Publications by authors named "Pilar Prieto"

143 Publications

Current EU regulatory requirements for the assessment of chemicals and cosmetic products: challenges and opportunities for introducing new approach methodologies.

Arch Toxicol 2021 Apr 13. Epub 2021 Apr 13.

Directorate F-Health, Consumers and Reference Materials, Unit F3 Chemicals Safety and Alternative Methods, European Commission, Joint Research Centre (JRC), Via E. Fermi, 2749. TP126, 21027, Ispra, VA, Italy.

The EU Directive 2010/63/EU   on the protection of animals used for scientific purposes and other EU regulations, such as REACH and the Cosmetic Products Regulation advocate for a change in the way toxicity testing is conducted. Whilst the Cosmetic Products Regulation bans animal testing altogether, REACH aims for a progressive shift from in vivo testing towards quantitative in vitro and computational approaches. Several endpoints can already be addressed using non-animal approaches including skin corrosion and irritation, serious eye damage and irritation, skin sensitisation, and mutagenicity and genotoxicity. However, for systemic effects such as acute toxicity, repeated dose toxicity and reproductive and developmental toxicity, evaluation of chemicals under REACH still heavily relies on animal tests. Here we summarise current EU regulatory requirements for the human health assessment of chemicals under REACH and the Cosmetic Products Regulation, considering the more critical endpoints and identifying the main challenges in introducing alternative methods into regulatory testing practice. This supports a recent initiative taken by the International Cooperation on Alternative Test Methods (ICATM) to summarise current regulatory requirements specific for the assessment of chemicals and cosmetic products for several human health-related endpoints, with the aim of comparing different jurisdictions and coordinating the promotion and ultimately the implementation of non-animal approaches worldwide. Recent initiatives undertaken at European level to promote the 3Rs and the use of alternative methods in current regulatory practice are also discussed.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00204-021-03034-yDOI Listing
April 2021

Integration of data across toxicity endpoints for improved safety assessment of chemicals: the example of carcinogenicity assessment.

Arch Toxicol 2021 Apr 8. Epub 2021 Apr 8.

European Commission, Joint Research Centre (JRC), Via E. Fermi 2749, 21027, Ispra, VA, Italy.

In view of the need to enhance the assessment of consumer products called for in the EU Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability, we developed a methodology for evaluating hazard by combining information across different systemic toxicity endpoints and integrating the information with new approach methodologies. This integrates mechanistic information with a view to avoiding redundant in vivo studies, minimising reliance on apical endpoint tests and ultimately devising efficient testing strategies. Here, we present the application of our methodology to carcinogenicity assessment, mapping the available information from toxicity test methods across endpoints to the key characteristics of carcinogens. Test methods are deconstructed to allow the information they provide to be organised in a systematic way, enabling the description of the toxicity mechanisms leading to the adverse outcome. This integrated approach provides a flexible and resource-efficient means of fully exploiting test methods for which test guidelines are available to fulfil regulatory requirements for systemic toxicity assessment as well as identifying where new methods can be integrated.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00204-021-03035-xDOI Listing
April 2021

Assessing the Involvement of Selected Phenotypes of PICF7 in Olive Root Colonization and Biological Control of .

Plants (Basel) 2021 Feb 23;10(2). Epub 2021 Feb 23.

Departamento de Protección de Cultivos, Instituto de Agricultura Sostenible, Agencia Estatal Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC), Avenida Menéndez Pidal s/n, Campus "Alameda del Obispo", 14004 Córdoba, Spain.

PICF7 is an indigenous inhabitant of the olive ( L.) rhizosphere/root endosphere and an effective biocontrol agent against Verticillium wilt of olive (VWO), caused by the soil-borne fungus . This study aimed to evaluate the potential involvement of selected phenotypes of strain PICF7 in root colonization ability and VWO biocontrol. Therefore, a random transposon-insertion mutant bank of PICF7 was screened for the loss of phenotypes likely involved in rhizosphere/soil persistence (copper resistance), root colonization (biofilm formation) and plant growth promotion (phytase activity). Transposon insertions in genes putatively coding for the transcriptional regulator CusR or the chemotaxis protein CheV were found to affect copper resistance, whereas an insertion in gene putatively encoding a flagellar regulatory protein hampered the ability to form a biofilm. However, these mutants displayed the same antagonistic effect against as the parental strain. Remarkably, two mutants impaired in biofilm formation were never found inside olive roots, whereas their ability to colonize the root exterior and to control VWO remained unaffected. Endophytic colonization of olive roots was unaltered in mutants impaired in copper resistance and phytase production. Results demonstrated that the phenotypes studied were irrelevant for VWO biocontrol.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/plants10020412DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7926765PMC
February 2021

The Value of Non-Referential Gestures: A Systematic Review of Their Cognitive and Linguistic Effects in Children's Language Development.

Children (Basel) 2021 Feb 17;8(2). Epub 2021 Feb 17.

Department of Translation and Language Sciences, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, 08018 Barcelona, Spain.

Speakers produce both referential gestures, which depict properties of a referent, and non-referential gestures, which lack semantic content. While a large number of studies have demonstrated the cognitive and linguistic benefits of referential gestures as well as their precursor and predictive role in both typically developing (TD) and non-TD children, less is known about non-referential gestures in cognitive and complex linguistic domains, such as narrative development. This paper is a systematic review and narrative synthesis of the research concerned with assessing the effects of non-referential gestures in such domains. A search of the literature turned up 11 studies, collectively involving 898 2- to 8-year-old TD children. Although they yielded contradictory evidence, pointing to the need for further investigations, the results of the six studies-in which experimental tasks and materials were pragmatically based-revealed that non-referential gestures not only enhance information recall and narrative comprehension but also act as predictors and causal mechanisms for narrative performance. This suggests that their bootstrapping role in language development is due to the fact that they have important discourse-pragmatic functions that help frame discourse. These findings should be of particular interest to teachers and future studies could extend their impact to non-TD children.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/children8020148DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7922730PMC
February 2021

Influence of chemical and electronic inhomogeneities of Graphene/Copper on the growth of oxide thin films: the ZnO/Graphene/Copper case.

Nanotechnology 2021 Jan 28. Epub 2021 Jan 28.

Applied Physics, Autonomous University of Madrid, Madrid, Madrid, SPAIN.

The interaction of graphene with metal oxides is essential for understanding and controlling new devices' fabrication based on these materials. The growth of metal oxides on graphene/substrate systems constitutes a challenging task due to the graphene surface's hydrophobic nature. In general, different pre-treatments should be performed before deposition to ensure a homogenous growth depending on the deposition technique, the metal oxide, and the surface's specific nature. Among these factors, the initial state and interaction of graphene with its substrate is the most important. Therefore, it is imperative to study the initial local state of graphene and relate it to the early stages of metal oxides' growth characteristics. Taking as initial samples graphene grown by chemical vapor deposition on polycrystalline Cu sheets and then exposed to ambient conditions, this article presents a local study of the inhomogeneities of this air-exposed graphene and how they influence on the subsequent ZnO growth. Firstly, by spatially correlating Raman and X-ray photoemission spectroscopies at the micro and nanoscales, it is shown how chemical species present in air intercalate inhomogeneously between Graphene and Cu. The reason for this is precisely the polycrystalline nature of the Cu support. Moreover, these local inhomogeneities also affect the oxidation level of the uppermost layer of Cu and, consequently, the electronic coupling between graphene and the metallic substrate. In second place, through the same characterization techniques, it is shown how the initial state of graphene/Cu sheets influences the local inhomogeneities of the ZnO deposit during the early stages of growth in terms of both, stoichiometry and morphology. Finally, as a proof of concept, it is shown how altering the initial chemical state and interaction of Graphene with Cu can be used to control the properties of the ZnO deposits.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1088/1361-6528/abe0e8DOI Listing
January 2021

Mechanical Processing of Naturally Bent Organic Crystalline Microoptical Waveguides and Junctions.

Small 2021 Jan 23;17(3):e2006795. Epub 2020 Dec 23.

School of Chemistry, University of Hyderabad, Prof. C. R. Rao Road, Gachibowli, Hyderabad, 50046, India.

Precise mechanical processing of optical microcrystals involves complex microscale operations viz. moving, bending, lifting, and cutting of crystals. Some of these mechanical operations can be implemented by applying mechanical force at specific points of the crystal to fabricate advanced crystalline optical junctions. Mechanically compliant flexible optical crystals are ideal candidates for the designing of such microoptical junctions. A vapor-phase growth of naturally bent optical waveguiding crystals of 1,4-bis(2-cyanophenylethynyl)benzene (1) on a surface forming different optical junctions is presented. In the solid-state, molecule 1 interacts with its neighbors via CH⋅⋅⋅N hydrogen bonding and π-π stacking. The microcrystals deposited at a glass surface exhibit moderate flexibility due to substantial surface adherence energy. The obtained network crystals also display mechanical compliance when cut precisely with sharp atomic force microscope cantilever tip, making them ideal candidates for building innovative T- and Δ-shaped optical junctions with multiple outputs. The presented micromechanical processing technique can also be effectively used as a tool to fabricate single-crystal integrated photonic devices and circuits on suitable substrates.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/smll.202006795DOI Listing
January 2021

Beat Gestures for Comprehension and Recall: Differential Effects of Language Learners and Native Listeners.

Front Psychol 2020 19;11:575929. Epub 2020 Oct 19.

Grup d'Estudis de Prosòdia, Department of Translation and Language Sciences, Pompeu Fabra University, Barcelona, Spain.

Previous work has shown how native listeners benefit from observing iconic gestures during speech comprehension tasks of both degraded and non-degraded speech. By contrast, effects of the use of gestures in non-native listener populations are less clear and studies have mostly involved iconic gestures. The current study aims to complement these findings by testing the potential beneficial effects of beat gestures (non-referential gestures which are often used for information- and discourse marking) on language recall and discourse comprehension using a narrative-drawing task carried out by native and non-native listeners. Using a within-subject design, 51 French intermediate learners of English participated in a narrative-drawing task. Each participant was assigned 8 videos to watch, where a native speaker describes the events of a short comic strip. Videos were presented in random order, in four conditions: in Native listening conditions with frequent, naturally-modeled beat gestures, in Native listening conditions without any gesture, in Non-native listening conditions with frequent, naturally-modeled beat gestures, and in Non-native listening conditions without any gesture. Participants watched each video twice and then immediately recreated the comic strip through their own drawings. Participants' drawings were then evaluated for discourse comprehension (via their ability to convey the main goals of the narrative through their drawings) and recall (via the number of gesturally-marked elements in the narration that were included in their drawings). Results showed that for native listeners, beat gestures had no significant effect on either recall or comprehension. In non-native speech, however, beat gestures led to significantly lower comprehension and recall scores. These results suggest that frequent, naturally-modeled beat gestures in longer discourses may increase cognitive load for language learners, resulting in negative effects on both memory and language understanding. These findings add to the growing body of literature that suggests that gesture benefits are not a "one-size-fits-all" solution, but rather may be contingent on factors such as language proficiency and gesture rate, particularly in that whenever beat gestures are repeatedly used in discourse, they inherently lose their saliency as markers of important information.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2020.575929DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7605175PMC
October 2020

Hand Gestures Facilitate the Acquisition of Novel Phonemic Contrasts When They Appropriately Mimic Target Phonetic Features.

J Speech Lang Hear Res 2020 11 22;63(11):3571-3585. Epub 2020 Oct 22.

Department of Translation and Language Sciences, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona, Spain.

Purpose Research has shown that observing hand gestures mimicking pitch movements or rhythmic patterns can improve the learning of second language (L2) suprasegmental features. However, less is known about the effects of hand gestures on the learning of novel phonemic contrasts. This study examines (a) whether hand gestures mimicking phonetic features can boost L2 segment learning by naive learners and (b) whether a mismatch between the hand gesture form and the target phonetic feature influences the learning effect. Method Fifty Catalan native speakers undertook a short multimodal training session on two types of Mandarin Chinese consonants (plosives and affricates) in either of two conditions: Gesture and No Gesture. In the Gesture condition, a fist-to-open-hand gesture was used to mimic air burst, while the No Gesture condition included no such use of gestures. Crucially, while the hand gesture appropriately mimicked the air burst produced in plosives, this was not the case for affricates. Before and after training, participants were tested on two tasks, namely, the identification task and the imitation task. Participants' speech output was rated by five Chinese native speakers. Results The perception results showed that training with or without gestures yielded similar degrees of improvement for the identification of aspiration contrasts. By contrast, the production results showed that, while training without gestures did not help improve L2 pronunciation, training with gestures improved pronunciation, but only when the given gestures appropriately mimicked the phonetic properties they represented. Conclusions Results revealed that the efficacy of observing hand gestures on the learning of nonnative phonemes depends on the appropriateness of the form of those gestures relative to the target phonetic features. That is, hand gestures seem to be more useful when they appropriately mimic phonetic features. Supplemental Material https://doi.org/10.23641/asha.13105442.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1044/2020_JSLHR-20-00084DOI Listing
November 2020

Sequence analysis of wheat subtelomeres reveals a high polymorphism among homoeologous chromosomes.

Plant Genome 2020 11 7;13(3):e20065. Epub 2020 Oct 7.

Plant Breeding Department, Institute for Sustainable Agriculture, Agencia Estatal Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC), Alameda del Obispo s/n, Apartado 4084, Córdoba, 14080, Spain.

Bread wheat, Triticum aestivum L., is one of the most important crops in the world. Understanding its genome organization (allohexaploid; AABBDD; 2n = 6x = 42) is essential for geneticists and plant breeders. Particularly, the knowledge of how homologous chromosomes (equivalent chromosomes from the same genome) specifically recognize each other to pair at the beginning of meiosis, the cellular process to generate gametes in sexually reproducing organisms, is fundamental for plant breeding and has a big influence on the fertility of wheat plants. Initial homologous chromosome interactions contribute to specific recognition and pairing between homologues at the onset of meiosis. Understanding the molecular basis of these critical processes can help to develop genetic tools in a breeding context to promote interspecific chromosome associations in hybrids or interspecific genetic crosses to facilitate the transfer of desirable agronomic traits from related species into a crop like wheat. The terminal regions of chromosomes, which include telomeres and subtelomeres, participate in chromosome recognition and pairing. We present a detailed molecular analysis of subtelomeres of wheat chromosome arms 1AS, 4AS, 7AS, 7BS and 7DS. Results showed a high polymorphism in the subtelomeric region among homoeologues (equivalent chromosomes from related genomes) for all the features analyzed, including genes, transposable elements, repeats, GC content, predicted CpG islands, recombination hotspots and targeted sequence motifs for relevant DNA-binding proteins. These polymorphisms might be the molecular basis for the specificity of homologous recognition and pairing in initial chromosome interactions at the beginning of meiosis in wheat.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/tpg2.20065DOI Listing
November 2020

Making better use of toxicity studies for human health by extrapolating across endpoints.

ALTEX 2020 07 28;37(4):519-531. Epub 2020 Jul 28.

European Commission, Joint Research Centre (JRC), Ispra, Italy; former JRC trainee

To develop and evaluate scientifically robust and innovative approaches for the safety assessment of chemicals across multiple regulatory sectors, the EU Reference Laboratory for alternatives to animal testing (EURL ECVAM) has started a project to explore how to better use the available information, including that from existing animal studies. The aim is to minimize reliance on in vivo testing to avoid redundancy and to facilitate the integration of novel non-animal methods in the regulatory setting with the ultimate goal of designing sustainable testing strategies. In this thought-starter paper, we present a number of examples to illustrate and trigger further discussions within the scientific and regulatory communities on ways to extrapolate useful information for predicting toxicity from one toxicity endpoint to another or across endpoints based on mechanistic information.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.14573/altex.2005061DOI Listing
July 2020

Encouraging kids to beat: Children's beat gesture production boosts their narrative performance.

Dev Sci 2020 11 15;23(6):e12967. Epub 2020 Apr 15.

Department of Translation and Language Sciences, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain.

Gesture is an integral part of language development. While recent evidence shows that observing a speaker who is simultaneously producing beat gestures helps preschoolers remember and understand information and also improves the production of oral narratives, little is known about the potential value of encouraging children to produce beat gestures-as opposed to merely observing them. In this between-subjects pretest-posttest training study we examine whether encouraging children to produce beats can boost their narrative performance. A total of 47 5- to 6-year-old children were divided into two groups and exposed to a training session in which a total of six stories were presented under one of two experimental conditions: (a) the children merely observed video-recordings of a storyteller who used beat gestures and were then asked to retell the narratives; or (b) the children observed the same video-recordings and then retold the narratives but were encouraged to simultaneously use their hands in the same way the storytellers did. Pretests and posttests consisting of children's narrations of short animated cartoons were analysed for narrative structure and fluency. A comparison of scores showed that children in the group that had been encouraged to use beat gestures in the training phase performed better in both narrative structure and fluency than the group of children who were simply asked to retell the story without gesture instruction. These findings suggest that linguistically relevant body movements serve to boost language development and that embodied storytelling can be of help in narrative training.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/desc.12967DOI Listing
November 2020

Identification and validation of reference genes for RT-qPCR normalization in wheat meiosis.

Sci Rep 2020 02 17;10(1):2726. Epub 2020 Feb 17.

Plant Breeding Department, Institute for Sustainable Agriculture, Agencia Estatal Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC), Alameda del Obispo s/n, Apartado 4084, 14080, Córdoba, Spain.

Meiosis is a specialized type of cell division occurring in sexually reproducing organisms to generate haploid cells known as gametes. In flowering plants, male gametes are produced in anthers, being encased in pollen grains. Understanding the genetic regulation of meiosis key events such as chromosome recognition and pairing, synapsis and recombination, is needed to manipulate chromosome associations for breeding purposes, particularly in important cereal crops like wheat. Reverse transcription-quantitative PCR (RT-qPCR) is widely used to analyse gene expression and to validate the results obtained by other transcriptomic analyses, like RNA-seq. Selection and validation of appropriate reference genes for RT-qPCR normalization is essential to obtain reproducible and accurate expression data. In this work, twelve candidate reference genes were evaluated using the mainstream algorithms geNorm, Normfinder, BestKeeper and ΔCt, then ranked from most to least suitable for normalization with RefFinder. Different sets of reference genes were recommended to normalize gene expression data in anther meiosis of bread and durum wheat, their corresponding genotypes in the absence of the Ph1 locus and for comparative studies among wheat genotypes. Comparisons between meiotic (anthers) and somatic (leaves and roots) wheat tissues were also carried out. To the best of our knowledge, our study provides the first comprehensive list of reference genes for robust RT-qPCR normalization to study differentially expressed genes during male meiosis in wheat in a breeding framework.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41598-020-59580-5DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7026057PMC
February 2020

Fluorene-Based Donor-Acceptor Copolymers Containing Functionalized Benzotriazole Units: Tunable Emission and their Electrical Properties.

Polymers (Basel) 2020 Jan 22;12(2). Epub 2020 Jan 22.

Department of Organic Chemistry, Faculty of Chemical Sciences and Technologies-IRICA, University of Castilla-La Mancha, Ciudad Real 13071, Spain.

Monomers 4,7-dibromo-2-benzo[]1,2,3-triazole () and 4,7-(bis(-bromophenyl)ethynyl)-2-benzo[]1,2,3-triazole () have been synthesized in good yields using different procedures. Monomers and have been employed for building new copolymers of fluorene derivatives by a Suzuki reaction under microwave irradiation using the same conditions. In each case different chain lengths have been achieved, while gives rise to polymers for oligomers have been obtained (with a number of monomer units lower than 7). Special interest has been paid to their photophysical properties due to excited state properties of these D-A units alternates, which have been investigated by density functional theory (DFT) calculations using two methods: (i) An oligomer approach and (ii) by periodic boundary conditions (PBC). It is highly remarkable the tunability of the photophysical properties as a function of the different monomer functionalization derived from 2-benzo[]1,2,3-triazole units. In fact, a strong modulation of the absorption and emission properties have been found by functionalizing the nitrogen N-2 of the benzotriazole units or by elongation of the π-conjugated core with the introduction of alkynylphenyl groups. Furthermore, the charge transport properties of these newly synthesized macromolecules have been approached by their implementation in organic field-effect transistors (OFETs) in order to assess their potential as active materials in organic optoelectronics.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/polym12020256DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7077272PMC
January 2020

Analytical Methodology of Meiosis in Autopolyploid and Allopolyploid Plants.

Methods Mol Biol 2020 ;2061:141-168

Departamento de Genética, Fisiología y Microbiología, Facultad de Biología, Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Madrid, Spain.

Meiosis is the cellular process responsible for producing gametes with half the genetic content of the parent cells. Integral parts of the process in most diploid organisms include the recognition, pairing, synapsis, and recombination of homologous chromosomes, which are prerequisites for balanced segregation of half-bivalents during meiosis I. In polyploids, the presence of more than two sets of chromosomes adds to the basic meiotic program of their diploid progenitors the possibility of interactions between more than two chromosomes and the formation of multivalents, which has implications on chromosome segregations and fertility. The mode of how chromosomes behave in meiosis in competitive situations has been the aim of many studies in polyploid species, some of which are considered here. But polyploids are also of interest in the study of meiosis because some of them tolerate the loss of chromosome segments or complete chromosomes as well as the addition of chromosomes from related species. Deletions allow to assess the effect of specific chromosome segments on meiotic behavior. Introgression lines are excellent materials to monitor the behavior of a given chromosome in the genetic background of the recipient species. We focus on this approach here as based on studies carried out in bread wheat, which is commonly used as a model species for meiosis studies. In addition to highlighting the relevance of the use of materials derived from polyploids in the study of meiosis, cytogenetics tools such as fluorescence in situ hybridization and the immunolabeling of proteins interacting with DNA are also emphasized.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4939-9818-0_11DOI Listing
December 2020

Extended Alkenyl and Alkynyl Benzotriazoles with Enhanced Two-Photon Absorption Properties as a Promising Alternative to Benzothiadiazoles.

Chemistry 2019 Dec 4;25(68):15572-15579. Epub 2019 Nov 4.

Departamento de Química Orgánica., Universidad de Málaga-IBIMA, Campus de Teatinos s/n, 29071, Malaga, Spain.

A series of donor-π-acceptor-π-donor (D-π-A-π-D) benzoazole dyes with 2H-benzo[d][1,2,3]triazole or BTD cores have been prepared and their photophysical properties characterized. The properties of these compounds display remarkable differences, mainly as a result of the electron-donor substituent. Dyes with the best properties have visible-light absorption over λ=400 nm, large Stokes shifts in the range of about 3500-6400 cm , and good fluorescence emission with quantum yields of up to 0.78. The two-photon absorption properties were also studied to establish the relationship between structure and properties in the different compounds synthesized. These results provided cross sections of up to 1500 GM, with a predominance of S ←S transitions and a high charge-transfer character. Time-dependent DFT calculations supported the experimental results.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/chem.201903493DOI Listing
December 2019

Tuning the Néel temperature in an antiferromagnet: the case of NiCoO microstructures.

Sci Rep 2019 Sep 19;9(1):13584. Epub 2019 Sep 19.

Instituto de Química Física Rocasolano (CSIC), Madrid, E-28006, Spain.

We show that it is possible to tune the Néel temperature of nickel(II)-cobalt(II) oxide films by changing the Ni to Co ratio. We grow single crystalline micrometric triangular islands with tens of nanometers thickness on a Ru(0001) substrate using high temperature oxygen-assisted molecular beam epitaxy. Composition is controlled by adjusting the deposition rates of Co and Ni. The morphology, shape, crystal structure and composition are determined by low-energy electron microscopy and diffraction, and synchrotron-based x-ray absorption spectromicroscopy. The antiferromagnetic order is observed by x-ray magnetic linear dichroism. Antiferromagnetic domains up to micrometer width are observed.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41598-019-49642-8DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6753089PMC
September 2019

Finding synergies for the 3Rs - Repeated Dose Toxicity testing: Report from an EPAA Partners' Forum.

Regul Toxicol Pharmacol 2019 Nov 31;108:104470. Epub 2019 Aug 31.

Royal DSM N.V., P.O. Box 6500, 6401 JH, Heerlen, the Netherlands. Electronic address:

The European Partnership for Alternative Approaches to Animal Testing (EPAA) convened a Partners' Forum on repeated dose toxicity (RDT) testing to identify synergies between industrial sectors and stakeholders along with opportunities to progress these in existing research frameworks. Although RTD testing is not performed across all industrial sectors, the OECD accepted tests can provide a rich source of information and play a pivotal role for safety decisions relating to the use of chemicals. Currently there are no validated alternatives to repeated dose testing and a direct one-to-one replacement is not appropriate. However, there are many projects and initiatives at the international level which aim to implement various aspects of replacement, reduction and refinement (the 3Rs) in RDT testing. Improved definition of use, through better problem formulation, aligned to harmonisation of regulations is a key area, as is the more rapid implementation of alternatives into the legislative framework. Existing test designs can be optimised to reduce animal use and increase information content. Greater use of exposure-led decisions and improvements in dose selection will be beneficial. In addition, EPAA facilitates sharing of case studies demonstrating the use of Next Generation Risk Assessment applying various New Approach Methodologies to assess RDT.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.yrtph.2019.104470DOI Listing
November 2019

Effects of Encouraging the Use of Gestures on Speech.

J Speech Lang Hear Res 2019 09 3;62(9):3204-3219. Epub 2019 Sep 3.

Institució Catalana de Recerca i Estudis Avançats, Barcelona, Spain.

Purpose Previous studies have investigated the effects of the inability to produce hand gestures on speakers' prosodic features of speech; however, the potential effects of encouraging speakers to gesture have received less attention, especially in naturalistic settings. This study aims at investigating the effects of encouraging the production of hand gestures on the following speech correlates: speech discourse length (number of words and discourse length in seconds), disfluencies (filled pauses, self-corrections, repetitions, insertions, interruptions, speech rate), and prosodic properties (measures of fundamental frequency [F0] and intensity). Method Twenty native Italian speakers took part in a narration task in which they had to describe the content of short comic strips to a confederate listener in 1 of the following 2 conditions: (a) nonencouraging condition (N), that is, no instructions about gesturing were given, and (b) encouraging condition (E), that is, the participants were instructed to gesture while telling the story. Results Instructing speakers to gesture led effectively to higher gesture rate and salience. Significant differences were found for (a) discourse length (e.g., the narratives had more words in E than in N) and (b) acoustic measures (F0 maximum, maximum intensity, and mean intensity metrics were higher in E than in N). Conclusion The study shows that asking speakers to use their hands while describing a story can have an effect on narration length and can also impact on F0 and intensity metrics. By showing that enhancing the gesture stream could affect speech prosody, this study provides further evidence that gestures and prosody interact in the process of speech production.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1044/2019_JSLHR-S-18-0493DOI Listing
September 2019

Gestural and Prosodic Development Act as Sister Systems and Jointly Pave the Way for Children's Sociopragmatic Development.

Front Psychol 2019 12;10:1259. Epub 2019 Jun 12.

Institució Catalana de Recerca i Estudis Avançats, Barcelona, Spain.

Children might combine gesture and prosody to express a pragmatic meaning such as a request, information focus, uncertainty or politeness, before they can convey these meanings in speech. However, little is known about the developmental trajectories of gestural and prosodic patterns and how they relate to a child's growing understanding and propositional use of these sociopragmatic meanings. Do gesture and prosody act as sister systems in pragmatic development? Do children acquire these components of language before they are able to express themselves through spoken language, thus acting as forerunners in children's pragmatic development? This review article assesses empirical evidence that demonstrates that gesture and prosody act as intimately related systems and, importantly, pave the way for pragmatic acquisition at different developmental stages. The review goes on to explore how the integration of gesture and prosody with semantics and syntax can impact language acquisition and how multimodal interventions can be used effectively in educational settings. Our review findings support the importance of simultaneously assessing both the prosodic and the gestural components of language in the fields of language development, language learning, and language intervention.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2019.01259DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6581748PMC
June 2019

Efficient colonization of the endophytes Herbaspirillum huttiense RCA24 and Enterobacter cloacae RCA25 influences the physiological parameters of Oryza sativa L. cv. Baldo rice.

Environ Microbiol 2019 May 20. Epub 2019 May 20.

Institute of Biosciences and BioResources, via P. Castellino 111, 80131 Naples, Italy.

Several important bacterial characteristics, such as biological nitrogen fixation, phosphate solubilisation, 1-aminocyclopropane-1-carboxylate deaminase activity, and production of siderophores and phytohormones, can be assessed as plant growth promotion traits. Our aim was to evaluate the effects of nitrogen-fixing and indole-3-acetic acid (IAA) producing endophytes in two Oryza sativa cultivars (Baldo and Vialone Nano). Three bacteria, Herbaspirillum huttiense RCA24, Enterobacter asburiae RCA23 and Staphylococcus sp. 377, producing different IAA levels, were tested for their ability to enhance nifH gene expression and nitrogenase activity in Enterobacter cloacae RCA25. Results showed that H. huttiense RCA24 performed best. Improvement in nitrogen-fixation and changes in physiological parameters such as chlorophyll, nitrogen content and shoot dry weight were observed for plants co-inoculated with strains RCA25 and RCA24 in a 10:1 ratio. Based on confocal laser scanning microscopy analysis, strain RCA24 was the best colonizer of the root interior and the only IAA producer located in the same root niche occupied by RCA25 cells. This work shows that the choice of a bio-inoculum having the right composition is one of the key aspects to be considered for the inoculation of a specific host plant cultivar with microbial consortia. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/1462-2920.14688DOI Listing
May 2019

The development of polite stance in preschoolers: how prosody, gesture, and body cues pave the way.

J Child Lang 2019 May 17:1-38. Epub 2019 May 17.

Departament de Traducció i Ciències del Llenguatge,Universitat Pompeu Fabra,Barcelona,Catalunya.

Gesture and prosody are considered to be important precursors in early language development. In the present study, we ask whether those cues play a similar role later in children's acquisition of more complex pragmatic skills, such as politeness. 64 three- to five-year-old Catalan-dominant children participated in a request production task in four different conditions. They were prompted to request an object from either a classmate or an unfamiliar adult experimenter, with the implied cost of the request to the receiver's face thus being either high or low. Results showed that these preschool-age children used mitigating prosodic and gestural strategies to encode politeness earlier and more often than they used lexical or morphosyntactic markers, and that those cues develop incrementally during the preschool years. These findings suggest that prosody, gesture, and other body signals are an essential first step in the development of children's socio-pragmatic competence.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0305000919000126DOI Listing
May 2019

Insights into in vitro biokinetics using Virtual Cell Based Assay simulations.

ALTEX 2019 28;36(3):447-461. Epub 2019 Mar 28.

European Commission, Joint Research Centre, Ispra, Italy.

The Virtual Cell Based Assay (VCBA) is an in silico model that simulates the biokinetics of chemicals in in vitro test systems. Simulations by the VCBA can indicate the degree to which the bioavailable concentration varies across chemicals and experimental conditions, thereby providing important contextual information when comparing the results of different in vitro toxicity experiments. The simulated results can also be used to support in vitro to in vivo extrapolation of toxicity data, especially when the VCBA is coupled to a physiologically based kinetic model. The VCBA requires only a limited number of physicochemical properties as input parameters to model the fate of a chemical in the in vitro environment; optionally, in vitro toxicity concentration-response curves can be used to optimise the toxicity and effects model. In this work, we selected 83 chemicals previously tested in vitro and used the in vitro data to optimise the toxicity and effects model, simulating the 3T3 BALB/c cell line in a 96-well microplate with 5% serum supplementation. We then used the optimised parameters to simulate alternative experimental conditions. By incorporating a diverse group of chemicals, the simulations show the impact of different physicochemical properties on chemical fate and how the different partitioning (to protein, lipid and plastic) and kinetic (evaporation and degradation) events are intrinsically connected. The results of VCBA simulations were interpreted in the light of the domain of applicability of the different QSARs incorporated in the model and the underlying assumptions and uncertainties of the VCBA.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.14573/altex.1812101DOI Listing
January 2020

Mycovirus Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. dianthi Virus 1 Decreases the Colonizing Efficiency of Its Fungal Host.

Front Cell Infect Microbiol 2019 12;9:51. Epub 2019 Mar 12.

Departamento de Protección de Cultivos, Instituto de Agricultura Sostenible, Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Cientificas, Córdoba, Spain.

Mycoviruses that induce hypovirulence in phytopathogenic fungi are interesting because their potential use as biological control agents of the plant diseases caused by their fungal hosts. The recently identified chrysovirus Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. dianthi virus 1 (FodV1) has been associated to the induction of hypovirulence in f. sp. dianthi, the forma specialis of that causes vascular wilt in carnation (). In this work, we have used confocal laser scanner microscopy and two isogenic GFP-labeled strains of f. sp. infected (V) and not infected (V) with the Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. dianthi virus 1, respectively, to analyze the effect of mycovirus FodV1 on the plant colonization pattern of its fungal host. Results demonstrate that FodV1-viral infection affects the speed and spatial distribution of fungal colonization into the plant. Initial stages of external root colonization were similar for both strains, but the virus-free strain colonized the internal plant tissues faster than the virus-infected strain. In addition, other differences related to the specific zone colonized and the density of colonization were observed between both f. sp. strains. The hyphae of both V and V strains progressed up through the xylem vessels but differences in the number of vessels colonized and of hyphae inside them were found. Moreover, as colonization progressed, V and V hyphae propagated horizontally reaching the central medulla but, while the virus-free strain V densely colonized the interior of the medulla cells, the virus-infected strain V appeared mainly in the intercellular spaces and with a lower density of colonization. Finally, the incidence of FodV1-viral infections in a collection of 221 isolates sampled between 2008 and 2012 in the geographic area where the originally infected isolate was obtained has been also analyzed. The very low (<2%) incidence of viral infections is discussed here. To the best of our knowledge, this work provides the first microscopic evidence about the effect of a hypovirulence-inducing mycovirus on the pattern of plant colonization by its fungal host.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fcimb.2019.00051DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6422920PMC
November 2019

Serum Creatine Kinase in Patients with Neuromyelitis Optica Spectrum Disorder.

J Neuroimmunol 2019 05 23;330:87-89. Epub 2018 Dec 23.

Wayne State University, Detroit Medical Center, Detroit, USA.

Objectives: There have been reports of elevated serum creatine kinase (CK) and myopathy in patients with Neuromyelitis Optica Spectrum Disorder (NMOSD). Such findings have raised the possibility that myopathies may be a part of the spectrum of NMOSD. The incidence of elevated CK in NMOSD remains unknown. We sought to assess the potential association between hyperCKemia, myopathy, and NMOSD, and the potential role of screening for muscle involvement using serum CK.

Methods: We reviewed records of all aquaporin 4 (AQP4) antibody-seropositive and seronegative NMOSD patients who had CK levels evaluated at two major academic medical centers.

Results: Of 199 total NMOSD patients, CK levels were checked in 43, and elevated, on at least one occasion, in 4. In 1 patient, CK was elevated during an NMO exacerbation. A myopathic process occurring with NMOSD was suggested in 2 of 4 patients in the form of symptomatic complaint of myalgias and associated MRI signal change.

Discussion: Unexplained hyperCKemia was found on one or more occasion in 4 of 43 tested NMOSD patients. Testing NMOSD patients for serum CK may reveal otherwise unsuspected myopathy. More formally powered, prospective assessment of the incidence and utility of CK in NMOSD is needed.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jneuroim.2018.12.008DOI Listing
May 2019

Structure and magnetism of ultrathin nickel-iron oxides grown on Ru(0001) by high-temperature oxygen-assisted molecular beam epitaxy.

Sci Rep 2018 Dec 19;8(1):17980. Epub 2018 Dec 19.

Alba Synchrotron Light Facility, CELLS, Barcelona, E-08290, Spain.

We demonstrate the preparation of ultrathin Fe-rich nickel ferrite (NFO) islands on a metal substrate. Their nucleation and growth are followed in situ by low-energy electron microscopy (LEEM). A comprehensive characterization is performed combining LEEM for structural characterization and PEEM (PhotoEmission Electron Microscopy) with synchrotron radiation for chemical and magnetic analysis via X-ray Absorption Spectroscopy and X-ray Magnetic Circular Dichroism (XAS-PEEM and XMCD-PEEM, respectively). The growth by oxygen-assisted molecular beam epitaxy takes place in two stages. First, islands with the rocksalt structure nucleate and grow until they completely cover the substrate surface. Later three-dimensional islands of spinel phase grow on top of the wetting layer. Only the spinel islands show ferromagnetic contrast, with the same domains being observed in the Fe and Ni XMCD images. The estimated magnetic moments of Fe and Ni close to the islands surface indicate a possible role of the bi-phase reconstruction. A significant out-of-plane magnetization component was detected by means of XMCD-PEEM vector maps.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41598-018-36356-6DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6299276PMC
December 2018

Observing storytellers who use rhythmic beat gestures improves children's narrative discourse performance.

Dev Psychol 2019 Feb 29;55(2):250-262. Epub 2018 Nov 29.

Institucio Catalana de Recerca i Estudis Avancats (ICREA).

Iconic and pointing gestures are important precursors of children's early language and cognitive development. While beat gestures seem to have positive effects on the recall of information by preschoolers, little is known about the potential beneficial effects of observing beat gestures on the development of children's narrative performance. We tested 44 5- and 6-year-old children in a between-subject study with a pretest-posttest design. After a pretest in which they were asked to retell the story of an animated cartoon they had watched, the children were exposed to a training session in which they observed an adult telling a total of 6 1-min stories under 2 between-subject experimental conditions: (a) a , where focal elements in the narratives were not highlighted by means of beat gestures; and (b) a , in which focal elements were highlighted by beat gestures. After the training session, a posttest was administered following the same procedure as the pretest. Narrative structure scores were independently coded from recordings of the pretest and posttest and subjected to statistical comparisons. The results revealed that children who were exposed to the beat condition showed a higher gain in narrative structure scores. This study thus shows for the first time that a brief training session with beat gestures has immediate benefits for children's narrative discourse performance. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved).
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/dev0000604DOI Listing
February 2019

One science-driven approach for the regulatory implementation of alternative methods: A multi-sector perspective.

Regul Toxicol Pharmacol 2018 Nov 8;99:33-49. Epub 2018 Aug 8.

European Commission, Joint Research Centre (JRC), Via E. Fermi 2749, 21017, Ispra, Italy.

EU regulations call for the use of alternative methods to animal testing. During the last decade, an increasing number of alternative approaches have been formally adopted. In parallel, new 3Rs-relevant technologies and mechanistic approaches have increasingly contributed to hazard identification and risk assessment evolution. In this changing landscape, an EPAA meeting reviewed the challenges that different industry sectors face in the implementation of alternative methods following a science-driven approach. Although clear progress was acknowledged in animal testing reduction and refinement thanks to an integration of scientifically robust approaches, the following challenges were identified: i) further characterization of toxicity pathways; ii) development of assays covering current scientific gaps, iii) better characterization of links between in vitro readouts and outcome in the target species; iv) better definition of alternative method applicability domains, and v) appropriate implementation of the available approaches. For areas having regulatory adopted alternative methods (e.g., vaccine batch testing), harmonised acceptance across geographical regions was considered critical for broader application. Overall, the main constraints to the application of non-animal alternatives are the still existing gaps in scientific knowledge and technological limitations. The science-driven identification of most appropriate methods is key for furthering a multi-sectorial decrease in animal testing.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.yrtph.2018.08.002DOI Listing
November 2018

Investigating cell type specific mechanisms contributing to acute oral toxicity.

ALTEX 2019 12;36(1):39-64. Epub 2018 Jul 12.

EU Commission Joint Research Centre (JRC), Ispra, Italy.

The replacement of animals in acute systemic toxicity testing remains a considerable challenge. Only animal data are currently accepted by regulators, including data generated by reduction and refinement methods. The development of Integrated Approaches to Testing and Assessment (IATA) is hampered by an insufficient understanding of the numerous toxicity pathways that lead to acute systemic toxicity. Therefore, central to our work has been the collection and evaluation of the mechanistic information on eight organs identified as relevant for acute systemic toxicity (nervous system, cardiovascular system, liver, kidney, lung, blood, gastrointestinal system and immune system). While the nervous and cardiovascular systems are the most frequent targets, no clear relationship emerged between specific mechanisms of target organ toxicity and the level (category) of toxicity. From a list of 114 chemicals with acute oral in vivo and in vitro data, 98 were identified with target organ specific effects, of which 93% were predicted as acutely toxic by the 3T3 neutral red uptake cytotoxicity assay and 6% as non-toxic. This analysis will help to prioritise the development of adverse outcome pathways for acute oral toxicity, which will support the assessment of chemicals using mechanistically informed IATA.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.14573/altex.1805181DOI Listing
April 2019

Pathway-based predictive approaches for non-animal assessment of acute inhalation toxicity.

Toxicol In Vitro 2018 Oct 20;52:131-145. Epub 2018 Jun 20.

Procter & Gamble Co, 11530 Reed Hartman Highway, Cincinnati, OH 45241, United States.

New approaches are needed to assess the effects of inhaled substances on human health. These approaches will be based on mechanisms of toxicity, an understanding of dosimetry, and the use of in silico modeling and in vitro test methods. In order to accelerate wider implementation of such approaches, development of adverse outcome pathways (AOPs) can help identify and address gaps in our understanding of relevant parameters for model input and mechanisms, and optimize non-animal approaches that can be used to investigate key events of toxicity. This paper describes the AOPs and the toolbox of in vitro and in silico models that can be used to assess the key events leading to toxicity following inhalation exposure. Because the optimal testing strategy will vary depending on the substance of interest, here we present a decision tree approach to identify an appropriate non-animal integrated testing strategy that incorporates consideration of a substance's physicochemical properties, relevant mechanisms of toxicity, and available in silico models and in vitro test methods. This decision tree can facilitate standardization of the testing approaches. Case study examples are presented to provide a basis for proof-of-concept testing to illustrate the utility of non-animal approaches to inform hazard identification and risk assessment of humans exposed to inhaled substances.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.tiv.2018.06.009DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6760245PMC
October 2018

Homoeologous Chromosomes From Two Species Can Recognize and Associate During Meiosis in Wheat in the Presence of the Locus.

Front Plant Sci 2018 1;9:585. Epub 2018 May 1.

Plant Breeding Department, Institute for Sustainable Agriculture, Agencia Estatal Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC), Córdoba, Spain.

Understanding the system of a basic eukaryotic cellular mechanism like meiosis is of fundamental importance in plant biology. Moreover, it is also of great strategic interest in plant breeding since unzipping the mechanism of chromosome specificity/pairing during meiosis will allow its manipulation to introduce genetic variability from related species into a crop. The success of meiosis in a polyploid like wheat strongly depends on regular pairing of homologous (identical) chromosomes and recombination, processes mainly controlled by the locus. This means that pairing and recombination of related chromosomes rarely occur in the presence of this locus, making difficult wheat breeding trough the incorporation of genetic variability from related species. In this work, we show that wild and cultivated barley chromosomes associate in the wheat background even in the presence of the locus. We have developed double monosomic wheat lines carrying two chromosomes from two barley species for the same and different homoeology chromosome group, respectively. Genetic hybridization revealed that homoeologous chromosomes recognize each other and pair during early meiosis in wheat. However, crossing over does not occur at any time and they remained always as univalents during meiosis metaphase I. Our results suggest that the locus does not prevent chromosome recognition and pairing but crossing over between homoeologous. The role of subtelomeres in chromosome recognition is also discussed.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fpls.2018.00585DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5938817PMC
May 2018