Agency: GTR | Branch: NERC | Program: | Phase: Research Grant | Award Amount: 60.25K | Year: 2015
Oceanic islands (i.e. islands that have never been connected to a continent) are natural laboratories of evolutionary and biogeographic processes and key to understanding these in continental settings. Seen traditionally as migratory dead ends, it is now thought that these islands may instead represent dynamic refugia and migratory stepping stones for species that are effective dispersers, such as spore-producing plants (mosses, liverworts, hornworts, ferns and lycopods collectively known as cryptogams). Thus, cryptogams are the key terrestrial plants for understanding the biogeography of oceanic islands; they are primary colonists and hence are sentinel organisms for tracking ecological successions and soil development and, unlike many flowering plants, they have almost all arrived naturally by wind-borne propagules rather than as human introductions. The oceanic South Atlantic Islands include Ascension, St. Helena and Tristan da Cunha (all British Overseas Territories) and the Brazilian counterparts, Fernando de Noronha and Trindade. We are putting together a team of UK and Brazilian scientists who already have considerable experience of working on some of these islands to conduct the first comprehensive study of their cryptogamic diversity and biogeography. This work will enable the drawing up of biodiversity action plans, conservation strategies and lead to the recognition of the islands as key locations for monitoring and understanding the effects of climate change. Our research programme will include extensive field work, which coupled with thorough taxonomic analyses, will lead to the first comprehensive assessment of species richness and diversity of both Brazilian and British South Atlantic Oceanic Islands. Major outputs will be authoritative species checklists for the five islands; an illustrated Flora for Fernando de Noronha like those already published for St. Helena and Ascension Island; popular articles to increase public awareness; taxonomic revisions and articles on island biogeography in peer-reviewed journals. These outputs will provide essential baseline data that will: 1) highlight and publicize the importance of the cryptogamic flora to visitors of the islands; 2) allow for better informed and targeted conservation efforts- e.g. Fernando de Noronha is a UNESCO designated World Heritage Site; 3) provide key reference works for long-term monitoring of the effects of climate change and anthropogenic impacts on the biodiversity of the islands ; 4) form the basis for joint research programmes and funding applications by UK and Brazilian partners on island biogeography embracing the origins of the floras, their evolution, endemism and reproductive biology. Embedded in these activities is a major training programme for early career Brazilian scientists and conservation personnel through workshops and fieldwork. This will enable a new generation of Brazilian scientists to carry out independent, state-of-the-art cryptogamic research.
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CSA-SA | Phase: SiS.2012.1.2-1 | Award Amount: 4.09M | Year: 2012
The general aim of SIforAGE project will be to strengthen the cooperation mechanisms and tools among the stakeholders working along the value chain of active and healthy ageing, with the aim of improving the performance of the European Union competitiveness and growth, through research and innovative products for more and better lives. The objective is change minds and attitudes for a new vision of ageing. This new way of understanding ageing has been embraced under the concept of active and healthy ageing (AHA), as an inclusive term to framework the transformation of ageing vision. The specific objectives addressed in the project will be: 1. To develop the supporting tools and mechanisms for the Social Innovation Incubator on AHA 2. To engage and empower society and civil society organisations in research on AHA. 3. To introduce evidence-based policymaking, through training activities with policymakers, to address future shaping of ageing research programmes and funding schemes 4. To raise awareness among the scientific community on the importance of social responsibility and ethics in ageing research, and offer practical guidance on how to address them. 5. To analyse and improve the existing mechanisms for accessing the market of innovative products and solutions for older people 6. To actively involve the wide range of stakeholders of the value chain and spread knowledge generated along the project duration The consortium involved in the project is compounded of 20 different partners at EU and International level, representing a remarkable well-balanced consortium with complementary backgrounds and expertise and representing different stakeholders along the value chain of ageing research, from universities, civil society organisations, final users groups, think tanks, public administrations, technology research centers and companies.
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: ERC-AG | Phase: ERC-AG-SH2 | Award Amount: 2.23M | Year: 2014
Protests in new democracies about stolen elections, demonstrations in old democracies against austerity measures, occupied squares all over the world against inequality and for better governance. Some argue that contentious politics gains importance and party politics declines. Is that so and why would that be? Why is it that some individuals engage in politics while others remain apathetic? Why is it that some citizens take the electoral route, while others engage in contentious politics? The truth is that we do not really know. Should we bother? I think we should. Citizens who are actively involved in politics are an asset to democracy. Understanding how and why people take part in politics would help to build more democratic societies. The proposed project compares participation in contentious and non-contentious politics in various countries within a single theoretical and methodological framework. A central tenet of this research proposal is that sooner or later every citizen might get involved in politics. I seek the reason why in the interplay of dynamics at the individual, the organizational, and the societal level. What are the motives people have? What are the appeals parties and movement organizations disseminate; and what are the opportunities and constraints regimes impose? Comparison is the core of the project. It encompasses four subproject: (1) a meta-analysis of publications on movement and party politics; (2) comparisons of political participation over time and countries in global survey data; (3) focus group discussions to understand the formation of political engagement and disengagement in four old democracies (the Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland, U.S.A.), two post-communist new democracies (Hungary, Romania) and two post-authoritarian new democracies (Brazil, Argentina) and Greece as a country that was hit harder than any country by the financial crisis; (4) experimental focused surveys among 1000 respondents to quantify patterns of political participation in the same nine countries.
NANOSOLUTIONS - Biological Foundation for the Safety Classification of Engineered Nanomaterials (ENM): Systems Biology Approaches to Understand Interactions of ENM with Living Organisms and the Environment
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-IP | Phase: NMP.2012.1.3-1 | Award Amount: 13.77M | Year: 2013
The main objective of this research proposal is to identify and elaborate those characteristics of ENM that determine their biological hazard potential. This potential includes the ability of ENM to induce damage at the cellular, tissue, or organism levels by interacting with cellular structures leading to impairment of key cellular functions. These adverse effects may be mediated by ENM-induced alterations in gene expression and translation, but may involve also epigenetic transformation of genetic functions. We believe that it will be possible to create a set of biomarkers of ENM toxicity that are relevant in assessing and predicting the safety and toxicity of ENM across species. The ENM-organism interaction is complex and depends, not simply on the composition of ENM core, but particularly on its physico-chemical properties. In fact, important physico-chemical properties are largely governed by their surface properties. All of these factors determine the binding of different biomolecules on the surface of the ENM, the formation of a corona around the ENM core. Thus, any positive or negative biological effect of ENM in organisms may be dynamically modulated by the bio-molecule corona associated with or substituted into the ENM surface rather than the ENM on its own. The bio-molecule corona of seemingly identical ENM cores may undergo dynamic changes during their passage through different biological compartments; in other words, their biological effects are governed by this complex surface chemistry. We propose that understanding the fundamental characteristics of ENM underpinning their biological effects will provide a sound foundation with which to classify ENM according to their safety. Therefore, the overarching objective of this research is to provide a means to develop a safety classification of ENM based on an understanding of their interactions with living organisms at the molecular, cellular, and organism levels based on their material characteristics.
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CSA-SA | Phase: INCO.2012-2.1 | Award Amount: 1.74M | Year: 2012
With growth of 7.5% of its gross domestic product in 2010, Brazil was one of the first emerging economies to begin to recover during the recent crisis. According to the OECD, Brazilian performance in some indicators of S&T is still below OECD averages, but a very fast improvement is being registered on key aspects (such as the triadic patents). In 2009, Brazilian gross expenditure on R&D (GERD) was 1.2% of GDP. Innovation is now among Brazilian Government and Enterprises priorities and, as a result, Brazilian GERD is expected to increase considerably in the next years. Such characteristics make of Brazil a key international partner for the European Research Area (ERA). Considering the results of the EU-Brazil ST&I cooperation under the bilateral agreement signed in 2004, as well as the results of past and ongoing initiatives supporting the EU-Brazil ST&I cooperation, B.BICE\ will: -Support the EU-Brazil ST&I policy dialogue, including dialogue on innovation issues, and contribute to the implementation of the EU-Brazil ST&I Roadmap by promoting the principle of mutual benefit and reciprocity as well as the objectives of the Innovation Union Initiative. -Promote durable partnerships between EU-Brazil actors of the whole research-to-innovation chain and the sharing of scientific results to enhance the impact of the EU-Brazil ST&I cooperation. -Encourage the coordination between the EU and Member States ST&I programmes and policies targeting Brazil by promoting the implementation of joint actions. -Raise awareness among both EU and Brazilian ST&I communities on the European, Brazilian and MS&AC programmes promoting cooperation on research and innovation. The project will extensively promote the idea of Innovation as an essential mean for tackling global challenges and will respond to the objectives of the Europe 2020 strategy and its Innovation Union Initiative to promote a smart, sustainable and inclusive economy.
Dorea J.G.,University of Brasilia
Neurochemical Research | Year: 2011
There is a need to interpret neurotoxic studies to help deal with uncertainties surrounding pregnant mothers, newborns and young children who must receive repeated doses of Thimerosal-containing vaccines (TCVs). This review integrates information derived from emerging experimental studies (in vitro and in vivo) of low-dose Thimerosal (sodium ethyl mercury thiosalicylate). Major databases (PubMed and Web-of-science) were searched for in vitro and in vivo experimental studies that addressed the effects of low-dose Thimerosal (or ethylmercury) on neural tissues and animal behaviour. Information extracted from studies indicates that: (a) activity of low doses of Thimerosal against isolated human and animal brain cells was found in all studies and is consistent with Hg neurotoxicity; (b) the neurotoxic effect of ethylmercury has not been studied with co-occurring adjuvant-Al in TCVs; (c) animal studies have shown that exposure to Thimerosal-Hg can lead to accumulation of inorganic Hg in brain, and that (d) doses relevant to TCV exposure possess the potential to affect human neuro-development. Thimerosal at concentrations relevant for infants' exposure (in vaccines) is toxic to cultured human-brain cells and to laboratory animals. The persisting use of TCV (in developing countries) is counterintuitive to global efforts to lower Hg exposure and to ban Hg in medical products; its continued use in TCV requires evaluation of a sufficiently nontoxic level of ethylmercury compatible with repeated exposure (co-occurring with adjuvant-Al) during early life. © 2011 Springer Science+Business Media, LLC.
Maluf J.W.,University of Brasilia
Annalen der Physik | Year: 2013
A review of the teleparallel equivalent of general relativity is presented. It is emphasized that general relativity may be formulated in terms of the tetrad fields and of the torsion tensor, and that this geometrical formulation leads to alternative insights into the theory. The equivalence with the standard formulation in terms of the metric and curvature tensors takes place at the level of field equations. The review starts with a brief account of the history of teleparallel theories of gravity. Then the ordinary interpretation of the tetrad fields as reference frames adapted to arbitrary observers in space-time is discussed, and the tensor of inertial accelerations on frames is obtained. It is shown that the Lagrangian and Hamiltonian field equations allow us to define the energy, momentum and angular momentum of the gravitational field, as surface integrals of the field quantities. In the phase space of the theory, these quantities satisfy the algebra of the Poincaré group. A review of the teleparallel equivalent of general relativity is presented. It is emphasized that general relativity may be formulated in terms of the tetrad fields and of the torsion tensor, and that this geometrical formulation leads to alternative insights into the theory. The equivalence with the standard formulation in terms of the metric and curvature tensors takes place at the level of field equations. The review starts with a brief account of the history of teleparallel theories of gravity. Then the ordinary interpretation of the tetrad fields as reference frames adapted to arbitrary observers in space-time is discussed, and the tensor of inertial accelerations on frames is obtained. It is shown that the Lagrangian and Hamiltonian field equations allow us to define the energy, momentum and angular momentum of the gravitational field, as surface integrals of the field quantities. In the phase space of the theory, these quantities satisfy the algebra of the Poincaré group. © 2013 by WILEY-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim.
Felipe M.S.,University of Brasilia
BMC genomics | Year: 2014
BACKGROUND: The fungal genus Sporothrix includes at least four human pathogenic species. One of these species, S. brasiliensis, is the causal agent of a major ongoing zoonotic outbreak of sporotrichosis in Brazil. Elsewhere, sapronoses are caused by S. schenckii and S. globosa. The major aims on this comparative genomic study are: 1) to explore the presence of virulence factors in S. schenckii and S. brasiliensis; 2) to compare S. brasiliensis, which is cat-transmitted and infects both humans and cats with S. schenckii, mainly a human pathogen; 3) to compare these two species to other human pathogens (Onygenales) with similar thermo-dimorphic behavior and to other plant-associated Sordariomycetes.RESULTS: The genomes of S. schenckii and S. brasiliensis were pyrosequenced to 17x and 20x coverage comprising a total of 32.3 Mb and 33.2 Mb, respectively. Pair-wise genome alignments revealed that the two species are highly syntenic showing 97.5% average sequence identity. Phylogenomic analysis reveals that both species diverged about 3.8-4.9 MYA suggesting a recent event of speciation. Transposable elements comprise respectively 0.34% and 0.62% of the S. schenckii and S. brasiliensis genomes and expansions of Gypsy-like elements was observed reflecting the accumulation of repetitive elements in the S. brasiliensis genome. Mitochondrial genomic comparisons showed the presence of group-I intron encoding homing endonucleases (HE's) exclusively in S. brasiliensis. Analysis of protein family expansions and contractions in the Sporothrix lineage revealed expansion of LysM domain-containing proteins, small GTPases, PKS type1 and leucin-rich proteins. In contrast, a lack of polysaccharide lyase genes that are associated with decay of plants was observed when compared to other Sordariomycetes and dimorphic fungal pathogens, suggesting evolutionary adaptations from a plant pathogenic or saprobic to an animal pathogenic life style.CONCLUSIONS: Comparative genomic data suggest a unique ecological shift in the Sporothrix lineage from plant-association to mammalian parasitism, which contributes to the understanding of how environmental interactions may shape fungal virulence. . Moreover, the striking differences found in comparison with other dimorphic fungi revealed that dimorphism in these close relatives of plant-associated Sordariomycetes is a case of convergent evolution, stressing the importance of this morphogenetic change in fungal pathogenesis.
Silverio D.V.,University of Brasilia
Philosophical transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B, Biological sciences | Year: 2013
Changes in climate and land use that interact synergistically to increase fire frequencies and intensities in tropical regions are predicted to drive forests to new grass-dominated stable states. To reveal the mechanisms for such a transition, we established 50 ha plots in a transitional forest in the southwestern Brazilian Amazon to different fire treatments (unburned, burned annually (B1yr) or at 3-year intervals (B3yr)). Over an 8-year period since the commencement of these treatments, we documented: (i) the annual rate of pasture and native grass invasion in response to increasing fire frequency; (ii) the establishment of Brachiaria decumbens (an African C4 grass) as a function of decreasing canopy cover and (iii) the effects of grass fine fuel on fire intensity. Grasses invaded approximately 200 m from the edge into the interiors of burned plots (B1yr: 4.31 ha; B3yr: 4.96 ha) but invaded less than 10 m into the unburned plot (0.33 ha). The probability of B. decumbens establishment increased with seed availability and decreased with leaf area index. Fine fuel loads along the forest edge were more than three times higher in grass-dominated areas, which resulted in especially intense fires. Our results indicate that synergies between fires and invasive C4 grasses jeopardize the future of tropical forests.
University of Brasilia and EMBRAPA - Empresa Brasileira de Pesquisa Agropecuária | Date: 2013-01-24
The Present invention relates to molecules isolated from the nucleic acid that encodes spider web proteins or fragments of these or other derivatives of these. The invention also refers to a chimerical gene and an expression vector containing molecules isolated from the nucleic acid that codes for proteins related to the webs of Nephilengys, Cruentata, Avicularia Juruensis and Parawixia Bistriata spiders. Another embodiment of the present invention are transformed cells containing a chimerical gene or an expression vector of the present invention. Yet another embodiment of the present invention relates to a method for obtaining genetically modified organisms containing inventive chimerical genes or expression vectors and a method for obtaining recombinant proteins from the silks of Nephilengys, Cruentata, Avicularia Juruensis and Parawixia Bistriata spiders. Finally, the invention describes products, such as biofilaments and compositions, using the recombinant proteins of the present invention. The discovery of new spider silk proteins, as well as their characterisation and expression in different heterologous systems shall be of great use in numerous areas, such as medicine and industry.