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  1. Biopolymer composites based on silk fibroin have shown widespread potential due to their brilliant applications in tissue engineering, medicine and bioelectronics. In our present work, biocomposite nanofilms with different special topologies were obtained through blending silk fibroin with crystallizable poly(L-lactic acid) (PLLA) at various mixture rates using a stirring-reflux condensation blending method. The microstructure, phase components, and miscibility of the blended films were studied through thermal analysis in combination with Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy and Raman analysis. X-ray diffraction and scanning electron microscope were also used for advanced structural analysis. Furthermore, their conformation transition, interaction mechanism, and thermal stability were also discussed. The results showed that the hydrogen bonds and hydrophobic interactions existed between silk fibroin (SF) and PLLA polymer chains in the blended films. The secondary structures of silk fibroin and phase components of PLLA in composites vary at different ratios of silk to PLLA. The β-sheet content increased with the increase of the silk fibroin content, while the glass transition temperature was raised mainly due to the rigid amorphous phase presence in the blended system. This results in an increase in thermal stability in blended films compared to the pure silk fibroin films. This study provided detailed insights intomore »the influence of synthetic polymer phases (crystalline, rigid amorphous, and mobile amorphous) on protein secondary structures through blending, which has direct applications on the design and fabrication of novel protein–synthetic polymer composites for the biomedical and green chemistry fields.« less
  2. Abstract

    Short tandem repeats (STRs), also known as microsatellites, are commonly used to noninvasively genotype wild‐living endangered species, including African apes. Until recently, capillary electrophoresis has been the method of choice to determine the length of polymorphicSTRloci. However, this technique is labor intensive, difficult to compare across platforms, and notoriously imprecise. Here we developed a MiSeq‐based approach and tested its performance using previously genotyped fecal samples from long‐term studied chimpanzees in Gombe National Park, Tanzania. Using data from eight microsatellite loci as a reference, we designed a bioinformatics platform that converts raw MiSeq reads into locus‐specific files and automatically calls alleles after filtering stutter sequences and otherPCRartifacts. Applying this method to the entire Gombe population, we confirmed previously reported genotypes, but also identified 31 new alleles that had been missed due to sequence differences and size homoplasy. The new genotypes, which increased the allelic diversity and heterozygosity in Gombe by 61% and 8%, respectively, were validated by replicate amplification and pedigree analyses. This demonstrated inheritance and resolved one case of an ambiguous paternity. Using both singleplex and multiplex locus amplification, we also genotyped fecal samples from chimpanzees in the Greater Mahale Ecosystem in Tanzania, demonstrating the utilitymore »of the MiSeq‐based approach for genotyping nonhabituated populations and performing comparative analyses across field sites. The new automated high‐throughput analysis platform (available at will allow biologists to more accurately and effectively determine wildlife population size and structure, and thus obtain information critical for conservation efforts.

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