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The fitness consequences of inbreeding have attracted the attention of biologists since the time its harmful effects were first recognized by Charles Darwin. Although inbreeding depression has been a central theme in biological research for over a century, little is known about its underlying molecular basis. With the generation of vast amounts of DNA sequence information and the advent of microarrays we are now able to describe biological processes from a total genomic perspective. This article reviews the ways in which microarrays have advanced our understanding of the molecular basis of inbreeding depression, including our first look at the number of genes associated with inbreeding depression, which genes or functional classes of genes are responsible for the decrease in fitness associated with inbreeding, the underlying cause of inbreeding depression—overdominance or partially recessive deleterious alleles—and environmental influences on gene-expression patterns.
Induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) can be derived from many mouse and human somatic cell types by forced expression of a small number of defined reprogramming factors. This technology holds great promue for patient-specific cell therapy. However, the current technology for generating pluripotent cells by gene transduction is impractical for producing a clinically reliable stem-cell source. As a research tool, iPSC technology would undoubtedly stimulate the development of human disease research and provide an unprecedented opportunity for tumor research. This review presents the biological features of iPSCs by comparing them with embryonic stem cells, and we discuss several key issues around the production of clinically reliable iPSCs by summarizing the research to date. Finally, we explore how iPSC technology could be extensively applied in human disease research, including research on tumors.
Contemporary land-use pressures have a significant impact on the extent and condition of forests in the eastern United States, causing a regional-scale decline in forest cover. Earlier in the 20th century, land cover was on a trajectory of forest expansion that followed agricultural abandonment. However, the potential for forest regeneration has slowed, and the extent of regional forest cover has declined by more than 4.0%. Using remote-sensing data, statistical sampling, and change-detection methods, this research shows how land conversion varies spatially and temporally across the East from 1973–2000, and how those changes affect regional land-change dynamics. The analysis shows that agricultural land use has continued to decline, and that this enables forest recovery; however, an important land-cover transition has occurred, from a mode of regional forest-cover gain to one of forest-cover loss caused by timber cutting cycles, urbanization, and other land-use demands.
Europe and North America share a similar history in the extirpation and subsequent recovery of large carnivore and ungulate species. Both continents face challenges and opportunities for managing human-wildlife conflict at the junction of livestock production and wildlife conservation. Predation of livestock and disease transmission between wildlife and livestock is an ongoing and escalating worldwide issue. In order to manage this conflict, producers need effective tools, and they have used livestock protection dogs (LPDs) for reducing predation for well over 2000 years. We review the history of the use of LPDs, including the loss of information on their use and the paucity of scientific research on their effectiveness. We discuss the potential for LPDs to be integral components in modern-day livestock husbandry and outline future directions to pursue.
In this article, I argue that conservation science in its role of advocate for the natural world could profitably draw from site-specific histories that integrate human and natural histories. Both fields analyze the dynamic interaction of structure and process. In East Africa's Eastern Arc Mountains, where forests contain high levels of species endemism and biological diversity, the prevailing historical paradigm from conservation science represents today's forests as surviving fragments of much larger forests. This view builds upon a century-long tradition of scientific scholarship that has developed theories for the evolution of Eastern Arc forests that encompass geological time scales. However, the relatively brief, millennialscale land-use history of the mountains, insofar as it is currently understood, suggests that human manipulation of forest biota involved periods of deforestation and regeneration, as well as the introduction of exotic plants.