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Open access

Martin Koller

Abstract

The benefit of biodegradable “green plastics” over established synthetic plastics from petro-chemistry, namely their complete degradation and safe disposal, makes them attractive for use in various fields, including agriculture, food packaging, and the biomedical and pharmaceutical sector. In this context, microbial polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHA) are auspicious biodegradable plastic-like polyesters that are considered to exert less environmental burden if compared to polymers derived from fossil resources.

The question of environmental and economic superiority of bio-plastics has inspired innumerable scientists during the last decades. As a matter of fact, bio-plastics like PHA have inherent economic drawbacks compared to plastics from fossil resources; they typically have higher raw material costs, and the processes are of lower productivity and are often still in the infancy of their technical development. This explains that it is no trivial task to get down the advantage of fossil-based competitors on the plastic market. Therefore, the market success of biopolymers like PHA requires R&D progress at all stages of the production chain in order to compensate for this disadvantage, especially as long as fossil resources are still available at an ecologically unjustifiable price as it does today.

Ecological performance is, although a logical argument for biopolymers in general, not sufficient to make industry and the society switch from established plastics to bio-alternatives. On the one hand, the review highlights that there’s indeed an urgent necessity to switch to such alternatives; on the other hand, it demonstrates the individual stages of the production chain, which need to be addressed to make PHA competitive in economic, environmental, ethical, and performance-related terms. In addition, it is demonstrated how new, smart PHA-based materials can be designed, which meet the customer’s expectations when applied, e.g., in the biomedical or food packaging sector.

Open access

Peter M. Eze, Joy C. Nnanna, Ugochukwu Okezie, Happiness S. Buzugbe, Chika C. Abba, Chidimma R. Chukwunwejim, Festus B. C. Okoye and Charles O. Esimone

Abstract

Endophytic fungi associated with Nigerian plants have recently generated significant interest in drug discovery programmes due to their immense potential to contribute to the discovery of new bioactive compounds. This study was carried out to investigate the secondary metabolites of endophytic fungi isolated from leaves of Newbouldia laevis, Ocimum gratissimum, and Carica papaya. The plants were collected from Agulu, Anambra State, South-East Nigeria. Endophytic fungal isolation, fungal fermentation; and extraction of secondary metabolites were carried out using standard methods. The crude extracts were screened for antimicrobial activities using the agar well diffusion method, and were also subjected to high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) analysis to identify their constituents. A total of five endophytic fungi was isolated, two from N. laevis (NL-L1 and NL-L2), one from O. gratissimum (SL-L1), and two from C. papaya (PPL-LAC and PPL-LE2). In the antimicrobial assay, the extracts of NL-L2, SL-L1, and PPL-LE2 displayed mild antibacterial activity against both Gram negative and Gram positive test bacteria. PPL-LAC extract showed mild activity only against S. aureus, while no antimicrobial activity was recorded for NL-L1 extract. All the endophytic fungal extracts showed no activity against the test fungi C. albicans and A. fumigatus. HPLC analysis of the fungal extracts revealed the presence of ethyl 4-hydroxyphenyl acetate and ferulic acid in NL-L1; ruspolinone in NL-L2; protocatechuic acid, scytalone, and cladosporin in SL-L1; indole-3-acetic acid and indole-3-carbaldehyde in PPL-LE2; and indole-3-acetic acid in PPL-LAC. The findings of this study revealed the potentials possessed by these plants as source of endophytes that express biological active compounds. These endophytes hold key of possibilities to the discovery of novel molecules for pharmaceutical, agricultural and industrial applications.

Open access

Manuela-Maria Manziuc, Cristina Gasparik, Marius Negucioiu, Mariana Constantiniuc, Alexandru Burde, Ioana Vlas and Diana Dudea

Abstract

Translucent monolithic zirconia is the newest option of zirconia-based ceramics, which aimed to substitute the opaque classic yttria-stabilized tetragonal zirconia polycrystal (Y-TZPs) in more demanding esthetic cases.

The aim of this review was to assess the available literature regarding the optical, chemical and mechanical properties of translucent zirconia ceramics.

This systematic review was developed according to the PRISMA (Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Review and Meta-analysis) guidelines. An electronic literature search was undertaken through Medline (National Library of Medicine) via PubMed to identify relevant articles, published in the interval 2010-2018. The search was limited to the English language publications, in vitro studies of color and microstructure of translucent zirconia material.

Yttria-stabilized tetragonal zirconia polycrystals (Y-TZPs) has excellent mechanical properties, but its intense white color and high opacity represent an esthetic limit. Cubic zirconia represents a new generation of dental ceramics with molecular structure and physical properties different from the conventional zirconia. Dental manufacturers created new formulations of this restorative material, introducing new cubic varieties of zirconia with improved optical properties. Translucent monolithic zirconia provides a new restorative option that combines strength with improved esthetics, due to its increased translucency. Translucent zirconia is indicated for anterior and posterior restorations but should be used carefully for discolored teeth, because the background color can affect the final esthetic appearance of the restoration.

Open access

Donald K. Martin

Abstract

This paper reports the use of low-frequency ultrasound to influence transport in porous hydrogels with a transducer attached in direct contact with the hydrogel. This is a different configuration than for ultrasound-generating devices utilized previously for enhancing transport of molecules. The advantages of the system reported in this manuscript are that (i) much less acoustic power is required to influence the transport in the hydrogel that is in direct contact with the ultrasonic transducer, and (ii) no cavitation is induced in the hydrogel to influence the transport. This system was first tested in bench-top in vitro experiments by quantifying the transport of gold nanoparticles stimulated by low-frequency ultrasound. Then, to provide an in vivo example for potential biotechology applications, the system was demonstrated to be capable of transporting drugs across the tunics of a rabbit eye into the ocular circulation so as to target the transported drug to the outer retina.

Open access

Evgeni Eltzov, Abri Lavena De Cesarea, ‘Yuen Kei Adarina Low and Robert S. Marks

Abstract

A vast majority of people today spend more time indoors than outdoors. However, the air quality indoors may be as bad as or even worse than the air quality outside. This is due to the continuous circulation of the same air without proper ventilation and filtration systems, causing a buildup of pollutants. As such, indoor air quality monitoring should be considered more seriously. Indoor air quality (IAQ) is a measure of the air quality within and around buildings and relates to the health and comfort of building occupants. To determine the IAQ, computer modeling is done to simulate the air flow and human exposure to the pollutant. Currently, very few instruments are available to measure the indoor air pollution index. In this paper, we will review the list of techniques available for measuring IAQ, but our emphasis will be on indoor air toxicity monitoring.

Open access

Daniela Franz, Manuel Acosta, Núria Altimir, Nicola Arriga, Dominique Arrouays, Marc Aubinet, Mika Aurela, Edward Ayres, Ana López-Ballesteros, Mireille Barbaste, Daniel Berveiller, Sébastien Biraud, Hakima Boukir, Timothy Brown, Christian Brümmer, Nina Buchmann, George Burba, Arnaud Carrara, Allessandro Cescatti, Eric Ceschia, Robert Clement, Edoardo Cremonese, Patrick Crill, Eva Darenova, Sigrid Dengel, Petra D’Odorico, Gianluca Filippa, Stefan Fleck, Gerardo Fratini, Roland Fuß, Bert Gielen, Sébastien Gogo, John Grace, Alexander Graf, Achim Grelle, Patrick Gross, Thomas Grünwald, Sami Haapanala, Markus Hehn, Bernard Heinesch, Jouni Heiskanen, Mathias Herbst, Christine Herschlein, Lukas Hörtnagl, Koen Hufkens, Andreas Ibrom, Claudy Jolivet, Lilian Joly, Michael Jones, Ralf Kiese, Leif Klemedtsson, Natascha Kljun, Katja Klumpp, Pasi Kolari, Olaf Kolle, Andrew Kowalski, Werner Kutsch, Tuomas Laurila, Anne de Ligne, Sune Linder, Anders Lindroth, Annalea Lohila, Bernhard Longdoz, Ivan Mammarella, Tanguy Manise, Sara Maraňón Jiménez, Giorgio Matteucci, Matthias Mauder, Philip Meier, Lutz Merbold, Simone Mereu, Stefan Metzger, Mirco Migliavacca, Meelis Mölder, Leonardo Montagnani, Christine Moureaux, David Nelson, Eiko Nemitz, Giacomo Nicolini, Mats B. Nilsson, Maarten Op de Beeck, Bruce Osborne, Mikaell Ottosson Löfvenius, Marian Pavelka, Matthias Peichl, Olli Peltola, Mari Pihlatie, Andrea Pitacco, Radek Pokorný, Jukka Pumpanen, Céline Ratié, Corinna Rebmann, Marilyn Roland, Simone Sabbatini, Nicolas P.A. Saby, Matthew Saunders, Hans Peter Schmid, Marion Schrumpf, Pavel Sedlák, Penelope Serrano Ortiz, Lukas Siebicke, Ladislav Šigut, Hanna Silvennoinen, Guillaume Simioni, Ute Skiba, Oliver Sonnentag, Kamel Soudani, Patrice Soulé, Rainer Steinbrecher, Tiphaine Tallec, Anne Thimonier, Eeva-Stiina Tuittila, Juha-Pekka Tuovinen, Patrik Vestin, Gaëlle Vincent, Caroline Vincke, Domenico Vitale, Peter Waldner, Per Weslien, Lisa Wingate, Georg Wohlfahrt, Mark Zahniser and Timo Vesala

Abstract

Research infrastructures play a key role in launching a new generation of integrated long-term, geographically distributed observation programmes designed to monitor climate change, better understand its impacts on global ecosystems, and evaluate possible mitigation and adaptation strategies. The pan-European Integrated Carbon Observation System combines carbon and greenhouse gas (GHG; CO2, CH4, N2O, H2O) observations within the atmosphere, terrestrial ecosystems and oceans. High-precision measurements are obtained using standardised methodologies, are centrally processed and openly available in a traceable and verifiable fashion in combination with detailed metadata. The Integrated Carbon Observation System ecosystem station network aims to sample climate and land-cover variability across Europe. In addition to GHG flux measurements, a large set of complementary data (including management practices, vegetation and soil characteristics) is collected to support the interpretation, spatial upscaling and modelling of observed ecosystem carbon and GHG dynamics. The applied sampling design was developed and formulated in protocols by the scientific community, representing a trade-off between an ideal dataset and practical feasibility. The use of open-access, high-quality and multi-level data products by different user communities is crucial for the Integrated Carbon Observation System in order to achieve its scientific potential and societal value.

Open access

Sigrid Dengel, Alexander Graf, Thomas Grünwald, Markus Hehn, Pasi Kolari, Mikaell Ottosson Löfvenius, Lutz Merbold, Giacomo Nicolini and Marian Pavelka

Abstract

Precipitation is one of the most important abiotic variables related to plant growth. Using standardised measurements improves the comparability and quality of precipitation data as well as all other data within the Integrated Carbon Observation System network. Despite the spatial and temporal variation of some types of precipitation, a single point measurement satisfies the requirement as an ancillary variable for eddy covariance measurements. Here the term precipitation includes: rain, snowfall (liquid water equivalent) and snow depth, with the latter two being of interest only where occurring. Weighing gauges defined as Integrated Carbon Observation System standard with the capacity of continuously measuring liquid and solid precipitation are installed free-standing, away from obstacles obstructing rain or snowfall. In order to minimise wind-induced errors, gauges are shielded either naturally or artificially to reduce the adverse effect of wind speed on the measurements. Following standardised methods strengthens the compatibility and comparability of data with other standardised environmental observation networks while opening the possibility for synthesis studies of different precipitation measurement methodologies and types including a wide range of ecosystems and geolocations across Europe.

Open access

Eiko Nemitz, Ivan Mammarella, Andreas Ibrom, Mika Aurela, George G. Burba, Sigrid Dengel, Bert Gielen, Achim Grelle, Bernard Heinesch, Mathias Herbst, Lukas Hörtnagl, Leif Klemedtsson, Anders Lindroth, Annalea Lohila, Dayle K. McDermitt, Philip Meier, Lutz Merbold, David Nelson, Giacomo Nicolini, Mats B. Nilsson, Olli Peltola, Janne Rinne and Mark Zahniser

Abstract

Commercially available fast-response analysers for methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O) have recently become more sensitive, more robust and easier to operate. This has made their application for long-term flux measurements with the eddy-covariance method more feasible. Unlike for carbon dioxide (CO2) and water vapour (H2O), there have so far been no guidelines on how to optimise and standardise the measurements. This paper reviews the state-of-the-art of the various steps of the measurements and discusses aspects such as instrument selection, setup and maintenance, data processing as well as the additional measurements needed to aid interpretation and gap-filling. It presents the methodological protocol for eddy covariance measurements of CH4 and N2O fluxes as agreed for the ecosystem station network of the pan-European Research Infrastructure Integrated Carbon Observation System and provides a first international standard that is suggested to be adopted more widely. Fluxes can be episodic and the processes controlling the fluxes are complex, preventing simple mechanistic gap-filling strategies. Fluxes are often near or below the detection limit, requiring additional care during data processing. The protocol sets out the best practice for these conditions to avoid biasing the results and long-term budgets. It summarises the current approach to gap-filling.

Open access

Marian Pavelka, Manuel Acosta, Ralf Kiese, Núria Altimir, Christian Brümmer, Patrick Crill, Eva Darenova, Roland Fuß, Bert Gielen, Alexander Graf, Leif Klemedtsson, Annalea Lohila, Bernhard Longdoz, Anders Lindroth, Mats Nilsson, Sara Maraňón Jiménez, Lutz Merbold, Leonardo Montagnani, Matthias Peichl, Mari Pihlatie, Jukka Pumpanen, Penelope Serrano Ortiz, Hanna Silvennoinen, Ute Skiba, Patrik Vestin, Per Weslien, Dalibor Janous and Werner Kutsch

Abstract

Chamber measurements of trace gas fluxes between the land surface and the atmosphere have been conducted for almost a century. Different chamber techniques, including static and dynamic, have been used with varying degrees of success in estimating greenhouse gases (CO2, CH4, N2O) fluxes. However, all of these have certain disadvantages which have either prevented them from providing an adequate estimate of greenhouse gas exchange or restricted them to be used under limited conditions. Generally, chamber methods are relatively low in cost and simple to operate. In combination with the appropriate sample allocations, chamber methods are adaptable for a wide variety of studies from local to global spatial scales, and they are particularly well suited for in situ and laboratory-based studies. Consequently, chamber measurements will play an important role in the portfolio of the Pan-European long-term research infrastructure Integrated Carbon Observation System. The respective working group of the Integrated Carbon Observation System Ecosystem Monitoring Station Assembly has decided to ascertain standards and quality checks for automated and manual chamber systems instead of defining one or several standard systems provided by commercial manufacturers in order to define minimum requirements for chamber measurements. The defined requirements and recommendations related to chamber measurements are described here.

Open access

Dominique Arrouays, Nicolas P.A. Saby, Hakima Boukir, Claudy Jolivet, Céline Ratié, Marion Schrumpf, Lutz Merbold, Bert Gielen, Sébastien Gogo, Nicolas Delpierre, Gaëlle Vincent, Katja Klumpp and Denis Loustau

Abstract

There is an urgent need for standardized monitoring of existing soil organic carbon stocks in order to accurately quantify potential negative or positive feedbacks with climate change on carbon fluxes. Given the uncertainty of flux measurements at the ecosystem scale, obtaining precise estimates of changes in soil organic carbon stocks is essential to provide an independent assessment of long-term net ecosystem carbon exchange. Here we describe the standard procedure to monitor the soil organic carbon stocks within the footprint of an eddy covariance flux tower, as applied at ecosystem stations of the Integrated Carbon Observation System. The objectives are i) to ensure comparability between sites and to be able to draw general conclusions from the results obtained across many ecosystems and ii) to optimize the sampling design in order to be able to prove changes in time using a reduced number of samples. When sampling a given site at two periods, the objective is generally to assess if changes occurred in time. The changes that can be detected (i.e., demonstrated as statistically significant) depend on several parameters such as the number of samples, the spatial sampling design, and the inherent within-site soil variability. Depending on these parameters, one can define the ‘minimum detectable change’ which is the minimum value of changed that can be statistically proved. Using simulation studies, we address the trade-off between increasing the number of samples and getting lower minimum detectable changes of soil organic carbon stocks.