptake rate of IR/HepG2 cells at the concentration of 10 µg/ml as compared to positive control Metformin (0.5mM) which was determined by glucose oxidase- peroxidase method. It has been reported that enhancement of glucose uptake of cells occurs due the translocation of Glut4 vesicles to cell membrane through IR/IRS1/AKT pathway. Therefore, we have studied expressions of three genes IRS1, AKT and Glut4 by real-time PCR to evaluate whether they follow the same pathway or not. It was seen that the glucose uptake rate has increased in FD treated IR/HepG2 cells due to the activation of insulin receptor substrate-1 (IRS1) followed by protein kinase B (AKT) through phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K) leading to translocation of Glut 4 vesicles to cell membrane, thereby enhancing glucose uptake and insulin sensitivity of insulin resistant HepG2 cells. Hence, the up-regulation indicated the mechanism of action through which FD (Swertisin) acts as antidiabetic candidate in the treatment of type 2 diabetes mellitus.

Keywords: E. littorale, glucose transporter, glucose uptake rate, insulin resistance

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41 Extension of Moral Agency to Artificial Agents

Authors: Sofia Quaglia, Carmine Di Martino, Brendan Tierney

Abstract:

Artificial Intelligence (A.I.) constitutes various aspects of modern life, from the Machine Learning algorithms predicting the stocks on Wall streets to the killing of belligerents and innocents alike on the battlefield. Moreover, the end goal is to create autonomous A.I.; this means that the presence of humans in the decision-making process will be absent. The question comes naturally: when an A.I. does something wrong when its behavior is harmful to the community and its actions go against the law, which is to be held responsible? This research’s subject matter in A.I. and Robot Ethics focuses mainly on Robot Rights and its ultimate objective is to answer the questions: (i) What is the function of rights? (ii) Who is a right holder, what is personhood and the requirements needed to be a moral agent (therefore, accountable for responsibility)? (iii) Can an A.I. be a moral agent? (ontological requirements) and finally (iv) if it ought to be one (ethical implications). With the direction to answer this question, this research project was done via a collaboration between the School of Computer Science in the Technical University of Dublin that oversaw the technical aspects of this work, as well as the Department of Philosophy in the University of Milan, who supervised the philosophical framework and argumentation of the project. Firstly, it was found that all rights are positive and based on consensus; they change with time based on circumstances. Their function is to protect the social fabric and avoid dangerous situations. The same goes for the requirements considered necessary to be a moral agent: those are not absolute; in fact, they are constantly redesigned. Hence, the next logical step was to identify what requirements are regarded as fundamental in real-world judicial systems, comparing them to that of ones used in philosophy. Autonomy, free will, intentionality, consciousness and responsibility were identified as the requirements to be considered a moral agent. The work went on to build a symmetrical system between personhood and A.I. to enable the emergence of the ontological differences between the two. Each requirement is introduced, explained in the most relevant theories of contemporary philosophy, and observed in its manifestation in A.I. Finally, after completing the philosophical and technical analysis, conclusions were drawn. As underlined in the research questions, there are two issues regarding the assignment of moral agency to artificial agent: the first being that all the ontological requirements must be present and secondly being present or not, whether an A.I. ought to be considered as an artificial moral agent. From an ontological point of view, it is very hard to prove that an A.I. could be autonomous, free, intentional, conscious, and responsible. The philosophical accounts are often very theoretical and inconclusive, making it difficult to fully detect these requirements on an experimental level of demonstration. However, from an ethical point of view it makes sense to consider some A.I. as artificial moral agents, hence responsible for their own actions. When considering artificial agents as responsible, there can be applied already existing norms in our judicial system such as removing them from society, and re-educating them, in order to re-introduced them to society. This is in line with how the highest profile correctional facilities ought to work. Noticeably, this is a provisional conclusion and research must continue further. Nevertheless, the strength of the presented argument lies in its immediate applicability to real world scenarios. To refer to the aforementioned incidents, involving the murderer of innocents, when this thesis is applied it is possible to hold an A.I. accountable and responsible for its actions. This infers removing it from society by virtue of its un-usability, re-programming it and, only when properly functioning, re-introducing it successfully

Keywords: artificial agency, correctional system, ethics, natural agency, responsibility

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40 Magnesium Nanoparticles for Photothermal Therapy

Authors: E. Locatelli, I. Monaco, R. C. Martin, Y. Li, R. Pini, M. Chiariello, M. Comes Franchini

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Despite the many advantages of application of nanomaterials in the field of nanomedicine, increasing concerns have been expressed on their potential adverse effects on human health. There is urgency for novel green strategies toward novel materials with enhanced biocompatibility using safe reagents. Photothermal ablation therapy, which exploits localized heat increase of a few degrees to kill cancer cells, has appeared recently as a non-invasive and highly efficient therapy against various cancer types; anyway new agents able to generate hyperthermia when irradiated are needed and must have precise biocompatibility in order to avoid damage to healthy tissues and prevent toxicity. Recently, there has been increasing interest in magnesium as a biomaterial: it is the fourth most abundant cation in the human body, and it is essential for human metabolism. However magnesium nanoparticles (Mg NPs) have had limited diffusion due to the high reduction potential of magnesium cations, which makes NPs synthesis challenging. Herein, we report the synthesis of Mg NPs and their surface functionalization for the obtainment of a stable and biocompatible nanomaterial suitable for photothermal ablation therapy against cancer. We synthesized the Mg crystals by reducing MgCl2 with metallic lithium and exploiting naphthalene as an electron carrier: the lithium–naphthalene complex acts as the real reducing agent. Firstly, the nanocrystal particles were coated with the ligand 12-ethoxy ester dodecanehydroxamic acid, and then entrapped into water-dispersible polymeric micelles (PMs) made of the FDA-approved PLGA-b-PEG-COOH copolymer using the oil-in-water emulsion technique. Lately, we developed a more straightforward methodology by introducing chitosan, a highly biocompatible natural product, at the beginning of the process, simultaneously using lithium–naphthalene complex, thus having a one-pot procedure for the formation and surface modification of MgNPs. The obtained MgNPs were purified and fully characterized, showing diameters in the range of 50-300 nm. Notably, when coated with chitosan the particles remained stable as dry powder for more than 10 months. We proved the possibility of generating a temperature rise of a few to several degrees once MgNPs were illuminated using a 810 nm diode laser operating in continuous wave mode: the temperature rise resulted significant (0-15 °C) and concentration dependent. We then investigated potential cytotoxicity of the MgNPs: we used HN13 epithelial cells, derived from a head and neck squamous cell carcinoma and the hepa1-6 cell line, derived from hepatocellular carcinoma and very low toxicity was observed for both nanosystems. Finally, in vivo photothermal therapy was performed on xenograft hepa1-6 tumor bearing mice: the animals were treated with MgNPs coated with chitosan and showed no sign of suffering after the injection. After 12 hours the tumor was exposed to near-infrared laser light. The results clearly showed an extensive damage to tumor tissue after only 2 minutes of laser irradiation at 3Wcm-1, while no damage was reported when the tumor was treated with the laser and saline alone in control group. Despite the lower photothermal efficiency of Mg with respect to Au NPs, we consider MgNPs a promising, safe and green candidate for future clinical translations.

Keywords: chitosan, magnesium nanoparticles, nanomedicine, photothermal therapy

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39 Gis Based Flash Flood Runoff Simulation Model of Upper Teesta River Besin - Using Aster Dem and Meteorological Data

Authors: Abhisek Chakrabarty, Subhraprakash Mandal

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Flash flood is one of the catastrophic natural hazards in the mountainous region of India. The recent flood in the Mandakini River in Kedarnath (14-17th June, 2013) is a classic example of flash floods that devastated Uttarakhand by killing thousands of people.The disaster was an integrated effect of high intensityrainfall, sudden breach of Chorabari Lake and very steep topography. Every year in Himalayan Region flash flood occur due to intense rainfall over a short period of time, cloud burst, glacial lake outburst and collapse of artificial check dam that cause high flow of river water. In Sikkim-Derjeeling Himalaya one of the probable flash flood occurrence zone is Teesta Watershed. The Teesta River is a right tributary of the Brahmaputra with draining mountain area of approximately 8600 Sq. km. It originates in the Pauhunri massif (7127 m). The total length of the mountain section of the river amounts to 182 km. The Teesta is characterized by a complex hydrological regime. The river is fed not only by precipitation, but also by melting glaciers and snow as well as groundwater. The present study describes an attempt to model surface runoff in upper Teesta basin, which is directly related to catastrophic flood events, by creating a system based on GIS technology. The main object was to construct a direct unit hydrograph for an excess rainfall by estimating the stream flow response at the outlet of a watershed. Specifically, the methodology was based on the creation of a spatial database in GIS environment and on data editing. Moreover, rainfall time-series data collected from Indian Meteorological Department and they were processed in order to calculate flow time and the runoff volume. Apart from the meteorological data, background data such as topography, drainage network, land cover and geological data were also collected. Clipping the watershed from the entire area and the streamline generation for Teesta watershed were done and cross-sectional profiles plotted across the river at various locations from Aster DEM data using the ERDAS IMAGINE 9.0 and Arc GIS 10.0 software. The analysis of different hydraulic model to detect flash flood probability ware done using HEC-RAS, Flow-2D, HEC-HMS Software, which were of great importance in order to achieve the final result. With an input rainfall intensity above 400 mm per day for three days the flood runoff simulation models shows outbursts of lakes and check dam individually or in combination with run-off causing severe damage to the downstream settlements. Model output shows that 313 Sq. km area were found to be most vulnerable to flash flood includes Melli, Jourthang, Chungthang, and Lachung and 655sq. km. as moderately vulnerable includes Rangpo,Yathang, Dambung,Bardang, Singtam, Teesta Bazarand Thangu Valley. The model was validated by inserting the rain fall data of a flood event took place in August 1968, and 78% of the actual area flooded reflected in the output of the model. Lastly preventive and curative measures were suggested to reduce the losses by probable flash flood event.

Keywords: flash flood, GIS, runoff, simulation model, Teesta river basin

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38 Essential Oils of Polygonum L. Plants Growing in Kazakhstan and Their Antibacterial and Antifungal Activity

Authors: Dmitry Yu. Korulkin, Raissa A. Muzychkina

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Bioactive substances of plant origin can be one of the advanced means of solution to the issue of combined therapy to inflammation. The main advantages of medical plants are softness and width of their therapeutic effect on an organism, the absence of side effects and complications even if the used continuously, high tolerability by patients. Moreover, medial plants are often the only and (or) cost-effective sources of natural biologically active substances and medicines. Along with other biologically active groups of chemical compounds, essential oils with wide range of pharmacological effects became very ingrained in medical practice. Essential oil was obtained by the method hydrodistillation air-dry aerial part of Polygonum L. plants using Clevenger apparatus. Qualitative composition of essential oils was analyzed by chromatography-mass-spectrometry method using Agilent 6890N apparatus. The qualitative analysis is based on the comparison of retention time and full mass-spectra with respective data on components of reference oils and pure compounds, if there were any, and with the data of libraries of mass-spectra Wiley 7th edition and NIST 02. The main components of essential oil are for: Polygonum amphibium L. - γ-terpinene, borneol, piperitol, 1,8-cyneole, α-pinene, linalool, terpinolene and sabinene; Polygonum minus Huds. Fl. Angl. – linalool, terpinolene, camphene, borneol, 1,8-cyneole, α-pinene, 4-terpineol and 1-octen-3-ol; Polygonum alpinum All. – camphene, sabinene, 1-octen-3-ol, 4-carene, p- and o-cymol, γ-terpinene, borneol, -terpineol; Polygonum persicaria L. - α-pinene, sabinene, -terpinene, 4-carene, 1,8-cyneole, borneol, 4-terpineol. Antibacterial activity was researched relating to strains of gram-positive bacteria Staphylococcus aureus, Bacillus subtilis, Streptococcus agalacticae, relating to gram-negative strain Escherichia coli and to yeast fungus Сandida albicans using agar diffusion method. The medicines of comparison were gentamicin for bacteria and nystatin for yeast fungus Сandida albicans. It has been shown that Polygonum L. essential oils has moderate antibacterial effect to gram-positive microorganisms and weak antifungal activity to Candida albicans yeast fungus. At the second stage of our researches wound healing properties of ointment form of 3% essential oil was researched on the model of flat dermal wounds. To assess the influence of essential oil on healing processes the model of flat dermal wound. The speed of wound healing on rats of different groups was judged based on assessment the area of a wound from time to time. During research of wound healing properties disturbance of integral in neither group: general condition and behavior of animals, food intake, and excretion. Wound healing action of 3% ointment on base of Polygonum L. essential oil and polyethyleneglycol is comparable with the action of reference substances. As more favorable healing dynamics was observed in the experimental group than in control group, the tested ointment can be deemed more promising for further detailed study as wound healing means.

Keywords: antibacterial, antifungal, bioactive substances, essential oils, isolation, Polygonum L.

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37 Comparative Assessment of the Thermal Tolerance of Spotted Stemborer, Chilo partellus Swinhoe (Lepidoptera: Crambidae) and Its Larval Parasitoid, Cotesia sesamiae Cameron (Hymenoptera: Braconidae)

Authors: Reyard Mutamiswa, Frank Chidawanyika, Casper Nyamukondiwa

Abstract:

Under stressful thermal environments, insects adjust their behaviour and physiology to maintain key life-history activities and improve survival. For interacting species, mutual or antagonistic, thermal stress may affect the participants in differing ways, which may then affect the outcome of the ecological relationship. In agroecosystems, this may be the fate of relationships between insect pests and their antagonistic parasitoids under acute and chronic thermal variability. Against this background, we therefore investigated the thermal tolerance of different developmental stages of Chilo partellus Swinhoe (Lepidoptera: Crambidae) and its larval parasitoid Cotesia sesamiae Cameron (Hymenoptera: Braconidae) using both dynamic and static protocols. In laboratory experiments, we determined lethal temperature assays (upper and lower lethal temperatures) using direct plunge protocols in programmable water baths (Systronix, Scientific, South Africa), effects of ramping rate on critical thermal limits following standardized protocols using insulated double-jacketed chambers (‘organ pipes’) connected to a programmable water bath (Lauda Eco Gold, Lauda DR.R. Wobser GMBH and Co. KG, Germany), supercooling points (SCPs) following dynamic protocols using a Pico logger connected to a programmable water bath, heat knock-down time (HKDT) and chill-coma recovery (CCRT) time following static protocols in climate chambers (HPP 260, Memmert GmbH + Co.KG, Germany) connected to a camera (HD Covert Network Camera, DS-2CD6412FWD-20, Hikvision Digital Technology Co., Ltd, China). When exposed for two hours to a static temperature, lower lethal temperatures ranged -9 to 6; -14 to -2 and -1 to 4ºC while upper lethal temperatures ranged from 37 to 48; 41 to 49 and 36 to 39ºC for C. partellus eggs, larvae and C. sesamiae adults respectively. Faster heating rates improved critical thermal maxima (CTmax) in C. partellus larvae and adult C. partellus and C. sesamiae. Lower cooling rates improved critical thermal minima (CTmin) in C. partellus and C. sesamiae adults while compromising CTmin in C. partellus larvae. The mean SCPs for C. partellus larvae, pupae and adults were -11.82±1.78, -10.43±1.73 and -15.75±2.47 respectively with adults having the lowest SCPs. Heat knock-down time and chill-coma recovery time varied significantly between C. partellus larvae and adults. Larvae had higher HKDT than adults, while the later recovered significantly faster following chill-coma. Current results suggest developmental stage differences in C. partellus thermal tolerance (with respect to lethal temperatures and critical thermal limits) and a compromised temperature tolerance of parasitoid C. sesamiae relative to its host, suggesting potential asynchrony between host-parasitoid population phenology and consequently biocontrol efficacy under global change. These results have broad implications to biological pest management insect-natural enemy interactions under rapidly changing thermal environments.

Keywords: chill-coma recovery time, climate change, heat knock-down time, lethal temperatures, supercooling point

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36 Participatory Action Research for Sustainability with Special Focus on Student Initiatives

Authors: Soni T. L.

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Sustainable environmental stress is a major concern which needs immediate attention. This paper is an attempt to present participatory action research for sustainable agriculture. Being first and best culture, agriculture protects and improves the natural environment, the social and economic conditions of people, and safeguards the health and welfare of all groups. During course of time agriculture turned to agribusiness, then the values are not safeguarded. Moreover, in today’s busy life many are not taking efforts to take part in agriculture production. Then children are not getting the opportunity to understand agriculture and farming practices. So student initiatives are vital to make them aware. Here the programmes structured by the researcher come under the auspicious of National Service Scheme, a student-centered educational programme, organized by Ministry of Youth Affairs, Government of India. The twin objectives of the study are to examine the role of student initiatives for sustainable agriculture and the role of participatory action research in student initiatives. SWOT analysis is made to study strengths, weaknesses, threats and opportunities. The Methodology adopted is Participatory Action Research. The method is participatory in a sense there is collaboration through participation. The method is action, there is lab land experiences which is real. The method is research that there is documented lessons and creation of new knowledge. Plan of action cover measures adopted and strategies taken i.e., bhavana – kalpana – yojana – sadhana. Through the team effort, the team was successful in converting more than 10 hectares of barren land into cultivable land within and outside the campus. Team efforts of students saved a huge amount of labour cost and produced a huge quantity of organic output and the team was also successful in creating 1000 rain pits in the premises of College for rainwater harvesting. The findings include conveyance of the Message: Food Production is superior to Food donation. Moreover, the study fostered good work ethic and social responsibility among students. Students undertake innovative programmes underlying social and environmental issues and participants got increased opportunities to interact with local and less privileged and acquired increased awareness about real-life experiences which make them confident to interact with people and it resulted in the strengthening of social capital- cooperation, team spirit, social commitment among students. Participants promoted sustainable domestic efforts and ultimately environmental protection is ensured. Finally, there is recognition to the team, institution and the researcher at the university level, state level and at the national level. The learned lessons are, if the approach is good, the response is good and success generates success. Participatory action research is empowering experience for practitioners, focusing the combined time, energy and creativity of a committed group we should lead so many programmes which makes the institution centre of excellence. Authorities should take necessary steps for the Inclusion of community development activities in the curriculum. Action research is problem, client and action centered. So, we must adapt and adopt, coordinates and correlates measures which preserve and conserve the environment.

Keywords: participatory action research, student initiatives, sustainable development, sustainability

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35 Development and Experimental Validation of Coupled Flow-Aerosol Microphysics Model for Hot Wire Generator

Authors: K. Ghosh, S. N. Tripathi, Manish Joshi, Y. S. Mayya, Arshad Khan, B. K. Sapra

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We have developed a CFD coupled aerosol microphysics model in the context of aerosol generation from a glowing wire. The governing equations can be solved implicitly for mass, momentum, energy transfer along with aerosol dynamics. The computationally efficient framework can simulate temporal behavior of total number concentration and number size distribution. This formulation uniquely couples standard K-Epsilon scheme with boundary layer model with detailed aerosol dynamics through residence time. This model uses measured temperatures (wire surface and axial/radial surroundings) and wire compositional data apart from other usual inputs for simulations. The model predictions show that bulk fluid motion and local heat distribution can significantly affect the aerosol behavior when the buoyancy effect in momentum transfer is considered. Buoyancy generated turbulence was found to be affecting parameters related to aerosol dynamics and transport as well. The model was validated by comparing simulated predictions with results obtained from six controlled experiments performed with a laboratory-made hot wire nanoparticle generator. Condensation particle counter (CPC) and scanning mobility particle sizer (SMPS) were used for measurement of total number concentration and number size distribution at the outlet of reactor cell during these experiments. Our model-predicted results were found to be in reasonable agreement with observed values. The developed model is fast (fully implicit) and numerically stable. It can be used specifically for applications in the context of the behavior of aerosol particles generated from glowing wire technique and in general for other similar large scale domains. Incorporation of CFD in aerosol microphysics framework provides a realistic platform to study natural convection driven systems/ applications. Aerosol dynamics sub-modules (nucleation, coagulation, wall deposition) have been coupled with Navier Stokes equations modified to include buoyancy coupled K-Epsilon turbulence model. Coupled flow-aerosol dynamics equation was solved numerically and in the implicit scheme. Wire composition and temperature (wire surface and cell domain) were obtained/measured, to be used as input for the model simulations. Model simulations showed a significant effect of fluid properties on the dynamics of aerosol particles. The role of buoyancy was highlighted by observation and interpretation of nucleation zones in the planes above the wire axis. The model was validated against measured temporal evolution, total number concentration and size distribution at the outlet of hot wire generator cell. Experimentally averaged and simulated total number concentrations were found to match closely, barring values at initial times. Steady-state number size distribution matched very well for sub 10 nm particle diameters while reasonable differences were noticed for higher size ranges. Although tuned specifically for the present context (i.e., aerosol generation from hotwire generator), the model can also be used for diverse applications, e.g., emission of particles from hot zones (chimneys, exhaust), fires and atmospheric cloud dynamics.

Keywords: nanoparticles, k-epsilon model, buoyancy, CFD, hot wire generator, aerosol dynamics

Procedia PDF Downloads 30
34 Housing Recovery in Heavily Damaged Communities in New Jersey after Hurricane Sandy

Authors: Chenyi Ma

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Background: The second costliest hurricane in U.S. history, Sandy landed in southern New Jersey on October 29, 2012, and struck the entire state with high winds and torrential rains. The disaster killed more than 100 people, left more than 8.5 million households without power, and damaged or destroyed more than 200,000 homes across the state. Immediately after the disaster, public policy support was provided in nine coastal counties that constituted 98% of the major and severely damaged housing units in NJ overall. The programs include Individuals and Households Assistance Program, Small Business Loan Program, National Flood Insurance Program, and the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) Public Assistance Grant Program. In the most severely affected counties, additional funding was provided through Community Development Block Grant: Reconstruction, Rehabilitation, Elevation, and Mitigation Program, and Homeowner Resettlement Program. How these policies individually and as a whole impacted housing recovery across communities with different socioeconomic and demographic profiles has not yet been studied, particularly in relation to damage levels. The concept of community social vulnerability has been widely used to explain many aspects of natural disasters. Nevertheless, how communities are vulnerable has been less fully examined. Community resilience has been conceptualized as a protective factor against negative impacts from disasters, however, how community resilience buffers the effects of vulnerability is not yet known. Because housing recovery is a dynamic social and economic process that varies according to context, this study examined the path from community vulnerability and resilience to housing recovery looking at both community characteristics and policy interventions. Sample/Methods: This retrospective longitudinal case study compared a literature-identified set of pre-disaster community characteristics, the effects of multiple public policy programs, and a set of time-variant community resilience indicators to changes in housing stock (operationally defined by percent of building permits to total occupied housing units/households) between 2010 and 2014, two years before and after Hurricane Sandy. The sample consisted of 51 municipalities in the nine counties in which between 4% and 58% of housing units suffered either major or severe damage. Structural equation modeling (SEM) was used to determine the path from vulnerability to the housing recovery, via multiple public programs, separately and as a whole, and via the community resilience indicators. The spatial analytical tool ArcGIS 10.2 was used to show the spatial relations between housing recovery patterns and community vulnerability and resilience. Findings: Holding damage levels constant, communities with higher proportions of Hispanic households had significantly lower levels of housing recovery while communities with households with an adult >age 65 had significantly higher levels of the housing recovery. The contrast was partly due to the different levels of total public support the two types of the community received. Further, while the public policy programs individually mediated the negative associations between African American and female-headed households and housing recovery, communities with larger proportions of African American, female-headed and Hispanic households were “vulnerable” to lower levels of housing recovery because they lacked sufficient public program support. Even so, higher employment rates and incomes buffered vulnerability to lower housing recovery. Because housing is the "wobbly pillar" of the welfare state, the housing needs of these particular groups should be more fully addressed by disaster policy.

Keywords: community social vulnerability, community resilience, hurricane, public policy

Procedia PDF Downloads 255
33 Salicornia bigelovii, a Promising Halophyte for Biosaline Agriculture: Lessons Learned from a 4-Year Field Study in United Arab Emirates

Authors: Dionyssia Lyra, Shoaib Ismail

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Salinization of natural resources constitutes a significant component of the degradation force that leads to depletion of productive lands and fresh water reserves. The global extent of salt-affected soils is approximately 7% of the earth’s land surface and is expanding. The problems of excessive salt accumulation are most widespread in coastal, arid and semi-arid regions, where agricultural production is substantially hindered. The use of crops that can withstand high saline conditions is extremely interesting in such a context. Salt-loving plants or else ‘halophytes’ thrive when grown in hostile saline conditions, where traditional crops cannot survive. Salicornia bigelovii, a halophytic crop with multiple uses (vegetable, forage, biofuel), has demonstrated remarkable adaptability to harsh climatic conditions prevailing in dry areas with great potential for its expansion. Since 2011, the International Center for Biosaline Agriculture (ICBA) with Masdar Institute (MI) and King Abdul Aziz University of Science & Technology (KAUST) to look into the potential for growing S. bigelovii under hot and dry conditions. Through the projects undertaken, 50 different S. bigelovii genotypes were assessed under high saline conditions. The overall goal was to select the best performing S. bigelovii populations in terms of seed and biomass production for future breeding. Specific objectives included: 1) evaluation of selected S. bigelovii genotypes for various agronomic and growth parameters under field conditions, 2) seed multiplication of S. bigelovii using saline groundwater and 3) acquisition of inbred lines for further breeding. Field trials were conducted for four consecutive years at ICBA headquarters. During the first year, one Salicornia population was evaluated for seed and biomass production at different salinity levels, fertilizer treatments and planting methods. All growth parameters and biomass productivity for the salicornia population showed better performance with optimal biomass production in terms of both salinity level and fertilizer application. During the second year, 46 Salicornia populations (obtained from KAUST and Masdar Institute) were evaluated for 24 growth parameters and treated with groundwater through drip irrigation. The plant material originated from wild collections. Six populations were also assessed for their growth performance under full-strength seawater. Salicornia populations were highly variable for all characteristics under study for both irrigation treatments, indicating that there is a large pool of genetic information available for breeding. Irrigation with the highest level of salinity had a negative impact on the agronomic performance. The maximum seed yield obtained was 2 t/ha at 20 dS/m (groundwater treatment) at 25 cm x 25 cm planting distance. The best performing Salicornia populations for fresh biomass and seed yield were selected for the following season. After continuous selection, the best performing salicornia will be adopted for scaling-up options. Taking into account the results of the production field trials, salicornia expansion will be targeted in coastal areas of the Arabian Peninsula. As a crop with high biofuel and forage potential, its cultivation can improve the livelihood of local farmers.

Keywords: biosaline agriculture, genotypes selection, halophytes, Salicornia bigelovii

Procedia PDF Downloads 314
32 Ecotoxicological Test-Battery for Efficiency Assessment of TiO2 Assisted Photodegradation of Emerging Micropolluants

Authors: Ildiko Fekete-Kertesz, Jade Chaker, Sylvain Berthelot, Viktoria Feigl, Monika Molnar, Lidia Favier

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There has been growing concern about emerging micropollutants in recent years, because of the possible environmental and health risk posed by these substances, which are released into the environment as a consequence of anthropogenic activities. Among them pharmaceuticals are currently not considered under water quality regulations; however, their potential effect on the environment have become more frequent in recent years. Due to the fact that these compounds can be detected in natural water matrices, it can be concluded, that the currently applied water treatment processes are not efficient enough for their effective elimination. To date, advanced oxidation processes (AOPs) are considered as highly competitive water treatment technologies for the removal of those organic micropollutants not treatable by conventional techniques due to their high chemical stability and/or low biodegradability. AOPs such as (photo)chemical oxidation and heterogeneous photocatalysis have proven their potential in degrading harmful organic compounds from aqueous matrices. However, some of these technologies generate reaction by-products, which can even be more toxic to aquatic organisms than the parent compounds. Thus, target compound removal does not necessarily result in the removal of toxicity. Therefore, to evaluate process efficiency the determination of the toxicity and ecotoxicity of the reaction intermediates is crucial to estimate the environmental risk of such techniques. In this context, the present study investigates the effectiveness of TiO2 assisted photodegradation for the removal of emerging water contaminants. Two drugs named losartan (used in high blood pressure medication) and levetiracetam (used to treat epilepsy) were considered in this work. The photocatalytic reactions were carried out with a commercial catalyst usually employed in photocatalysis. Moreover, the toxicity of the by-products generated during the process was assessed with various ecotoxicological methods applying aquatic test organisms from different trophic levels. A series of experiments were performed to evaluate the toxicity of untreated and treated solutions applying the Aliivibrio fischeri bioluminescence inhibition test, the Tetrahymena pyriformis proliferation inhibition test, the Daphnia magna lethality and immobilization tests and the Lemna minor growth inhibition test. The applied ecotoxicological methodology indicated sensitively the toxic effects of the treated and untreated water samples, hence the applied test battery is suitable for the ecotoxicological characterization of TiO2 based photocatalytic water treatment technologies and the indication of the formation of toxic by-products from the parent chemical compounds. Obtained results clearly showed that the TiO2 assisted photodegradation was more efficient in the elimination of losartan than levetiracetam. It was also observed that the treated levetiracetam solutions had more severe effect on the applied test organisms. A possible explanation would be the production of levetiracetam by-products, which are more toxic than the parent compound. The increased toxicity and the risk of formation of toxic metabolites represent one possible limitation to the implementation of photocatalytic treatment using TiO2 for the removal of losartan and levetiracetam. Our results proved that, the battery of ecotoxicity tests used in this work can be a promising investigation tool for the environmental risk assessment of photocatalytic processes.

Keywords: aquatic micropollutants, ecotoxicology, nano titanium dioxide, photocatalysis, water treatment

Procedia PDF Downloads 49
31 Effective Emergency Response and Disaster Prevention: A Decision Support System for Urban Critical Infrastructure Management

Authors: M. Shahab Uddin, Pennung Warnitchai

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Currently more than half of the world’s populations are living in cities, and the number and sizes of cities are growing faster than ever. Cities rely on the effective functioning of complex and interdependent critical infrastructures networks to provide public services, enhance the quality of life, and save the community from hazards and disasters. In contrast, complex connectivity and interdependency among the urban critical infrastructures bring management challenges and make the urban system prone to the domino effect. Unplanned rapid growth, increased connectivity, and interdependency among the infrastructures, resource scarcity, and many other socio-political factors are affecting the typical state of an urban system and making it susceptible to numerous sorts of diversion. In addition to internal vulnerabilities, urban systems are consistently facing external threats from natural and manmade hazards. Cities are not just complex, interdependent system, but also makeup hubs of the economy, politics, culture, education, etc. For survival and sustainability, complex urban systems in the current world need to manage their vulnerabilities and hazardous incidents more wisely and more interactively. Coordinated management in such systems makes for huge potential when it comes to absorbing negative effects in case some of its components were to function improperly. On the other hand, ineffective management during a similar situation of overall disorder from hazards devastation may make the system more fragile and push the system to an ultimate collapse. Following the quantum, the current research hypothesizes that a hazardous event starts its journey as an emergency, and the system’s internal vulnerability and response capacity determine its destination. Connectivity and interdependency among the urban critical infrastructures during this stage may transform its vulnerabilities into dynamic damaging force. An emergency may turn into a disaster in the absence of effective management; similarly, mismanagement or lack of management may lead the situation towards a catastrophe. Situation awareness and factual decision-making is the key to win a battle. The current research proposed a contextual decision support system for an urban critical infrastructure system while integrating three different models: 1) Damage cascade model which demonstrates damage propagation among the infrastructures through their connectivity and interdependency, 2) Restoration model, a dynamic restoration process of individual infrastructure, which is based on facility damage state and overall disruptions in surrounding support environment, and 3) Optimization model that ensures optimized utilization and distribution of available resources in and among the facilities. All three models are tightly connected, mutually interdependent, and together can assess the situation and forecast the dynamic outputs of every input. Moreover, this integrated model will hold disaster managers and decision makers responsible when it comes to checking all the alternative decision before any implementation, and support to produce maximum possible outputs from the available limited inputs. This proposed model will not only support to reduce the extent of damage cascade but will ensure priority restoration and optimize resource utilization through adaptive and collaborative management. Complex systems predictably fail but in unpredictable ways. System understanding, situation awareness, and factual decisions may significantly help urban system to survive and sustain.

Keywords: disaster prevention, decision support system, emergency response, urban critical infrastructure system

Procedia PDF Downloads 118
30 A Review on Biological Control of Mosquito Vectors

Authors: Asim Abbasi, Muhammad Sufyan, Iqra, Hafiza Javaria Ashraf

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The share of vector-borne diseases (VBDs) in the global burden of infectious diseases is almost 17%. The advent of new drugs and latest research in medical science helped mankind to compete with these lethal diseases but still diseases transmitted by different mosquito species, including filariasis, malaria, viral encephalitis and dengue are serious threats for people living in disease endemic areas. Injudicious and repeated use of pesticides posed selection pressure on mosquitoes leading to development of resistance. Hence biological control agents are under serious consideration of scientific community to be used in vector control programmes. Fish have a history of predating immature stages of different aquatic insects including mosquitoes. The noteworthy examples in Africa and Asia includes, Aphanius discolour and a fish in the Panchax group. Moreover, common mosquito fish, Gambusia affinis predates mostly on temporary water mosquitoes like anopheline as compared to permanent water breeders like culicines. Mosquitoes belonging to genus Toxorhynchites have a worldwide distribution and are mostly associated with the predation of other mosquito larvae habituating with them in natural and artificial water containers. These species are harmless to humans as their adults do not suck human blood but feeds on floral nectar. However, their activity is mostly temperature dependent as Toxorhynchites brevipalpis consume 359 Aedes aegypti larvae at 30-32 ºC in contrast to 154 larvae at 20-26 ºC. Although many bacterial species were isolated from mosquito cadavers but those belonging to genus Bacillus are found highly pathogenic against them. The successful species of this genus include Bacillus thuringiensis and Bacillus sphaericus. The prime targets of B. thuringiensis are mostly the immatures of genus Aedes, Culex, Anopheles and Psorophora while B. sphaericus is specifically toxic against species of Culex, Psorophora and Culiseta. The entomopathogenic nematodes belonging to family, mermithidae are also pathogenic to different mosquito species. Eighty different species of mosquitoes including Anopheles, Aedes and Culex proved to be highly vulnerable to the attack of two mermithid species, Romanomermis culicivorax and R. iyengari. Cytoplasmic polyhedrosis virus was the first described pathogenic virus, isolated from the cadavers of mosquito specie, Culex tarsalis. Other viruses which are pathogenic to culicine includes, iridoviruses, cytopolyhedrosis viruses, entomopoxviruses and parvoviruses. Protozoa species belonging to division microsporidia are the common pathogenic protozoans in mosquito populations which kill their host by the chronic effects of parasitism. Moreover, due to their wide prevalence in anopheline mosquitoes and transversal and horizontal transmission from infected to healthy host, microsporidia of the genera Nosema and Amblyospora have received much attention in various mosquito control programmes. Fungal based mycopesticides are used in biological control of insect pests with 47 species reported virulent against different stages of mosquitoes. These include both aquatic fungi i.e. species of Coelomomyces, Lagenidium giganteum and Culicinomyces clavosporus, and the terrestrial fungi Metarhizium anisopliae and Beauveria bassiana. Hence, it was concluded that the integrated use of all these biological control agents can be a healthy contribution in mosquito control programmes and become a dire need of the time to avoid repeated use of pesticides.

Keywords: entomopathogenic nematodes, protozoa, Toxorhynchites, vector-borne

Procedia PDF Downloads 120
29 Implications of Agricultural Subsidies Since Green Revolution: A Case Study of Indian Punjab

Authors: Kriti Jain, Sucha Singh Gill

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Subsidies have been a major part of agricultural policies around the world, and more extensively since the green revolution in developing countries, for the sake of attaining higher agricultural productivity and achieving food security. But entrenched subsidies lead to distorted incentives and promote inefficiencies in the agricultural sector, threatening the viability of these very subsidies and sustainability of the agricultural production systems, posing a threat to the livelihood of farmers and laborers dependent on it. This paper analyzes the economic and ecological sustainability implications of prolonged input and output subsidies in agriculture by studying the case of Indian Punjab, an agriculturally developed state responsible for ensuring food security in the country when it was facing a major food crisis. The paper focuses specifically on the environmentally unsustainable cropping pattern changes as a result of Minimum Support Price (MSP) and assured procurement and on the resource use efficiency and cost implications of power subsidy for irrigation in Punjab. The study is based on an analysis of both secondary and primary data sources. Using secondary data, a time series analysis was done to capture the changes in Punjab’s cropping pattern, water table depth, fertilizer consumption, and electrification of agriculture. This has been done to examine the role of price and output support adopted to encourage the adoption of green revolution technology in changing the cropping structure of the state, resulting in increased input use intensities (especially groundwater and fertilizers), which harms the ecological balance and decreases factor productivity. Evaluation of electrification of Punjab agriculture helped evaluate the trend in electricity productivity of agriculture and how free power imposed further pressure on the extant agricultural ecosystem. Using data collected from a primary survey of 320 farmers in Punjab, the extent of wasteful application of groundwater irrigation, water productivity of output, electricity usage, and cost of irrigation driven electricity subsidy to the exchequer were estimated for the dominant cropping pattern amongst farmers. The main findings of the study revealed how because of a subsidy has driven agricultural framework, Punjab has lost area under agro climatically suitable and staple crops and moved towards a paddy-wheat cropping system, that is gnawing away the state’s natural resources like water table has been declining at a significant rate of 25 cms per year since 1975-76, and excessive and imbalanced fertilizer usage has led to declining soil fertility in the state. With electricity-driven tubewells as the major source of irrigation within a regime of free electricity and water-intensive crop cultivation, there is both wasteful application of irrigation water and electricity in the cultivation of paddy crops, burning an unproductive hole in the exchequer’s pocket. There is limited access to both agricultural extension services and water-conserving technology, along with policy imbalance, keeping farmers in an intensive and unsustainable production system. Punjab agriculture is witnessing diminishing returns to factor, which under the business-as-usual scenario, will soon enter the phase of negative returns to factor.

Keywords: cropping pattern, electrification, subsidy, sustainability

Procedia PDF Downloads 40
28 Assessing Organizational Resilience Capacity to Flooding: Index Development and Application to Greek Small & Medium-Sized Enterprises

Authors: Antonis Skouloudis, Konstantinos Evangelinos, Walter Leal-Filho, Panagiotis Vouros, Ioannis Nikolaou

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Organizational resilience capacity to extreme weather events (EWEs) has sparked a growth in scholarly attention over the past decade as an essential aspect in business continuity management, with supporting evidence for this claim to suggest that it retains a key role in successful responses to adverse situations, crises and shocks. Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are more vulnerable to face floods compared to their larger counterparts, so they are disproportionately affected by such extreme weather events. The limited resources at their disposal, the lack of time and skills all conduce to inadequate preparedness to challenges posed by floods. SMEs tend to plan in the short-term, reacting to circumstances as they arise and focussing on their very survival. Likewise, they share less formalised structures and codified policies while they are most usually owner-managed, resulting in a command-and-control management culture. Such characteristics result in them having limited opportunities to recover from flooding and quickly turnaround their operation from a loss making to a profit making one. Scholars frame the capacity of business entities to be resilient upon an EWE disturbance (such as flash floods) as the rate of recovery and restoration of organizational performance to pre-disturbance conditions, the amount of disturbance (i.e. threshold level) a business can absorb before losing structural and/or functional components that will alter or cease operation, as well as the extent to which the organization maintains its function (i.e. impact resistance) before performance levels are driven to zero. Nevertheless, while it seems to be accepted as an essential trait of firms effectively transcending uncertain conditions, research deconstructing the enabling conditions and/or inhibitory factors of SMEs resilience capacity to natural hazards is still sparse, fragmentary and mostly fuelled by anecdotal evidence or normative assumptions. Focusing on the individual level of analysis, i.e. the individual enterprise and its endeavours to succeed, the emergent picture from this relatively new research strand delineates the specification of variables, conceptual relationships or dynamic boundaries of resilience capacity components in an attempt to provide prescriptions for policy-making as well as business management. This study will present the development of a flood resilience capacity index (FRCI) and its application to Greek SMEs. The proposed composite indicator pertains to cognitive, behavioral/managerial and contextual factors that influence an enterprise’s ability to shape effective responses to meet flood challenges. Through the proposed indicator-based approach, an analytical framework is set forth that will help standardize such assessments with the overarching aim of reducing the vulnerability of SMEs to flooding. This will be achieved by identifying major internal and external attributes explaining resilience capacity which is particularly important given the limited resources these enterprises have and that they tend to be primary sources of vulnerabilities in supply chain networks, generating Single Points of Failure (SPOF).

Keywords: Floods, Small & Medium-Sized enterprises, organizational resilience capacity, index development

Procedia PDF Downloads 39
27 Unknown Groundwater Pollution Source Characterization in Contaminated Mine Sites Using Optimal Monitoring Network Design

Authors: H. K. Esfahani, B. Datta

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Groundwater is one of the most important natural resources in many parts of the world; however it is widely polluted due to human activities. Currently, effective and reliable groundwater management and remediation strategies are obtained using characterization of groundwater pollution sources, where the measured data in monitoring locations are utilized to estimate the unknown pollutant source location and magnitude. However, accurately identifying characteristics of contaminant sources is a challenging task due to uncertainties in terms of predicting source flux injection, hydro-geological and geo-chemical parameters, and the concentration field measurement. Reactive transport of chemical species in contaminated groundwater systems, especially with multiple species, is a complex and highly non-linear geochemical process. Although sufficient concentration measurement data is essential to accurately identify sources characteristics, available data are often sparse and limited in quantity. Therefore, this inverse problem-solving method for characterizing unknown groundwater pollution sources is often considered ill-posed, complex and non- unique. Different methods have been utilized to identify pollution sources; however, the linked simulation-optimization approach is one effective method to obtain acceptable results under uncertainties in complex real life scenarios. With this approach, the numerical flow and contaminant transport simulation models are externally linked to an optimization algorithm, with the objective of minimizing the difference between measured concentration and estimated pollutant concentration at observation locations. Concentration measurement data are very important to accurately estimate pollution source properties; therefore, optimal design of the monitoring network is essential to gather adequate measured data at desired times and locations. Due to budget and physical restrictions, an efficient and effective approach for groundwater pollutant source characterization is to design an optimal monitoring network, especially when only inadequate and arbitrary concentration measurement data are initially available. In this approach, preliminary concentration observation data are utilized for preliminary source location, magnitude and duration of source activity identification, and these results are utilized for monitoring network design. Further, feedback information from the monitoring network is used as inputs for sequential monitoring network design, to improve the identification of unknown source characteristics. To design an effective monitoring network of observation wells, optimization and interpolation techniques are used. A simulation model should be utilized to accurately describe the aquifer properties in terms of hydro-geochemical parameters and boundary conditions. However, the simulation of the transport processes becomes complex when the pollutants are chemically reactive. Three dimensional transient flow and reactive contaminant transport process is considered. The proposed methodology uses HYDROGEOCHEM 5.0 (HGCH) as the simulation model for flow and transport processes with chemically multiple reactive species. Adaptive Simulated Annealing (ASA) is used as optimization algorithm in linked simulation-optimization methodology to identify the unknown source characteristics. Therefore, the aim of the present study is to develop a methodology to optimally design an effective monitoring network for pollution source characterization with reactive species in polluted aquifers. The performance of the developed methodology will be evaluated for an illustrative polluted aquifer sites, for example an abandoned mine site in Queensland, Australia.

Keywords: monitoring network design, source characterization, chemical reactive transport process, contaminated mine site

Procedia PDF Downloads 127
26 A Digital Clone of an Irrigation Network Based on Hardware/Software Simulation

Authors: Pierre-Andre Mudry, Jean Decaix, Jeremy Schmid, Cesar Papilloud, Cecile Munch-Alligne

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In most of the Swiss Alpine regions, the availability of water resources is usually adequate even in times of drought, as evidenced by the 2003 and 2018 summers. Indeed, important natural stocks are for the moment available in the form of snow and ice, but the situation is likely to change in the future due to global and regional climate change. In addition, alpine mountain regions are areas where climate change will be felt very rapidly and with high intensity. For instance, the ice regime of these regions has already been affected in recent years with a modification of the monthly availability and extreme events of precipitations. The current research, focusing on the municipality of Val de Bagnes, located in the canton of Valais, Switzerland, is part of a project led by the Altis company and achieved in collaboration with WSL, BlueArk Entremont, and HES-SO Valais-Wallis. In this region, water occupies a key position notably for winter and summer tourism. Thus, multiple actors want to apprehend the future needs and availabilities of water, on both the 2050 and 2100 horizons, in order to plan the modifications to the water supply and distribution networks. For those changes to be salient and efficient, a good knowledge of the current water distribution networks is of most importance. In the current case, the water drinking network is well documented, but this is not the case for the irrigation one. Since the water consumption for irrigation is ten times higher than for drinking water, data acquisition on the irrigation network is a major point to determine future scenarios. This paper first presents the instrumentation and simulation of the irrigation network using custom-designed IoT devices, which are coupled with a digital clone simulated to reduce the number of measuring locations. The developed IoT ad-hoc devices are energy-autonomous and can measure flows and pressures using industrial sensors such as calorimetric water flow meters. Measurements are periodically transmitted using the LoRaWAN protocol over a dedicated infrastructure deployed in the municipality. The gathered values can then be visualized in real-time on a dashboard, which also provides historical data for analysis. In a second phase, a digital clone of the irrigation network was modeled using EPANET, a software for water distribution systems that performs extended-period simulations of flows and pressures in pressurized networks composed of reservoirs, pipes, junctions, and sinks. As a preliminary work, only a part of the irrigation network was modelled and validated by comparisons with the measurements. The simulations are carried out by imposing the consumption of water at several locations. The validation is performed by comparing the simulated pressures are different nodes with the measured ones. An accuracy of +/- 15% is observed on most of the nodes, which is acceptable for the operator of the network and demonstrates the validity of the approach. Future steps will focus on the deployment of the measurement devices on the whole network and the complete modelling of the network. Then, scenarios of future consumption will be investigated. Acknowledgment— The authors would like to thank the Swiss Federal Office for Environment (FOEN), the Swiss Federal Office for Agriculture (OFAG) for their financial supports, and ALTIS for the technical support, this project being part of the Swiss Pilot program 'Adaptation aux changements climatiques'.

Keywords: hydraulic digital clone, IoT water monitoring, LoRaWAN water measurements, EPANET, irrigation network

Procedia PDF Downloads 25
25 Phytochemical Investigation, Leaf Structure and Antimicrobial Screening of Pistacia lentiscus against Multi-Drug Resistant Bacteria

Authors: S. Mamoucha, N.Tsafantakis, T. Ioannidis, S. Chatzipanagiotou, C. Nikolaou, L. Skaltsounis, N. Fokialakis, N. Christodoulakis

Abstract:

Introduction: Pistacia lentiscus L. (well known as Mastic tree) is an evergreen sclerophyllous shrub that extensively thrives in the eastern Mediterranean area yet only the trees cultivated in the southern region of the Greek island Chios produces mastic resin. Different parts of P. lentiscus L. var. chia have been used in folk medicine for various purposes, such as tonic, aphrodisiac, antiseptic, antihypertensive and management of dental, gastrointestinal, liver, urinary, and respiratory tract disorders. Several studies have focused on the antibacterial activity of its resin (gum) and its essential oil. However, there is no study combining anatomy of the plant organs, phytochemical profile, and antibacterial screening of the plant. In our attempt to discover novel bioactive metabolites from the mastic tree, we screened its antibacterial activity not only against ATCC strains but also against clinical, resistant strains. Materials-methods: Leaves were investigated using Transmission (ΤΕΜ) and Scanning Εlectron Microscopy (SEM). Histochemical tests were performed on fresh and fixed tissue. Extracts prepared from dried, powdered leaves using 3 different solvents (DCM, MeOH and H2O) the waste water obtained after a hydrodistillation process for essential oil production were screened for their phytochemical content and antibacterial activity. Μetabolite profiling of polar and non-polar extracts was recorded by GC-MS and LC-HRMS techniques and analyzed using in-house and commercial libraries. The antibacterial screening was performed against Staphylococcus aureus ATCC25923, Escherichia coli ATCC25922, Pseudomonas aeruginosa ATCC27853 and against clinical, resistant strains Methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA), Carbapenem-Resistant Metallo-β-Lactamase (carbapenemase) P. aeruginosa (VIM), Klebsiella pneumoniae carbapenemases (KPCs) and Acinetobacter baumanii resistant strains. The antibacterial activity was tested by the Kirby Bauer and the Agar Well Diffusion method. The zone of inhibition (ZI) of each extract was measured and compared with those of common antibiotics. Results: Leaf is compact with inosclereids and numerous idioblasts containing a globular, spiny crystal. The major nerves of the leaf contain a resin duct. Mesophyll cells showed accumulation of osmiophillic metabolites. Histochemical treatments defined secondary metabolites in subcellular localization. The phytochemical investigation revealed the presence of a large number of secondary metabolites, belonging to different chemical groups, such as terpenoids, phenolic compounds (mainly myricetin, kaempferol and quercetin glycosides), phenolic, and fatty acids. Among the extracts, the hydrostillation wastewater achieved the best results against most of the bacteria tested. MRSA, VIM and A. baumanii were inhibited. Conclusion: Extracts from plants have recently been of great interest with respect to their antimicrobial activity. Their use emerged from a growing tendency to replace synthetic antimicrobial agents with natural ones. Leaves of P. lentiscus L. var. chia showed a high antimicrobial activity even against drug - resistant bacteria. Future prospects concern the better understanding of mode of action of the antibacterial activity, the isolation of the most bioactive constituents and the clarification if the activity is related to a single compound or to the synergistic effect of several ones.

Keywords: antibacterial screening, leaf anatomy, phytochemical profile, Pistacia lentiscus var. chia

Procedia PDF Downloads 164
24 Assessment of Airborne PM0.5 Mutagenic and Genotoxic Effects in Five Different Italian Cities: The MAPEC_LIFE Project

Authors: T. Schilirò, S. Bonetta, S. Bonetta, E. Ceretti, D. Feretti, I. Zerbini, V. Romanazzi, S. Levorato, T. Salvatori, S. Vannini, M. Verani, C. Pignata, F. Bagordo, G. Gilli, S. Bonizzoni, A. Bonetti, E. Carraro, U. Gelatti

Abstract:

Air pollution is one of the most important worldwide health concern. In the last years, in both the US and Europe, new directives and regulations supporting more restrictive pollution limits were published. However, the early effects of air pollution occur, especially for the urban population. Several epidemiological and toxicological studies have documented the remarkable effect of particulate matter (PM) in increasing morbidity and mortality for cardiovascular disease, lung cancer and natural cause mortality. The finest fractions of PM (PM with aerodynamic diameter <2.5 µm and less) play a major role in causing chronic diseases. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has recently classified air pollution and fine PM as carcinogenic to human (1 Group). The structure and composition of PM influence the biological properties of particles. The chemical composition varies with season and region of sampling, photochemical-meteorological conditions and sources of emissions. The aim of the MAPEC (Monitoring Air Pollution Effects on Children for supporting public health policy) study is to evaluate the associations between air pollution and biomarkers of early biological effects in oral mucosa cells of 6-8 year old children recruited from first grade schools. The study was performed in five Italian towns (Brescia, Torino, Lecce, Perugia and Pisa) characterized by different levels of airborne PM (PM10 annual average from 44 µg/m3 measured in Torino to 20 µg/m3 measured in Lecce). Two to five schools for each town were chosen to evaluate the variability of pollution within the same town. Child exposure to urban air pollution was evaluated by collecting ultrafine PM (PM0.5) in the school area, on the same day of biological sampling. PM samples were collected for 72h using a high-volume gravimetric air sampler and glass fiber filters in two different seasons (winter and spring). Gravimetric analysis of the collected filters was performed; PM0.5 organic extracts were chemically analyzed (PAH, Nitro-PAH) and tested on A549 by the Comet assay and Micronucleus test and on Salmonella strains (TA100, TA98, TA98NR and YG1021) by Ames test. Results showed that PM0.5 represents a high variable PM10 percentage (range 19.6-63%). PM10 concentration were generally lower than 50µg/m3 (EU daily limit). All PM0.5 extracts showed a mutagenic effect with TA98 strain (net revertant/m3 range 0.3-1.5) and suggested the presence of indirect mutagens, while lower effect was observed with TA100 strain. The results with the TA98NR and YG1021 strains showed the presence of nitroaromatic compounds as confirmed by the chemical analysis. No genotoxic or oxidative effect of PM0.5 extracts was observed using the comet assay (with/without Fpg enzyme) and micronucleus test except for some sporadic samples. The low biological effect observed could be related to the low level of air pollution observed in this winter sampling associated to a high atmospheric instability. For a greater understanding of the relationship between PM size, composition and biological effects the results obtained in this study suggest to investigate the biological effect of the other PM fractions and in particular of the PM0.5-1 fraction.

Keywords: airborne PM, ames test, comet assay, micronucleus test

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23 Biocellulose as Platform for the Development of Multifunctional Materials

Authors: Junkal Gutierrez, Hernane S. Barud, Sidney J. L. Ribeiro, Agnieszka Tercjak

Abstract:

Nowadays the interest on green nanocomposites and on the development of more environmental friendly products has been increased. Bacterial cellulose has been recently investigated as an attractive environmentally friendly material for the preparation of low-cost nanocomposites. The formation of cellulose by laboratory bacterial cultures is an interesting and attractive biomimetic access to obtain pure cellulose with excellent properties. Additionally, properties as molar mass, molar mass distribution, and the supramolecular structure could be control using different bacterial strain, culture mediums and conditions, including the incorporation of different additives. This kind of cellulose is a natural nanomaterial, and therefore, it has a high surface-to-volume ratio which is highly advantageous in composites production. Such property combined with good biocompatibility, high tensile strength, and high crystallinity makes bacterial cellulose a potential material for applications in different fields. The aim of this investigation work was the fabrication of novel hybrid inorganic-organic composites based on bacterial cellulose, cultivated in our laboratory, as a template. This kind of biohybrid nanocomposites gathers together excellent properties of bacterial cellulose with the ones displayed by typical inorganic nanoparticles like optical, magnetic and electrical properties, luminescence, ionic conductivity and selectivity, as well as chemical or biochemical activity. In addition, the functionalization of cellulose with inorganic materials opens new pathways for the fabrication of novel multifunctional hybrid materials with promising properties for a wide range of applications namely electronic paper, flexible displays, solar cells, sensors, among others. In this work, different pathways for fabrication of multifunctional biohybrid nanopapers with tunable properties based on BC modified with amphiphilic poly(ethylene oxide-b-propylene oxide-b-ethylene oxide) (EPE) block copolymer, sol-gel synthesized nanoparticles (titanium, vanadium and a mixture of both oxides) and functionalized iron oxide nanoparticles will be presented. In situ (biosynthesized) and ex situ (at post-production level) approaches were successfully used to modify BC membranes. Bacterial cellulose based biocomposites modified with different EPE block copolymer contents were developed by in situ technique. Thus, BC growth conditions were manipulated to fabricate EPE/BC nanocomposite during the biosynthesis. Additionally, hybrid inorganic/organic nanocomposites based on BC membranes and inorganic nanoparticles were designed via ex-situ method, by immersion of never-dried BC membranes into different nanoparticle solutions. On the one hand, sol-gel synthesized nanoparticles (titanium, vanadium and a mixture of both oxides) and on the other hand superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles (SPION), Fe2O3-PEO solution. The morphology of designed novel bionanocomposites hybrid materials was investigated by atomic force microscopy (AFM) and scanning electron microscopy (SEM). In order to characterized obtained materials from the point of view of future applications different techniques were employed. On the one hand, optical properties were analyzed by UV-vis spectroscopy and spectrofluorimetry and on the other hand electrical properties were studied at nano and macroscale using electric force microscopy (EFM), tunneling atomic force microscopy (TUNA) and Keithley semiconductor analyzer, respectively. Magnetic properties were measured by means of magnetic force microscopy (MFM). Additionally, mechanical properties were also analyzed.

Keywords: bacterial cellulose, block copolymer, advanced characterization techniques, nanoparticles

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22 Cultivation of Halophytes: Effect of Salinity on Nutritional and Functional Properties

Authors: Luisa Barreira, Viana Castaneda, Maria J. Rodrigues, Florinda Gama, Tamara Santos, Marta Oliveira, Catarina Pereira, Maribela Pestana, Pedro Correia, Miguel Salazar, Carla Nunes, Luisa Custodio, Joao Varela

Abstract:

In the last century, the world witnessed an exponential demographic increase that has put an enormous pressure on agriculture and food production. Associated also with climate changes, there has been a decrease in the amount of available freshwater and an increased salinization of soils which can affect the production of most food crops. Halophytes, however, are plants able to withstand high salinities while maintaining a good growth productivity. To cope with the excess salt, they produce secondary metabolites (e.g. vitamins and phenolic compounds) which, along with the natural presence of some minerals, makes them not only nutritionally rich but also functional foods. Some halophytes, as quinoa or salicornia, are already used in some countries, mostly as gourmet food. Hydroponic cultivation of halophytes using seawater or diluted seawater for watering can decrease the pressure on freshwater resources while producing a nutritional and functional food. The XtremeGourmet project funded by the EU aims to develop and optimize the production of different halophytes by hydroponics. One of the more specific objectives of this project is the study of halophytes’ productivity and chemical composition under different abiotic conditions, e.g. salt and nutrient concentration and light intensity. Three species of halophytes commonly occurring in saltmarshes of the South of Portugal (Inula chrithmoides, Salicornia ramosissima and Mesembryanthemum nodiflorum) were cultivated using hydroponics under different salinities, ranging from 5 to 45 dS/m. For each condition, several parameters were assessed namely: total and commercial productivity, electrical conductivity, total soluble solids, proximal composition, mineral profile, total phenolics, flavonoids and condensed tannins content and antioxidant activity. Results show that productivity was significantly reduced for all plants with increasing salinity up to salinity 29 dS/m and remained low onwards. Oppositely, the electrical conductivity and the total soluble solids content of the produced plants increased with salinity, reaching a plateau at 29 dS/m. It seems that plants reflect the salt concentration of the water up to some point, being able to regulate their salt content for higher salinities. The same tendency was observed for the ash content of these plants, which is related to the mineral uptake from the cultivating media and the plants’ capacity to both accumulate and regulate ions’ concentration in their tissues. Nonetheless, this comes with a metabolic cost which is observed by a decrease in productivity. The mineral profile of these plants shows high concentrations of sodium but also high amounts of potassium. In what concerns the microelements, these plants appear to be a good source of manganese and iron and the low amounts of toxic metals account for their safe consumption in moderate amounts. Concerning the phenolics composition, plants presented moderate concentrations of phenolics but high amounts of condensed tannins, particularly I. crithmoides which accounts for its characteristic sour and spicy taste. Contrary to some studies in which higher amounts of phenolics were found in plants cultivated under higher salinities, in this study, the highest amount of phenolic compounds were found in plants grown at the lowest or intermediate salinities. Nonetheless, there was a positive correlation between the concentration of these compounds and the antioxidant capacity of the plants’ extracts.

Keywords: functional properties, halophytes, hydroponics, nutritional composition, salinity effect

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21 The Use of the TRIGRS Model and Geophysics Methodologies to Identify Landslides Susceptible Areas: Case Study of Campos do Jordao-SP, Brazil

Authors: Tehrrie Konig, Cassiano Bortolozo, Daniel Metodiev, Rodolfo Mendes, Marcio Andrade, Marcio Moraes

Abstract:

Gravitational mass movements are recurrent events in Brazil, usually triggered by intense rainfall. When these events occur in urban areas, they end up becoming disasters due to the economic damage, social impact, and loss of human life. To identify the landslide-susceptible areas, it is important to know the geotechnical parameters of the soil, such as cohesion, internal friction angle, unit weight, hydraulic conductivity, and hydraulic diffusivity. The measurement of these parameters is made by collecting soil samples to analyze in the laboratory and by using geophysical methodologies, such as Vertical Electrical Survey (VES). The geophysical surveys analyze the soil properties with minimal impact in its initial structure. Statistical analysis and mathematical models of physical basis are used to model and calculate the Factor of Safety for steep slope areas. In general, such mathematical models work from the combination of slope stability models and hydrological models. One example is the mathematical model TRIGRS (Transient Rainfall Infiltration and Grid-based Regional Slope- Stability Model) which calculates the variation of the Factor of Safety of a determined study area. The model relies on changes in pore-pressure and soil moisture during a rainfall event. TRIGRS was written in the Fortran programming language and associates the hydrological model, which is based on the Richards Equation, with the stability model based on the principle of equilibrium limit. Therefore, the aims of this work are modeling the slope stability of Campos do Jordão with TRIGRS, using geotechnical and geophysical methodologies to acquire the soil properties. The study area is located at southern-east of Sao Paulo State in the Mantiqueira Mountains and has a historic landslide register. During the fieldwork, soil samples were collected, and the VES method applied. These procedures provide the soil properties, which were used as input data in the TRIGRS model. The hydrological data (infiltration rate and initial water table height) and rainfall duration and intensity, were acquired from the eight rain gauges installed by Cemaden in the study area. A very high spatial resolution digital terrain model was used to identify the slopes declivity. The analyzed period is from March 6th to March 8th of 2017. As results, the TRIGRS model calculates the variation of the Factor of Safety within a 72-hour period in which two heavy rainfall events stroke the area and six landslides were registered. After each rainfall, the Factor of Safety declined, as expected. The landslides happened in areas identified by the model with low values of Factor of Safety, proving its efficiency on the identification of landslides susceptible areas. This study presents a critical threshold for landslides, in which an accumulated rainfall higher than 80mm/m² in 72 hours might trigger landslides in urban and natural slopes. The geotechnical and geophysics methods are shown to be very useful to identify the soil properties and provide the geological characteristics of the area. Therefore, the combine geotechnical and geophysical methods for soil characterization and the modeling of landslides susceptible areas with TRIGRS are useful for urban planning. Furthermore, early warning systems can be developed by combining the TRIGRS model and weather forecast, to prevent disasters in urban slopes.

Keywords: landslides, susceptibility, TRIGRS, vertical electrical survey

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20 The Use of Antioxidant and Antimicrobial Properties of Plant Extracts for Increased Safety and Sustainability of Dairy Products

Authors: Loreta Serniene, Dalia Sekmokiene, Justina Tomkeviciute, Lina Lauciene, Vaida Andruleviciute, Ingrida Sinkeviciene, Kristina Kondrotiene, Neringa Kasetiene, Mindaugas Malakauskas

Abstract:

One of the most important areas of product development and research in the dairy industry is the product enrichment with active ingredients as well as leading to increased product safety and sustainability. The most expanding field of the active ingredients is the various plants' CO₂ extracts with aromatic, antioxidant and antimicrobial properties. In this study, 15 plant extracts were evaluated based on their antioxidant, antimicrobial properties as well as sensory acceptance indicators for the development of new dairy products. In order to increase the total antioxidant capacity of the milk products, it was important to determine the content of phenolic compounds and antioxidant activity of CO₂ extract. The total phenolic content of fifteen different commercial CO₂ extracts was determined by the Folin-Ciocalteu reagent and expressed as milligrams of the Gallic acid equivalents (GAE) in gram of extract. The antioxidant activities were determined by 2.2′-azinobis-(3-ethylbenzthiazoline)-6-sulfonate (ABTS) methods. The study revealed that the antioxidant activities of investigated CO₂ extract vary from 4.478-62.035 µmole Trolox/g, while the total phenolic content was in the range of 2.021-38.906 mg GAE/g of extract. For the example, the estimated antioxidant activity of Chinese cinnamon (Cinammonum aromaticum) CO₂ extract was 62.023 ± 0.15 µmole Trolox/g and the total flavonoid content reached 17.962 ± 0.35 mg GAE/g. These two parameters suggest that cinnamon could be a promising supplement for the development of new cheese. The inhibitory effects of these essential oils were tested by using agar disc diffusion method against pathogenic bacteria, most commonly found in dairy products. The obtained results showed that essential oil of lemon myrtle (Backhousia citriodora) and cinnamon (Cinnamomum cassia) has antimicrobial activity against E. coli, S. aureus, B. cereus, P. florescens, L. monocytogenes, Br. thermosphacta, P. aeruginosa and S. typhimurium with the diameter of inhibition zones variation from 10 to 52 mm. The sensory taste acceptability of plant extracts in combination with a dairy product was evaluated by a group of sensory evaluation experts (31 individuals) by the criteria of overall taste acceptability in the scale of 0 (not acceptable) to 10 (very acceptable). Each of the tested samples included 200g grams of natural unsweetened greek yogurt without additives and 1 drop of single plant extract (essential oil). The highest average of overall taste acceptability was defined for the samples with essential oils of orange (Citrus sinensis) - average score 6.67, lemon myrtle (Backhousia citriodora) – 6.62, elderberry flower (Sambucus nigra flos.) – 6.61, lemon (Citrus limon) – 5.75 and cinnamon (Cinnamomum cassia) – 5.41, respectively. The results of this study indicate plant extracts of Cinnamomum cassia and Backhousia citriodora as a promising additive not only to increase the total antioxidant capacity of the milk products and as alternative antibacterial agent to combat pathogenic bacteria commonly found in dairy products but also as a desirable flavour for the taste pallet of the consumers with expressed need for safe, sustainable and innovative dairy products. Acknowledgment: This research was funded by the European Regional Development Fund according to the supported activity 'Research Projects Implemented by World-class Researcher Groups' under Measure No. 01.2.2-LMT-K-718.

Keywords: antioxidant properties, antimicrobial properties, cinnamon, CO₂ plant extracts, dairy products, essential oils, lemon myrtle

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19 Linking the Genetic Signature of Free-Living Soil Diazotrophs with Process Rates under Land Use Conversion in the Amazon Rainforest

Authors: Rachel Danielson, Brendan Bohannan, S.M. Tsai, Kyle Meyer, Jorge L.M. Rodrigues

Abstract:

The Amazon Rainforest is a global diversity hotspot and crucial carbon sink, but approximately 20% of its total extent has been deforested- primarily for the establishment of cattle pasture. Understanding the impact of this large-scale disturbance on soil microbial community composition and activity is crucial in understanding potentially consequential shifts in nutrient or greenhouse gas cycling, as well as adding to the body of knowledge concerning how these complex communities respond to human disturbance. In this study, surface soils (0-10cm) were collected from three forests and three 45-year-old pastures in Rondonia, Brazil (the Amazon state with the greatest rate of forest destruction) in order to determine the impact of forest conversion on microbial communities involved in nitrogen fixation. Soil chemical and physical parameters were paired with measurements of microbial activity and genetic profiles to determine how community composition and process rates relate to environmental conditions. Measuring both the natural abundance of 15N in total soil N, as well as incorporation of enriched 15N2 under incubation has revealed that conversion of primary forest to cattle pasture results in a significant increase in the rate of nitrogen fixation by free-living diazotrophs. Quantification of nifH gene copy numbers (an essential subunit encoding the nitrogenase enzyme) correspondingly reveals a significant increase of genes in pasture compared to forest soils. Additionally, genetic sequencing of both nifH genes and transcripts shows a significant increase in the diversity of the present and metabolically active diazotrophs within the soil community. Levels of both organic and inorganic nitrogen tend to be lower in pastures compared to forests, with ammonium rather than nitrate as the dominant inorganic form. However, no significant or consistent differences in total, extractable, permanganate-oxidizable, or loss-on-ignition carbon are present between the two land-use types. Forest conversion is associated with a 0.5- 1.0 unit pH increase, but concentrations of many biologically relevant nutrients such as phosphorus do not increase consistently. Increases in free-living diazotrophic community abundance and activity appear to be related to shifts in carbon to nitrogen pool ratios. Furthermore, there may be an important impact of transient, low molecular weight plant-root-derived organic carbon on free-living diazotroph communities not captured in this study. Preliminary analysis of nitrogenase gene variant composition using NovoSeq metagenomic sequencing indicates that conversion of forest to pasture may significantly enrich vanadium-based nitrogenases. This indication is complemented by a significant decrease in available soil molybdenum. Very little is known about the ecology of diazotrophs utilizing vanadium-based nitrogenases, so further analysis may reveal important environmental conditions favoring their abundance and diversity in soil systems. Taken together, the results of this study indicate a significant change in nitrogen cycling and diazotroph community composition with the conversion of the Amazon Rainforest. This may have important implications for the sustainability of cattle pastures once established since nitrogen is a crucial nutrient for forage grass productivity.

Keywords: free-living diazotrophs, land use change, metagenomic sequencing, nitrogen fixation

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18 Nanocarriers Made of Amino Acid Based Biodegradable Polymers: Poly(Ester Amide) and Related Cationic and PEGylating Polymers

Authors: Sophio Kobauri, Temur Kantaria, Nina Kulikova, David Tugushi, Ramaz Katsarava

Abstract:

Polymeric nanoparticles-based drug delivery systems and therapeutics have a great potential in the treatment of a numerous diseases, due to they are characterizing the flexible properties which is giving possibility to modify their structures with a complex definition over their structures, compositions and properties. Important characteristics of the polymeric nanoparticles (PNPs) used as drug carriers are high particle’s stability, high carrier capacity, feasibility of encapsulation of both hydrophilic and hydrophobic drugs, and feasibility of variable routes of administration, including oral application and inhalation; NPs are especially effective for intracellular drug delivery since they penetrate into the cells’ interior though endocytosis. A variety of PNPs based drug delivery systems including charged and neutral, degradable and non-degradable polymers of both natural and synthetic origin have been developed. Among these huge varieties the biodegradable PNPs which can be cleared from the body after the fulfillment of their function could be considered as one of the most promising. For intracellular uptake it is highly desirable to have positively charged PNPs since they can penetrate deep into cell membranes. For long-lasting circulation of PNPs in the body it is important they have so called “stealth coatings” to protect them from the attack of immune system of the organism. One of the effective ways to render the PNPs “invisible” for immune system is their PEGylation which represent the process of pretreatment of polyethylene glycol (PEG) on the surface of PNPs. The present work deals with constructing PNPs from amino acid based biodegradable polymers – regular poly(ester amide) (PEA) composed of sebacic acid, leucine and 1,6-hexandiol (labeled as 8L6), cationic PEA composed of sebacic acid, arginine and 1,6-hexandiol (labeled as 8R6), and comb-like co-PEA composed of sebacic acid, malic acid, leucine and 1,6-hexandiol (labeled as PEG-PEA). The PNPs were fabricated using the polymer deposition/solvent displacement (nanoprecipitation) method. The regular PEA 8L6 form stable negatively charged (zeta-potential within 2-12 mV) PNPs of desired size (within 150-200 nm) in the presence of various surfactants (Tween 20, Tween 80, Brij 010, etc.). Blending the PEAs 8L6 and 8R6 gave the 130-140 nm sized positively charged PNPs having zeta-potential within +20 ÷ +28 mV depending 8L6/8R6 ratio. The PEGylating PEA PEG-PEA was synthesized by interaction of epoxy-co-PEA [8L6]0,5-[tES-L6]0,5 with mPEG-amine-2000 The stable and positively charged PNPs were fabricated using pure PEG-PEA as a surfactant. A firm anchoring of the PEG-PEA with 8L6/8R6 based PNPs (owing to a high afinity of the backbones of all three PEAs) provided good stabilization of the NPs. In vitro biocompatibility study of the new PNPs with four different stable cell lines: A549 (human), U-937 (human), RAW264.7 (murine), Hepa 1-6 (murine) showed they are biocompatible. Considering high stability and cell compatibility of the elaborated PNPs one can conclude that they are promising for subsequent therapeutic applications. This work was supported by the joint grant from the Science and Technology Center in Ukraine and Shota Rustaveli National Science Foundation of Georgia #6298 “New biodegradable cationic polymers composed of arginine and spermine-versatile biomaterials for various biomedical applications”.

Keywords: biodegradable poly(ester amide)s, cationic poly(ester amide), pegylating poly(ester amide), nanoparticles

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17 Geospatial and Statistical Evidences of Non-Engineered Landfill Leachate Effects on Groundwater Quality in a Highly Urbanised Area of Nigeria

Authors: David A. Olasehinde, Peter I. Olasehinde, Segun M. A. Adelana, Dapo O. Olasehinde

Abstract:

An investigation was carried out on underground water system dynamics within Ilorin metropolis to monitor the subsurface flow and its corresponding pollution. Africa population growth rate is the highest among the regions of the world, especially in urban areas. A corresponding increase in waste generation and a change in waste composition from predominantly organic to non-organic waste has also been observed. Percolation of leachate from non-engineered landfills, the chief means of waste disposal in many of its cities, constitutes a threat to the underground water bodies. Ilorin city, a transboundary town in southwestern Nigeria, is a ready microcosm of Africa’s unique challenge. In spite of the fact that groundwater is naturally protected from common contaminants such as bacteria as the subsurface provides natural attenuation process, groundwater samples have been noted to however possesses relatively higher dissolved chemical contaminants such as bicarbonate, sodium, and chloride which poses a great threat to environmental receptors and human consumption. The Geographic Information System (GIS) was used as a tool to illustrate, subsurface dynamics and the corresponding pollutant indicators. Forty-four sampling points were selected around known groundwater pollutant, major old dumpsites without landfill liners. The results of the groundwater flow directions and the corresponding contaminant transport were presented using expert geospatial software. The experimental results were subjected to four descriptive statistical analyses, namely: principal component analysis, Pearson correlation analysis, scree plot analysis, and Ward cluster analysis. Regression model was also developed aimed at finding functional relationships that can adequately relate or describe the behaviour of water qualities and the hypothetical factors landfill characteristics that may influence them namely; distance of source of water body from dumpsites, static water level of groundwater, subsurface permeability (inferred from hydraulic gradient), and soil infiltration. The regression equations developed were validated using the graphical approach. Underground water seems to flow from the northern portion of Ilorin metropolis down southwards transporting contaminants. Pollution pattern in the study area generally assumed a bimodal pattern with the major concentration of the chemical pollutants in the underground watershed and the recharge. The correlation between contaminant concentrations and the spread of pollution indicates that areas of lower subsurface permeability display a higher concentration of dissolved chemical content. The principal component analysis showed that conductivity, suspended solids, calcium hardness, total dissolved solids, total coliforms, and coliforms were the chief contaminant indicators in the underground water system in the study area. Pearson correlation revealed a high correlation of electrical conductivity for many parameters analyzed. In the same vein, the regression models suggest that the heavier the molecular weight of a chemical contaminant of a pollutant from a point source, the greater the pollution of the underground water system at a short distance. The study concludes that the associative properties of landfill have a significant effect on groundwater quality in the study area.

Keywords: dumpsite, leachate, groundwater pollution, linear regression, principal component

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16 Triple Immunotherapy to Overcome Immune Evasion by Tumors in a Melanoma Mouse Model

Authors: Mary-Ann N. Jallad, Dalal F. Jaber, Alexander M. Abdelnoor

Abstract:

Introduction: Current evidence confirms that both innate and adaptive immune systems are capable of recognizing and abolishing malignant cells. The emergence of cancerous tumors in patients is, therefore, an indication that certain cancer cells can resist elimination by the immune system through a process known as “immune evasion”. In fact, cancer cells often exploit regulatory mechanisms to escape immunity. Such mechanisms normally exist to control the immune responses and prohibit exaggerated or autoimmune reactions. Recently, immunotherapies have shown promising yet limited results. Therefore this study investigates several immunotherapeutic combinations and devises a triple immunotherapy which harnesses the innate and acquired immune responses towards the annihilation of malignant cells through overcoming their ability of immune evasion, consequently hampering malignant progression and eliminating established tumors. The aims of the study are to rule out acute/chronic toxic effects of the proposed treatment combinations, to assess the effect of these combinations on tumor growth and survival rates, and to investigate potential mechanisms underlying the phenotypic results through analyzing serum levels of anti-tumor cytokines, angiogenic factors and tumor progression indicator, and the tumor-infiltrating immune-cells populations. Methodology: For toxicity analysis, cancer-free C57BL/6 mice are randomized into 9 groups: Group 1 untreated, group 2 treated with sterile saline (solvent of used treatments), group 3 treated with Monophosphoryl-lipid-A, group 4 with anti-CTLA4-antibodies, group 5 with 1-Methyl-Tryptophan (Indolamine-Dioxygenase-1 inhibitor), group 6 with both MPLA and anti-CTLA4-antibodies, group 7 with both MPLA and 1-MT, group 8 with both anti-CTLA4-antibodies and 1-MT, and group 9 with all three: MPLA, anti-CTLA4-antibodies and 1-MT. Mice are monitored throughout the treatment period and for three following months. At that point, histological sections from their main organs are assessed. For tumor progression and survival analysis, a murine melanoma model is generated by injecting analogous mice with B16F10 melanoma cells. These mice are segregated into the listed nine groups. Their tumor size and survival are monitored. For a depiction of underlying mechanisms, melanoma-bearing mice from each group are sacrificed at several time-points. Sera are tested to assess the levels of Interleukin-12 (IL-12), Vascular-Endothelial-Growth Factor (VEGF), and S100B. Furthermore, tumors are excised for analysis of infiltrated immune cell populations including T-cells, macrophages, natural killer cells and immune-regulatory cells. Results: Toxicity analysis shows that all treated groups present no signs of neither acute nor chronic toxicity. Their appearance and weights were comparable to those of control groups throughout the treatment period and for the following 3 months. Moreover, histological sections from their hearts, kidneys, lungs, and livers were normal. Work is ongoing for completion of the remaining study aims. Conclusion: Toxicity was the major concern for the success of the proposed comprehensive combinational therapy. Data generated so far ruled out any acute or chronic toxic effects. Consequently, ongoing work is quite promising and may significantly contribute to the development of more effective immunotherapeutic strategies for the treatment of cancer patients.

Keywords: cancer immunotherapy, check-point blockade, combination therapy, melanoma

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