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  1. Abstract

    Tree canopies are known to elevate atmospheric inputs of both mercury (Hg) and methylmercury (MeHg). While foliar uptake of gaseous Hg is well documented, little is known regarding the temporal dynamics and origins of MeHg in tree foliage, which represents typically less than 1% of total Hg in foliage. In this work, we examined the foliar total Hg and MeHg content by following the growth of five individual trees of American Beech (Fagus grandifolia) for one growing season (April–November, 2017) in North Carolina, USA. We show that similar to other studies foliar Hg content increased almost linearly over time, with daily accumulation rates ranging from 0.123 to 0.161 ng/g/day. However, not all trees showed linear increases of foliar MeHg content along the growing season; we found that 2 out of 5 trees showed elevated foliar MeHg content at the initial phase of the growing season but their MeHg content declined through early summer. However, foliar MeHg content among all 5 trees showed eventual increases through the end of the growing season, proving that foliage is a net accumulator of MeHg while foliar gain of biomass did not “dilute” MeHg content.

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  2. Free, publicly-accessible full text available October 1, 2024
  3. Free, publicly-accessible full text available August 1, 2024
  4. Nabi, Mohammad Hayatun (Ed.)

    Although research shows that the Covid-19 pandemic has led to declines in mental health, the existing research has not identified the pathways through which this decline happens.


    The current study identifies the distinct pathways through which COVID-induced stressors (i.e., social distancing, disease risk, and financial stressors) trigger mental distress and examines the causal impact of these stressors on mental distress.


    We combined evidence of objective pandemic-related stressors collected at the county level (e.g., lack of social contact, infection rates, and unemployment rates) with self-reported survey data from over 11.5 million adult respondents in the United States collected daily for eight months. We used mediation analysis to examine the extent to which the objective stressors influenced mental health by influencing individual respondents’ behavior and fears.


    County-level, day-to-day social distancing predicted significantly greater mental distress, both directly and indirectly through its effects on individual social contacts, worries about getting ill, and concerns about finances. Economic hardships were indirectly linked to increased mental distress by elevating people’s concerns about their household’s finances. Disease threats were both directly linked to mental distress and indirectly through its effects on individual worries about getting ill. Although one might expect that social distancing from people outside the home would have a greater influence on people who live alone, sub-analyses based on household composition do not support this expectation.


    This research provides evidence consistent with the thesis that the COVID-19 pandemic harmed the mental well-being of adults in the United States and identifies specific stressors associated with the pandemic that are responsible for increasing mental distress.

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  5. Abstract

    Tropical cyclones (TCs) accompanied by an upper-tropospheric cold low (CL) can experience unusual tracks. Idealized simulations resembling observed scenarios are designed in this study to investigate the impacts of a CL on TC tracks. The sensitivity of the TC motion to its location relative to the CL is examined. The results show that a TC follows a counterclockwise semicircle track if initially located east of a CL, while a TC experiences a small southward-looping track, followed by a sudden northward turn if initially located west of a CL. A TC on the west side experiences opposing CL andβsteering, while they act in the same direction when a TC is on the east side of CL. The steering flow analyses show that the steering vector is dominated by upper-level flow induced by the CL at an early stage. The influence of CL extends downward and contributes to the lower-tropospheric asymmetric flow pattern of TC. As these two systems approach, the TC divergent outflow erodes the CL. The CL circulation is deformed and eventually merged with the TC when they are close. Since the erosion of CL, the TC motion is primarily related toβgyres at a later stage. The sensitivity of TC motion to the CL depth is also examined. TCs located west of a CL experience a westward track if the CL is shallow. In contrast, TCs initially located east of a CL all take a smooth track irrespective of the CL depth, and the CL depth mainly influences the track curvature and the TC translation speed.

    Significance Statement

    The purpose of this study is to better understand how an upper-tropospheric cold low affects the motion of a nearby tropical cyclone. Our findings highlight distinct track patterns based on the relative positions of the tropical cyclone and the cold low. When the tropical cyclone is located on the east side of a cold low, a mutual rotation occurs, leading to a counterclockwise semicircle track of tropical cyclone. Conversely, if the tropical cyclone is located to the west side of a cold low, the cold low approaches and captures it, resulting in an abrupt northward turn when the cold low is eroded by the tropical cyclone. These insights improve the predictability of tropical cyclones in the vicinity of cold lows.

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  6. Let F F be a number field, and n ≥ 3 n\geq 3 be an integer. In this paper we give an effective procedure which (1) determines whether two given quadratic lattices on F n F^n are isometric or not, and (2) produces an invertible linear transformation realizing the isometry provided the two given lattices are isometric. A key ingredient in our approach is a search bound for the equivalence of two given quadratic forms over number fields which we prove using methods from algebraic groups, homogeneous dynamics and spectral theory of automorphic forms. 
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  7. Abstract

    Noncanonical cofactor biomimetics (NCBs) such as nicotinamide mononucleotide (NMN+) provide enhanced scalability for biomanufacturing. However, engineering enzymes to accept NCBs is difficult. Here, we establish a growth selection platform to evolve enzymes to utilize NMN+-based reducing power. This is based on an orthogonal, NMN+-dependent glycolytic pathway inEscherichia coliwhich can be coupled to any reciprocal enzyme to recycle the ensuing reduced NMN+. With a throughput of >106variants per iteration, the growth selection discovers aLactobacillus pentosusNADH oxidase variant with ~10-fold increase in NMNH catalytic efficiency and enhanced activity for other NCBs. Molecular modeling and experimental validation suggest that instead of directly contacting NCBs, the mutations optimize the enzyme’s global conformational dynamics to resemble the WT with the native cofactor bound. Restoring the enzyme’s access to catalytically competent conformation states via deep navigation of protein sequence space with high-throughput evolution provides a universal route to engineer NCB-dependent enzymes.

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  8. The rare-earth tritellurides (RTe 3 ) are a distinct class of 2D layered materials that recently gained significant attention due to hosting such quantum collective phenomena as superconductivity or charge density waves (CDWs). Many members of this van der Waals (vdW) family crystals exhibit CDW behavior at room temperature, i.e. , RTe 3 compound where R = La, Ce, Pr, Nd, Sm, Gd, and Tb. Here, our systematic studies establish the CDW properties of RTe 3 when the vdW spacing/interaction strength between adjacent RTe 3 layers is engineered under extreme hydrostatic pressures. Using a non-destructive spectroscopy technique, pressure-dependent Raman studies first establish the pressure coefficients of phonon and CDW amplitude modes for a variety of RTe 3 materials, including LaTe 3 , CeTe 3 , PrTe 3 , NdTe 3 , SmTe 3 , GdTe 3 , and TbTe 3 . Results further show that the CDW phase is eventually suppressed at high pressures when the interlayer spacing is reduced and interaction strength is increased. Comparison between different RTe 3 materials shows that LaTe 3 with the largest thermodynamic equilibrium interlayer spacing (smallest chemical pressure) exhibits the most stable CDW phases at high pressures. In contrast, CDW phases in late RTe 3 systems with the largest internal chemical pressures are suppressed easily with applied pressure. Overall results provide comprehensive insights into the CDW response of the entire RTe 3 series under extreme pressures, offering an understanding of CDW formation/engineering in a unique class of vdW RTe 3 material systems. 
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