Documenting the diet in ancient human populations through stable isotope analysis of hair.
Fundamental to the understanding of human history is the ability to make interpretations based on artefacts and other remains which are used to gather information about an ancient population. Sequestered in the organic matrices of these remains can be information, for example, concerning incidence of disease, genetic defects and diet. Stable isotopic compositions, especially those made on isolates of collagen from bones, have been used to help suggest principal dietary components. A significant problem in the use of collagen is its long-term stability, and the possibility of isotopic alteration during early diagenesis, or through contaminating condensation reactions. In this study, we suggest that a commonly overlooked material, human hair, may represent an ideal material to be used in addressing human diets of ancient civilizations. Through the analysis of the amino-acid composition of modern hair, as well as samples that were subjected to radiation (thus simulating ageing of the hair) and hair from humans that is up to 5200 years old, we have observed little in the way of chemical change. The principal amino acids observed in all of these samples are essentially identical in relative abundances and content. Dominating the compositions are serine, glutamic acid, threonine, glycine and leucine, respectively accounting for approximately 15%, 17%, 10%, 8% and 8% of the total hydrolysable amino acids. Even minor components (for example, alanine, valine, isoleucine) show similar constancy between the samples of different ages. This constancy clearly indicates minimal alteration of the amino-acid composition of the hair. Further, it would indicate that hair is well preserved and is amenable to isotopic analysis as a tool for distinguishing sources of nutrition. Based on this observation, we have isotopically characterized modern individuals for whom the diet has been documented. Both stable nitrogen and carbon isotope compositions were assessed, and together provide an indication of trophic status, and principal type (C3 or C4) of vegetation consumed. True vegans have nitrogen isotope compositions of about 7/1000 whereas humans consuming larger amounts of meat, eggs, or milk are more enriched in the heavy nitrogen isotope. We have also analysed large cross-sections of modern humans from North America and Europe to provide an indication of the variability seen in a population (the supermarket diet). There is a wide diversity in both carbon and nitrogen isotope values based at least partially on the levels of seafood, corn-fed beef and grains in the diets. Following analysis of the ancient hair, we have observed similar trends in certain ancient populations. For example, the Coptics of Egypt (1000 BP) and Chinchorro of Chile (5000-800 BP) have diets of similar diversity to those observed in the modern group but were isotopically influenced by local nutritional sources. In other ancient hair (Egyptian Late Middle Kingdom mummies, ca. 4000 BP), we have observed a much more uniform isotopic signature, indicating a more constant diet. We have also recognized a primary vegetarian component in the diet of the Neolithic Ice Man of the Oetztaler Alps (5200 BP). In certain cases, it appears that sulphur isotopes may help to further constrain dietary interpretations, owing to the good preservation and sulphur content of hair. It appears that analysis of the often-overlooked hair in archaeological sites may represent a significant new approach for understanding ancient human communities. (+info)
Relative virulence of three isolates of Piscirickettsia salmonis for coho salmon Oncorhynchus kisutch.
Piscirickettsia salmonis was first recognized as the cause of mortality among pen-reared coho salmon Oncorhynchus kisutch in Chile. Since the initial isolation of this intracellular Gram-negative bacterium in 1989, similar organisms have been described from several areas of the world, but the associated outbreaks were not reported to be as serious as those that occurred in Chile. To determine if this was due to differences in virulence among isolates of P. salmonis, we conducted an experiment comparing isolates from Chile, British Columbia, Canada, and Norway (LF-89, ATL-4-91 and NOR-92, respectively). For each of the isolates, 3 replicates of 30 coho salmon were injected intraperitoneally with each of 3 concentrations of the bacterium. Negative control fish were injected with MEM-10. Mortalities were collected daily for 41 d post-injection. Piscirickettsiosis was observed in fish injected with each of the 3 isolates, and for each isolate, cumulative mortality was directly related to the concentration of bacterial cells administered. The LF-89 isolate was the most virulent, with losses reaching 97% in the 3 replicates injected with 10(5.0) TCID50, 91% in the replicates injected with 10(4.0) TCID50, and 57% in the fish injected with 10(3.0) TCID50. The ATL-4-91 isolate caused losses of 92% in the 3 replicates injected with 10(5.0) TCID50, 76% in the fish injected with 10(4.0) TCID50, and 32% in those injected with 10(3.0) TCID50. The NOR-92 isolate was the least virulent, causing 41% mortality in the replicates injected with 10(4.6) TCID50. At 41 d post-injection, 6% of the fish injected with 10(3.6) TCID50 NOR-92 had died. Mortality was only 2% in the fish injected with 10(2.6) TCID50 NOR-92, which was the same as the negative control group. Because the group injected with the highest concentration (10(4.6) TCID50) of NOR-92 was still experiencing mortality at 41 d, it was held for an additional 46 d. At 87 d post-injection, the cumulative mortality in this group had reached 70%. These differences in virulence among the isolates were statistically significant (p < 0.0001), and are important for the management of affected stocks of fish. (+info)
Spectroscopic and molecular characterization of a long wavelength absorbing antenna of Ostreobium sp.
One of the strains of the marine green alga Ostreobium sp. possesses an exceptionally large number of long wavelength absorbing chlorophylls (P. Haldall, Biol. Bull. 134, 1968, 411-424) as evident from a distinct shoulder in the absorption spectrum at around 710 nm while in the other strain this shoulder is absent. Therefore, Ostreobium offers a unique possibility to explore the origin of these red-shifted chlorophylls, because strains with and without these spectral forms can be compared. Here, we characterize these red forms spectroscopically by absorption, fluorescence and CD spectroscopy. In the CD spectra at least three spectroscopic red forms are identified which lead to an unusual room temperature fluorescence spectrum that peaks at 715 nm. The gel electrophoretic pattern from thylakoids of Ostreobium sp. shows an intense band at 22 kDa which correlates with the presence or absence of long wavelength absorbing pigments. By protein sequencing of the N-terminus of the 22-kDa polypeptide and sequence alignments, this was identified as an Lhca1-type light-harvesting complex. The abundance of this polypeptide - and a possibly co-migrating one - in Ostreobium sp. indicates an antenna size of approximately 340 chlorophyll molecules (Chl a and Chl b) per PS IIalpha reaction center, which is significantly larger than in higher plants ( approximately 240). The red forms are more abundant in the interior of the thalli where a 'shade-light' light field is expected than in the white-light exposed surface. This demonstrates that algae exist which may be able to up-regulate the synthesis of large amounts of LHCI and associated red forms under appropriate illumination conditions. (+info)
Comparison of some behavioral and physiological feeding parameters of Triatoma infestans Klug, 1834 and Mepraia spinolai Porter, 1934, vectors of Chagas disease in Chile.
There are two vectors of Chagas disease in Chile: Triatoma infestans and Mepraia spinolai. We studied the feeding behavior of these species, looking for differences which could possibly explain the low impact of the latter species on Chagas disease. Both species used thermal cues to locate their feeding source and consumed a similar volume of blood which was inversely related to the body weight before the meal and directly related to the time between meals. The average time between bites were 6.24 and 10.74 days. The average bite of M. spinolai lasted 9.68 min, significantly shorter than the 19.46 min for T. infestans. Furthermore, while T. infestans always defecated on the host, this behavior was observed in M. spinolai in only one case of 27 (3.7%). The delay between the bites and defecation was very long in M. spinolai and short in T. infestans. These differences may affect the reduced efficiency of transmission of Chagas infection by M. spinolai. (+info)
Evaluation of vaccines for the prevention of pneumonia in children in developing countries.(5/732)
Genotypic survey of recent beta-lactam-resistant pneumococcal nasopharyngeal isolates from asymptomatic children in Chile.
To assess pneumococcal strain variability among young asymptomatic carriers in Chile, we used serotyping, antibiotic susceptibility testing, and genotyping to analyze 68 multidrug-resistant pneumococcal isolates recovered from 54 asymptomatic children 6 to 48 months of age. The isolates represented capsular serotypes 19F (43 isolates), 14 (14 isolates), 23F (7 isolates), 6B (3 isolates), and 6A (1 isolate). Genotypic analysis, which included pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) of chromosomal digests, penicillin binding protein (PBP) gene fingerprinting, and dhf gene fingerprinting, revealed that the isolates represented six different genetic lineages. Clear circumstantial evidence of capsular switching was seen within each of four of the genetically related sets. The majority of the isolates, consisting of the 43 19F isolates and 2 type 6B isolates, appeared to represent a genetically highly related set distinct from previously characterized pneumococcal strains. Each of three other genetically defined lineages was closely related to one of the previously characterized clones Spain(6B)-2, France(9V)-3, or Spain(23F)-1. A fifth lineage was comprised of four type 23F isolates that, by the techniques used for this study, were genetically indistinguishable from three recent type 19F sterile-site isolates from the United States. Finally, a sixth lineage was represented by a single type 23F isolate which had a unique PFGE type and unique PBP and dhf gene fingerprints. (+info)
Routes of entry of Piscirickettsia salmonis in rainbow trout Oncorhynchus mykiss.
Since 1989, Piscirickettsia salmonis, the causal agent of piscirickettsiosis, has killed millions of farmed salmonids each year in southern Chile. The portal of entry for the pathogen was investigated by use of selected experimental infections in juvenile rainbow trout (12 g). The methods used were intraperitoneal injection, subcutaneous injection, patch contact on skin, patch contact on gills, intestinal intubation and gastric intubation. Cumulative mortalities at Day 33 post-inoculation were 98, 100, 52, 24, 24, and 2%, respectively. It was shown that intact skin and gills could be penetrated by P. salmonis. The high mortality obtained in subcutaneously injected fish indicated that skin injuries could facilitate the invasion of this pathogen. Results suggested that the main entry sites are through the skin and gills and that the oral route may not be the normal method by which P. salmonis initiates infection of salmonids. (+info)
L-arginine transport at the fetal side of human placenta: effect of aspirin in pregnancy.
L-Arginine transport by the fetal side of human placenta was investigated through the characterization of L-[3H]arginine uptake in isolated perfused cotyledon. Competitive inhibition experiments suggest the presence of at least two transport systems: a Na+-independent, pH-insensitive system inhibitable by cationic amino acids, similar to system y+, and a Na+-dependent system which recognizes both cationic and neutral amino acids only in the presence of Na+, i.e. a Bo,+-like system. The kinetic analysis of L-arginine uptake in the presence of Na+ revealed that the process is mediated by saturable components: a high-affinity system (Km = 167 +/- 18.0 microM; Vmax = 0.174 +/- 0.012 micromol min-1) and a low-affinity carrier (Km = 980 +/- 112 microM; Vmax = 1.60 +/- 0.12 micromol min-1). In the absence of Na+, L-arginine uptake was fitted by one model with a Michaelis-Menten constant of 200 +/- 24.8 microM. These results suggest that the high-affinity component corresponds to the Na+-independent system y+, whilst the low-affinity system may represent the activity of the Na+-dependent Bo,+ transporter. Kinetic studies in placentae taken from aspirin-treated pregnancies showed that L-arginine is transported with a significantly higher affinity (Km = 42.5 +/- 5.7 microM), but with a lower capacity (Vmax = 0.064 +/- 0.003 micromol min-1) than in the non-treated group. The latter finding suggests that aspirin would facilitate the uptake of the NO precursor only at very low arginine concentrations. (+info)