IPA Recipients for March 2019

Jake Ivan P. Baquiran and Cecilia Conaco
Marine Science Institute
College of Science
UP Diliman

Sponge-microbe partnerships are stable under eutrophication pressure from mariculture. Marine Pollution Bulletin. 136:125-134.

The location of the study sites in Bolinao

Gelliodes obtusa, a marine sponge typically found in the seagrass beds in Bolinao, Pangasinan

Marine sponges are important members of marine ecosystems as they serve as biofilters that can clean the surrounding waters. These sedentary organisms provide refuge for both macro- and microorganisms (symbionts). The intimate relationship between sponges and their symbiotic microbes is important for the health of both the host sponge and the symbionts. But just like any other relationship, this association can be affected by the environmental disturbances that cause the breakdown of the interactions between the sponges and microbes. This, in turn, can influence the function of the association and, subsequently, the health, abundance, and distribution patterns of the host sponge. To directly assess the influence of nutrient levels on the microbial community of a sponge, we transplanted fragments of the marine sponge Gelliodes obtusa from its natural habitat in a seagrass bed to a eutrophic fish farm, as well as to an oligotrophic coral reef site, in Bolinao, Pangasinan. Sponge fragments grown at the fish farm exhibited the greatest increase in length after several weeks compared to fragments from the other sites. The microbial community diversity did not change significantly upon transplantation to fish farm. However, more copies of the ammonia monooxygenase gene, a bacterial enzyme involved in ammonia oxidation, were detected in the fish farm sponges, indicating a response to elevated ammonium levels in the area. The stable association between G. obtusa and its microbiome indicates that the sponge and its associated microbes can withstand eutrophication pressure from the extensive fish farm activity.

Significance:
This study reveals the stable association of the sponge Gelliodes obtusa with its associated microbial community even under eutrophic conditions. The ability of the sponge and its microbes to thrive in a high nutrient environment highlights their resilience to eutrophic stress. The findings of the study point towards the potential applications of this sponge or the microorganisms within its tissues in the clearance of organic matter and nutrients from mariculture areas affected by organic pollution. This sponge may act as a biofilter for sea-based culture or as sponge farms in integrated multitrophic aquaculture to minimize pollution from fish farming activities. In addition, the resistance of the sponge-associated microbial community to invasion of opportunistic microbes even under poor water quality conditions suggests that the community includes members that can produce antimicrobials, which makes G. obtusa a potential source of these bioactive compounds.

Link to the article: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0025326X18306507
Impact factor: (2017/2018) 3.241


Binoe E. Abuan
Department of Mechanical Engineering
College of Engineering
UP Diliman

The performance and hydrodynamics in unsteady flow to the performance of horizontal axis tidal turbine, Renewable Energy, Volume 133C, January 2019, Pages 1338-1351, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.renene.2018.09.045

Current designs of horizontal axis tidal turbine in the market are based on steady flow calculations. It means that the fluctuation of the water velocity due to turbulence and other factors are neglected and are assumed to be non-existent to certain levels. The study looks at the effect of water flows that are not steady to the performance output of the HAWT. Comparison with steady flow calculations has been made and results showed that there is a significant decrease in the average performance of HAWT in unsteady flows. Knowing this, designers and engineers can now include this effect of unsteadiness when creating new iterations of current tidal energy extraction devices in the market.

Significance:
The study shows the hydrodynamics of tidal turbines in unsteady flow which is not usually presented because of the complexity of the fluid problem. The results of the study will give new insights and considerations when it comes to design and analysis of horizontal axis tidal turbine performance as this study is the closest we can get to real flow analysis.

Link to the article: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.renene.2018.09.045
Impact factor: (2017/2018) 4.900


Benny Marie B. Ensano, Mark Daniel G. de Luna and Florencio C. Ballesteros Jr.
Environmental Engineering Program
College of Engineering
UP Diliman

Applicability of the electrocoagulation process in treating real municipal wastewater containing pharmaceutical active compounds. Journal of hazardous materials, 361, 367-373.

Electrocoagulation process involves the formation of coagulants when electricity is applied to sacrificial anodes and cathodes. These coagulants are in the form of metal hydroxo species which have the ability to destabilize colloidal contaminants and adsorbed dissolved compounds from wastewater. Using aluminum and stainless steel plates as anode and cathode, respectively, we varied some experimental parameters namely electricity application mode, current density, initial pharmaceutical concentration and electrolysis duration, in order to know their effects on pharmaceutical removal. Diclofenac, carbamazepine and amoxicillin were chosen in this study as representative therapeutic drugs most frequently detected in waters and which have proven to cause cytological effects on aquatic and terrestrial organisms. They are spiked into the real municipal wastewater prior to electrochemical treatment. From the results obtained in this study, high pharmaceutical abatement was achieved at elevated current density and prolonged electrolysis duration due to the additional electro-generated coagulant species in the solution. Moreover, intermittent application of electric field is more cost and energy effective compared to continuous mode.

Significance:
This research provides a promising alternative in the treatment of not just conventional water pollutants but also some recalcitrant compounds (i.e. pharmaceuticals) in real municipal wastewater. Pharmaceuticals are known to cause adverse physiological effects to terrestrial and aquatic biota, hence, the removal of these compounds in the effluent prior to discharge into water matrices is significant to wildlife and human health.

Link to the article: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jhazmat.2018.07.093
Impact factor: (2017/2018) 6.434


Angelo Gabriel E. Buenaventura1 and Allan Christopher C. Yago2
1Institute of Chemistry
2National Sciences Research Institute
College of Science
UP Diliman

Chemiluminescence detection of chlorpyrifos via Luminol-H2O2-Ferricyanide system using Microcontroller-based Photometer, Philippine Journal of Science, 147(4), 763-773

In this study, we have fabricated low-cost microcontroller based photometer for chemiluminescence detection of chlorpyrifos (CPF). Chemiluminescence (CL) is a light emitting phenomenon due to a chemical reaction. In our system, we used reagents such as luminol, hydrogen peroxide (H2O2), and potassium ferricyanide {K3[Fe(CN)6}, to induce CL. H2O2 is known as a strong oxidant and can oxidize various organic compounds including CPF. In our developed CL method, the intensity of light produced via CL is decreased upon the presence of CPF, due to the fact that CPF can react to H2O2, thus leading to CL reactant consumption. Aside from CPF, H2O¬2 can also oxidize other organophosphate including fenitrothion (FNT), which gave similar response to CPF. Non-organophasphate pesticides such as atrazine (ATZ) and 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4-D) do not react with H2O2 or with the rest of CL reactants, thus their presence in solution did not gave appreciable change in CL response as compared to blank solution. The change in CL intensity (ΔICL) was observed to have linear correlation with CPF concentration. The limit of detection (LOD) of the studied system using the low-cost photometer for CPF determination was found to be equal to 0.663ppm (1.89µM).

Significance:
We have fabricated a low-cost photometer based on microcontroller and developed a chemiluminescence method of determination of pesticide chlorpyrifos. Our low-cost microcontroller can easily be operated with a personnel of minimal knowledge on computers and electronics. Our chemiluminescence method is selective towards organophosphate compounds such as chlorpyrifos and fenitrothion. Thereby, our chemiluminescence method can be used for determination of total organophosphate.

Patent applied for: Low-cost microcontroller based photometer for chemiluminescence detection of organophosphate (Utility Model)

Link to the article: http://philjournalsci.dost.gov.ph/79-vol-147-no-4-december-2018/851-chemiluminescence-detection-of-chlorpyrifos-via-luminol-h2o2-ferricyanide-system-using-microcontroller-based-photometer
Impact factor: Not yet available


Genevieve L. Serrano and Gil M. Penuliar
Institute of Biology
College of Science
UP Diliman

Prevalence, antibiogram and virulence gene profiles of uropathogenic Escherichia coli from pregnant women with urinary tract infection. Philippine Science Letters. 11 (Supplement): 059-068

Pregnant women are at a greater risk of getting urinary tract infections (UTIs) compared to other population groups. UTIs in pregnant women can lead to complications such as premature birth, low birth weight in babies, and even neonatal and maternal death. These infections are commonly caused by the microorganism Escherichia coli. Out of the 90 pregnant women who participated in this study, 19 were found to have a significant number of bacteria in their urine (UTI-positive). Majority of those who are UTI-positive were found to harbor E. coli. Overall, 29 out of 90 were found to have E. coli in their urine. Our work shows a high incidence of drug resistance among these E. coli isolates; 20 were found to be resistant to at least one antibiotic, with 7 of them noted to be resistant to 3 or more antibiotics. Only 2 isolates were completely inhibited by the antibiotics used. Results show that fosfomycin can be prescribed by clinicians as an alternative drug in the treatment of UTIs in pregnant women. Additionally, adhesion traits that enable E. coli to successfully establish itself in the genitourinary tract of pregnant women have been detected among the isolates. These adhesion traits facilitate the persistence of E. coli in the urinary tract, which can eventually lead to infections.

Significance:
Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are commonly caused by the uropathogenic bacterium Escherichia coli (UPEC). These infections occur most often in women, and pregnancy is considered a significant risk factor. Maternal UTIs have been associated with adverse outcomes such as preterm birth, low birth weight and even neonatal and maternal mortality. Current treatment options for UTIs in pregnant women are limited due to the increased risk of miscarriage or fetal abnormalities.

This research work provides a basic measure of the burden of UTIs in the pregnant population, as well as information on the persistence of UPEC, which is important in the understanding of its pathogenesis. Additionally, there is a need to determine the susceptibility or resistance profiles of UPEC, especially with the growing problem of antibiotic resistance, in order to inform or update clinicians as to what antibiotics should be used in the treatment regimens they prescribe. Overall, this work promotes understanding of drug resistance in common microorganisms and addresses knowledge gaps on current drug resistance levels and antibiotic usage locally. The data can also become part of surveillance and monitoring efforts so that an action plan can be initiated.

Link to the article: http://www.philsciletters.org/2018-special-issue-8.html
Impact factor: Not yet available


John Justine S. Villar
Department of Computer Science
College of Engineering
UP Diliman

Formation of Acetamide in Interstellar Medium. Molecular Astrophysics, 2018 (in press). DOI: 10.1016/j.mlap.2018.06.002

One of the regions in the universe is the interstellar medium (ISM), where over 180 different molecules have been detected. Within ISM, there is the dense molecular cloud, where temperature and pressure pose an extreme environment for molecules, thus a major site for the formation of molecules. It is then interesting if acetamide, the largest molecule containing a peptide bond and considered to be a precursor for amino acids, is possible to form in the ISM. Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins and the latter is present in various levels of known biological organization.

In this paper, a case study of acetamide is presented here, to introduce a new method to determine its possible formation reaction pathways in ISM based on the molecular formula of a species. All possible species with the same molecular formula as acetamide but with different connectivity, the so-called constitutional isomers of the molecule (198 structures, 91 unique species), were created and studied under the extreme conditions of dense molecular clouds. Based on the stability of the uni- and bimolecular species, there are eight reactions that were proposed which could led to the formation of acetamide in the ISM.

Significance:
In 2015, Barone et al. found out that the formation of formamide could be a radiative association reaction between formaldehyde and protonated ammonia with dissociative electron recombination (Quan and Herbst, 2007). In another study, a neutral-neutral reaction was found to be a promising reaction type for formamide formation (Redondo et al., 2013). Finally, in 2006, Hollis et al. detected acetamide (CH3CONH2) in Sagittarius B2, a giant molecular cloud in the interstellar medium (Hollis et al., 2006). This is a significant discovery as acetamide is the largest molecule in the interstellar space containing a peptide bond. Acetamide is also considered as the precursor of amino acids, which are the building blocks of proteins (Yang and Pan, 2015). This will provide preliminary results as to whether formamide formation is possible in interstellar medium, and hopefully will shed light if amino acids can be formed as well in this region of space.

Link to the article: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.molap.2018.06.002
Impact factor: Not yet available


Vicente Y. Belizario Jr.
Department of Parasitology
College of Public Health
UP Manila

Diagnostic tools for soil-transmitted helminths control and elimination programs: A pathway for diagnostic product development. PLoS Negl Trop Dis, 12(3). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pntd.0006213.

The soil-transmitted helminth (STH) community has started exploring opportunities to strengthen the STH control program’s ability to monitor changes in prevalence of infection, potentially to a reduction that is sustained below transmission breakpoints. These aspirations require surveys of the targeted populations, and the aim of the hypothetical use-cases was to simulate STH program decisions requiring diagnostic information. Four broad decision points were used to categorize each use-case against a hypothetical reduction in population-level infection resulting from program intervention. These four points include: (a) Determine STH transmission and identify type of MDA, (b) Assess a progress against program goals, (c) Confirm a decision to stop intervention and transition to surveillance and (d) Verify sustained break in transmission. This approach ensures that user needs are the destination of a research and product development road map, instead of forcing the adoption of an imperfect technology. Current global strategies have been successful with existing diagnostics, and more ambitious program end points would likely require different tools to evaluate the impact of population-directed interventions. Newly created target product profiles (TPPs) described in this article aim to direct the development and evaluation of diagnostic tools that improve the efficiency of control and elimination programs. The STH community lacks a tool to confirm a break in transmission, and based on the new TPP, critical evidence to inform the development of this diagnostic is currently unavailable. Additional research is needed to define species-specific transmission breakpoints and guide the translation of individual-level test results to population-level transmission indicators.

Significance:
This report shares a user-centered framework to define circumstances in which population-level diagnostic data could guide the soil-transmitted helminth (STH) program manager’s decision to transition a program to the next phase. The use-cases and companion target product profiles (TPPs) are intended to provide the community with a pathway for the research, development, evaluation, and implementation of diagnostic tools designed for STH programs. This framework can also be used to prioritize research or product development resources based on immediate and anticipated program needs.

Link to the article: http://www.plosntds.org/article/info:doi/10.1371/journal.pntd.0006213
Impact factor: (2017/2018) 4.367


Vicente Belizario Jr.1, Raul Destura2, Ron Rafael Gabunada3, Joy Ann Petronio-Santos2, Angelo dela Tonga2, Maria Lourdes Amarillo4 and Chiqui de Veyra3
1Department of Parasitology, College of Public Health
2Institutes of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology, National Institutes of Health
3Neglected Tropical Diseases Study Group, National Institutes of Health
4Department of Clinical Epidemiology, College of Medicine
UP Manila

Evaluation of fecal and serological tests for the diagnosis of schistosomiasis in selected near-elimination and endemic areas in the Philippines. Southeast Asian Journal of Tropical Medicine and Public Health, 49 (2): 198-206, March 2018

Neglected Tropical Diseases Study Group (NTDSG) Project Staff conducting blood extraction in one of the study sites

Trained medical technologists conducting stool examination at the field laboratory

This study aimed to determine the best schistosomiasis surveillance test(s) for near-elimination and endemic areas in the Philippines. The study population was randomly selected school children aged 9-15 years. The study locations were the provinces of Bohol and Zamboanga del Norte (ZDN) for the near-elimination areas and Agusan del Sur (ADS) for the endemic area. A total of 1,112 study participants were included in the study. Each participant provided a stool and a blood sample to test for schistosomiasis. Each stool sample was examined using the KKT and Formalin Ether Concentration Technique (FECT). We calculated the prevalence of schistosomiasis using each test. We also calculated the sensitivity and specificity of each test in the near-elimination and endemic areas using a combination of the KKT, FECT and ELISA Ag tests as a reference standard. Our results showed higher prevalences of schistosomiasis using the serological than the fecal tests. They also showed generally higher sensitivities for the serological tests than the fecal tests. In areas with lower prevalences, serological testing may be more appropriate for population screening for schistosomiasis in the Philippines.

Significance:
The low sensitivity of the current gold standard in the detection of schistosomiasis has been a continuing challenge in terms of surveillance. Researchers from various countries have been conducting surveillance studies using different diagnostic tests in order to identify the most appropriate test for the surveillance of schistosomiasis, especially in low endemic areas. In line with the current challenges in schistosomiasis surveillance, which has been an ongoing subject of international research, this research aimed to identify appropriate diagnostic test for the surveillance of schistosomiasis in near-elimination and endemic areas. Results of this study may be used as basis for policy planning and development both in the national and international setting.

Link to the article: http://www.tm.mahidol.ac.th/seameo/2018-49-2/02-6784-8-198.pdf
Impact factor: (2017/2018) 0.817


Vicente Y. Belizario Jr.
Department of Parasitology
College of Public Health
UP Manila

Toward the 2020 goal of soil-transmitted helminthiasis control and elimination. PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases 12(8): e0006606. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pntd.0006606

Key characteristics of 3 different strategies pertaining to future soil-transmitted helminthiasis control efforts

At the 2016 annual meeting, the soil-transmitted helminthiasis (STH) Advisory Committee has put forth key items, related challenges, and recommendations regarding global control efforts for STH. The Committee advocated for rigorous parasitologic monitoring after years of preventive chemotherapy to document the progress of achieving the goals set by the World Health Organization (WHO). In a revised WHO strategic plan, there is a need to include suitable approaches such as (1) inclusion of women-reproductive age (WRA) and preschool-aged children (PSAC) in developing specific guidelines for treatment and reporting regular mechanism to address gaps on treatment coverage and lack of data on such for the said groups; (2) use of adequately powered surveys that are affordable and easy to implement considering the resources available in endemic countries to monitor progress towards the goal of <1% prevalence of moderate or heavy-intensity infection; and (3) designing of effective transition strategy from the Global Program for Eliminating Lymphatic Filariasis (GPELF) to STH control to sustain the contributions of the GPELF to the progress of STH control. Continuation of development and validation of recent advances in PCR-based diagnosis for STH and conduct of multi-site evaluations and strategic developments for larger-scale applications in the field were also recommended. Vast resources have been contributed to sustain and expand programs for the 10 neglected tropical diseases highlighted in the London Declaration to be eradicated, eliminated, or controlled by 2020. While many programs registered success due to collaborative effort, guidelines for evaluation of STH control programs need to be strengthened.

Significance:
An estimated 1.45 billion individuals are infected with soil-transmitted helminthiasis (STH) worldwide. As the primary recommendation to eliminate STH as a public health problem, the 54th World Health Assembly (WHA 54.19) called for improved water and sanitation to reduce transmission and urged that 3 high-risk groups, namely, preschool-aged children (PSAC), school-aged children (SAC), and women of reproductive age (WRA), receive regular treatment with anthelmintic drugs; however, STH control during 2001-2010 focused almost exclusively on SAC.
Moreover, it has been reported that milestones outlined in the STH Strategic Plan 2011-2020 are unlikely to be achieved. The 4 primary milestones for global control of STH are: (1) 100% of countries requiring preventive chemotherapy for STH have achieved 75% coverage; (2) these countries regularly assess intensity of STH in sentinel sites; and (3) less than 1% of countries requiring preventive chemotherapy for STH have moderate to high intensity infection by 2020; and (4) 75%-100% of PSAC and SAC needing preventive chemotherapy worldwide have been treated. In 2016, the Weekly Epidemiological Record (WER) reported that milestones 1 and 4 may be potentially achieved by 2020, unlike the milestones 2 and 3. As the 2020 nears, there is a pressing need for the global community to consider a serious recommitment to milestones 2 and 3 and to work together to improve parasitological assessment in affected countries.

Vast resources have been contributed to sustain and expand programs for the 10 neglected tropical diseases highlighted in the London Declaration to be eradicated, eliminated, or controlled by 2020. While many programs registered success due to collaborative effort, guidelines for evaluation of STH control programs need to be strengthened. The publication puts forth key items, related challenges, and recommendations regarding the global control efforts for STH to proactively review and address gaps in disease control programs, which is essential to the achievement of the goal of eliminating STH as a public health problem.

Link to the article: https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pntd.0006606
Impact factor: (2017/2018) 4.367


Clare Angeli G. Enriquez and Carissa Paz Dioquino-Maligaso
Department of Neurosciences
College of Medicine
UP Manila

Rocuronium for control of muscle spasms in a tetanus patient with chronic methamphetamine use disorder. BMJ Case Rep (2018) 2018:bcr-2018-224391. doi:10.1136/bcr-2018-224391.

This study is a case report of a 31-year-old Filipino man with chronic methamphetamine use disorder who developed tetanus from a wound over his left ankle. Tetanus is a disease which presents with overactive contraction of all muscles termed as tetanic spasms. During his stay in the hospital, his tetanic spasms were not responding to the first-line drug, benzodiazepines. This prompted us to use another drug, with a different mechanism of action, rocuronium. Rocuronium is a neuromuscular junction blocker used to paralyze patients during surgery. The muscle spasms were successfully controlled on the seventh day of illness with rocuronium and midazolam. The patient was sent home on the 30th day of illness, improved and stable.

Significance:
This study shares our experience on the use of a known drug for a different indication. We described the management of difficult to control spasms in a chronic methamphetamine user with neuromuscular junction blockers.

Link to the article: http://casereports.bmj.com/content/2018/bcr-2018-224391.full
Impact Factor: Not yet available


Asuncion K. Raymundo1, Irene A. Papa2, Genevieve Mae B. Aquino3 and Arian J. Jacildo4
1Institute of Biological Sciences, College of Arts and Sciences
2National Institute of Microbiology and Biotechnology
3Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and Extension
4Institute of Computer Science, College of Arts and Sciences
UP Los Baños

Near-complete genome of Ralstonia solanacearum T523, a phylotype I tomato phytopathogen isolated from the Philippines. Microbiol Resour Announc 7: e01048-18. https://doi.org/10.1128/MRA.e01048-18.

Bacterial wilt is caused by the bacterium Ralstonia solanacearum, which infects various plant species including banana, tomato, tobacco, potato, eggplant, ginger, and peanuts. The destructive disease limits the growth of susceptible crops, leading to as much as 90% yield loss. The R. solanacearum strain T523 was isolated from wilting tomatoes in the Philippines. This strain has been reported to be the most virulent among those affecting tomato plants.

The near-complete genome of strain T523 includes genes and virulence effectors that support different rhizosphere processes and symbiotic associations. Several loci were identified for producing the virulence-associated enzymes: pectinase, cellulase, and phospholipase C. Gene clusters were detected for exopolysaccaride, terpene, and homoserine lactone production. Genes were also predicted for the antibiotic ralstonin and a putative bacteriocin. Finally, the chromosome and megaplasmid genomes contain several genes for Ralstonia-injected proteins. The above-mentioned genes may guide future approaches to control bacterial wilt and improve host resistance towards limiting further economic losses.

Significance:
The paper reports a draft of the near-complete genome of a Philippine strain of Ralstonia solanacearum T523 which causes bacterial wilt in tomato. The reported genome sequence includes the complete closed bacterial chromosome and one draft megaplasmid sequence. This near-comple genome sequence features predicted genes for rhizosphere processes and plant virulence effectors. Strain T523 also contains genes encoding bioactive signaling molecules such as ralstonin, micacocidin, and homoserine lactone.

Link to the article: https://doi.org/10.1128/MRA.e01048-18
Impact Factor: Not yet available


Josben Romuald B. Pablo and Marison R. Dy
Department of Human and Family Development Studies
College of Human Ecology
UP Los Baños

Relationship of parental stress levels and selected child cognitive processes of grade two students. Asia Pacific Journal of Research in Early Childhood Education, 12 (1): 81-101.

“Homework? PTA Meeting? Laundry? What’s for dinner? The children are fighting!” Parents experience various stressors as they perform their roles in the family and these may influence child development for better or worse. Parenting stress may affect a child’s cognitive abilities which may then have an impact on their learning and academic performance. A study was done among 115 Grade Two students in a public and private school in Los Banos, Laguna and their parents. The learning and memory abilities of the students were assessed with three psychometric tests while parents answered a questionnaire about their sociodemographic characteristics and parental stress. The study found that 62% of the parents had low parental stress levels. Higher educational attainment, being employed, having an income based only on salary, having a lower household income, and being the primary caregiver led to slight increases in parental stress levels. On the other hand, majority of the Grade Two students had high scores for visual immediate memory and learning but more than half were in the low range for working memory. Parental stress levels did not significantly affect the cognitive processes of the children in this study and this could be due to the low parental stress levels. Still, it was seen that with an increase in parental stress levels, visual immediate memory and learning slightly decreased. Parents should continuously practice effective stress management and coping responses to prevent stress spillover to their children.

Significance:
Philippine Education For All (2014) stated that Filipinos give utmost importance to education. Labor and Employment Secretary Dimapilis-Baldoz (2015) also stated the significance of education in helping in the elimination of child labor and that schools would be the keys to keep the children away from work. One skill significant in learning and academic achievement is memory. Cash (2007) stated that memory is associated with the development of vocabulary and reading skills; which are crucial in the educational performance of the child in the classroom. Thus, learning and memory of the child are both important and are studied in this research. Better memory would help in better learning and thus, would promote academic achievement of the child.

One condition which can affect learning and memory is parental stress. Hadadian and Merbler (1996, as cited in Lopez, Clifford, Minnes, & Ouellette-Kuntz, 2008) stated that parental stress could influence the child and his/her development. However, there is limited knowledge on the influence of the different parental stressors and their impacts on the memory of their child (Coon, 2007). Similarly, there are limited researches on the impacts of parental stressors and parental stress levels on the different cognitive processes of the child. With this research, information gaps between the parental stressors and parental stress levels and their influences on the selected cognitive processes were determined. With the parental stressors determined, education practitioners would be able to understand the child’s situation more accurately in his/her performance in school; not only through the measurement of academic performance but also the state of the child at home and how much the extent of the stressors affect the child. The strengths of the child would be further supported and weaknesses would be remediated by adjustment of parenting and teaching styles. With enough knowledge on the part of the parents regarding the effects of their stressors on their child, they might become cautious of the negative effects of these on their child’s development, particularly on child cognition. Lastly, this would contribute to the limited researches in the country regarding parental stressors, parental stress levels and their impacts on various cognitive processes of the school-aged child.

Link to the article: http://www.pecerajournal.com/?page=5&a=10777313
Impact factor: Not yet available


Venice Ann Lorreine M. Bautista and Bernadette C. Mendoza
Institute of Biology
College of Arts and Sciences
UP Los Baños

Serogroup, pathotype and multiple drug resistance of Escherichia coli strains isolated from the cloaca of layer chickens in San Jose, Batangas, Philippines. Philippine Science Letters. 11 (Supplement), 69-77.

Layer chickens in one of the farms sampled in San Jose, Batangas, Philippines

From the 226 Escherichia coli strains isolated from the cloaca of layer chickens, one isolate belonged each to the EIEC and EPEC pathotypes while three belonged to the ETEC pathotypes. These pathotypes might cause diarrhea that can be life-threatening. The detection of these potential E. coli pathogenic serotypes in apparently healthy layer chickens is significant as it suggests that the intestinal tract of chickens may be an important natural reservoir for these pathotypes. Although they may not currently be pathogenic to chickens, they can pose a threat to humans when transmitted.

Majority of the E. coli isolates (90.3%), including four of the five serogrouped isolates (FK9, FK24, FK26, FK33), were found to be alarmingly multi-drug resistant i.e. resistant to tetracycline (75.7%), trimethoprim/ sulfamethoxazole (74.8%), ampicillin (72.1%) and nalidixic acid (65.5%). One isolate, FG27, appeared to be a potential extended-spectrum β-lactamase producer.

Significance:
In commercial poultry, certain strains of Escherichia coli, such as those designated as avian pathogenic E. coli (APEC), spread into various internal organs and cause colibacillosis (Kabir 2010). Avian colibacillosis is considered as one of the major bacterial diseases in the poultry industry worldwide causing heavy economic losses. Furthermore, E. coli from poultry can infect humans both through direct contact with the animal or via ingestion of contaminated poultry and poultry products. Strains of E. coli belonging to one of the pathogenic serotypes (pathotypes) such as enteroaggregative (EAEC), enterohemorrhagic (EHEC), enteroinvasive (EIEC), enteropathogenic (EPEC), enterotoxigenic (ETEC), and diffusely adherent (DAEC) E. coli, may cause diarrhea (van den Bogaard et al. 2001). Determination of the possible pathotype of E. coli isolates will, thus, provide information as to their potential health risks. In this study, of the 226 E. coli strains isolated, only five were serogrouped. E. coli isolates FK24, FK26 and FK33 could belong to any of the ETEC pathotype serogroups O6, O27, O78, O148, O159 and O168. FK9 could belong to any of the EPEC pathotype serogroups O18, O114, O142, O151, O157 and O158 while isolate FI22, could belong to serogroups O28ac, O112ac, O124, O136 and O144, all of the EIEC pathotype.

In addition, majority of the E. coli isolates, including four of the five serogrouped isolates (FK9, FK24, FK26, FK33), were found to be multi-drug resistant, specifically resistant to tetracycline (75.7%), trimethoprim/ sulfamethoxazole (74.8%), ampicillin (72.1%) and nalidixic acid (65.5%). Multi-drug resistant E. coli strains were, thus, confirmed to be present even in asymptomatic layer chickens. Only one isolate was determined to be a possible extended-spectrum β-lactamase producer.

A continuing surveillance of pathogenic serotypes, multi-drug resistance and ESBL-production in bacteria in food-producing animals such as chickens is very important as it will aid in the understanding of the distribution of these isolates and in the establishment of the proper prevention protocols. Data collected can also serve as guide in the use of antibiotics in food animal production and infection chemotherapy (Li et al. 2010).

Link to the article: http://philsciletters.org/2018/PSL%202018%20Special%20Issue%206977%20Bautista%20and%20Mendoza.pdf
Impact factor: Not yet available


Jennifer Marie S. Amparo
Department of Social Development Services
College of Human Ecology
UP Los Baños

Transdisciplinary Research for Food and Nutrition Security: Examining Research-Policy Understandings in Southeast Asia. Environmental Development, 28: 67-82, December 2018

This paper captures the use of human ecology and systems-based frameworks in collaborative understanding of food system challenges and discuss possible solution for food and nutrition security. Policy-makers can learn from this paper to critically reflect on the extent to which smallholder farmers’ voices are used to design novel agricultural interventions. These reflections were based on our work together with a regional research agency on how four Southeast Asian nations perceive food and nutrition security challenges and solutions together with its implications of these perspectives for future food systems transdisciplinary investments.

Significance:
Food and nutrition security policies are governed by complex policy systems. To overcome this complexity challenge, transdisciplinary research has emerged to conduct research among different stakeholders and implement development solutions. We contribute to the growing need to build systems-based understandings of food and nutrition security through documenting how researchers and policy-makers from four Southeast Asian countries perceive challenges and solutions for addressing food and nutrition security in their chosen food systems. The findings of our research have significant implications for future transdisciplinary research targeting food system theory and practice, and the role of systems frameworks in understanding complex social-ecological issues.

Link to the article: https://doi.org/10.1016/jenvdev.2018.10.001
Impact factor: (2017/2018) 2.344


Asuncion K. Raymundo1, Irene A. Papa2 and Genevieve Mae B. Aquino3
1Institute of Biological Sciences, College of Arts and Sciences
2National Institute of Microbiology and Biotechnology
3Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and Extension
UP Los Baños

Complete genome sequence of Rhizobium sp. strain 11515TR, isolated from tomato rhizosphere in the Philippines. Microbiology Resource Announcements, 7:e00903-18. https://doi.org/10.1128/MRA.00903-18.

The Rhizobium sp. strain 11515TR is nitrogen-fixing bacteria that may form root nodules. Nitrogen fixation is one of the important mechanisms used by plants to improve the adsorption of nutrients from the soil. This process usually occurs in the so-called “rhizosphere” or the region of soil closest to the plant roots. Strain 11515TR was isolated from the rhizosphere of tomato plants in Los Baños, Laguna.

The complete genome of this novel strain includes the list of genes that could support different processes in the rhizosphere, particularly the formation of nodules and nitrogen fixation. The rhizosphere is a type of mutually beneficial association between plants and microbes. Thus, the genome of strain 11515TR also encodes genes to synthesize the plant hormone auxin and to degrade lignin. Finally, the genome contains gene clusters for secondary bioactive compounds called secondary metabolites, including vicibactin, terpenoid, polyketide synthase, and nonribosomal peptide synthetase. These genes may have potential commercial applications in the future.

Significance:
The paper presents the complete genome sequence of a novel bacterial strain (Rhizobium sp. strain 11515TR) that was isolated in Los Baños, Laguna from the tomato rhizosphere. The complete genome includes the full sequence of the bacterial chromosome and its two megaplasmids. This genome features genes and gene clusters with potential roles in nitrogen fixation, plant symbiosis, and the production of secondary bioactive metabolites.

Link to the article: https://doi.org/10.1128/MRA.00903-18
Impact factor: Not yet available


Christian Joseph R. Cumagun and Ana Liza C. Lopez
Institute of Weed Science, Entomology and Plant Pathology
College of Agriculture and Food Science
UP Los Baños

Genetic structure of Magnaporthe oryzae populations in three island groups in the Philippines. European Journal of Plant Pathology. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10658-018-1546-0

The first author testing 24 isolates of M. oryzae against 16 rice varieties each with different major R gene under greenhouse condition

Scoring the level of disease infection in the 1 – 6 rating scale. Type 1, no apparent infection; type 2, pinhead-size dark brown lesions; type 3, small eyespot lesions, approximately 1mm in diameter, type 4, eyespot lesions of approximately 2 mm in length; type 5, eyespot lesions of approximately 3-4 mm in length; type 6, large eyespot lesions, approximately 5 or more mm in length especially when lesions coalesce.

The study highlights the importance of knowing whether the populations of the fungus Magnaporthe oryzae isolated from rice fields in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao are moving from one island to another based on molecular tools as evidence. This will answer the question: Are the populations grouped by region/ geography or where do certain strains in an island come from? The study also investigated the diversity of populations of M. oryzae in three different rice agroecosystems (irrigated lowland, rainfed lowland and rainfed upland) where each system differ in their conduciveness to blast. This led us to the next question as to why do we observe differences of resistance among rice agroecosystems. There could be interaction between the environment and differential expression of resistance; otherwise, it could also be due to different genetic groups or populations of the pathogen coming from different geographical locations. With the introduction of several new rice varieties each year, there is a high probability that different lineage structure now exists on field population of rice blast in the Philippines, suggesting that it is of great importance to compare population structure of the fungus in different rice agrorecosystems in both experimental plots and farmer’s field.

Significance:
Information about the genetic structure of M. oryzae populations in the Philippines will be useful in identifying sources of infection and formulating sustainable disease management strategies for each distinct agroecosystem. Deployment strategies of rice blast resistant cultivars throughout the country can be made efficient.

Link to the article: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10658-018-1546-0
Impact factor: (2017/2018) 1.466


Mildred A. Padilla
Dept. of Veterinary Paraclinical Sciences
College of Veterinary Medicine
UP Los Baños

Multiple resistance to medically important antimicrobials of commensal Escherichia coli isolated from dressed broiler chickens in Calabarzon, Philippines. Philipp. J. Vet. Med., 55(2): 95-106, 2018

The food that we eat may contain bacteria that are resistant to antimicrobials. Resistance develops when microbes no longer respond to a drug that previously treated them effectively. Chicken meat is a popular food in the Philippines. The present study isolated a most commonly harmless bacteria, Escherichia coli from slaughtered broiler chickens in CALABARZON region, and then tested this for resistance by disk diffusion assay to antimicrobials in classes that are used both in animals and people. Resistance was detected in all 12 test antimicrobials, mostly to several classes (92.8%). Highest levels of resistance were observed to last resort drugs for the treatment of specific infections in people namely: quinolone antimicrobials nalidixic acid (97.5%) and ciprofloxacin (85%), penicillin drug ampicillin (90%), and aminoglycoside streptomcycin (72.5%). High resistance rates were also recorded for tetracycline (72.5%), trimethoprim (62.5%) and trimethoprim-sulfonamide (62.5%). The most common resistance pattern was a combination of ampicillin-ciprofloxacin-nalidixic acid-streptomycin-kanamycin-tetracycline (7.5%). The use of antimicrobials most important to human health in poultry production therefore, should be restricted in order to minimize the risk to public health of antimicrobial resistance transfer.

Significance:
The findings of high level resistance and multiple resistance to antimicrobials of importance to human health in a harmless intestinal bacteria that is also present in humans are exceedingly alarming because of the high risk of antimicrobial resistance transfer to people through consumption of chicken meat. The findings will inform policy to (1) restrict the approval of antimicrobials for use in livestock production to those of lower risk to public health; and (2) implement a national surveillance of antimicrobial usage and resistance in food animals.

Link to the article: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/328869026_Multiple_resistance_to_medically_important_antimicrobials_of_commensal_Escherichia_coli_isolated_from_dressed_broiler_chickens_in_Calabarzon_Philippines
Impact factor: Not yet available


Inocencio E. Buot Jr. and Jhoanna O. Santiago
Institute of Biological Sciences
College of Arts and Sciences
UP Los Baños

Assessing the status of pinuchu as indicator of socio-ecological resilience of Chaya Socio-Ecological Production Landscape, Ifugao, Philippines. BIODIVERSITAS 19 (6): 2010-2019.

The components of Chaya Socio-Ecological Production Landscape (CSEPL), pinuchu (wood-lot), pajaw (ricefield), pfuglay (villages), gwang-gwang (water bodies), ponhapfalan (swidden farm)

The study site showing the location of various plots along elevational gradients of the pinuch

This study was aimed to determine the current status of the woodlot (pinuchu), a managed forest adjacent to the rice terraces in Chaya, Mayoyao and in all rice terraces in Ifugao (Photo 1). Establishment of a woodlot is a requisite if one has to embark on rice farming in steep slopes to assure sustained supply of water and organ-ic matter for the pajaw (rice farm). Standard methodology for vegetation analysis was done in various eleva-tional ranges in the pinuchu (Photo 2). Results showed a remarkable biodiversity (Shannon diversity index, H’=3.83). Cluster analysis illustrated a simple altitudinal zonation pattern (Photo 3). Areas near residences were frequently disturbed and dominated by exotic vegetation like mahogany and Gmelina and of course by our native pine which always colonize disturbed habitats. On the other hand, those in higher altitudes were quite intact and dominated by trees in pristine natural forests like oaks. According to canonical correspond-ence analysis (CCA), elevation, temperature and human disturbances influenced the vegetation composition. It is recommended that to sustain resilience of the Chaya socioecological production landscape (CEPL), pi-nuchu should be biodiversity rich at all times. Policy makers should use native species as planting material in the reforestation program instead of the fast-growing exotic species as these might have some unfavorable implications in the future.

Significance:
The pinuchu, a managed forest rich in biodiversity surrounding rice terraces in Chaya, Mayoyao, Ifugao just like any other watersheds in Ifugao and vicinities, serves as a watershed ensuring an all-year-round supply of water for the rice field (Camacho et al. 2016) and in fact unknowingly to lowland rivers as well. The pinuchu protects the lower farmlands from runoff and erosion (Serrano and Cadaweng 2005). In addition, the pinu-chu provides firewood, fruits, lumber and medicinal plants (Castonguay et al. 2016). It is also the major source of wood for wood carving industry in Ifugao (DENR, 2008). The pinuchu helps regulate hydrology and microclimate thereby providing buffer against extreme weather events (Bergamini et al. 2014). This demonstrates the importance of biodiversity of pinuchu in sustaining the integrity of the whole land-scape. This means that safeguarding biodiversity should be one of the priorities of the community to attain resilience. However, information on the status of the biodiversity in the forest of Chaya has not been studied and thus a baseline information is required to serve as guide in measuring ecological indicators of socio-ecological resilience. This will lead to the formulation of management and conservation strategies.

Link to the article: http://biodiversitas.mipa.uns.ac.id/D/D1906/D190605.pdf
Impact factor: Not yet available


Inocencio E. Buot Jr. and Jhoanna O. Santiago
Institute of Biological Sciences
College of Arts and Sciences
UP Los Baños

Species delineation of the genus Diplazium Swartz (Athyriaceae) using leaf architecture characters. Bangladesh J. Plant Taxon. 25(2): 123-133.

Dendrogram of the 27 Diplazium species constructed by Unweighted Pair-Group of Arithmetic Mean (UPGMA) clustering and Bower using the Paleontological Statistics software. With cophenetic correlation of 0.8436 and gower distance of 0.25, four cluster were identified: Cluster 1 (Cladodromous – short-stalked, stout and massive 1° vein); Cluster 2 (Reticulodromous – long stalked, moderate 1° vein); Cluster 3 (Craspedodromous – long stalked, stout and massive 1° vein) and Cluster 4 (Craspedodromous – short stalked, stout to massive 1° vein)

Principal Component Analysis of 27 Diplazium species using PAleotological STatistics (PAST) software. Four clusters were classified: Cluster 1 (Cladodromous – short stalked, stout and massive 1° vein); Cluster 2 (Reticulodromous – long stalked, moderate 1° vein); Cluster 3 (Craspedodromous – long stalked, stout and massive 1° vein) and Cluster 4 (Craspedodromous – short stalked, stout to massive 1° vein)

The present study was conducted to see if Diplazium Swartz species without the reproductive structures normally used as basis for identification, can possibly be recognized based on leaf architecture. Some 27 selected Diplazium specimens at the Philippine National Herbarium (PNH) were examined using Hickey’s Manual on Leaf Architecture. Diverse leaf architectural characters useful in taxonomy were documented. These were then subjected to cluster and principal component analysis of Paleontological Statistics (PAST) software package. The dendrogram illustrated four clusters of Diplazium using leaf architecture characters. At Gower distance of 0.25, Diplazium species were categorized as: Cluster 1 (Cladodromous – short stalked, stout and massive 1° vein); Cluster 2 (Reticulodromous – long stalked, moderate 1° vein); Cluster 3 (Craspedodromous – long stalked, stout to massive 1° vein); and Cluster 4 (Craspedodromous – short stalked, stout to massive 1° vein). The unifying characters were apex shape, base symmetry and 1° vein category, while the significant differentiating characters were 2o vein angle of divergence and variation in the 2° vein angle of divergence, 3o vein category, 3° vein angle of divergence, variation in 3° vein angle of divergence, 3° vein spacing and lobation. The successful delineation of Diplazium species proved that leaf architecture can be a good taxonomic marker and could be an alternative way of identifying Diplazium species. Leaf architecture, particularly the venation pattern, is a good taxonomic tool in delineating Diplazium species. Consistency in groupings with spore morphology (Praptosuwiryo et al., 2007), stelar anatomy (Prapto-suwiryo and Darnaedi, 2014) and DNA sequencing (Wei et al., 2013) proved leaf architecture’s usefulness in the classification system for Diplazium species as elaborated by other authors.

Significance:
Despite of the well-studied uses of genus Diplazium as food, medicine, etc., their taxonomic classification and identification is still controversial among taxonomists and pteridologists. Some of the problems in accurate identification of the genus included insufficient data (Kramer et al., 1990) and continuous changes in taxonomic classification and morphological variations through apparently intermediate forms, which are commonly regarded as putative hybrids (Takamiya et al., 1999). The chance of misidentification is higher especially during field surveys and actual identification because Diplazium species are morphologically similar to their sisters Athrium and Deparia (Kato, 1977) and to some members of Woodsiaceae and Polypodiaceae to which Diplazium was formerly circumscribed (Smith et al., 2006). Unconscientious identification of Diplazium might lead to collection of wrong specimens, thus can be hazardous to human health or even cause death. The lack of knowledge or information when collecting for medicinal purposes, toxin-containing plants can result in misidentification with grave consequences (Voncina et al., 2014). One taxonomic tool useful in differentiating angiosperm taxa and also considered in ferns is leaf architecture, which is defined as the placement and form of elements constituting the outward expression of leaf structure, including venation pattern, marginal configuration, leaf shape, and gland position (Hickey, 1973). Roth-Nebelsick, et al. (2004) hypothesized that leaf architecture is genetically fixed. Thereafter, several studies had been conducted testing such hypothesis and proving that indeed leaf architecture is genetically fixed (Larano and Buot 2010, Jumawan and Buot 2016, Torrefiel and Buot 2017, Tand and Buot 2018, etc.). In Diplazium, this is very useful especially when the spores are absent at the time of field surveys and collection for food, medicine or other purposes.

Link to the article: https://www.banglajol.info/index.php/BJPT/article/view/39535
Impact factor: (2017/2018) 0.333


Inocencio E. Buot Jr. and Jhoanna O. Santiago
Institute of Biological Sciences
College of Arts and Sciences
UP Los Baños

Vegetation analysis along the altitudinal gradient of Mt. Ilong, Halcon Range, Mindoro Island, Philippines. BIODIVERSITAS 19 (6): 2163-2174.

A portion of Zone I, the Agroforestry land use type in the lower elevation, a landscape shaped by the Alangan mangyans thriving at the base of Mt Ilong.

Agathis philippinensis, a large Philippine endemic noted for its expensive resin collected by locals. It has been listed as threatened species both in the national list and in the IUCN (critically endangered).

This study is an attempt to provide a comprehensive information on plant distribution in Mt. Ilong, Halcon Range, Mindoro, Philippines (Photo 1) along the 100-1,400m elevation using basic vegetation methods and cluster analysis. Selected environmental variables that influence species distribution were also investigated through canonical correspondence analysis (CCA).

The vegetation was diverse, unique, and culturally important. Contrary to the usual trend in tropical mountains, the structural characteristics of Mt. Ilong were found to be similar with other mountains in the Philip-pines, wherein the tree species diversity tends to increase along the altitudinal gradient. The vegetation of Mt. Ilong in Halcon Range, Mindoro Island was distributed through a complex interplay of environmental factors. Among the environmental variables examined, elevation, temperature, and pH have strongly influenced the distribution of tree species in Mt. Ilong, which in turn resulted to specialization of the three identified plant communities reflecting different land use types (Photo 2). Among the three identified zones, Zone I (Photo 3) was distinct from Zones II and III as these were mainly agroforestry areas, a land use that is shaped by the Alangan people, the primary users of Mt. Ilong. Towards Zones II and III, the two forest zones, the influence of environmental variables, especially temperature and elevation were evident. In Zone III, a critically endangered species, Agathis philippinensis (Photo 4) dominates.These findings on the vegetation distribution along an elevational gradient can be considered as valuable information for the conservation management of Mindoro flora, as well as for the preservation of the culture of the local people.

In future studies, it is recommended to account the effect of human disturbance in the ordination analysis as this has a crucial role in the changes in vegetation structure of tropical mountains such as Mt. Ilong.

Significance:
Studying the structure of vegetation in tropical mountain areas has been of interest to many scientists, especially to conservationists, because of its fascinating shifts of vegetation along elevational gradients. In Mt. Halcon of the Halcon Range, a tropical mountain located in Mindoro Island, Philippines, some studies were previously conducted about its vegetation. The oldest and most comprehensive of which were conducted during an exploration study during the early 1900s (Ames 1907; Brotherus 1907; Copeland 1907; Merrill 1907a and 1907b). During this era of the Anthropocene, information of Halcon Range diversity had been scanty. While it is evident that the flora in the entire Halcon Range is diverse and unique, there is no information on a detailed vegetation distribution and structure along the altitudinal gradient of the Halcon range. Altitudinal zonation studies will be of great help to conservation managers, as these studies provide a more detailed understanding of the vegetation distribution as well as its interplay with the environmental factors.

Link to the article: http://biodiversitas.mipa.uns.ac.id/D/D1906/D190624.pdf
Impact factor: Not yet available