It has normally been assumed that ribonucleotides arose on the early Earth through a process in which ribose, the nucleobases, and phosphate became conjoined. However, under plausible prebiotic conditions, condensation of nucleobases with ribose to give β-ribonucleosides is fraught with difficulties. The reaction with purine nucleobases is low-yielding and the reaction with the canonical pyrimidine nucleobases does not work at all. The reasons for these difficulties are considered and an alternative high-yielding synthesis of pyrimidine nucleotides is discussed. Fitting the new synthesis to a plausible geochemical scenario is a remaining challenge but the prospects appear good. Discovery of an improved method of purine synthesis, and an efficient means of stringing activated nucleotides together, will provide underpinning support to those theories that posit a central role for RNA in the origins of life.
Ribonucleotides required for RNA must have formed de novo on the early Earth. Condensation of nucleobases with ribose is problematic, however, and an alternative pyrimidine ribonucleotide synthesis reaction may have occurred.
The colonization of the terrestrial environment by land plants transformed the planetary surface and its biota, and shifted the balance of Earth’s biomass from the subsurface towards the surface. However there was a long delay between the formation of palaeosols (soils) on the land surface and the key stage of plant colonization. The record of palaeosols, and their colonization by fungi and lichens extends well back into the Precambrian. While these early soils provided a potential substrate, they were generally leached of nutrients as part of the weathering process. In contrast, volcanic ash falls provide a geochemically favourable substrate that is both nutrient-rich and has high water retention, making them good hosts to land plants. An anomalously extensive system of volcanic arcs generated unprecedented volumes of lava and volcanic ash (tuff) during the Ordovician. The earliest, mid-Ordovician, records of plant spores coincide with these widespread volcanic deposits, suggesting the possibility of a genetic relationship. The ash constituted a global environment of nutrient-laden, water-saturated soil that could be exploited to maximum advantage by the evolving anchoring systems of land plants. The rapid and pervasive inoculation of modern volcanic ash by plant spores, and symbiotic nitrogen-fixing fungi, suggests that the Ordovician ash must have received a substantial load of the earliest spores and their chemistry favoured plant development. In particular, high phosphorus levels in ash were favourable to plant growth. This may have allowed photosynthesizers to diversify and enlarge, and transform the surface of the planet.
Ash geochemistry; Tuff; Land plants; Chemical index of alteration; Phosphorus; Biomass; Ordovician
This study was designed to answer the question: Does the contact of the human organism with the Earth via a copper conductor affect physiologic processes?
Subjects and experiments
Five (5) experiments are presented: experiment 1—effect of earthing on calcium–phosphate homeostasis and serum concentrations of iron (N = 84 participants); experiment 2—effect of earthing on serum concentrations of electrolytes (N = 28); experiment 3—effect of earthing on thyroid function (N = 12); experiment 4—effect of earthing on glucose concentration (N = 12); experiment 5—effect of earthing on immune response to vaccine (N = 32). Subjects were divided into two groups. One (1) group of people was earthed, while the second group remained without contact with the Earth. Blood and urine samples were examined.
Earthing of an electrically insulated human organism during night rest causes lowering of serum concentrations of iron, ionized calcium, inorganic phosphorus, and reduction of renal excretion of calcium and phosphorus. Earthing during night rest decreases free tri-iodothyronine and increases free thyroxine and thyroid-stimulating hormone. The continuous earthing of the human body decreases blood glucose in patients with diabetes. Earthing decreases sodium, potassium, magnesium, iron, total protein, and albumin concentrations while the levels of transferrin, ferritin, and globulins α1, α2, β, and γ increase. These results are statistically significant.
Earthing the human body influences human physiologic processes. This influence is observed during night relaxation and during physical activity. Effect of the earthing on calcium–phosphate homeostasis is the opposite of that which occurs in states of weightlessness. It also increases the activity of catabolic processes. It may be the primary factor regulating endocrine and nervous systems.
Earth is the one known example of an inhabited planet and to current knowledge the likeliest site of the one known origin of life. Here we discuss the origin of Earth’s atmosphere and ocean and some of the environmental conditions of the early Earth as they may relate to the origin of life. A key punctuating event in the narrative is the Moon-forming impact, partly because it made Earth for a short time absolutely uninhabitable, and partly because it sets the boundary conditions for Earth’s subsequent evolution. If life began on Earth, as opposed to having migrated here, it would have done so after the Moon-forming impact. What took place before the Moon formed determined the bulk properties of the Earth and probably determined the overall compositions and sizes of its atmospheres and oceans. What took place afterward animated these materials. One interesting consequence of the Moon-forming impact is that the mantle is devolatized, so that the volatiles subsequently fell out in a kind of condensation sequence. This ensures that the volatiles were concentrated toward the surface so that, for example, the oceans were likely salty from the start. We also point out that an atmosphere generated by impact degassing would tend to have a composition reflective of the impacting bodies (rather than the mantle), and these are almost without exception strongly reducing and volatile-rich. A consequence is that, although CO- or methane-rich atmospheres are not necessarily stable as steady states, they are quite likely to have existed as long-lived transients, many times. With CO comes abundant chemical energy in a metastable package, and with methane comes hydrogen cyanide and ammonia as important albeit less abundant gases.
Life probably arose on Earth after the moon-forming impact. It and subsequent impacts probably created transient reducing methane- or CO-rich atmospheres that provided abundant chemical energy.
The use of the legume Lupinus nootkatensis as a pioneer plant to fight soil erosion and to reclaim eroded soils in Iceland has been under development for a few years. Production of a robust, low-cost bacterial inoculant was therefore a prerequisite for the extended use of this plant. Volcanic pumice is a naturally expanded mineral which is available in vast amounts in Iceland. It was tested as a carrier for solid fermentation of Rhizobium lupini. Nutrient-supplemented pumice containing a small percentage of peat and diatomaceous earth and kept in sterile plastic bags promoted good growth of the bacteria. Viable-colony counts remained stable at 108 to 109/g for at least 35 weeks when the carrier was stored at 22°C. The pumice-based inoculant had good storage and handling properties and could be mixed directly with the seeds during the sowing process. When seeds of L. nootkatensis were sown manually into nutrient-poor eroded sandy soils, about 56% of the first-year plants were successfully nodulated.
Contact of humans with the earth, either directly (e.g., with bare feet) or using a metal conductor, changes their biochemical parameters. The effects of earthing during physical exercise are unknown. This study was carried out to evaluate selected biochemical parameters in subjects who were earthed during cycling. In a double-blind, crossover study, 42 participants were divided into two groups and earthed during exercise and recovery. One group was earthed in the first week during 30 minutes of cycling exercise and during recovery, and a second group was earthed in the second week. A double-blind technique was applied. Blood samples were obtained before each training session, after 15 and 30 minutes of exercise, and after 40 minutes of recovery. Significantly lower blood urea levels were observed in subjects earthed during exercise and relaxation. These significant differences were noted in both groups earthed at the beginning of exercise (P < 0.0001), after 15 (P < 0.0001) and 30 minutes (P < 0.0001) of exercise, and after 40 minutes of relaxation (P < 0.0001). Creatinine concentrations in earthed subjects during exercise were unchanged. Conclusions. Earthing during exercise lowers blood urea concentrations and may inhibit hepatic protein catabolism or increase renal urea excretion. Exertion under earthing may result in a positive protein balance.
Tamra Bhasma (incinerated copper) is one of the main weapons in the archery of Ayurvedic practitioners. Though several methods of preparation of Tamra Bhasma (TB) are found in Rasashastra classics, several difficulties occur during the preparation of a good-quality Bhasma. In this study, TB was prepared and analyzed to develop the standard manufacturing procedure. Each unit operative procedure was considered as an independent processing and an attempt was made to validate each procedure. Wire used for the purpose of electrical earthing was taken for the preparation of Bhasma. Procedures of Shodhana, Marana, and Amritikarana were followed as per the classical references. Specific temperature pattern was adopted for Puta in the electrical muffle furnace. From 500 g of Tamra, 483.4 g of black colored TB was obtained after subjecting to three Putas. Final product was detected to be cupric sulfide in X-ray diffraction. In particle size distribution analysis 10% of the material was below the size of 2 μm, while in inductive coupled plasma - atomic absorption spectrometry 58.56 wt% copper and 22.48 wt% of sulfur were found present in the final product along with the elements such as arsenic, lead, zinc, mercury, and manganese in traces.
Bhasma; Puta; standard manufacturing procedure; Tamra; X-ray diffraction
I have been fortunate to work in two areas of extreme physiology and medicine: very high altitude and the microgravity of spaceflight. My introduction to high altitude medicine was as a member of Sir Edmund Hillary's Silver Hut Expedition in 1960–1961 when a small group of physiologists spent the winter and spring at an altitude of 5,800 m just south of Mt. Everest. The physiological objective was to obtain a better understanding of the acclimatization process of lowlanders during exposure to a very high altitude for several months. As far as we knew, no one had ever spent so long at such a high altitude before. The success of this expedition prompted me to organize the 1981 American Medical Research Expedition to Everest where the scientific objective was to determine the physiological changes that allow humans to survive in the extreme hypoxia of the highest point on earth. There is good evidence that this altitude is very near the limit of human tolerance to oxygen deprivation. Much novel information was obtained including an extraordinary degree of hyperventilation which reduced the alveolar partial pressure of carbon dioxide (Pco2) to about 8 mmHg (1.1 kPa) on the summit, and this in turn allowed the alveolar partial pressure of oxygen, PO2, to be maintained at a viable level of about 35 mmHg (4.7 kPa). The low Pco2 caused a severe degree of respiratory alkalosis with an arterial pH exceeding 7.7. These were the first physiological measurements to be made on the Everest summit, and essentially, none has been made since. The second extreme environment is microgravity. We carried out an extensive series of measurements on astronauts in the orbiting laboratory known as SpaceLab in the 1990s. Many aspects of pulmonary function are affected by gravity, so it was not surprising that many changes were found. However, overall gas exchange remained efficient. Some of the findings such as an anomalous behavior of inhaled helium and sulfur hexafluoride have still not been explained. Measurements made after astronauts were exposed to 6 months of microgravity in the International Space Station indicate that the function of the lung returns to its preexposure state within a few days.
Extreme hypoxia; Hyperventilation; Maximal oxygen uptake; Distribution of blood flow; Pulmonary gas exchange; Microgravity
Kelp forests along temperate and polar coastlines represent some of most diverse and productive habitats on the Earth. Here, we synthesize information from >60 years of research on the structure and functioning of kelp forest habitats in European waters, with particular emphasis on the coasts of UK and Ireland, which represents an important biogeographic transition zone that is subjected to multiple threats and stressors. We collated existing data on kelp distribution and abundance and reanalyzed these data to describe the structure of kelp forests along a spatial gradient spanning more than 10° of latitude. We then examined ecological goods and services provided by kelp forests, including elevated secondary production, nutrient cycling, energy capture and flow, coastal defense, direct applications, and biodiversity repositories, before discussing current and future threats posed to kelp forests and identifying key knowledge gaps. Recent evidence unequivocally demonstrates that the structure of kelp forests in the NE Atlantic is changing in response to climate- and non-climate-related stressors, which will have major implications for the structure and functioning of coastal ecosystems. However, kelp-dominated habitats along much of the NE Atlantic coastline have been chronically understudied over recent decades in comparison with other regions such as Australasia and North America. The paucity of field-based research currently impedes our ability to conserve and manage these important ecosystems. Targeted observational and experimental research conducted over large spatial and temporal scales is urgently needed to address these knowledge gaps.
kelp forests; Laminariales; marine biodiversity; subtidal benthic habitats; temperate reefs.
Superconductivity, which is a quantum state induced by spontaneous gauge symmetry breaking, frequently emerges in low-dimensional materials. Hence, low dimensionality has long been considered as necessary to achieve high superconducting transition temperatures (TC). The recently discovered post-perovskite (ppv) MgSiO3, which constitutes the Earth's lowermost mantle (D" layer), has attracted significant research interest due to its importance in geoscience. The ppv structure has a peculiar two-dimensional character and is expected to be a good platform for superconductivity. However, hereunto, no superconductivity has been observed in isostructural materials, despite extensive investigation. Here, we report the discovery of superconductivity with a maximum TC of 5.6 K in V3PnNx (Pn = P, As) phases with the anti-ppv structure, where the anion and cation positions are reversed with respect to the ppv structure. This discovery stimulates further explorations of new superconducting materials with ppv and anti-ppv structures.
Large-scale patterns of species richness and the underlying mechanisms regulating these patterns have long been the central issues in biogeography and macroecology. Phylogenetic community structure is a result of combined effects of contemporary ecological interactions, environmental filtering, and evolutionary history, and it links community ecology with biogeography and trait evolution. The Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau provides a good opportunity to test the influence of contemporary climate on shaping species richness because of its unique geological history, cold climate, and high biodiversity. In this study, based on high-resolution distributions of ˜9000 vascular plant species, we explored how species richness and phylogenetic structure of vascular plants correlate with climates on the highest (and species rich) plateau on the Earth. The results showed that most of the vascular plants were distributed on the eastern part of the plateau; there was a strong association between species richness and climate, even after the effects of habitat heterogeneity were controlled. However, the responses of richness to climate remarkably depended on life-forms. Richness of woody plants showed stronger climatic associations than that of herbaceous plants; energy and water availability together regulated richness pattern of woody plants; whereas water availability predominantly regulated richness pattern of herbaceous plants. The phylogenetic structure of vascular species clustered in most areas of the plateau, suggesting that rapid speciation and environment filtering dominated the assembly of communities on the plateau. We further propose that biodiversity conservation in this area should better take into account ecological features for different life-forms and phylogenetic lineages.
Climate; pattern; phylogenetic structure; Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau; species richness; vascular plants
The purpose of this study was to describe the presence and quality of active transportation safety features in Canadian school environments that relate to pedestrian and bicycle safety. Variations in these features and associated traffic concerns as perceived by school administrators were examined by geographic status and school type. The study was based on schools that participated in 2009/2010 Health Behaviour in School-aged Children (HBSC) survey. ArcGIS software version 10 and Google Earth were used to assess the presence and quality of ten different active transportation safety features. Findings suggest that there are crosswalks and good sidewalk coverage in the environments surrounding most Canadian schools, but a dearth of bicycle lanes and other traffic calming measures (e.g., speed bumps, traffic chokers). Significant urban/rural inequities exist with a greater prevalence of sidewalk coverage, crosswalks, traffic medians, and speed bumps in urban areas. With the exception of bicycle lanes, the active transportation safety features that were present were generally rated as high quality. Traffic was more of a concern to administrators in urban areas. This study provides novel information about active transportation safety features in Canadian school environments. This information could help guide public health efforts aimed at increasing active transportation levels while simultaneously decreasing active transportation injuries.
cyclist; environment; injury; pedestrian; policy; road; safety; schools; traffic
The oceans are the Earth's largest ecosystem, covering 70% of our planet and providing goods and services for the majority of the world's population. Understanding the complex abiotic and biotic processes on the micro‐ to macroscale is the key to protect and sustain the marine ecosystem. Marine microorganisms are the ‘gatekeepers’ of the biotic processes that control the global cycles of energy and organic matter. A multinational, multidisciplinary approach, bringing together research on oceanography, biodiversity and genomics, is now needed to understand and finally predict the complex responses of the marine ecosystem to ongoing global changes. Such an integrative approach will not only bring better understanding of the complex interplay of the organisms with their environment, but will reveal a wealth of new metabolic processes and functions, which have a high potential for biotechnological applications. This potential has already been recognized by the European commission which funded a series of workshops and projects on marine genomics in the sixth and seventh framework programme. Nevertheless, there remain many obstacles to achieving the goal – such as a lack of bioinformatics tailored for the marine field, consistent data acquisition and exchange, as well as continuous monitoring programmes and a lack of relevant marine bacterial models. Marine ecosystems research is complex and challenging, but it also harbours the opportunity to cross the borders between disciplines and countries to finally create a rewarding marine research era that is more than the sum of its parts.
Radon-222 is a ubiquitous noble gas arising from decay of radium-226 normally present in the earth's crust. Alpha radiation from inhaled short-lived daughters of radon readily irradiates human bronchial epithelium, and there is now good evidence of excess risk of lung cancer in underground miners exposed to higher concentrations. In homes, radon levels are highly variable, showing approximately log-normal distributions and often a small fraction of homes with high concentrations of radon and radon daughters. Factors affecting indoor concentrations include type of bedrock under dwellings, house foundation characteristics, radon dissolved in artesian water, and ventilation and degree of air movement in living spaces. Despite much recent work, exposures to radon daughters by the general public are not well defined. From application of risk assessments in miners to home conditions, it appears that about 25% or more of lung cancers among nonsmokers over the age of 60, and about 5% in smokers, may be attributable to exposure to radon daughters at home. It may be necessary to take remedial action to reduce this hazard in those dwellings with elevated levels of radon, and new construction should take account of this problem.
Luke Demaitre's Leprosy in Premodern Medicine: A Malady of the Whole Body is a highly interesting study of the medical history of leprosy and the medical and social perceptions on leprosy that have been around for centuries. Remarkably, it is likely that leprosy will disappear from the face of the Earth in our generation, thanks to the development of a curative treatment and its increasing availability (although the battle has not yet been won completely). Demaitre's book is a very good read not only for its information about leprosy but also for all interested in or affected by the social phenomenon of stigma. In illnesses such as leprosy, HIV/AIDS, epilepsy, and mental disorders such as schizophrenia, the stigma attached to the condition may be worse than the condition itself.
For the past three decades, most attention in heavy metal toxicology has been paid to cadmium, mercury, lead, chromium, nickel, vanadium, and tin because these metals widely polluted the environment. However, with the development of new materials in the last decade, the need for toxicological studies on those new materials has been increasing. A group of rare earths (RE) is a good example. Although some RE have been used for superconductors, plastic magnets, and ceramics, few toxicological data are available compared to other heavy metals described above. Because chemical properties of RE are very similar, it is plausible that their binding affinities to biomolecules, metabolism, and toxicity in the living system are also very similar. In this report, we present an overview of the metabolism and health hazards of RE and related compounds, including our recent studies.
A method was devised for measuring the minimum visibile in different parts of the spectrum, as done by Langley in 1888. The results are generally in good agreement with those given by this author, although not as close on both sides of the wave length 0.55 µ; this may be due partly to the use of a rock salt prism, to the fact that the minimum was determined by looking at a beam of diffused transmitted, instead of diffused reflected light, and also to the fact that Langley experimented with the sun, through the earth's atmosphere, and had to take into account the thickness of the atmosphere interposed and the brightness of the sky. Although his experiments were made with great care, the differences from one day to another are important. However, when he expresses the energy in absolute units, he always refers to the same mean amount of energy radiated by the sun on 1 sq. cm. This amount is certainly not constant, if one judges from the differences observed in two measurements of sensitivity of the eye of the same individual at different dates. On the contrary, for a given wave length, our measurements always agreed closely, as our source of radiation was very nearly constant, owing to the absence of a varying amount of water vapor interposed. This may in some way account for the discrepancies observed.
Reef fishes present the observer with the most diverse and stunning assemblage of animal colours anywhere on earth. The functions of some of these colours and their combinations are examined using new non-subjective spectrophotometric measurements of the colours of fishes and their habitat. Conclusions reached are as follows: (i) the spectra of colours in high spatial frequency patterns are often well designed to be very conspicuous to a colour vision system at close range but well camouflaged at a distance; (ii) blue and yellow, the most frequently used colours in reef fishes, may be good for camouflage or communication depending on the background they are viewed against; and (iii) reef fishes use a combination of colour and behaviour to regulate their conspicuousness and crypsis.
Sustainability is the possibility of all people living rewarding lives within the means of nature. Despite ample recognition of the importance of achieving sustainable development, exemplified by the Rio Declaration of 1992 and the United Nations Millennium Development Goals, the global economy fails to meet the most fundamental minimum condition for sustainability—that human demand for ecosystem goods and services remains within the biosphere's total capacity. In 2002, humanity operated in a state of overshoot, demanding over 20% more biological capacity than the Earth's ecosystems could regenerate in that year. Using the Ecological Footprint as an accounting tool, we propose and discuss three possible global scenarios for the future of human demand and ecosystem supply. Bringing humanity out of overshoot and onto a potentially sustainable path will require managing the consumption of food, fibre and energy, and maintaining or increasing the productivity of natural and agricultural ecosystems.
Ecological Footprint; sustainability; land use; future demand; ecological debt; scenarios
Despite the importance of the world's humid tropical forests, our knowledge concerning their rates of change remains limited. Two recent programmes (FAO 2000 Forest Resources Assessment and TREES II), exploiting the global imaging capabilities of Earth observing satellites, have recently been completed to provide information on the dynamics of tropical forest cover. The results from these independent studies show a high degree of conformity and provide a good understanding of trends at the pan-tropical level.
In 1990 there were some 1150 million ha of tropical rain forest with the area of the humid tropics deforested annually estimated at 5.8 million ha (approximately twice the size of Belgium). A further 2.3 million ha of humid forest is apparently degraded annually through fragmentation, logging and/or fires. In the sub-humid and dry tropics, annual deforestation of tropical moist deciduous and tropical dry forests comes to 2.2 and 0.7 million ha, respectively. Southeast Asia is the region where forests are under the highest pressure with an annual change rate of −0.8 to −0.9%. The annual area deforested in Latin America is large, but the relative rate (−0.4 to −0.5%) is lower, owing to the vast area covered by the remaining Amazonian forests. The humid forests of Africa are being converted at a similar rate to those of Latin America (−0.4 to −0.5% per year).
During this period, secondary forests have also been established, through re-growth on abandoned land and forest plantations, but with different ecological, biophysical and economic characteristics compared with primary forests. These trends are significant in all regions, but the extent of new forest cover has proven difficult to establish.
These results, as well as the lack of more detailed knowledge, clearly demonstrate the need to improve sound scientific evidence to support policy. The two projects provide useful guidance for future monitoring efforts in the context of multilateral environmental agreements and of international aid, trade and development partnerships. Methodologically, the use of high-resolution remote sensing in representative samples has been shown to be cost-effective. Close collaboration between tropical institutions and inter-governmental organizations proved to be a fruitful arrangement in the different projects. To properly assist decision-making, monitoring and assessments should primarily be addressed at the national level, which also corresponds to the ratification level of the multilateral environmental agreements. The Forest Resources Assessment 2000 deforestation statistics from countries are consistent with the satellite-based estimates in Asia and America, but are significantly different in Africa, highlighting the particular need for long-term capacity-building activities in this continent.
tropical forests; deforestation; Earth observation; forest monitoring; 1990s; remote sensing
Paramagnetic rare-earth elements have been examined as NMR structural probes in polyoxoanionic solids, which have a variety of applications as luminescent materials that are usually disordered and therefore intractable by traditional structural methods. Thirteen Keggin and Wells-Dawson polyoxotungstates containing substitutions with lanthanides of different effective magnetic moments have been examined by 31P magic angle spinning NMR spectroscopy. The electron-nuclear dipolar interaction dominating the spinning sideband envelopes is determined by the lanthanide’s magnetic moment and was found to be a sensitive probe of the nature of the polyoxoanion, of the positional isomerism, and of the ion stoichiometry. Electron-nuclear dipolar anisotropies computed based on the point-dipole approximation are generally in good agreement with the experimental results. The choice of a specific lanthanide as a structural probe can be tailored to the desired distance range between the phosphorus atoms and the paramagnetic centers to be probed. This approach is expected to be particularly useful in the paramagnetic polyoxoanionic materials lacking long-range order.
solid-state NMR; Magic Angle spinning; MAS; 31P; polyoxometalate; POM; lanthanide; rare earth; Keggin; Wells-Dawson; phosphorus; paramagnetic; polyoxoanion; oxotungstate; electron-nuclear dipole-dipole coupling; chemical-shielding anisotropy; X-ray crystallography
Studies of ion channels have for long been dominated by the animalcentric, if not anthropocentric view of physiology. The structures and activities of ion channels had, however, evolved long before the appearance of complex multicellular organisms on Earth. The diversity of ion channels existing in cellular membranes of prokaryotes is a good example. Though at first it may appear as a paradox that most of what we know about the structure of eukaryotic ion channels is based on the structure of bacterial channels, this should not be surprising given the evolutionary relatedness of all living organisms and suitability of microbial cells for structural studies of biological macromolecules in a laboratory environment. Genome sequences of the human as well as various microbial, plant and animal organisms unambiguously established the evolutionary links, whereas crystallographic studies of the structures of major types of ion channels published over the last decade clearly demonstrated the advantage of using microbes as experimental organisms. The purpose of this review is not only to provide an account of acquired knowledge on microbial ion channels but also to show that the study of microbes and their ion channels may also hold a key to solving unresolved molecular mysteries in the future.
The experience of the pleasant heat of the sun in moderate climatic zones arises from the filtering of the heat radiation of the sun by water vapor in the atmosphere of the earth. The filter effect of water decreases those parts of infrared radiation (most parts of infrared-B and -C and the absorption bands of water within infrared-A), which would cause – by reacting with water molecules in the skin – only an undesired thermal load to the surface of the skin. Technically water-filtered infrared-A (wIRA) is produced in special radiators, whose full spectrum of radiation of a halogen bulb is passed through a cuvette, containing water, which absorbs or decreases the described undesired wavelengths of the infrared radiation. Within infrared the remaining wIRA (within 780-1400 nm) mainly consists of radiation with good penetration properties into tissue and therefore allows – compared to unfiltered heat radiation – a multiple energy transfer into tissue without irritating the skin, similar to the sun’s heat radiation in moderate climatic zones. Typical wIRA radiators emit no ultraviolet (UV) radiation and nearly no infrared-B and -C radiation and the amount of infrared-A radiation in relation to the amount of visible light (380-780 nm) is emphasized.
Water-filtered infrared-A as a special form of heat radiation with a high tissue penetration and with a low thermal load to the skin surface acts both by thermal (related to heat energy transfer) and thermic (temperature depending, with a relevant change of temperature) as well as by non-thermal (without a relevant transfer of heat energy) and non-thermic (not depending on temperature, without a relevant change of temperature) effects. wIRA produces a therapeutically usable field of heat in the tissue and increases tissue temperature, tissue oxygen partial pressure, and tissue perfusion. These three factors are vital for a sufficient tissue supply with energy and oxygen. As wound healing and infection defense (e.g. granulocyte function including their antibacterial oxygen radical formation) depend decisively on a sufficient supply with energy and oxygen, one explanation for the good clinical effect of wIRA on wounds and wound infections can be the improvement of both the energy supply per time (increase of metabolic rate) and the oxygen supply. In addition wIRA has non-thermal and non-thermic effects, which are based on putting direct stimuli on cells and cellular structures.
wIRA can considerably alleviate the pain (with remarkably less need for analgesics) and diminish an elevated wound exudation and inflammation and can show positive immunomodulatory effects. wIRA can advance wound healing or improve an impaired wound healing both in acute and in chronic wounds including infected wounds. Even the normal wound healing process can be improved.
wIRA is contact-free, easily applied, without discomfort to the patient, with absent consumption of material and with a good effect in the depth. The irradiation of the typically uncovered wound is carried out with a wIRA radiator.
water-filtered infrared-A (wIRA); infrared-A radiation; wound healing; thermal and non-thermal effects; thermic and non-thermic effects; energy supply; oxygen supply; tissue oxygen partial pressure; tissue temperature; tissue blood flow; reduction of pain; wound exudation; inflammation; immunomodulatory effects; acute wounds; chronic venous stasis ulcers of the lower legs; problem wounds; wound infections; infection defense; contact-free method; absent expenditure of material; quality of life; prospective, randomized, controlled, double-blind studies
Tiny marine animals that complete their life cycle in the total absence of light and oxygen are reported by Roberto Danovaro and colleagues in this issue of BMC Biology. These fascinating animals are new members of the phylum Loricifera and possess mitochondria that in electron micrographs look very much like hydrogenosomes, the H2-producing mitochondria found among several unicellular eukaryotic lineages. The discovery of metazoan life in a permanently anoxic and sulphidic environment provides a glimpse of what a good part of Earth's past ecology might have been like in 'Canfield oceans', before the rise of deep marine oxygen levels and the appearance of the first large animals in the fossil record roughly 550-600 million years ago. The findings underscore the evolutionary significance of anaerobic deep sea environments and the anaerobic lifestyle among mitochondrion-bearing cells. They also testify that a fuller understanding of eukaryotic and metazoan evolution will come from the study of modern anoxic and hypoxic habitats.
The oceans are the Earth's largest ecosystem, covering 70% of our planet and providing goods and services for the majority of the world's population. Understanding the complex abiotic and biotic processes on the micro- to macroscale is the key to protect and sustain the marine ecosystem. Marine microorganisms are the ‘gatekeepers’ of the biotic processes that control the global cycles of energy and organic matter. A multinational, multidisciplinary approach, bringing together research on oceanography, biodiversity and genomics, is now needed to understand and finally predict the complex responses of the marine ecosystem to ongoing global changes. Such an integrative approach will not only bring better understanding of the complex interplay of the organisms with their environment, but will reveal a wealth of new metabolic processes and functions, which have a high potential for biotechnological applications. This potential has already been recognized by the European commission which funded a series of workshops and projects on marine genomics in the sixth and seventh framework programme. Nevertheless, there remain many obstacles to achieving the goal – such as a lack of bioinformatics tailored for the marine field, consistent data acquisition and exchange, as well as continuous monitoring programmes and a lack of relevant marine bacterial models. Marine ecosystems research is complex and challenging, but it also harbours the opportunity to cross the borders between disciplines and countries to finally create a rewarding marine research era that is more than the sum of its parts.