Latest Articles

  • Section: Mathematical & Computational Biology ; Topics: Agricultural sciences, Ecology, Computer sciences

    A workflow for processing global datasets: application to intercropping

    10.24072/pcjournal.389 - Peer Community Journal, Volume 4 (2024), article no. e24.

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    Field experiments are a key source of data and knowledge in agricultural research. An emerging practice is to compile the measurements and results of these experiments (rather than the results of publications, as in meta-analysis) into global datasets. Our aim in the present study was to provide several methodological paths related to the design of global datasets. We considered 37 field experiments as the use case for designing a global dataset and illustrated how tidying and disseminating the data are the first steps towards open science practices. We developed a method to identify complete factorial designs within global datasets using tools from graph theory. We discuss the position of global datasets in the continuum between data and knowledge, compared to other approaches such as meta-analysis. We advocate using global datasets more widely in agricultural research.

  • Section: Network Science ; Topics: Psychological and cognitive sciences, Applied mathematics, Health sciences

    The Complexity of Social Networks in Healthy Aging: Novel Metrics and Their Associations with Psychological Well-Being

    10.24072/pcjournal.388 - Peer Community Journal, Volume 4 (2024), article no. e23.

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    Social networks play a crucial role in promoting healthy aging, yet the intricate mechanisms connecting social capital to health present a complex challenge. Additionally, the majority of social network analysis studies focusing on older adults typically concentrate on the participants' individual relationships, often overlooking the interconnections between these relationships. In this study, we went further than current ego-centered network studies by determining global social network metrics and the structure of relationships among older adult participants of the RECORD Cohort using the Veritas-Social questionnaire. The aim of this study is to identify key dimensions of social networks of older adults, and to evaluate how these dimensions relate to depressive symptoms, life satisfaction, and well-being. Using Principal Component Analyses (PCA), we identified four social network dimensions with psychological meanings. Dimension 1 (homophily) was positively linked with perceived accessibility to services in one’s residential neighborhood but this same dimension was negatively linked with the level of study (i.e., Bachelor, Master, PhD, etc.). Dimension 2 (social integration) and Dimension 3 (social support) were only linked to the number of people living (being in the same residence) with ego (i.e. the interviewed participant). Dimension 4 was linked with perceived accessibility to local services. Finally, and rather surprisingly, we found that none of the four network dimensions, even the degree, were linked to the three health status metrics.

  • Section: Evolutionary Biology ; Topics: Evolution, Microbiology, Plant biology

    How to survive the mutational meltdown: lessons from plant RNA viruses

    10.24072/pcjournal.379 - Peer Community Journal, Volume 4 (2024), article no. e22.

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    Muller's ratchet refers to the irreversible accumulation of deleterious mutations in small populations, resulting in a decline in overall fitness. This phenomenon has been extensively observed in experiments involving microorganisms, including bacteriophages and yeast. While the impact of Muller’s ratchet on viruses has been largely studied in bacteriophages and animal RNA viruses, its effects on plant RNA viruses remain poorly documented. Plant RNA viruses give rise to large and diverse populations that undergo significant bottlenecks during the colonization of distant tissues or through vector-mediated horizontal transmission. In this study, we aim to investigate the role of bottleneck size, the maximum population size between consecutive bottlenecks, and the generation of genetic diversity in countering the effects of Muller’s ratchet. We observed three distinct evolutionary outcomes for tobacco etch virus under three different demographic conditions: (i) a decline in fitness following periodic severe bottlenecks in Chenopodium quinoa, (ii) a consistent fitness level with moderate bottlenecks in C. quinoa, and (iii) a net increase in fitness when severe bottlenecks in C. quinoa were alternated with large population expansions in Nicotiana tabacum. By fitting empirical data to an in silico simulation model, we found that initiating a lesion in C. quinoa required only 1-5 virions, and approximately 40 new virions were produced per lesion. These findings demonstrate that Muller's ratchet can be halted not only by increasing the number of founder viruses but also by incorporating phases of exponential growth to large populations between bottlenecks. Such population expansions generate genetic diversity, serving as a buffer against, and potentially even leveraging, the effects of genetic drift.

  • Human African trypanosomosis (HAT), also known as sleeping sickness, is still a major concern in endemic countries. Its cyclical vector are biting insects of the genus Glossina or tsetse flies. In Guinea, the mangrove ecosystem contains the main HAT foci of Western Africa. There, the cyclical vector is Glossina palpalis gambiensis. A still ongoing vector control campaign (VCC) started in 2011 in the focus of Boffa, using tiny targets, with a 79% tsetse density reduction in 2016 and significant impact on the prevalence of the disease (from 0.3% in 2011 to 0.11% in 2013, 0.0352% in 2016 and 0.0097% in 2019). To assess the sustainability of these results, we have studied the impact of this VCC on the population biology of G. p. gambiensis in Boffa. We used the genotyping at 11 microsatellite markers and population genetic tools of tsetse flies from different sites and at different dates before and after the beginning of the VCC. In variance with a significant impact of VCC on the apparent densities of flies captured in the traps deployed, the global population of G. p. gambiensis displayed no variation of the sex-ratio, no genetic signature of control, and behaved as a very large population occupying the entire zone. This implies that targets deployment efficiently protected the human populations locally, but did not impact tsetse flies where targets cannot be deployed and where the main tsetse population exploits available resources. We thus recommend the pursuit of vector control measures with the same strategy, through the joint effect of VCC and medical surveys and treatments, in order to protect human populations from HAT infections until the disease can be considered as entirely eradicated from the focus.

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