There are 18 new articles in PLoS ONE today. As always, you should rate the articles, post notes and comments and send trackbacks when you blog about the papers. You can now also easily place articles on various social services (CiteULike, Connotea, Stumbleupon, Facebook and Digg) with just one click. Here are my own picks for the week – you go and look for your own favourites:
The Abdominal Circulatory Pump:
Blood in the splanchnic vasculature can be transferred to the extremities. We quantified such blood shifts in normal subjects by measuring trunk volume by optoelectronic plethysmography, simultaneously with changes in body volume by whole body plethysmography during contractions of the diaphragm and abdominal muscles. Trunk volume changes with blood shifts, but body volume does not so that the blood volume shifted between trunk and extremities (Vbs) is the difference between changes in trunk and body volume. This is so because both trunk and body volume change identically with breathing and gas expansion or compression. During tidal breathing Vbs was 50-75 ml with an ejection fraction of 4-6% and an output of 750-1500 ml/min. Step increases in abdominal pressure resulted in rapid emptying presumably from the liver with a time constant of 0.61±0.1SE sec. followed by slower flow from non-hepatic viscera. The filling time constant was 0.57±0.09SE sec. Splanchnic emptying shifted up to 650 ml blood. With emptying, the increased hepatic vein flow increases the blood pressure at its entry into the inferior vena cava (IVC) and abolishes the pressure gradient producing flow between the femoral vein and the IVC inducing blood pooling in the legs. The findings are important for exercise because the larger the Vbs the greater the perfusion of locomotor muscles. During asystolic cardiac arrest we calculate that appropriate timing of abdominal compression could produce an output of 6 L/min. so that the abdominal circulatory pump might act as an auxiliary heart.
New polymorphism datasets from heterochroneous data have arisen thanks to recent advances in experimental and microbial molecular evolution, and the sequencing of ancient DNA (aDNA). However, classical tools for population genetics analyses do not take into account heterochrony between subsets, despite potential bias on neutrality and population structure tests. Here, we characterize the extent of such possible biases using serial coalescent simulations. We first use a coalescent framework to generate datasets assuming no or different levels of heterochrony and contrast most classical population genetic statistics. We show that even weak levels of heterochrony (~10% of the average depth of a standard population tree) affect the distribution of polymorphism substantially, leading to overestimate the level of polymorphism θ, to star like trees, with an excess of rare mutations and a deficit of linkage disequilibrium, which are the hallmark of e.g. population expansion (possibly after a drastic bottleneck). Substantial departures of the tests are detected in the opposite direction for more heterochroneous and equilibrated datasets, with balanced trees mimicking in particular population contraction, balancing selection, and population differentiation. We therefore introduce simple corrections to classical estimators of polymorphism and of the genetic distance between populations, in order to remove heterochrony-driven bias. Finally, we show that these effects do occur on real aDNA datasets, taking advantage of the currently available sequence data for Cave Bears (Ursus spelaeus), for which large mtDNA haplotypes have been reported over a substantial time period (22-130 thousand years ago (KYA)). Considering serial sampling changed the conclusion of several tests, indicating that neglecting heterochrony could provide significant support for false past history of populations and inappropriate conservation decisions. We therefore argue for systematically considering heterochroneous models when analyzing heterochroneous samples covering a large time scale.