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  1. Abstract

    Neuromorphic computing mimics the organizational principles of the brain in its quest to replicate the brain’s intellectual abilities. An impressive ability of the brain is its adaptive intelligence, which allows the brain to regulate its functions “on the fly” to cope with myriad and ever-changing situations. In particular, the brain displays three adaptive and advanced intelligence abilities of context-awareness, cross frequency coupling, and feature binding. To mimic these adaptive cognitive abilities, we design and simulate a novel, hardware-based adaptive oscillatory neuron using a lattice of magnetic skyrmions. Charge current fed to the neuron reconfigures the skyrmion lattice, thereby modulating the neuron’s state, its dynamics and its transfer function “on the fly.” This adaptive neuron is used to demonstrate the three cognitive abilities, of which context-awareness and cross-frequency coupling have not been previously realized in hardware neurons. Additionally, the neuron is used to construct an adaptive artificial neural network (ANN) and perform context-aware diagnosis of breast cancer. Simulations show that the adaptive ANN diagnoses cancer with higher accuracy while learning faster and using a more compact and energy-efficient network than a nonadaptive ANN. The work further describes how hardware-based adaptive neurons can mitigate several critical challenges facing contemporary ANNs. Modern ANNs require large amounts of training data, energy, and chip area, and are highly task-specific; conversely, hardware-based ANNs built with adaptive neurons show faster learning, compact architectures, energy-efficiency, fault-tolerance, and can lead to the realization of broader artificial intelligence.

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  2. Abstract

    The use of agrochemicals is increasingly recognized as interfering with pollination services due to its detrimental effects on pollinators. Compared to the relatively well-studied chemical toxicity of agrochemicals, little is known on how they influence various biophysical floral cues that are used by pollinating insects to identify floral rewards. Here, we show that widely used horticultural and agricultural synthetic fertilizers affect bumblebee foraging behavior by altering a complex set of interlinked biophysical properties of the flower. We provide empirical and model-based evidence that synthetic fertilizers recurrently alter the magnitude and dynamics of floral electrical cues, and that similar responses can be observed with the neonicotinoid pesticide imidacloprid. We show that biophysical responses interact in modifying floral electric fields and that such changes reduce bumblebee foraging, reflecting a perturbation in the sensory events experienced by bees during flower visitation. This unveils a previously unappreciated anthropogenic interference elicited by agrochemicals within the electric landscape that is likely relevant for a wide range of chemicals and organisms that rely on naturally occurring electric fields.

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  3. Abstract

    We report a biophysical mechanism, termed cryocampsis (Greek cryo-, cold, + campsis, bending), that helps northern shrubs bend downward under a snow load. Subfreezing temperatures substantially increase the downward bending of cantilever-loaded branches of these shrubs, while allowing them to recover their summer elevation after thawing and becoming unloaded. This is counterintuitive, because biological materials (including branches that show cryocampsis) generally become stiffer when frozen, so should flex less, rather than more, under a given bending load. Cryocampsis involves straining of the cell walls of a branch’s xylem (wood), and depends upon the branch being hydrated. Among woody species tested, cryocampsis occurs in almost all Arctic, some boreal, only a few temperate and Mediterranean, and no tropical woody species that we have tested. It helps cold-winter climate shrubs reversibly get, and stay, below the snow surface, sheltering them from winter weather and predation hazards. This should be advantageous, because Arctic shrub bud winter mortality significantly increases if their shoots are forcibly kept above the snow surface. Our observations reveal a physically surprising behavior of biological materials at subfreezing temperatures, and a previously unrecognized mechanism of woody plant adaptation to cold-winter climates. We suggest that cryocampsis’ mechanism involves the movement of water between cell wall matrix polymers and cell lumens during freezing, analogous to that of frost-heave in soils or rocks.

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  4. Abstract

    We analyze social media activity during one of the largest protest mobilizations in US history to examine ideological asymmetries in the posting of news content. Using an unprecedented combination of four datasets (tracking offline protests, social media activity, web browsing, and the reliability of news sources), we show that there is no evidence of unreliable sources having any prominent visibility during the protest period, but we do identify asymmetries in the ideological slant of the sources shared on social media, with a clear bias towards right-leaning domains. These results support the “amplification of the right” thesis, which points to the structural conditions (social and technological) that lead to higher visibility of content with a partisan bent towards the right. Our findings provide evidence that right-leaning sources gain more visibility on social media and reveal that ideological asymmetries manifest themselves even in the context of movements with progressive goals.

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  5. Abstract

    The contours of endemic coronaviral disease in humans and other animals are shaped by the tendency of coronaviruses to generate new variants superimposed upon nonsterilizing immunity. Consequently, patterns of coronaviral reinfection in animals can inform the emerging endemic state of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic. We generated controlled reinfection data after high and low risk natural exposure or heterologous vaccination to sialodacryoadenitis virus (SDAV) in rats. Using deterministic compartmental models, we utilized in vivo estimates from these experiments to model the combined effects of variable transmission rates, variable duration of immunity, successive waves of variants, and vaccination on patterns of viral transmission. Using rat experiment-derived estimates, an endemic state achieved by natural infection alone occurred after a median of 724 days with approximately 41.3% of the population susceptible to reinfection. After accounting for translationally altered parameters between rat-derived data and human SARS-CoV-2 transmission, and after introducing vaccination, we arrived at a median time to endemic stability of 1437 (IQR = 749.25) days with a median 15.4% of the population remaining susceptible. We extended the models to introduce successive variants with increasing transmissibility and included the effect of varying duration of immunity. As seen with endemic coronaviral infections in other animals, transmission states are altered by introduction of new variants, even with vaccination. However, vaccination combined with natural immunity maintains a lower prevalence of infection than natural infection alone and provides greater resilience against the effects of transmissible variants.

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  6. Abstract

    Neural, physiological, and behavioral signals synchronize between human subjects in a variety of settings. Multiple hypotheses have been proposed to explain this interpersonal synchrony, but there is no clarity under which conditions it arises, for which signals, or whether there is a common underlying mechanism. We hypothesized that cognitive processing of a shared stimulus is the source of synchrony between subjects, measured here as intersubject correlation (ISC). To test this, we presented informative videos to participants in an attentive and distracted condition and subsequently measured information recall. ISC was observed for electro-encephalography, gaze position, pupil size, and heart rate, but not respiration and head movements. The strength of correlation was co-modulated in the different signals, changed with attentional state, and predicted subsequent recall of information presented in the videos. There was robust within-subject coupling between brain, heart, and eyes, but not respiration or head movements. The results suggest that ISC is the result of effective cognitive processing, and thus emerges only for those signals that exhibit a robust brain–body connection. While physiological and behavioral fluctuations may be driven by multiple features of the stimulus, correlation with other individuals is co-modulated by the level of attentional engagement with the stimulus.

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  7. Abstract

    Divergent hosts often associate with intracellular microbes that influence their fitness. Maternally transmitted Wolbachia bacteria are the most common of these endosymbionts, due largely to cytoplasmic incompatibility (CI) that kills uninfected embryos fertilized by Wolbachia-infected males. Closely related infections in females rescue CI, providing a relative fitness advantage that drives Wolbachia to high frequencies. One prophage-associated gene (cifA) governs rescue, and two contribute to CI (cifA and cifB), but CI strength ranges from very strong to very weak for unknown reasons. Here, we investigate CI-strength variation and its mechanistic underpinnings in a phylogenetic context across 20 million years (MY) of Wolbachia evolution in Drosophila hosts diverged up to 50 MY. These Wolbachia encode diverse Cif proteins (100% to 7.4% pairwise similarity), and AlphaFold structural analyses suggest that CifB sequence similarities do not predict structural similarities. We demonstrate that cifB-transcript levels in testes explain CI strength across all but two focal systems. Despite phylogenetic discordance among cifs and the bulk of the Wolbachia genome, closely related Wolbachia tend to cause similar CI strengths and transcribe cifB at similar levels. This indicates that other non-cif regions of the Wolbachia genome modulate cif-transcript levels. CI strength also increases with the length of the host’s larval life stage, presumably due to prolonged cif action. Our findings reveal that cifB-transcript levels largely explain CI strength, while highlighting other covariates. Elucidating CI’s mechanism contributes to our understanding of Wolbachia spread in natural systems and to improving the efficacy of CI-based biocontrol of arboviruses and agricultural pests globally.

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  8. Abstract

    Intertidal sands are global hotspots of terrestrial and marine carbon cycling with strong hydrodynamic forcing by waves and tides and high macrofaunal activity. Yet, the relative importance of hydrodynamics and macrofauna in controlling these ecosystems remains unclear. Here, we compare geochemical gradients and bacterial, archaeal, and eukaryotic gene sequences in intertidal sands dominated by subsurface deposit-feeding worms (Abarenicola pacifica) to adjacent worm-free areas. We show that hydrodynamic forcing controls organismal assemblages in surface sediments, while in deeper layers selective feeding by worms on fine, algae-rich particles strongly decreases the abundance and richness of all three domains. In these deeper layers, bacterial and eukaryotic network connectivity decreases, while percentages of clades involved in degradation of refractory organic matter, oxidative nitrogen, and sulfur cycling increase. Our findings reveal macrofaunal activity as the key driver of biological community structure and functioning, that in turn influence carbon cycling in intertidal sands below the mainly physically controlled surface layer.

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  9. Abstract

    Human activities are the leading cause of biological invasions that cause ecologic and economic damage around the world. Aquatic invasive species (AIS) are often spread by recreational anglers who visit two or more bodies of water within a short time frame. Movement data from anglers are, therefore, critical to predicting, preventing, and monitoring the spread of AIS. However, the lack of broad-scale movement data has restricted efforts to large and popular lakes or small geographic extents. Here, we show that recreational fishing apps are an abundant, convenient, and relatively comprehensive source of “big” movement data across the contiguous United States. Our analyses revealed a dense network of angler movements that was dramatically more interconnected and extensive than the network that is formed naturally by rivers and streams. Short-distanced movements by anglers combined to form invasion superhighways that spanned the contiguous United States. We also identified possible invasion fronts and invaded hub lakes that may be superspreaders for two relatively common aquatic invaders. Our results provide unique insight into the national network through which AIS may be spread, increase opportunities for interjurisdictional coordination that is essential to addressing the problem of AIS, and highlight the important role that anglers can play in providing accurate data and preventing invasions. The advantages of mobile devices as both sources of data and a means of engaging the public in their shared responsibility to prevent invasions are probably general to all forms of tourism and recreation that contribute to the spread of invasive species.

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  10. Abstract

    The prehistory of the people of Uruguay is greatly complicated by the dramatic and severe effects of European contact, as with most of the Americas. After the series of military campaigns that exterminated the last remnants of nomadic peoples, Uruguayan official history masked and diluted the former Indigenous ethnic diversity into the narrative of a singular people that all but died out. Here, we present the first whole genome sequences of the Indigenous people of the region before the arrival of Europeans, from an archaeological site in eastern Uruguay that dates from 2,000 years before present. We find a surprising connection to ancient individuals from Panama and eastern Brazil, but not to modern Amazonians. This result may be indicative of a migration route into South America that may have occurred along the Atlantic coast. We also find a distinct ancestry previously undetected in South America. Though this work begins to piece together some of the demographic nuance of the region, the sequencing of ancient individuals from across Uruguay is needed to better understand the ancient prehistory and genetic diversity that existed before European contact, thereby helping to rebuild the history of the Indigenous population of what is now Uruguay.

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