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  • Seafloor massive sulfide (SMS) deposits are important deep-sea mineral resources expected to occur predominantly on slow- and ultraslow-spreading mid-ocean ridges. Resource estimates are already available for some of the largest SMS deposits on slow-spreading ridges but not on ultraslow-spreading ridges. Based on geological mapping and sampling, this study investigates the distribution and content of sulfide-rich deposits in the Yuhuang-1 hydrothermal field (YHF), located on the ultraslow-spreading Southwest Indian Ridge. The sulfide-rich deposits in the YHF are composed of two areas ∼500 m apart: the southwest sulfide area (SWS) and the northeast sulfide area (NES). We calculated the volume of sulfide-rich mounds in the YHF and arrived at a total accumulation of ∼10.6 × 106 tons, including at least ∼7.5 × 105 tons of copper and zinc and ∼18 tons of gold. Furthermore, considering the coverage of layered hydrothermal sediment mixed with sulfide-rich breccias, which may have underlying massive sulfide deposits, the maximum total mass was estimated at ∼45.1 × 106 tons. This suggests that the YHF is one of the largest SMS deposits worldwide and confirm that ultraslow-spreading ridges have the greatest potential to form large-scale SMS deposits.

  • Antimicrobial resistance has become a critical global health problem due to the abuse of conventional antibiotics and the rise of multi-drug-resistant microbes. Antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) are a group of natural peptides that show promise as next-generation antibiotics due to their low toxicity to the host, broad spectrum of biological activity, including antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral, and anti-parasitic activities, and great therapeutic potential, such as anticancer, anti-inflammatory, etc. Most importantly, AMPs kill bacteria by damaging cell membranes using multiple mechanisms of action rather than targeting a single molecule or pathway, making it difficult for bacterial drug resistance to develop. However, experimental approaches used to discover and design new AMPs are very expensive and time-consuming. In recent years, there has been considerable interest in using in silico methods, including traditional machine learning (ML) and deep learning (DL) approaches, to drug discovery. While there are a few papers summarizing computational AMP prediction methods, none of them focused on DL methods. In this review, we aim to survey the latest AMP prediction methods achieved by DL approaches. First, the biology background of AMP is introduced, then various feature encoding methods used to represent the features of peptide sequences are presented. We explain the most popular DL techniques and highlight the recent works based on them to classify AMPs and design novel peptide sequences. Finally, we discuss the limitations and challenges of AMP prediction.

  • The extraction of 21 insecticides and 5 metabolites was performed using an optimized and validated QuEChERS protocol that was further used for the quantification (GC–MS/MS) in several seafood matrices (crustaceans, bivalves, and fish-mudskippers). Seven species, acquired from Hong Kong and Macao wet markets (a region so far poorly monitored), were selected based on their commercial importance in the Indo-Pacific region, market abundance, and affordable price. Among them, mussels from Hong Kong, together with mudskippers from Macao, presented the highest insecticide concentrations (median values of 30.33 and 23.90 ng/g WW, respectively). Residual levels of fenobucarb, DDTs, HCHs, and heptachlors were above the established threshold (10 ng/g WW) for human consumption according to the European and Chinese legislations: for example, in fish-mudskippers, DDTs, fenobucarb, and heptachlors (5-, 20- and tenfold, respectively), and in bivalves, HCHs (fourfold) had higher levels than the threshold. Risk assessment revealed potential human health effects (e.g., neurotoxicity), especially through fish and bivalve consumption (non-carcinogenic risk; ΣHQLT > 1), and a potential concern of lifetime cancer risk development through the consumption of fish, bivalves, and crustaceans collected from these markets (carcinogenic risk; ΣTCR > 10–4). Since these results indicate polluted regions, where the seafood is collected/produced, a strict monitoring framework should be implemented in those areas to improve food quality and safety of seafood products.

  • In this paper, preliminary investigation was conducted to evaluate the potential ecological risk of heavy metals contamination in cemetery soils. Necrosol samples were collected from within and around the vicinity of the largest mass grave in Rwanda and analyzed for heavy metal concentrations using total digestion–inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry and instrumental neutron activation analysis. Based on the concentrations of As, Cu, Cr, Pb, and Zn, the overall contamination degree (Cdeg) and potential ecological risks status (RI) of the necrosols were determined. The preliminary results revealed that the associated cemetery soils are only contaminated to a low degree. On the other hand, assessment of the potential ecological risk index (RI) revealed that cumulative heavy metal content of the soil do not pose any significant ecological risks. These findings, therefore, suggest that, while cemetery soils may be toxic due to the accumulation of certain heavy metals, their overall ecological risks may be minimal and insignificant.

  • Fishes show remarkably diverse aggressive behaviour. Aggression is expressed to secure resources; adjusting aggression levels according to context is key to avoid negative consequences for fitness and survival. Nonetheless, despite its importance, the physiological basis of aggression in fishes is still poorly understood. Several reports suggest hormonal modulation of aggression, particularly by androgens, but contradictory studies have been published. Studies exploring the role of chemical communication in aggressive behaviour are also scant, and the pheromones involved remain to be unequivocally characterized. This is surprising as chemical communication is the most ancient form of information exchange and plays a variety of other roles in fishes. Furthermore, the study of chemical communication and aggression is relevant at the evolutionary, ecological and economic levels. A few pioneering studies support the hypothesis that aggressive behaviour, at least in some teleosts, is modulated by “dominance pheromones” that reflect the social status of the sender, but there is little information on the identity of the compounds involved. This review aims to provide a global view of aggressive behaviour in fishes and its underlying physiological mechanisms including the involvement of chemical communication, and discusses the potential use of dominance pheromones to improve fish welfare. Methodological considerations and future research directions are also outlined.

  • The prevalence of microplastics in the environment has become a major global conservation issue. One primary source of environmental microplastics is personal care and cosmetic products (PCCPs) containing microbeads. The market availability of PCCPs containing microbeads and the level of contamination of coastal sediments by microplastics was studied in one of the most densely populated cities in the world, Macao in China. We found that PCCPs containing microbeads are still widely available for sale in the region, with over 70% of surveyed PCCPs containing at least one type of microbeads as an ingredient, with polyethylene (PE) being the most common one. In an estimate, the use of PCCPs in the territory may release over 37 billion microbeads per year into the environment via wastewater treatment plants. The density of microplastics in coastal sediments varied between 259 and 1,743 items/L of sediment, amongst the highest reported in the world. The fraction of < 1 mm was the most abundant, representing an average of 98.6% of the total, and correlated positively with the abundance of larger sized fragments. The results show that although environmental pollution with microplastics released from PCCPs usage is significant, other sources, namely fragmentation of larger plastic debris, likely contribute more to the issue. The study highlights the magnitude of the problem at a local level and suggests possible mitigating strategies.

  • The Qiyugou gold deposit, located in the Xiong’ ershan area of the North China Craton, contains abundant bismuth-sulfosalts that are closely associated with gold mineralization. Pyrite is the dominant Au-hosted mineral, and has been formed in three generations (Py1, Py2, and Py3). Py1 grains, generally intergrown with milky quartz, are coarse (>1 mm), euhedral in shape, and Au-depleted in composition. In contrast, subhedral Py2 grains, associated with light gray quartz, are medium to coarse (0.2–3 mm) and are enriched in gold that is both invisible and visible. Py3 grains (0.1–0.5 mm), intergrown with abundant sulfide minerals, are relatively fine and Au-depleted. The time-resolved LA-ICP-MS depth profiles of the Py2 grains indicate that invisible gold occurs as either solid solution or nano-particles of native gold and electrum. Visible gold occurs as small blebs in the Py2 grains where inclusions of native bismuth, galenobismutite, lillianite homologs, tetradymite, and galena are also present. In addition, it is common that electrum in microfracture infillings or along grain boundaries of the Py1 and Py2, are intergrown with bismuthinite derivatives, Bi-Cu sulfosalts, emplectite, tetradymite, chalcopyrite, galena, and Py3. Based on textural relationships and mineral assemblages, calculation of physicochemical conditions show that gold was formed in conditions of fTe2 = ~10−11 and fS2 = ~10−11 to 10−12 for Py2, and fTe2 = ~10−9 to 10-11and fS2 = ~10−10 to 10−11 for Py3. We thus proposed that such physicochemical conditions may have triggered the precipitation of Bi melt, and sulfidation driven by cooling or increase in sulfur content results in the transformation of the Au-Bi liquid into a stable assemblage of native gold and bismuthinite. These bismuth minerals are associated with native gold/Au-bearing minerals, indicating that the Au mineralization of the Qiyugou gold deposit might be genetically associated with Bi melt. The present study highlights the role of Bi as important gold scavengers in arsenic-deficient ore-forming fluid.

  • Studies addressing structure-function relationships of the fish auditory system during development are sparse compared to other taxa. The Batrachoididae has become an important group to investigate mechanisms of auditory plasticity and evolution of auditory-vocal systems. A recent study reported ontogenetic improvements in the inner ear saccule sensitivity of the Lusitanian toadfish, Halobatrachus didactylus, but whether this results from changes in the sensory morphology remains unknown. We investigated how the macula and organization of auditory receptors in the saccule and utricle change during growth in this species. Inner ear sensory epithelia were removed from the end organs of previously PFA-fixed specimens, from non-vocal posthatch fry (<1.4 cm, standard length) to adults (>23 cm). Epithelia were phalloidin-stained and analysed for area, shape, number and orientation patterns of hair cells (HC), and number and size of saccular supporting cells (SC). Saccular macula area expanded 41x in total, and significantly more (relative to body length) among vocal juveniles (2.3–2.9 cm). Saccular HC number increased 25x but HC density decreased, suggesting that HC addition is slower relative to epithelial growth. While SC density decreased, SC apical area increased, contributing to the epithelial expansion. The utricule revealed increased HC density (striolar region) and less epithelial expansion (5x) with growth, contrasting with the saccule that may have a different developmental pattern due to its larger size and main auditory functions. Both macula shape and HC orientation patterns were already established in the posthatch fry and retained throughout growth in both end organs. We suggest that previously reported ontogenetic improvements in saccular sensitivity might be associated with changes in HC number (not density), size and/or molecular mechanisms controlling HC sensitivity. This is one of the first studies investigating the ontogenetic development of the saccule and utricle in a vocal fish and how it potentially relates to auditory enhancement for acoustic communication.

  • The Dayingezhuang gold deposit in the Jiaodong district, eastern margin of the North China Craton is hosted in Mesozoic granitic rocks and consists of quartz-sulfide veins/veinlets and sulfide disseminations in alteration envelopes. Previous studies mainly focused on the geochronology, sources of ore-forming fluids and metals to investigate the ore genesis. However, enrichment mechanism of Au and other associated trace metals remain unclear. In this study, we present detailed textures and in-situ LA-ICP-MS trace-element compositions of different generations of pyrite, as well as EMP analysis of Au-bearing minerals to discuss the occurrence and enrichment mechanism of Au at this deposit. Three generations of pyrite (Py1, Py2 and Py3) formed during three hydrothermal ore stages (I, II, and III) at Dayingezhuang. Py1 occurs as disseminations in sericitic alteration assemblages and is characterized by low Au (mean 0.15 ppm), Ag, As and Te contents. The time-resolved depth-concentration profiles indicate that Au in Py1 mainly occurs as nanoparticles and/or micron-sized inclusions. Py2 can be further divided into the early undeformed Py2a and later Py2b, which is the product of deformed Py2a with different degrees of brittle to plastic deformation and recrystallization. Py2a in pyrite-siderite-quartz veins is relatively enriched in invisible Au (mean 0.41 ppm), Ag, As, and Te compared to Py1, and contains numerous micron-sized Au inclusions. In contrast, Py2b contains lesser invisible Au (0.21 ppm) and host abundant gold minerals along the grain boundaries and microfractures. Py3 in polymetallic sulfide veins has little Au. As a whole, Au in pyrite is positively correlated with Ag and Te, which is consistent with the results of EMP analysis showing the occurrence of Au as electrum, native gold and minor petzite in pyrite. Such evidences show that the deformation and recrystallization of auriferous Py2a potentially caused local remobilization of Au (mainly as micron-sized inclusion Au) via solid-state ductile flow and subsequent reconcentration of Au in microfractures of Py2b. The pyrite deformation and Au remobilization events were suggested to be related to the continuous reactivation of the regional Zhaoping Fault contemporaneous with gold mineralization. Our study highlights the importance of remobilization and reconcentration of Au triggered by syn-ore tectonic activities at Dayingezhuang and possibly other Au deposits in the Jiaodong district.

  • Exposure to continuous moderate noise levels is known to impair the auditory system leading to Noise-Induced Hearing Loss (NIHL) in animals including humans. The mechanism underlying noise-dependent auditory Temporary Threshold Shifts (TTS) is not fully understood. In fact, only limited information is available on vertebrates such as fishes, which share homologous inner ear structures to mammals and have the ability to regenerate hair cells. The zebrafish Danio rerio is a well-established model in hearing research providing an unmatched opportunity to investigate the molecular and physiological mechanisms of NIHL at the sensory receptor level. Here we investigated for the first time the effects of noise exposure on TTS and functional recovery in zebrafish, as well as the associated morphological damage and regeneration of the inner ear saccular hair cells. Adult specimens were exposed for 24h to white noise at various amplitudes (130, 140 and 150 dB re. 1 μPa) and their auditory sensitivity was subsequently measured with the Auditory Evoked Potential (AEP) recording technique. Sensory recovery was tested at different times post-treatment (after 3, 7 and 14 days) and compared to individuals kept under quiet lab conditions. Results revealed noise level-dependent TTS up to 33 dB and increase in response latency. Recovery of hearing function occurred within 7 days for fish exposed to 130 and 140 dB noise levels, while fish subject to 150 dB only returned to baseline thresholds after 14 days. Hearing impairment was accompanied by significant loss of hair cells only at the highest noise treatment. Full regeneration of the sensory tissue (number of hair cell receptors) occurred within 7 days, which was prior to functional recovery. We provide first baseline data of NIHL in zebrafish and validate this species as an effective vertebrate model to investigate the impact of noise exposure on the structure and function of the adult inner ear and its recovery process.

  • Anthropogenic noise can be hazardous for the auditory system and wellbeing of animals, including humans. However, very limited information is known on how this global environmental pollutant affects auditory function and inner ear sensory receptors in early ontogeny. The zebrafish (Danio rerio) is a valuable model in hearing research, including investigations of developmental processes of the vertebrate inner ear. We tested the effects of chronic exposure to white noise in larval zebrafish on inner ear saccular sensitivity and morphology at 3 and 5 days post-fertilization (dpf), as well as on auditory-evoked swimming responses using the prepulse inhibition (PPI) paradigm at 5 dpf. Noise-exposed larvae showed a significant increase in microphonic potential thresholds at low frequencies, 100 and 200 Hz, while the PPI revealed a hypersensitization effect and a similar threshold shift at 200 Hz. Auditory sensitivity changes were accompanied by a decrease in saccular hair cell number and epithelium area. In aggregate, the results reveal noise-induced effects on inner ear structure–function in a larval fish paralleled by a decrease in auditory-evoked sensorimotor responses. More broadly, this study highlights the importance of investigating the impact of environmental noise on early development of sensory and behavioural responsiveness to acoustic stimuli.

  • Skip to Next Section Group-living animals must adjust the expression of their social behaviour to changes in their social environment and to transitions between life-history stages, and this social plasticity can be seen as an adaptive trait that can be under positive selection when changes in the environment outpace the rate of genetic evolutionary change. Here, we propose a conceptual framework for understanding the neuromolecular mechanisms of social plasticity. According to this framework, social plasticity is achieved by rewiring or by biochemically switching nodes of a neural network underlying social behaviour in response to perceived social information. Therefore, at the molecular level, it depends on the social regulation of gene expression, so that different genomic and epigenetic states of this brain network correspond to different behavioural states, and the switches between states are orchestrated by signalling pathways that interface the social environment and the genotype. Different types of social plasticity can be recognized based on the observed patterns of inter- versus intra-individual occurrence, time scale and reversibility. It is proposed that these different types of social plasticity rely on different proximate mechanisms at the physiological, neural and genomic level.

  • Ligand peptides that have high affinity for ion channels are critical for regulating ion flux across the plasma membrane. These peptides are now being considered as potential drug candidates for many diseases, such as cardiovascular disease and cancers. In this work, we developed Multi-Branch-CNN, a CNN method with multiple input branches for identifying three types of ion channel peptide binders (sodium, potassium, and calcium) from intra- and inter-feature types. As for its real-world applications, prediction models that are able to recognize novel sequences having high or low similarities to training sequences are required. To this end, we tested our models on two test sets: a general test set including sequences spanning different similarity levels to those of the training set, and a novel-test set consisting of only sequences that bear little resemblance to sequences from the training set. Our experiments showed that the Multi-Branch-CNN method performs better than thirteen traditional ML algorithms (TML13), yielding an improvement in accuracy of 3.2%, 1.2%, and 2.3% on the test sets as well as 8.8%, 14.3%, and 14.6% on the novel-test sets for sodium, potassium, and calcium ion channels, respectively. We confirmed the effectiveness of Multi-Branch-CNN by comparing it to the standard CNN method with one input branch (Single-Branch-CNN) and an ensemble method (TML13-Stack). The data sets, script files to reproduce the experiments, and the final predictive models are freely available at

  • Employees work long hours in an environment where the ambient air quality is poor, directly affecting their work efficiency. The concentration of particulate matters (PM) produced by the interior renovation of shopping malls has not received particular attention in Macao. Therefore, this study will investigate the indoor air quality (IAQ), in particular of PM2.5, in large-scale shopping mall renovation projects. This study collected on-site PM data with low-cost portable monitoring equipment placed temporarily at specific locations to examine whether the current control measures are appropriate and propose some improvements. Prior to this study, there were no measures being implemented, and on-site monitoring to assess the levels of PM2.5 concentrations was non-existent. The results show the highest level of PM2.5 recorded in this study was 559.00 μg/m3. Moreover, this study may provide a reference for decision-makers, management, construction teams, design consultant teams, and renovation teams of large-scale projects. In addition, the monitoring of IAQ can ensure a comfortable environment for employees and customers. This study concluded that the levels of PM2.5 concentration have no correlation with the number of on-site workers, but rather were largely influenced by the processes being performed on-site.

  • Macao ( 30 Km2) is a territory characterized by small granitic intrusions, located along the coastal region of Southeast China (Cathaysia Block). Granitoids occur as different facies, including microgranite dykes, with distinct textural, mineralogical and geochemical features, for which a middle-upper Jurassic age ( 164 Ma) has been proposed. New data suggest that these granitoids are mostly high-K calc-alkaline metaluminous (A/CNK = 0.8 - 1.1) biotite granites, consistent with total absence of primary muscovite. They show variable amounts of SiO2 (67-77%), reflecting different degrees of magmatic evolution. There is also variability in terms of trace elements, particularly Rare Earth Elements (REEs), evidenced by decreasing (La/Sm)N, (Gd/Lu)N, (Ce/Yb)N and (Eu/Eu*)N towards the more evolved samples, which can be partly attributed to fractional crystallization processes. Most of the granitoids are characterized by (La/Yb)N = 3 - 10.8, showing negative Ba, Nb, Sr, Zr, P, Ti and Eu anomalies. On the other hand, microgranite dykes, along with a few more evolved granites, show an opposite tendency, being usually enriched in HREEs relatively to LREEs with (La/Yb)N = 0.4 - 1.1. Our data suggests intermediate genetic affinities between I-type and A-type granites. Although these granitoids are mostly metaluminous (characteristic of I-types), Ga/Al ratios, usually used to identify A-types, are close to the accepted boundary between A-type and other granite types. The affinities with A-type granites are more marked for the more evolved facies, which depict higher values of FeOt/MgO (14 - 60) and K2O/MgO (60 - 250). Their trace element characteristics are also transitional between WPG (Within-plate granites) and Syn-COLG (Collision Granites). We interpret those transitional characteristics (A/I and WPG/Syn-COLG) of Macao granitoids as reflecting an origin by melting of infracrustal sources over a period of high heat transfer from mantle to crust during an extensional tectonic setting probably contemporaneous with the subduction of the paleo-Pacific plate beneath the Eurasia, whose paleo-suture is thought to be located in the east flank of the Central Range, Taiwan.

  • The geochemistry and mineralogy of sediments provide relevant information for the understanding of the origin and metallogenic mechanism of ferromanganese nodules and crusts. At present, there are still few studies on the sediment origin of the Clarion–Clipperton Zone (CCZ) of the east Pacific, particularly on the systematic origin of sediments with a longer history/length. Here, bulk sediment geochemistry and clay mineral compositions were analyzed on a 5.7 m gravity core (GC04) obtained at the CCZ, an area rich in polymetallic nodules. The results indicate that the average total content of rare earth elements (REE), including yttrium (REY), in sediments is 454.7 ppm and the REEs distribution patterns normalized by the North American Shale Composite of samples are highly consistent, with all showing negative Ce anomalies and more obvious enrichment in heavy REE (HREE) than that of light REE (LREE). Montmorillonite/illite ratio, discriminant functions and smear slide identification indicate multiple origins for the material, and are strongly influenced by contributions from marine biomass, while terrestrial materials, seamount basalts and their alteration products and authigenic source also make certain contributions. The REY characteristics of the sediments in the study area are different from those of marginal oceanic and back-arc basins, and more similar to pelagic deep-sea sediments. Based on LREE/HREE-1/δCe and LREE/HREE-Y/Ho diagrams, we conclude that samples from the study area had pelagic sedimentary properties which suffered from a strong “seawater effect”.

Last update from database: 5/24/23, 12:38 AM (UTC)