Publications by authors named "Fernando Fernandez"

114 Publications

Managing Perceived Loneliness and Social-Isolation Levels for Older Adults: A Survey with Focus on Wearables-Based Solutions.

Sensors (Basel) 2022 Feb 1;22(3). Epub 2022 Feb 1.

Faculty of Built Environment, Tampere University, 33720 Tampere, Finland.

As an inevitable process, the number of older adults is increasing in many countries worldwide. Two of the main problems that society is being confronted with more and more, in this respect, are the inter-related aspects of feelings of loneliness and social isolation among older adults. In particular, the ongoing COVID-19 crisis and its associated restrictions have exacerbated the loneliness and social-isolation problems. This paper is first and foremost a comprehensive survey of loneliness monitoring and management solutions, from the multidisciplinary perspective of technology, gerontology, socio-psychology, and urban built environment. In addition, our paper also investigates machine learning-based technological solutions with wearable-sensor data, suitable to measure, monitor, manage, and/or diminish the levels of loneliness and social isolation, when one also considers the constraints and characteristics coming from social science, gerontology, and architecture/urban built environments points of view. Compared to the existing state of the art, our work is unique from the cross-disciplinary point of view, because our authors' team combines the expertise from four distinct domains, i.e., gerontology, social psychology, architecture, and wireless technology in addressing the two inter-related problems of loneliness and social isolation in older adults. This work combines a cross-disciplinary survey of the literature in the four aforementioned domains with a proposed wearable-based technological solution, introduced first as a generic framework and, then, exemplified through a simple proof of concept with dummy data. As the main findings, we provide a comprehensive view on challenges and solutions in utilizing various technologies, particularly those carried by users, also known as wearables, to measure, manage, and/or diminish the social isolation and the perceived loneliness among older adults. In addition, we also summarize the identified solutions which can be used for measuring and monitoring various loneliness- and social isolation-related metrics, and we present and validate, through a simple proof-of-concept mechanism, an approach based on machine learning for predicting and estimating loneliness levels. Open research issues in this field are also discussed.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/s22031108DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8839843PMC
February 2022

Kinetics and Connectivity Properties of Parvalbumin- and Somatostatin-Positive Inhibition in Layer 2/3 Medial Entorhinal Cortex.

eNeuro 2022 Jan-Feb;9(1). Epub 2022 Feb 16.

Department of Biomedical Engineering, Center for Systems Neuroscience, Neurophotonics Center, Boston University, Boston, Massachusetts 02215.

Parvalbumin-positive (Pvalb) and somatostatin-positive (Sst) cells are the two largest subgroups of inhibitory interneurons. Studies in visual cortex indicate that synaptic connections between Pvalb cells are common while connections between Sst interneurons have not been observed. The inhibitory connectivity and kinetics of these two interneuron subpopulations, however, have not been characterized in medial entorhinal cortex (mEC). Using fluorescence-guided paired recordings in mouse brain slices from interneurons and excitatory cells in layer 2/3 mEC, we found that, unlike neocortical measures, Sst cells inhibit each other, albeit with a lower probability than Pvalb cells (18% vs 36% for unidirectional connections). Gap junction connections were also more frequent between Pvalb cells than between Sst cells. Pvalb cells inhibited each other with larger conductances, smaller decay time constants, and shorter delays. Similarly, synaptic connections between Pvalb and excitatory cells were more likely and expressed faster decay times and shorter delays than those between Sst and excitatory cells. Inhibitory cells exhibited smaller synaptic decay time constants between interneurons than on their excitatory targets. Inhibition between interneurons also depressed faster, and to a greater extent. Finally, inhibition onto layer 2 pyramidal and stellate cells originating from Pvalb interneurons were very similar, with no significant differences in connection likelihood, inhibitory amplitude, and decay time. A model of short-term depression fitted to the data indicates that recovery time constants for refilling the available pool are in the range of 50-150 ms and that the fraction of the available pool released on each spike is in the range 0.2-0.5.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1523/ENEURO.0441-21.2022DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8856710PMC
April 2022

Polyhydroxylated Cyclopentane β-Amino Acids Derived from d-Mannose and d-Galactose: Synthesis and Protocol for Incorporation into Peptides.

ACS Omega 2022 Jan 4;7(2):2002-2014. Epub 2022 Jan 4.

Centro Singular de Investigación en Química Biolóxica e Materiais Moleculares (CIQUS), Universidade de Santiago de Compostela, c/Jenaro de la Fuente s/n, 15782 Santiago de Compostela, Spain.

A stereoselective synthesis of polyhydroxylated cyclopentane β-amino acids from hexoses is reported. The reaction sequence comprises, as key steps, ring-closing metathesis of a polysubstituted diene intermediate followed by the stereoselective aza-Michael functionalization of the resulting cyclopent-1-ene-1-carboxylic acid ester. Examples of synthesis of polysubstituted 2-aminocyclopentanecarboxylic acid derivatives starting from protected d-mannose and d-galactose are presented. A general protocol for the incorporation of these highly functionalized alicyclic β-amino acids into peptides is also reported.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/acsomega.1c05468DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8772316PMC
January 2022

Deep Brain Stimulation of the Nucleus Accumbens, Ventral Striatum, or Internal Capsule Targets for Medication-Resistant Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder: A Multicenter Study.

World Neurosurg 2021 11 14;155:e168-e176. Epub 2021 Aug 14.

Department of Neurosurgery, Hospital Universitario Central de Asturias, Oviedo, Spain.

Background: Deep brain stimulation of the nucleus accumbens, ventral striatum, or internal capsule region has shown a 45%-60% response rate in adults with severe treatment-refractory obsessive-compulsive disorder, regardless of which target is used. We sought to improve the effectiveness of deep brain stimulation by placing the electrode along a trajectory including these 3 targets, enabling a change of stimulation site depending on the patient's response.

Methods: This study used the medical records of 14 patients from 4 different Spanish institutions: 7 from the Hospital Universitario La Princesa, 3 from the Hospital Universitario Central de Asturias, 2 from Hospital Universitario Fundación Jiménez Díaz, and 2 from Hospital Universitari Son Espases. All patients were operated on under the same protocol. Qualitative and quantitative data were collected.

Results: Of 14 patients, 11 showed significant improvement in obsessive-compulsive disorder symptoms, as evident in a reduction ≥35% in Yale-Brown Obsessive Compulsive Scale scores following stimulation relative to preoperative scores. Seven patients responded to stimulation at the nucleus accumbens (the first area we set for stimulation), whereas 4 patients needed to have the active contact switched to the internal capsule to benefit from stimulation.

Conclusions: Deep brain stimulation of the nucleus accumbens, internal capsule, and ventral striatum significantly benefited our cohort of patients with medication-resistant obsessive-compulsive disorder. Electrode insertion through the 3 main targets might confer additional therapeutic efficacy.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.wneu.2021.08.039DOI Listing
November 2021

Modeling temperature- and Cav3 subtype-dependent alterations in T-type calcium channel mediated burst firing.

Mol Brain 2021 07 17;14(1):115. Epub 2021 Jul 17.

Department of Cell Biology and Anatomy, Cumming School of Medicine University of Calgary, Calgary, Canada.

T-type calcium channels are important regulators of neuronal excitability. The mammalian brain expresses three T-type channel isoforms (Cav3.1, Cav3.2 and Cav3.3) with distinct biophysical properties that are critically regulated by temperature. Here, we test the effects of how temperature affects spike output in a reduced firing neuron model expressing specific Cav3 channel isoforms. The modeling data revealed only a minimal effect on baseline spontaneous firing near rest, but a dramatic increase in rebound burst discharge frequency for Cav3.1 compared to Cav3.2 or Cav3.3 due to differences in window current or activation/recovery time constants. The reduced response by Cav3.2 could optimize its activity where it is expressed in peripheral tissues more subject to temperature variations than Cav3.1 or Cav3.3 channels expressed prominently in the brain. These tests thus reveal that aspects of neuronal firing behavior are critically dependent on both temperature and T-type calcium channel subtype.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s13041-021-00813-7DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8285791PMC
July 2021

Non-genetic photoacoustic stimulation of single neurons by a tapered fiber optoacoustic emitter.

Light Sci Appl 2021 Jul 14;10(1):143. Epub 2021 Jul 14.

Department of Chemistry, Boston University, 580 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston, MA, 02215, USA.

Neuromodulation at high spatial resolution poses great significance in advancing fundamental knowledge in the field of neuroscience and offering novel clinical treatments. Here, we developed a tapered fiber optoacoustic emitter (TFOE) generating an ultrasound field with a high spatial precision of 39.6 µm, enabling optoacoustic activation of single neurons or subcellular structures, such as axons and dendrites. Temporally, a single acoustic pulse of sub-microsecond converted by the TFOE from a single laser pulse of 3 ns is shown as the shortest acoustic stimuli so far for successful neuron activation. The precise ultrasound generated by the TFOE enabled the integration of the optoacoustic stimulation with highly stable patch-clamp recording on single neurons. Direct measurements of the electrical response of single neurons to acoustic stimulation, which is difficult for conventional ultrasound stimulation, have been demonstrated. By coupling TFOE with ex vivo brain slice electrophysiology, we unveil cell-type-specific responses of excitatory and inhibitory neurons to acoustic stimulation. These results demonstrate that TFOE is a non-genetic single-cell and sub-cellular modulation technology, which could shed new insights into the mechanism of ultrasound neurostimulation.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41377-021-00580-zDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8277806PMC
July 2021

Usefulness of Left Atrial Strain to Predict End Stage Renal Failure in Patients With Chronic Kidney Disease.

Am J Cardiol 2021 07 26;151:105-113. Epub 2021 May 26.

Department of Cardiology, Westmead Hospital, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia; School of Medicine,University of New South Wales, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia; School of Medicine, University of Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. Electronic address:

Left atrial (LA) enlargement predicts adverse cardiovascular events in patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD). The aim of our study was to evaluate the value of LA reservoir strain, a novel measure of LA function, as a prognostic marker for adverse renal outcomes. A total of 280 patients (65.8 ± 12.2years, 63% male) with stable Stage 3 and 4 CKD without prior cardiac history were evaluated with transthoracic echocardiography and prospectively followed for up to 5 years. The primary end point was progressive renal failure, which was the composite of death from renal cause, end-stage renal failure and/or doubling of serum creatinine. Over a mean follow up of 3.9 ± 2.7years, 56 patients reached the composite endpoint. By log rank test, older age, lower baseline eGFR, anemia, diabetes mellitus, higher urinary albumin/creatinine ratio, number of antihypertensive medications, higher indexed left ventricular mass, larger LA volumes, and impaired LA reservoir strain were significant predictors of the composite outcome (p <0.01 for all). Multi-variable Cox regression analysis found LA reservoir strain, eGFR, number of antihypertensive medications and urinary albumin/creatinine ratio were independent predictors for progressive renal failure (p <0.01 for all). Impaired LA reservoir strain was associated with a 2.5-fold higher risk of the composite outcome (HR 2.51, 95% CI 1.19 to 5.30, p = 0.02) and was the only echocardiographic parameter that predicted progressive renal failure independent of established clinical risk factors for end-stage renal failure. Its utility requires validation in high risk CKD patients with cardiac disease.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.amjcard.2021.03.056DOI Listing
July 2021

Left Atrial Reservoir Strain by Speckle Tracking Echocardiography: Association With Exercise Capacity in Chronic Kidney Disease.

J Am Heart Assoc 2021 01 29;10(1):e017840. Epub 2020 Dec 29.

Department of Cardiology Westmead Hospital Sydney NSW Australia.

Background Left atrial (LA) function plays a pivotal role in modulating left ventricular performance. The aim of our study was to evaluate the relationship between resting LA function by strain analysis and exercise capacity in patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD) and evaluate its utility compared with exercise E/e'. Methods and Results Consecutive patients with stage 3 and 4 CKD without prior cardiac history were prospectively recruited from outpatient nephrology clinics and underwent clinical evaluation and resting and exercise stress echocardiography. Resting echocardiographic parameters including E/e' and phasic LA strain (LA reservoir [LASr], conduit, and contractile strain) were measured and compared with exercise E/e'. A total of 218 (63.9±11.7 years, 64% men) patients with CKD were recruited. Independent clinical parameters associated with exercise capacity were age, estimated glomerular filtration rate, body mass index, and sex (<0.01 for all), while independent resting echocardiographic parameters included E/e', LASr, and LA contractile strain (<0.01 for all). Among resting echocardiographic parameters, LASr demonstrated the strongest positive correlation to metabolic equivalents achieved (r=0.70; <0.01). Receiver operating characteristic curves demonstrated that LASr (area under the curve, 0.83) had similar diagnostic performance as exercise E/e' (area under the curve, 0.79; =0.20 on DeLong test). A model combining LASr and clinical metrics showed robust association with metabolic equivalents achieved in patients with CKD. Conclusions LASr, a marker of decreased LA compliance is an independent correlate of exercise capacity in patients with stage 3 and 4 CKD, with similar diagnostic value to exercise E/e'. Thus, LASr may serve as a resting biomarker of functional capacity in this population.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1161/JAHA.120.017840DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7955492PMC
January 2021

Left Atrial Strain Is the Best Predictor of Adverse Cardiovascular Outcomes in Patients with Chronic Kidney Disease.

J Am Soc Echocardiogr 2021 02 20;34(2):166-175. Epub 2020 Nov 20.

Department of Cardiology, Westmead Hospital, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia; University of New South Wales, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia; Westmead Clinical School, University of Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. Electronic address:

Background: Patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD) are at increased risk of adverse cardiovascular events, which is underestimated by traditional risk stratification algorithms. We sought to determine clinical and echocardiographic predictors of adverse outcomes in CKD patients.

Methods: Two hundred forty-three prospectively recruited stage 3/4 CKD patients (male, 63%; mean age, 59.2 ± 14.4 years) without previous cardiac disease made up the study cohort. All participants underwent a transthoracic echocardiogram, with left ventricular (LV) and left atrial (LA) strain analysis. Participants were followed for 3.9 ± 2.7 years for the primary end point of cardiovascular death and major adverse cardiovascular event (MACE). The secondary end point was the composite of all-cause death and MACE.

Results: Fifty-four patients met the primary end point, and 65 the secondary end point. On log-rank tests, older age, diabetes mellitus, anemia, greater LV mass, reduced LV global longitudinal strain, larger indexed LA volume, higher E/e' ratio, and reduced LA reservoir strain (LASr; P < .01 for all) were independent predictors of cardiovascular death and MACE. On multivariable regression analysis of univariate predictors, LASr (P < .01) was the only independent predictor for the primary end point as well as for the secondary end point. Receiver operating characteristic curve analysis showed LASr was a stronger predictor of adverse events (area under the curve [AUC] = 0.84) compared to the Framingham (AUC = 0.58) and Atherosclerotic Cardiovascular Disease (AUC = 0.59) risk scores.

Conclusions: LASr is an independent predictor of cardiovascular death and MACE in CKD patients, superior to clinical risk scores, LV parameters, and LA volume.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.echo.2020.09.015DOI Listing
February 2021

Determinants of LA reservoir strain: Independent effects of LA volume and LV global longitudinal strain.

Echocardiography 2020 12 19;37(12):2018-2028. Epub 2020 Nov 19.

Department of Cardiology, Westmead Hospital, Sydney, NSW, Australia.

Background: Left atrial (LA) deformation during the reservoir phase (LASr) has demonstrated strong prognostic value in different clinical settings. Although determinants of left atrial reservoir strain including left atrial relaxation, left atrial compliance, and left ventricular longitudinal systolic function are fairly well defined, there is incomplete information regarding the effect of left atrial volume on this relationship which is the focus of our study.

Method: Consecutive patients without prior cardiac disease referred for transthoracic echocardiography were prospectively recruited. All participants underwent clinical assessment, transthoracic echocardiography (TTE), and screening exercise stress test. Only patients with normal left ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF) without left ventricular hypertrophy (LVH) or myocardial ischemia on stress testing were included.

Results: A total of 260 patients (57% male, mean age 59 ± 14 years) were included. 70% had hypertension, 33% had diabetes mellitus, and 31% had both HTN and DM. On multivariate analysis, age, e', LAVI, and LV GLS (P < .01 for all) showed an independent association with LASr. Of interest, at lower tertiles of LAVI, a linear decrease in LASr was observed parallel to worsening LV GLS, whilst at higher tertiles of LAVI, the reduction in LASr was non-linear implying that LA enlargement, consequent to LA remodeling, had an incremental effect on LASr.

Conclusion: Age, e', LV GLS, and LAVI were independently associated with LASr. LA remodeling reflected by larger LAVI had an incremental negative association with LASr independent of LV GLS.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/echo.14922DOI Listing
December 2020

An Automated Planning Model for HRI: Use Cases on Social Assistive Robotics.

Sensors (Basel) 2020 Nov 14;20(22). Epub 2020 Nov 14.

Computer Science Department, Universidad Carlos III de Madrid, 28911 Leganés, Spain.

Using Automated Planning for the high level control of robotic architectures is becoming very popular thanks mainly to its capability to define the tasks to perform in a declarative way. However, classical planning tasks, even in its basic standard Planning Domain Definition Language (PDDL) format, are still very hard to formalize for non expert engineers when the use case to model is complex. Human Robot Interaction (HRI) is one of those complex environments. This manuscript describes the rationale followed to design a planning model able to control social autonomous robots interacting with humans. It is the result of the authors' experience in modeling use cases for Social Assistive Robotics (SAR) in two areas related to healthcare: Comprehensive Geriatric Assessment (CGA) and non-contact rehabilitation therapies for patients with physical impairments. In this work a general definition of these two use cases in a unique planning domain is proposed, which favors the management and integration with the software robotic architecture, as well as the addition of new use cases. Results show that the model is able to capture all the relevant aspects of the Human-Robot interaction in those scenarios, allowing the robot to autonomously perform the tasks by using a standard planning-execution architecture.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/s20226520DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7697113PMC
November 2020

CaMKIIα-Positive Interneurons Identified via a microRNA-Based Viral Gene Targeting Strategy.

J Neurosci 2020 12 6;40(50):9576-9588. Epub 2020 Nov 6.

Department of Biomedical Engineering, Boston University, Boston, Massachusetts 02215

Single-cell analysis is revealing increasing diversity in gene expression profiles among brain cells. Traditional promotor-based viral gene expression techniques, however, cannot capture the growing variety among single cells. We demonstrate a novel viral gene expression strategy to target cells with specific miRNA expression using miRNA-guided neuron tags (mAGNET). We designed mAGNET viral vectors containing a CaMKIIα promoter and microRNA-128 (miR-128) binding sites, and labeled CaMKIIα cells with naturally low expression of miR-128 (Lm128C cells) in male and female mice. Although CaMKIIα has traditionally been considered as an excitatory neuron marker, our single-cell sequencing results reveal that Lm128C cells are CaMKIIα inhibitory neurons of parvalbumin or somatostatin subtypes. Further evaluation of the physiological properties of Lm128C cell in brain slices showed that Lm128C cells exhibit elevated membrane excitability, with biophysical properties closely resembling those of fast-spiking interneurons, consistent with previous transcriptomic findings of miR-128 in regulating gene networks that govern membrane excitability. To further demonstrate the utility of this new viral expression strategy, we expressed GCaMP6f in Lm128C cells in the superficial layers of the motor cortex and performed calcium imaging in mice during locomotion. We found that Lm128C cells exhibit elevated calcium event rates and greater intrapopulation correlation than the overall CaMKIIα cells during movement. In summary, the miRNA-based viral gene targeting strategy described here allows us to label a sparse population of CaMKIIα interneurons for functional studies, providing new capabilities to investigate the relationship between gene expression and physiological properties in the brain. We report the discovery of a class of CaMKIIα cortical interneurons, labeled via a novel miRNA-based viral gene targeting strategy, combinatorial to traditional promoter-based strategies. The fact that we found a small, yet distinct, population of cortical inhibitory neurons that express CaMKIIα demonstrates that CaMKIIα is not as specific for excitatory neurons as commonly believed. As single-cell sequencing tools are providing increasing insights into the gene expression diversity of neurons, including miRNA profile data, we expect that the miRNA-based gene targeting strategy presented here can help delineate many neuron populations whose physiological properties can be readily related to the miRNA gene regulatory networks.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2570-19.2020DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7726537PMC
December 2020

Synopsis of the carpenter bee subgenus Xylocopa (Schonnherria) Lepeletier, 1841 (Hymenoptera: Apidae) in Colombia, with designation of lectotypes and the description of two new species.

Zootaxa 2020 Jun 9;4789(2):zootaxa.4789.2.1. Epub 2020 Jun 9.

HYMN Laboratório de Hymenoptera, Departamento de Entomologia, Museu Nacional, Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, Quinta da Boa Vista, São Cristóvão 20940-040 Rio de Janeiro, RJ, Brazil. Grupo Insectos de Colombia, Instituto de Ciencias Naturales, Universidad Nacional de Colombia, Bogotá, Colombia..

A synopsis of the metallic carpenter bees Xylocopa subgenus Schonnherria Lepeletier in Colombia is presented. Eleven species were recognized: X. dimidiata Latreille, X. ecuadorica Cockerell, X. lateralis Say, X. lucida Smith, X. metallica Smith, X. muscaria (Fabricius), X. ornata Smith, X. viridis Smith, and X. simillima Smith, being this latter a new record for the country. In addition, two new species are described: X. auriventris n. sp. and X. romeroi n. sp. from the Colombian Andean and Pacific region, respectively. To stabilize the application of some names, lectotypes were designated for X. binotata Pérez (=X. lateralis), X. muscaria, X. ornata, X. simillima and X. viridis. Diagnoses, descriptions, comments, floral records, distribution maps, figures and an identification key are also provided.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.11646/zootaxa.4789.2.1DOI Listing
June 2020

Exercise E/e' Is a Determinant of Exercise Capacity and Adverse Cardiovascular Outcomes in Chronic Kidney Disease.

JACC Cardiovasc Imaging 2020 12 26;13(12):2485-2494. Epub 2020 Aug 26.

Department of Cardiology Blacktown Hospital, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia; Department of Cardiology Westmead Hospital, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia; University of New South Wales, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia; Westmead Clinical School, University of Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. Electronic address:

Objectives: This study sought to assess the relationship between E/e' and exercise capacity in patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD) and evaluate its prognostic role.

Background: Patients with CKD have diastolic dysfunction, reduced physical fitness, and elevated risk of cardiovascular disease.

Methods: Patients with stage 3 and 4 CKD without previous cardiac disease underwent resting and exercise stress echocardiograms with assessment of exercise E/e'. Patients were compared to age-, sex-, and risk factor-matched control individuals and were followed annually for 5 years for cardiovascular death and major adverse cardiovascular event(s) (MACE). Exercise capacity was assessed as metabolic equivalents (METs), with reduced exercise capacity defined as METs of ≤7. Raised exercise E/e' was defined as >13.

Results: A total of 156 patients with CKD (age 62.8 ± 10.6 years; male: 62%) were compared to 156 matched control individuals. Patients with CKD were more likely to be anemic (p < 0.01) and had increased left ventricular mass (p < 0.01), larger left atrial volumes (p < 0.01), and higher resting (p < 0.01) and exercise E/e' (p < 0.01). Patients with CKD achieved lower exercise METs (p < 0.01), and more patients with CKD had METs of ≤7 (p < 0.01). Receiver-operating characteristic curves showed exercise E/e' (area under the curve [AUC]: 0.89; 95% CI: 0.84 to 0.95; p < 0.01) as the strongest predictor of reduced exercise capacity in patients with CKD. Over a follow-up period of 41.4 months, a raised exercise E/e' of >13 was an independent predictor of cardiovascular death and MACE on unadjusted and adjusted hazard models.

Conclusion: E/e' is a strong predictor of exercise capacity and METs achieved by patients with CKD. Exercise capacity was reduced in patients with CKD, presumably consequent to diastolic dysfunction. Elevated exercise E/e' in patients with CKD is an independent predictor of cardiovascular death and MACE.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jcmg.2020.05.044DOI Listing
December 2020

NEOTROPICAL ALIEN MAMMALS: a data set of occurrence and abundance of alien mammals in the Neotropics.

Ecology 2020 11;101(11):e03115

Universidade Federal da Integração Latino-Americana, Foz do Iguaçu, Paraná, Brazil.

Biological invasion is one of the main threats to native biodiversity. For a species to become invasive, it must be voluntarily or involuntarily introduced by humans into a nonnative habitat. Mammals were among first taxa to be introduced worldwide for game, meat, and labor, yet the number of species introduced in the Neotropics remains unknown. In this data set, we make available occurrence and abundance data on mammal species that (1) transposed a geographical barrier and (2) were voluntarily or involuntarily introduced by humans into the Neotropics. Our data set is composed of 73,738 historical and current georeferenced records on alien mammal species of which around 96% correspond to occurrence data on 77 species belonging to eight orders and 26 families. Data cover 26 continental countries in the Neotropics, ranging from Mexico and its frontier regions (southern Florida and coastal-central Florida in the southeast United States) to Argentina, Paraguay, Chile, and Uruguay, and the 13 countries of Caribbean islands. Our data set also includes neotropical species (e.g., Callithrix sp., Myocastor coypus, Nasua nasua) considered alien in particular areas of Neotropics. The most numerous species in terms of records are from Bos sp. (n = 37,782), Sus scrofa (n = 6,730), and Canis familiaris (n = 10,084); 17 species were represented by only one record (e.g., Syncerus caffer, Cervus timorensis, Cervus unicolor, Canis latrans). Primates have the highest number of species in the data set (n = 20 species), partly because of uncertainties regarding taxonomic identification of the genera Callithrix, which includes the species Callithrix aurita, Callithrix flaviceps, Callithrix geoffroyi, Callithrix jacchus, Callithrix kuhlii, Callithrix penicillata, and their hybrids. This unique data set will be a valuable source of information on invasion risk assessments, biodiversity redistribution and conservation-related research. There are no copyright restrictions. Please cite this data paper when using the data in publications. We also request that researchers and teachers inform us on how they are using the data.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/ecy.3115DOI Listing
November 2020

Voltage Imaging of Cardiac Cells and Tissue Using the Genetically Encoded Voltage Sensor Archon1.

iScience 2020 Apr 11;23(4):100974. Epub 2020 Mar 11.

Department of Biomedical Engineering, Boston University, Boston, MA 02215, USA. Electronic address:

Precise measurement of action potentials (APs) is needed to observe electrical activity and cellular communication within cardiac tissue. Voltage-sensitive dyes (VSDs) are traditionally used to measure cardiac APs; however, they require acute chemical addition that prevents chronic imaging. Genetically encoded voltage indicators (GEVIs) enable long-term studies of APs without the need of chemical additions, but current GEVIs used in cardiac tissue exhibit poor kinetics and/or low signal to noise (SNR). Here, we demonstrate the use of Archon1, a recently developed GEVI, in hiPSC-derived cardiomyocytes (CMs). When expressed in CMs, Archon1 demonstrated fast kinetics comparable with patch-clamp electrophysiology and high SNR significantly greater than the VSD Di-8-ANEPPS. Additionally, Archon1 enabled monitoring of APs across multiple cells simultaneously in 3D cardiac tissues. These results highlight Archon1's capability to investigate the electrical activity of CMs in a variety of applications and its potential to probe functionally complex in vitro models, as well as in vivo systems.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.isci.2020.100974DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7160579PMC
April 2020

Strepsiptera from Colombia: First record of the genus Strichotrema Hofeneder (Myrmecolacidae) and a new host-parasitoid association with
Megalomyrmex cyendyra (Hymenoptera: Formicidae).

Zootaxa 2020 Jan 22;4728(2):zootaxa.4728.2.7. Epub 2020 Jan 22.

Instituto de Ciencias Naturales, Universidad Nacional de Colombia, Bogotá D.C., Colombia.

An overview of the order Strepsiptera in Colombia is provided. The family Halictophagidae is recorded for the first time based on a female parasitizing a treehopper Ceresini (Membracidae). Strichotrema beckeri is a new record for the country. The ant genus Megalomyrmex is documented as a new host for Caenocholax fenyesi. A short review of the ants parasitized by Strepsiptera in the Neotropics is presented. Currently, the order in Colombia is known for the families Halictophagidae, Myrmecolacidae and Stylopidae.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.11646/zootaxa.4728.2.7DOI Listing
January 2020

Old contact allergens and new dermatitis: Pole dancing dermatitis.

Contact Dermatitis 2020 Jun 24;82(6):411-412. Epub 2020 Mar 24.

Allergy Department, Hospital Universitario Marqués de Valdecilla, Santander, Spain.

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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/cod.13492DOI Listing
June 2020

Balanced synaptic currents underlie low-frequency oscillations in the subiculum.

Hippocampus 2019 12 13;29(12):1178-1189. Epub 2019 Jul 13.

Department of Biomedical Engineering, Center for Systems Neuroscience, Boston University, Boston, Massachusetts.

Numerous synaptic and intrinsic membrane mechanisms have been proposed for generating oscillatory activity in the hippocampus. Few studies, however, have directly measured synaptic conductances and membrane properties during oscillations. The time course and relative contribution of excitatory and inhibitory synaptic conductances, as well as the role of intrinsic membrane properties in amplifying synaptic inputs, remains unclear. To address this issue, we used an isolated whole hippocampal preparation that generates autonomous low-frequency oscillations near the theta range. Using 2-photon microscopy and expression of genetically encoded fluorophores, we obtained on-cell and whole-cell patch recordings of pyramidal cells and fast-firing interneurons in the distal subiculum. Pyramidal cell and interneuron spiking shared similar phase-locking to local field potential oscillations. In pyramidal cells, spiking resulted from a concomitant and balanced increase in excitatory and inhibitory synaptic currents. In contrast, interneuron spiking was driven almost exclusively by excitatory synaptic current. Thus, similar to tightly balanced networks underlying hippocampal gamma oscillations and ripples, balanced synaptic inputs in the whole hippocampal preparation drive highly phase-locked spiking at the peak of slower network oscillations.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/hipo.23131DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7061693PMC
December 2019

Epidemiological and clinical characteristics of Streptococcus tigurinus endocarditis.

BMC Infect Dis 2019 Mar 29;19(1):291. Epub 2019 Mar 29.

CIBER Enfermedades Respiratorias-CIBERES, Madrid, Spain.

Background: Streptococcus tigurinus was recently described as a new streptococcal species within the viridans group streptococci (VGS). The objectives of the present work were to analyse the clinical and microbiological characteristics of S. tigurinus isolated from patients with bacteraemias, to determine the prevalence of S. tigurinus among VGS endocarditis in Spain, and to compare the clinical characteristics and outcomes of endocarditis caused by S. tigurinus and other VGS.

Methods: Retrospective nationwide study, performed between 2008 and 2016 in 9 Spanish hospitals from 7 different provinces comprising 237 cases of infective endocarditis. Streptococcal isolates were identified by sequencing fragments of their 16S rRNA, sodA and groEL genes. Clinical data of patients with streptococcal endocarditis were prospectively collected according to a pre-established protocol.

Results: Patients with endocarditis represented 7/9 (77.8%) and 26/86 (30.2%) of the bacteraemias caused by S. tigurinus and other VGS, respectively (p < 0.001), in two of the hospital participants. Among patients with streptococcal endocarditis, 12 different Streptococcus species were recognized being S. oralis, S. tigurinus and S. mitis the three more common. No relevant statistical differences were observed in the clinical characteristics and outcomes of endocarditis caused by the different VGS species.

Conclusions: In this multicenter study performed in Spain, S. tigurinus showed a higher predilection for the endocardial endothelium as compared to other VGS. However, clinical characteristics and outcomes of endocarditis caused by S. tigurinus did not significantly differ from endocarditis caused by other oral streptococci.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s12879-019-3914-6DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6440093PMC
March 2019

Voltage-Dependent Membrane Properties Shape the Size But Not the Frequency Content of Spontaneous Voltage Fluctuations in Layer 2/3 Somatosensory Cortex.

J Neurosci 2019 03 17;39(12):2221-2237. Epub 2019 Jan 17.

Department of Biomedical Engineering, Boston University, Boston, Massachusetts 02215.

Under awake and idling conditions, spontaneous intracellular membrane voltage is characterized by large, synchronous, low-frequency fluctuations. Although these properties reflect correlations in synaptic inputs, intrinsic membrane properties often indicate voltage-dependent changes in membrane resistance and time constant values that can amplify and help to generate low-frequency voltage fluctuations. The specific contribution of intrinsic and synaptic factors to the generation of spontaneous fluctuations, however, remains poorly understood. Using visually guided intracellular recordings of somatosensory layer 2/3 pyramidal cells and interneurons in awake male and female mice, we measured the spectrum and size of voltage fluctuation and intrinsic cellular properties at different voltages. In both cell types, depolarizing neurons increased the size of voltage fluctuations. Amplitude changes scaled with voltage-dependent changes in membrane input resistance. Because of the small membrane time constants observed in both pyramidal cells and interneuron cell bodies, the low-frequency content of membrane fluctuations reflects correlations in the synaptic current inputs rather than significant filtering associated with membrane capacitance. Further, blocking synaptic inputs minimally altered somatic membrane resistance and time constant values. Overall, these results indicate that spontaneous synaptic inputs generate a low-conductance state in which the amplitude, but not frequency structure, is influenced by intrinsic membrane properties. In the absence of sensory drive, cortical activity in awake animals is associated with self-generated and seemingly random membrane voltage fluctuations characterized by large amplitude and low frequency. Partially, these properties reflect correlations in synaptic input. Nonetheless, neurons express voltage-dependent intrinsic properties that can potentially influence the amplitude and frequency of spontaneous activity. Using visually guided intracellular recordings of cortical neurons in awake mice, we measured the voltage dependence of spontaneous voltage fluctuations and intrinsic membrane properties. We show that voltage-dependent changes in membrane resistance amplify synaptic activity, whereas the frequency of voltage fluctuations reflects correlations in synaptic inputs. Last, synaptic activity has a small impact on intrinsic membrane properties in both pyramidal cells and interneurons.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1648-18.2019DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6433761PMC
March 2019

A preliminary checklist of soil ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) of Colombian Amazon.

Biodivers Data J 2018 7(6):e29278. Epub 2018 Nov 7.

Instituto Amazónico de Investigaciones Científicas SINCHI, Leticia, Colombia Instituto Amazónico de Investigaciones Científicas SINCHI Leticia Colombia.

Background: This paper presents an updated list of soil ants of the Colombian Amazon collected in three different river basins: the Amazon, the Caquetá and the Putumayo. The list includes 10 subfamilies, 60 genera and 218 species collected from TSBF monoliths at four different depths (Litter, 0 - 10 cm, 10 - 20 cm and 20 - 30 cm). This updated list increases considerably the knowledge of edaphic macrofauna of the region, due to the limited published information about soil ant diversity in the Colombian Amazon region.

New Information: This is the first checklist of soil ant diversity of the Colombian Amazon region. Six new records of species for Colombia are exposed: (LaPolla, 2004), (Emery, 1906), (Lacau, Villemant & Delabie, 2004), (Forel, 1895), (Forel, 1904) and (Weber, 1937), most of them corresponding to subterranean ants.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3897/BDJ.6.e29278DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6235997PMC
November 2018

A model of cholinergic suppression of hippocampal ripples through disruption of balanced excitation/inhibition.

Hippocampus 2019 09 10;29(9):773-786. Epub 2018 Dec 10.

Department of Bioengineering, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah.

Sharp wave-ripples (140-220 Hz) are patterns of brain activity observed in the local field potential of the hippocampus which are present during memory consolidation. As rodents switch from memory consolidation to memory encoding behaviors, cholinergic inputs to the hippocampus from neurons in the medial septum-diagonal band of Broca cause a marked reduction in ripple incidence. The mechanism for this disruption in ripple power is not fully understood. In isolated neurons, the major effect of cholinergic input on hippocampal neurons is depolarization of the membrane potential, which affects both hippocampal pyramidal neurons and inhibitory interneurons. Using an existing model of ripple-frequency oscillations that includes both pyramidal neurons and interneurons, we investigated the mechanism whereby depolarizing inputs to these neurons can affect ripple power and frequency. We observed that ripple power and frequency are maintained, as long as inputs to pyramidal neurons and interneurons are balanced. Preferential drive to pyramidal neurons or interneurons, however, affects ripple power and can disrupt ripple oscillations by pushing ripple frequency higher or lower. Thus, an imbalance in drive to pyramidal neurons and interneurons provides a means whereby cholinergic input can suppress hippocampal ripples.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/hipo.23051DOI Listing
September 2019

Estimating interaction credit for trophic rewilding in tropical forests.

Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci 2018 10 22;373(1761). Epub 2018 Oct 22.

Departamento de Ecologia, Instituto de Biociências, Universidade Estadual Paulista (UNESP), CP 199, Rio Claro, SP 13506-900, Brazil

Trophic rewilding has been suggested as a restoration tool to restore ecological interactions and reverse defaunation and its cascading effects on ecosystem functioning. One of the ecological processes that has been jeopardized by defaunation is animal-mediated seed dispersal. Here, we propose an approach that combines joint species distribution models with occurrence data and species interaction records to quantify the potential to restore seed-dispersal interactions through rewilding and apply it to the Atlantic Forest, a global biodiversity hotspot. Using this approach, we identify areas that should benefit the most from trophic rewilding and candidate species that could contribute to cash the credit of seed-dispersal interactions in a given site. We found that sites within large fragments bearing a great diversity of trees may have about 20 times as many interactions to be cashed through rewilding as small fragments in regions where deforestation has been pervasive. We also ranked mammal and bird species according to their potential to restore seed-dispersal interactions if reintroduced while considering the biome as a whole and at finer scales. The suggested approach can aid future conservation efforts in rewilding projects in defaunated tropical rainforests.This article is part of the theme issue 'Trophic rewilding: consequences for ecosystems under global change'.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rstb.2017.0435DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6231069PMC
October 2018

Effects of howler monkey reintroduction on ecological interactions and processes.

Conserv Biol 2019 02 24;33(1):88-98. Epub 2018 Oct 24.

Departamento de Ciências Ambientais, Universidade Federal Rural do Rio de Janeiro, 23890-000, Seropédica, RJ, Brazil.

Rewilding has been an increasingly popular tool to restore plant-animal interactions and ecological processes impaired by defaunation. However, the reestablishment of such processes has seldom been assessed. We investigated the restoration of ecological interactions following the reintroduction of the brown howler monkey (Alouatta guariba) to a defaunated Atlantic forest site. We expected the reintroduction to restore plant-animal interactions and interactions between howlers and dung beetles, which promote secondary seed dispersal. We estimated the number of interactions expected to be restored by the reintroduction to provide the baseline interaction richness that could be restored. We followed the reintroduced howler monkeys twice a week for 24 months (337 hours total) to assess their diet. We used howler monkey dung in secondary seed dispersal experiments with 2484 seed mimics to estimate the removal rates by dung beetles and collected the beetles to assess community attributes. We compared the potential future contribution of howler monkeys and other frugivores to seed dispersal based on the seed sizes they disperse in other areas where they occur. In 2 years, howler monkeys consumed 60 animal-dispersed plant species out of the 330 estimated. Twenty-one dung beetle species were attracted to experimentally provided dung; most of them were tunnelers, nocturnal, and large-sized (>10 mm). On average 30% (range 0-100%) of the large seed mimics (14 mm) were moved by dung beetles. About 91% of the species consumed by howlers (size range 0.3-34.3 mm) overlapped in seed size with those removed by dung beetles. In our study area, howler monkeys may consume more large-seeded fruit species than most other frugivores, highlighting their potential to affect forest regeneration. Our results show reintroductions may effectively restore ecological links and enhance ecological processes.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/cobi.13188DOI Listing
February 2019

Treatment characteristics, efficacy and safety of thrombopoietin analogues in routine management of primary immune thrombocytopenia.

Blood Coagul Fibrinolysis 2018 Jun;29(4):374-380

Hematology Department, Regional University Hospital of Málaga.

: Thrombopoietin receptor agonist (TPO-RAs) have demonstrated good efficacy and tolerance in clinical trials in refractory chronic primary immune thrombocytopenia (ITP) or chronic ITP with contraindication for splenectomy. No head-to-head study is available, and differences in trials design do not allow comparisons. Information on the use of TPO-RAs in nonchronic ITP is scant. We described our experience with TPO-RAs in ITP (chronic, persistent and newly diagnosed ITP) in routine clinical practice. Retrospective series of 100 adult ITP patients was analysed; 41 treated with eltrombopag, 37 with romiplostim and 22 with both. Response-related and safety variables were evaluated. With a median follow-up of 86.5 weeks (interquartile range, 34.3-128 weeks), no differences were found in response rate, time to response, stability of response or response duration based on the type of TPO-RA used. Of all, 25% of patients with newly diagnosed or persistent ITP and 7.2% with chronic responded and maintained their response when TPO-RAs were stopped. Regarding safety, two developed bone marrow fibrosis grade 3, with loss of response to both drugs. Incidence of vascular events was 7%. Both TPO-RAs may be useful in all types of ITP, not only chronic but also persistent and newly diagnosed. Similar results were noted in efficacy and safety variables for both drugs.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1097/MBC.0000000000000726DOI Listing
June 2018

Differences in the Electrophysiological Properties of Mouse Somatosensory Layer 2/3 Neurons and Slice Stem from Intrinsic Sources Rather than a Network-Generated High Conductance State.

eNeuro 2018 Mar-Apr;5(2). Epub 2018 Apr 13.

Department of Biomedical Engineering, Boston University, Boston, Massachusetts 02215.

Synaptic activity can potentially alter the integration properties of neurons. Using recordings in awake mice, we targeted somatosensory layer 2/3 pyramidal neurons and compared neuronal properties with those from slices. Pyramidal cells had lower resistance and gain values, as well as broader spikes and increased spike frequency adaptation compared to the same cells in slices. Increasing conductance in neurons using dynamic clamp to levels observed , however, did not lessen the differences between and slice conditions. Further, local application of tetrodotoxin (TTX) blocked synaptic-mediated membrane voltage fluctuations but had little impact on pyramidal cell membrane input resistance and time constant values. Differences in electrophysiological properties of layer 2/3 neurons in mouse somatosensory cortex, therefore, stem from intrinsic sources separate from synaptic-mediated membrane voltage fluctuations.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1523/ENEURO.0447-17.2018DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5898699PMC
January 2019

Differences in the Electrophysiological Properties of Mouse Somatosensory Layer 2/3 Neurons and Slice Stem from Intrinsic Sources Rather than a Network-Generated High Conductance State.

eNeuro 2018 Mar-Apr;5(2). Epub 2018 Apr 13.

Department of Biomedical Engineering, Boston University, Boston, Massachusetts 02215.

Synaptic activity can potentially alter the integration properties of neurons. Using recordings in awake mice, we targeted somatosensory layer 2/3 pyramidal neurons and compared neuronal properties with those from slices. Pyramidal cells had lower resistance and gain values, as well as broader spikes and increased spike frequency adaptation compared to the same cells in slices. Increasing conductance in neurons using dynamic clamp to levels observed , however, did not lessen the differences between and slice conditions. Further, local application of tetrodotoxin (TTX) blocked synaptic-mediated membrane voltage fluctuations but had little impact on pyramidal cell membrane input resistance and time constant values. Differences in electrophysiological properties of layer 2/3 neurons in mouse somatosensory cortex, therefore, stem from intrinsic sources separate from synaptic-mediated membrane voltage fluctuations.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1523/ENEURO.0447-17.2018DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5898699PMC
January 2019

More new records of spider wasps from Colombia (Hymenoptera, Pompilidae).

Zookeys 2017 23(658):89-95. Epub 2017 Feb 23.

Department of Biology, Utah State University, Logan, UT, USA.

Banks, Banks and Haupt are new generic records for Colombia, as well as the species Banks, Banks, and (Smith). Five new combinations are formally endorsed: (Banks), ; (Banks), ; (Evans), ; (Evans), ; (Fox), Although these names have been used in Pompilidae, no formal nomenclatural act had been proposed. The presence of Roig-Alsina, previously reported with uncertainty, is confirmed. Finally, a new combination for (Smith), is proposed based on molecular phylogenetics and morphological data. The Colombian fauna of Pompilidae sums up to 38 genera and approximately 150 species.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3897/zookeys.658.10538DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5396568PMC
February 2017
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