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New Issue Published; 8(2)

Advancements in Life Sciences, volume 8, issue 2Cover; Volume 8, Issue 2
Published: 25 February 2021
ISSN 2310-5380 

Important Note: This issue was published in February 2021 but appeared online on March 14, 2021 as our important editorial team members who were involved in generating online material were affected by COVID-19 pandemic. It took us some time to recover and upload this issue. We are sorry for this delay and appreciate the understanding of our readers and esteemed authors.


IN THIS ISSUE

Our 2nd issue of the 8th volume is now online. This time, we have featured 20 multidisciplinary articles including 3 reviews and 13 research papers of authors from 11 countries covering aspects from different stems of life science. Enjoy reading! 

 

Review Articles


Stevia rebaudiana: A Bibliometric Analysis from 1966-2019
Saima Nasir, Jamila Ahmed, pages 195-201
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 This study has been carried out to analyze research papers published on Stevia rebaudiana during 1966-2019 using a bibliometric approach. The data is mined from the Web of Science Core Collection,  returning 1835 articles on the topic for analysis. The study documents most productive countries and authors delved into Stevia research. India appears to be the most productive country, followed by USA. The top-cited articles, top-organizations and funding agencies, and journals with most publications on subject are also identified. The analysis shows an increasing trend for research on Stevia during recent years with an Annual Percentage Growth Rate of 1.29 and the number jumped from only 03 publications in 1966-1971 to 1000 in 2014-2019. Pakistan has a comparable global share of 2.84% on Stevia research but further attention on research is needed in this field apprehending the commercial and health potential of this plant and considering the status of Pakistan as an agrarian country.  

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Industrial Pesticides and a Methods Assessment for the Reduction of Associated Risks: A Review
Majid Khayatnezhad, Fatemeh Nasehi, pages 202-210
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 Regarding the increasing growth of the population and importance of food security, Iranian Ministry of Agriculture has prioritized and encouraged greenhouse farming products. One of the developmental challenges of greenhouse farming is the current extensive use of chemical fertilizers. Importantly, as raw agricultural products are the main ingredients on the table of Iranian families  (Iranians generally tend to eat fresh products), the determination of pesticide residues in such products is of utmost importance. The penetration of resistant contaminants into freshwater resources can lead to detrimental effects on humans and the environment. Concerning the importance of environmental protection and the role of chemical pesticides, this study reviews the pesticides used in the agronomic sector and the associated risks of using chemicals to control pests for society, agriculture, freshwater resources, and the environment.  

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Narrative Review: Use of Competent Stimulating Peptide in Gene Transfer Via Suicide Plasmid in Streptococcus pneumoniae
Atif Amin Baig, Nor Aina Shafiqah Binti Zulkiflee, Muhammad Hassan, Mohd Adzim Khalili Bin Rohin, Mohd Khairi Bin Zahri Johari, Ahmad Zubaidi Bin A. Latif, Muhammad Umer Khan, Nordin Bin Simbak, pages 211-216
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 Natural competency for genetic transformation of Streptococcus pneumoniae causes the emergence of novel or non-vaccine preventable pneumococcal serotypes. This phenomenon has become a global concern as it can spread quickly in the population through inhalation and close contact. The colonisation of S. pneumoniae at the upper respiratory tract can either become commensal or pathogenic. Once the bacterium invades into the body system, it will secrete its toxin and virulence protein to facilitate the invasion. Besides, S. pneumoniae can undergo natural biological transformation via uptake of exogenous DNA by horizontal gene transfer for integration and recombination of the genome. S. pneumoniae natural transformation is aided by competence-stimulating peptide (CSP) that induces the competence of bacteria. Natural transformation cascade of S. pneumoniae via CSP is triggered in the presence of conserved 17-amino acids peptide which is regulated and encoded by comCcomD and comE operon, where comC is responsible in secreting precursor CSP. Nowadays, researchers transforming S. pneumoniae by inserting the mutated S. pneumoniae gene through a vector, suicide plasmid. Suicide plasmids such as pID701, pAUL-A and pVA891 can be transferred but cannot replicate in the bacteria. Homologous recombination process occurs once the mutated gene of suicide plasmid is integrated with wild-type S. pneumoniae. Previous studies had used the transformation of suicide plasmid into S. pneumoniae as it can integrate with host DNA at specific insert for gene transfer. But there is no evidence on the role of CSP in horizontal/gene replacement via suicide plasmid in Streptococcus pneumoniae. This narrative review's scope as per defined purpose statement is to relate and recommend the use of competent stimulating peptide in efficient horizontal gene transfer via suicide plasmids in Streptococcus pneumoniae 

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Full Length Research Articles


Analysis of single nucleotide polymorphisms encompassing toll like receptor (TLR) -7 (rs179008) and (TLR)-9 (rs352140) in systemic lupus erythematosus patients
Muhammad Adil Bashir, Nadeem Afzal, Hamdan Hamid, Muhammad Kashif, Alishba Niaz, Shah Jahan, pages 103-107
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 Background: Multiple documentary evidence comprising genome wide association studies have established association of TLR7 and TLR9 gene polymorphisms with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). Present study was aimed to deduce and compare single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) in TLR7 (rs179008) and TLR9 (rs352140) genes between local population of SLE patients and healthy controls.

Methods: A case control study; blood samples from 80 controls (Group1) and 80 SLE subjects (Group2) were collected in EDTA tubes and processed for the analysis of gene polymorphism of TLR7 (rs179008) and TLR9 (rs352140) by PCR-RFLP after DNA extraction. Complete blood counts were also determined. Statistical analysis was carried out using Chi-square test for SNPs analysis and allele frequencies between two groups. TLR 7 and TLR 9 genes polymorphism with SLE alongside clinical parameters were assessed.

Results: Genotypes of TLR7, AT and TT are not significantly associated with SLE. Whereas, TLR9 CT and TT genotypes, especially T allele are significantly associated with SLE reflecting noticeable interdependence of TLR9 gene polymorphism with respect to SLE subjects.

Conclusion: TLR9 (rs352140) gene variation might be a key factor to etiology and pathogenesis of SLE.  

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APOBEC3G Variant (rs6001417) CG and GG Genotypes and their protective feature against HIV-1 Infection in Pakistani Dwelled Community
Qaisar Ali, Arshad Jamal, Sajjad Ullah, Ahmed Bilal Waqar, pages 108-113

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 Background: APOBEC3G (Apolipoprotein B mRNA-editing enzyme, catalytic polypeptide-like 3G) gene is one of the genetic host factors, have been linked with HIV-1 AIDS predisposing and protection in different residence populations. The investigation of genetic marker (APOBEC3G) variant (rs6001417) CC, CG and GG genotypes in Pakistan.

Methods: The extraction of DNA, the DNA Rapid Salting-out method was used. Then the observed DNA with electrophoresis technique referred for quantitative real-time PCR to identify the APOBEC3G variant rs6001417 genotypes and Taq Man genotyping.  

Results: Three genotypes of rs6001417 (CC, CG and GG) were compared both in HIV-1 infected patients and healthy control groups (p=0.73, p=0.007, p=0.01 respectively). The rs6001417 CG and GG genotype demonstrated a significant involvement in both the healthy and infected individuals and portraying possible protective effect against HIV-1 infection with predictive value of 36.43% and 13.57% respectively.

Conclusion: APOBEC3G (rs6001417) CG and GG genotypes may have a protective feature in the progression of HIV-1 infection and we may use this as a preliminary predictive marker in the country for HIV-1 infected individuals as well.  

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Rh alleles and phenotypes among Saudi women in Hail Region, Saudi Arabia
Jerold C. Alcantara, Tessie Y. Alcantara, Khalid F. Al Shaghdali,  Fawaz D. Al Shammari, Fahad Ghali M. Al Shammari, pages 114-118

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 Background: The Rh system is considered as the most complex among the human blood group systems, with 61 antigens identified to date. This study aimed to provide preliminary data on the distribution of Rh alleles and phenotypes among Saudi women and compare them with other ethnic groups.

Methods: This retrospective cross-sectional study was conducted among Saudi women who visited the Maternity and Children Hospital of Hail from November 2019 to March 2020. A fully automated blood bank analyzer was used in determining the Rh subgroups (D, C, c, E, e) and phenotypes. Inferential statistics and chi-square tests were used appropriately for comparisons.

Results: The study included a total of 500 Saudi female patients. The most prevalent antigen found was the “e” antigen, while phenotype CcDee has shown to have the highest frequency. A significant difference exists in comparison with the other studies from various ethnic groups.

Conclusions: The prevalence and distributions of Rh alleles and phenotypes among Saudi women were revealed in this study. The findings showed that Rh alleles and phenotypes are diverse across various races and regions globally.  

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The Effect of Drought Stress on the Superoxide Dismutase and Chlorophyll Content in Durum Wheat Genotypes
Majid Khayatnezhad, Roza Gholamin, pages 119-123

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 Background: Drought stress is one of the most limiting factors of plant production around the world. So, finding a way for increasing genotypes resistance is so important. Free radicles and other dynamic subordinates of oxygen inactivate chemicals and significant plant cell parts. Superoxide dismutases (SODs) have been distinguished as essential parts in a creature's guard system.

Methods: This examination was carried out to examine the SOD movement in 8 durum wheat genotypes from Iran and Azerbaijan under two different conditions in 2015-2016 cropping year. The impact of dry season weight on SOD, chlorophyll content list (CCI), and chlorophyll debasement were examined. Critical contrasts among genotypes and the genotype × climate collaboration among SOD and CCI content were distinguished.

Results: The mean examination indicated that the substance of SOD and CCI diminished in susceptible genotypes, while tolerant genotypes SOD and CCI stayed unaltered or increased. For measuring drought tolerance, the stress tolerance index (STI) used. The correlation between STI for Chlorophyll and Chlorophyll CI in drought was significant at 0.01 levels. The pressure resilience list (STI) for SOD and CCI characterized safe and defenseless genotypes into unmistakable gatherings.

Conclusion: Hence, these 2 characters can be utilized as a Selection index for screening dry spell safe plant materials.  

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Comparative Productive Performance of two Broiler Strains in Open Housing System
Naqash Khalid, Malik Mohsin Ali, Zubair Ali, Yasir Amin, Muhammad Ayaz, pages 124-127

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 Background: The present study was conducted to compare the growth performance and ultimately to calculate the profitability of the two locally available commercial strains of broiler (Ross 308 and Cobb 500).

Methods: For the purpose of study, 900 number of day-old chicks (DOC) of each strain were purchased from the local market. The birds were reared in conventional broiler house with the provision of standard managemental conditions throughout the experimental period. The parameters recorded on weekly basis were feed intake, body weight gain, feed conversion ratio (FCR) and mortality.

Results: Result shown that the total body weight of Cobb-500 and Ross-308 on 1st week was 207.40±14 gram and 196.00±16 gram respectively and these result represented significant difference of weight gain (P<0.05) on 1st week of experiment among both the strains. From 2nd week of experiment till the last week (5th week) the results shown the total body weight of Cob-500 and Ross-308 as 2180.4±38 gram and 2103.7±36 gram respectively which was non-significantly different (P>0.05) among the strains. Furthermore, significant difference of feed conversion ratio (FCR) was observed (P<0.05) among both the strains but from day 7th till the market age weekly FCR of Cob-500 was significantly higher (P<0.05) than Ross-308. Comparatively high mortality (4.8±0.4%) was noticed in Ross broiler strain than Cobb broiler strain (3.7±0.4%). 

Conclusion: It was concluded from the current study that the Cobb-500 is performing better in conventional open housing system at high altitude than Ros-308. 

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Biosynthesis of poly-3-hydroxybutyrate by Rhodococcus pyridinivorans using unrelated carbon sources
Naima Khan, Nazia Jamil, pages 128-132

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 Background: Polyhydroxyalkanoates are intracellular polymers comparable to synthetic plastic in their thermostable and elastomeric properties. PHAs are produced by bacteria under various nutrient – nitrogen – stress conditions.

Methods: Bacteria were isolated from hot water springs of Tatta Pani Kashmir and Karachi Mangrove forest Pakistan. Polyhydroxyalkanoate detection agar was used to isolates PHA producing bacteria and several carbon sources such as glucose, glycerol and palmitic acid were used for relative biomass and biopolymer productions. PHA was extracted by solvent extraction method using sodium hypochlorite and chloroform. Extracted polymer was characterized by Fourier transfer infrared spectroscopy (FTIR).

Results: Rhodococcus pyridinivorans NK19 (KY703220) produced up to 60% PHA with glucose, 40% with palmitic acid and 58% with glycerol as carbon sources. FTIR spectrum confirmed the polymer produced as poly -3, hydroxybutyrate. A peak at 1720 cm -1 of FTIR confirmed the presence of PHB monomers in the polymer extracted.

Conclusion: Rhodococcus pyridinivorans NK19 produced short chain length PHA interchangeably known as P3HB while utilizing unrelated carbon sources up to 60%. 

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Computational Prediction of Olea europaea Compounds as Inhibitor of Main-Peptidase of SARS-CoV2
Rashid Saif, Ghafran Ali, Kanza Ashfaq, Saeeda Zia, Abdul Rasheed Qureshi, pages 133-136

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 Background: In December 2019, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Novel Coronavirus 2 (SARS-nCOV2) was identified as potential causative agent for COVID-19 in the Wuhan City of China. This disease spread around the whole globe, thus WHO declared it as a pandemic by March 11, 2020. Due to rapid mutation rate, lack of specific genomic knowledge and treatment modalities against this RNA based virus, world scientific community urges to work for vaccine production, treatments options and alternative remedies including eastern herbs as potential anti-viral agents.

Methods: Olea europaea (Olive) was found highly beneficial on the basis of its previous therapeutic applications. So, in the current study, its five different compounds (Catechin, Cynaroside, Elenolic Acid, Hydroxytyrosol, and Oleuropein) were chosen according to Lipinski physiochemical parameters, which were compared with already clinically used five anti-viral drugs (Ribavirin, Niclosamide, Nelfinavir, S-Nitroso-N-acetyl penicillamine, Chloroquine) against the Main-Peptidase (PDB ID:2GTB) of SARS-nCoV2 using Molecular Operating Environment (MOE) software.

Results: Among the chosen compounds of Olea europaea which were docked on the active site of Main-Peptidase, Oleuropein provide the best minimum binding energy of -8.3201kcal/mol followed by Cynaroside with -7.2121kcal/mol. These two energy complexes are considered to have better drug potential in this initial studies as compare to the already commercially used drug agents e.g. Chloroquine, Ribavirin, Niclosamide and S-Nitroso-N-acetyl Penicillamine having binding energy of -6.7168, -5.8171, -6.3361 and -5.4219kcal/mol respectively. Other three agents from olive were also docked to compare the binding energy of aforementioned clinically used drugs.

Conclusion: Oleuropein and Cynaroside are considered to be the most compelling compounds as a drug agent against coronavirus2 infection. Further, molecular dynamic simulations and in-vivo investigations are needed to endorse the current findings of these compounds as potential drugs. 

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Characterization of Mutations Linked with Second Line Anti-TB Drug Resistance in Pakistan
Riffat Jabeen, Memona Yasmin, Hafiza Rabia Dar, Rubina Tabassum Siddiqui, Inaam Ullah, pages 137-142

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 Background: The incidence of multiple drug resistance tuberculosis is on the rise worldwide and Pakistan is one of 30 high TB burden countries. Resistance to second line drugs especially fluoroquinolones is being reported by many laboratories. This is increasing the gravity of the situation resulting in extensively drug resistant cases, which is difficult to treat, and has more side effects.

Methods: One hundred and thirty-three (133) clinical isolates of M. tuberculosis, collected by convenience sampling, were characterized for mutations in eth-A, gyrA, msh-A, rrs genes, and the promoter region of inh-A gene that confer resistance to second line anti-TB drugs. The mutations were detected by allele-specific-PCR and PCR amplification followed by SSCP and DNA sequencing.

Results: Mutations in gyrA gene at codon 91, 94 and 95 were found in 4 (3.0%) M. tuberculosis isolates. Mutations in rrs gene were found in 17 (12.8%) isolates, ten (7.5%) isolates had mutation at A1401G position, 5 (3.76%) isolates at C1402T position and 3 (2.25%) isolates had G1484T mutation. For resistance to ethionamide, none of the isolates showed mutation in eth-A gene. In promoter region of inh-A gene, mutations were detected at -C15T, -A112G, -C110T in two samples. Two mutations, A312T and A332G, were found in msh-A gene in one sample. Collectively, 24 (18%) isolates were found to harbor mutations associated with second line anti TB drug resistance.

Conclusion: Our work revealed high frequency of mutations (18%) associated with resistance against second line anti-TB drugs. This situation can lead to increase in XDR-TB cases. We, therefore, recommend improved diagnostic and drug sensitivity testing, better prescription, and development of superior drugs to control tuberculosis. 

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DNA Fingerprinting and Cultivar Identification of Olive (Olea europaea L.) using SSR markers
Muhammad Zaffar Iqbal, Shakra Jamil, Rahil Shahzad, Sajid Ur Rahman, pages 143-148

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 Background: Genetic diversity and population structure of the olive varieties cultivated in Pakistan are yet to be explored.

Methods: In present study, we studied population structure and genetic diversity and developed DNA fingerprints of 13 olive varieties  using 63 Simple Sequence Repeat  markers.

Results: Collectively 618 alleles were amplified among which 582 were polymorphic and 36 were monomorphic. High allelic diversity per locus was found among 63 SSR markers, i.e., one for GAPU-12 to 23 for UDO099-008 and GAPU-47 with an average 9.80 alleles per locus. On the basis of cluster analysis genotypes were grouped into two clusters. Cluster I contained varieties Manzanilla, Sohawa-selection, Koroneki, Bulkasar-selection, Arbequina, Arbosona, Chugtai-selection, whereas cluster II was comprised of varieties Bari-Zatoon, Coratina, Gemlik, Frontaio, Pendolino and Ottobratica. UDO-24 marker alone identified seven olive varieties. Similarly, DCA-07 and EMO-02 identified six olive varieties each.

Conclusion: The findings of this manuscript will be helpful for future studies related to DNA fingerprinting and genetic diversity assessment for choice of SSR markers and identification of olive varieties. 

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Phosphorus Fertilizer Response to Onion (Allium cepa L.) Yield in Punjab, Pakistan
Muhammad Akram Qazi, Muhammad Nadeem Iqbal, Muhammad Sadiq, Naveed Iqbal Khan, Farah Umar, Khalid Mehmood Mughal, Mehrin Khalid, Balqees Akhtar, Rehman Gull, pages 149-153

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 Background: Onion (Allium cepa L.) is one of the most essential plants in food with high nutritional value. However, application of right dose of phosphorous (P) is one of the constraints to the profitable onion yields in soils deficient in P.

Methods: A systematic study to confirm the best dose of P was conducted for six years in the P deficient soil in farmers’ fields. Based on the findings obtained from 2008-09 to 2010-11, the research was undertaken to determine the effect of different phosphorus levels on the yield of onion in the Randomized Complete Block Design (RCBD) with a total of 114 replicates  in 2011-12 to 2012-13. Four treatments (160, 210, 260 and 310 kg P2O5 ha-1) were tested with N and K at 100 kg ha-1.

Results: From the results of this investigation, the variance analysis showed the substantial P impact. The maximum marketable bulb yield (19.03 t ha-1) was obtained from the fertilizer combination NPK @ 100-310-100 kg ha-1 and was shown to be statistically higher than all other treatments.

Conclusion: Nonetheless, the nutshell of the overall economic study is that poor farmers (Land holders >12 acres) may have options to select the NPK fertilizer combination @ 100:210:100 kg ha-1 and the average farmer may have options to select the NPK fertilizer combination @ 100:260:100 kg ha-1. But rich farmers (Land holders >25 acres) who can spend more money on fertilizers and are interested in the higher gross margin should follow the combination of NPK fertilizers @ 100:310:100 kg ha-1 to profitably increase their gross margin and maintain soil fertility for onion cultivation in Punjab, Pakistan.  

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Metabolic and molecular effects of edible oils on PPAR modulators in rabbit liver
Syed Nasir Ahamed, Johra Khan, Syed Rahamathulla, T.C. Venkateswarulu, S. Krupanidhu, pages 154-159

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 Background: Peroxisome proliferator-activated receptors are the receptors that switch-on DNA responding elements as heterodimers with nuclear retinoic acid. These are the transcription factors and belong to the family of nuclear receptors and key regulators for lipid and glucose metabolism.

Methods: The study was designed to investigate the effect of edible oil on PPAR Alpha & Gamma expression on rabbit liver.

Results: Reduced Glutathione (GSH) activity showed a significant increase and glutathione peroxidase (GPx) activity showed a significant decrease in batch II and batch III in comparison to control group was observed. Out of the total 3 batches, an increase was significantly increased in batch III (160%) in comparison to batch II (151%).  Inedible oil-treated Batches, PPAR α, and PPAR γ levels were found to decrease significantly for the control batch. The decrease in PPAR alpha levels in batch II and batch III was 1.7 and 2.2 fold with p<0.01. In the case of PPAR gamma, the corresponding values increased by 1.6 and 2.4 fold respectively with p<0.01.

Conclusion: The study demonstrated that edible oil supplementation significantly increases mRNA levels up to two-fold in comparison to the control batch. 

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Local Radiation Dosimetry Method using Optically Stimulated Pulsed Luminescence and Monte Carlo Simulation
Mohammed Talbi, M'hamed El Mansouri, Mounir Ben Messaoud, Rajaa Sebihi, Morad Erraoudi, Yassine Azakhmam, Mohammed Khalis, pages 160-166

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 Background: This is the first study that has been done in Morocco with the aim of optimizing protection and protocols in diagnostic radiology, by using Monte Carlo simulation and Optically Stimulated Luminescence (OSL). 

Methods: Measurements have been performed with solid (AGMS-D+) and OSL detectors to determine the Air Kerma and the backscattering factor on a diagnostic radiology unit.

Results: The spectra simulated by GATE were in a good adequacy with spectra generated by IPEM  report 78, with slight differences in the X-rays intensity characteristic, and there was no statistically significant difference between Air Kerma simulated with GATE and those measured using the AGMS-D+ and OSL (P < 0.01).

Conclusion: Monte Carlo simulation responses were suitable and could provide an accurate alternative for Air Kerma and the entrance surface dose determination with non‐uniform primary x‐ray beams. 

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Synergistic effects of Zinc oxide nanoparticles and conventional antibiotics against methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus
Munazza Sharif, Sarfraz Ali Tunio, Shaista Bano, pages 167-171

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 Background: Methicillin resistance in Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is creating crises in therapeutic options for the treatment of S. aureus associated infections, worldwide. Nevertheless, Zinc oxide nanoparticles (ZnO-NPs) are providing a source of an attractive broad-spectrum antibiotic. The aim of the present study was to investigate the synergistic effects of ZnO-NPs and antibiotics against mecA positive MRSA isolates.

Methods: Antibiogram of S. aureus was determined by Kirby Baur disc diffusion assay. The minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC) of antibiotics and ZnO-NPs was determined by using the broth dilution method. The mecA gene in S. aureus was detected by PCR amplification with gene specific forward and reverse primers. The effects of subinhibitory concentration of ZnO-NPs on conventional antibiotics was determined by combined disk diffusion assay.

Results: Out of two hundred clinical specimens, twenty-eight showed the growth of S. aureus. Antibiogram of the isolates showed that S. aureus have acquired resistance to the majority of the conventional antibiotics. However, no isolate showed resistance to vancomycin. The confirmed methicillin resistant S. aureus isolates were sensitive to ZnO-NPs. The antibacterial activity of ZnO-NPs appeared in a dose and time dependent manner since higher dose produced stronger effects in two hours than the effects produced from lower dose in three hours. Furthermore, ZnO-NPs enhanced the antibacterial activity of levofloxacin significantly (p < 0.001).

Conclusions: S. aureus has acquired strong resistance to multiple antibiotics. ZnO-NPs have potential synergism with levofloxacin antibiotic against the multiple drug resistant S. aureus including MRSA.  

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Salinity, livelihood and agricultural productivity: A case of Hafizabad District
Arshad Mahmood Malik, Hafiz Muhammad Tayyab, Muhammad Arshad Ullah, Muhammad Talha Bilal, pages 172-178

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 Background: Soil salinity; concentration and or accumulation of salts may pose severe risk on soil productivity and in turn concerned population and farmers. Salt-influenced lands in Pakistan were spread over 6.63 million hectare which is diminishing the agrarian profitability. This study will explore the impact of salinity on livelihood of farmers in district Hafizabad.

Methods: Data of 192 small, medium and large farmers was collected from four randomly selected villages of salinity affected area of Hafizabad district of Punjab province of Pakistan using multistage probability sampling technique. SPSS version 21.0 was utilized to analyze the data for generating logical results.

Results: Farmers belonging to saline area communities were characterized on the basis of their education, experience, cultivated area, and method of irrigation and technological adoption for analyzing their livelihood typologies. Average yield of wheat was found to be 26mnds/acre, while marketable surplus was high for large farmers due to ownership of more area. Livelihood typologies were derived mainly from on-farm and off-farm income activities of the farmers. Agriculture farm earning in the saline area was estimated as Rs. 10 to 12 thousand per acre. Contribution of off-farm income in household cash flows was estimated in 79% of small, medium and large farmer as less than 15000 indicating the dependency status of the households.

Conclusion: Major livelihood source in Salt-affected soils was still agricultural cash inflows beside their contribution to the food basket of consumers. Farmers were in favour of provision of farming inputs on subsidized rates i.e. lime and gypsum as a poverty alleviation strategy in the area for positive promotion of sharing culture with public sector.  

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Impact of Sickle Cell Anemia on children growth and clinical parameters in Al-Ahsa region of Saudi Arabia
Nawaf Alanazi, Shahad Alabdullatif, Maryam Albahrani, Malak Aljamaan, Fatimah Alsayegh, Aysha Bhalli, Khaled Aljarrah, Zafar Iqbal, pages 179-183

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 Background: Sickle cell disease (SCD) is an autosomal recessive disease caused by a single gene mutation, leading to sickle-shaped red blood cells, causing many clinical complications. Resulting complications may affect the growth of the SCD patients that is a strong measure of severity of disease and helps in disease management strategies in any area.  Eastern province of Saudi Arabia has one of the highest SCD incidences. Nevertheless, no studies have been previously carried out of about clinical outcome of SCD in Al-Ahsa area of eastern province. Therefore, this study was conducted to find out the impact of SCD children at king Abdulaziz Hospital Al-Ahsa.

Methods: All pediatric SCD patients were included in the study. Patient data was taken from hospital information system and analyzed using SPSS version 27.

Results: A total of 53 patients were studied. The male to female ratio was 1.4:1 and mean age was 3.3 years (range: 1-9). Eighteen (34%) did not present with sickle cell crisis possibly due to ameliorating effects of high HbF and G6PD deficiency. Although growth parameters of SCD patients were not statistically different from international standards, there was significant difference between weight of SCD patients in recurrent sickle cell crisis group and non-crisis sickle cell (NC-SC) group at diagnosis and after clinical interventions (p= 0.04 and 0.03, respectively) that included hydroxyurea. The corrected reticulocyte (at diagnosis and after clinical intervention) and WBC counts were statistically significant between hydroxyurea and non-hydroxyurea groups (p-value < 0.05).

Conclusions: Overall, one-third of SCD patients in Al-Ahsa region have mild disease and hydroxyurea can minimize the SCD severity through lowering corrected reticulocyte and WBC counts. Exact mechanisms of mild SCD and hydroxyurea in minimizing disease severity are needed to be elucidated.  

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Nitrogen removal efficiency of some bacterial strains isolated from seawater in Thua Thien Hue, Vietnam
Le Cong Tuan, Nguyen Duc Huy, Le My Tieu Ngoc, Doan Thi My Lanh, Te Minh Son, Nguyen Hoang Loc, pages 184-189

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 Background: Nitrifying bacteria in aquaculture environments are capable of removing toxic nitrogen compounds such as ammonium and nitrite. Using these indigenous microbial resources can improve shrimp production.

Methods: Screening method was used to isolate aerobic strains of nitrifying bacteria. Species identification for these isolates was done by biomolecular method based on 16S rDNA gene sequence. Ammonium, nitrite and nitrate concentrations from the culture were determined by spectrophotometry at the appropriate wavelength. Temperature, pH, dissolved oxygen and salinity were measured by specialized equipment. Formation and development of flocs during shrimp culture were determined based on their volume and weight. A trial of shrimp nursery was carried out on a small scale with 0.5 m3 tanks containing diluted seawater to 16-18‰ salinity at a density of 400 individual/m3 for 24 days on April 2019. 

Results: This study isolated two strains of Pseudomonas (BF01 and BF03) and one strain of Cupriavidus oxalaticus BF02 from seawater in Thua Thien Hue province, Vietnam. These bacterial isolates have shown ability to remove nitrogen compounds such as ammonium, nitrite and nitrate in culture medium. Formation and development of flocs were found in trials of shrimp nursery with diluted seawater containing the isolates. Some water quality parameters (temperature, pH, dissolved oxygen, salinity, ammonium and nitrite) were kept at a safe level and juvenile shrimp grown normally during culture.

Conclusion: The observations on the water quality and basic growth parameters of juvenile shrimp in the two treatments, diluted seawater and diluted seawater with commercial microbial products, showed that there were no significant differences between them with p = 0.05. This proves that three isolates have played an important role in shrimp nursery.  

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Molecular probing of Aflatoxigenic fungi in rice grains collected from local markets of Lahore, Pakistan
Sohaib Afzaal, Shinawar Waseem Ali, Usman Hameed, Aftab Ahmad, Muhammad Akhlaq, Muhammad Arshad Javed, Muhammad Saleem Haider, pages 190-194

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 Background: Aflatoxigenic Aspergillus strains have emerged as a serious threat to food safety and quality assurance. The objective of this study was to identify the aflatoxigenic Aspergillus sp. by targeting the amplification of aflatoxigenic genes i.e., aflR, nor1, omt1, ver1, in different fugal strains isolated from the rice grains being marketed in local markets of Lahore city, Pakistan.

Methods: Total eleven (11) Aspergillus strains were isolated from rice grains and aflatoxigenic genes i.e., aflR, nor1, omt1, ver1 were amplified to differentiate between aflatoxin producing and non-producing strains.

Results: Four (04) out of total eleven (11) strains showed the presence of aflatoxins producing genes, indicating the possible contamination of aflatoxins in rice grains being sold in local markets of Lahore.

Conclusion: This research provides the basis for the quantification of aflatoxins; a significant threat to the quality of foodstuffs and consumers. The situation demands the attention of rice growers, processors as well as government officials to tackle the problem to assure the safety of rice eaters.  

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