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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

The influence of body condition on 17-beta estradiol levels in relation to vitellogenesis in female Vipera aspis (Reptilia, Viperidae).

Seventy-six wild Vipera aspis females were caught over 3 years and placed in outdoor enclosures; 39 reproduced and 37 did not. Almost all the reproductive females had a body condition index (BCI) greater than 0.70 when vitellogenesis began. Monthly blood samples were taken by cardiac puncture. The main plasma parameters of vitellogenesis were measured by spectrophotometry: total plasma calcium, phosphorus, phospholipids, cholesterol, triglycerides, proteins, and albumin. Plasma 17-beta estradiol levels were determined by RIA. Vitellogenesis started soon after hibernation in reproductive females with very high 17-beta estradiol concentrations (average of 4.00 ng/ml) and there was a marked mobilization of maternal reserves (fat bodies, liver, and vertebral bone) associated with very high values of plasma calcium, phosphorus, phospholipids, cholesterol, triglycerides, and proteins. The kinetics of the main plasma components were described throughout the vitellogenesis period (from March to early June), when all plasma parameters differed markedly between reproductive and nonreproductive females. After ovulation, the differences between the two groups of females disappeared except in the case of albumin, which remained at a very low level in reproductive females for 6 months. All nonreproductive females had low 17-beta estradiol plasma levels during vitellogenesis (average of 0.08 ng/ml) and there was no suggestion of mobilization of maternal reserves. After vitellogenesis plasma concentrations of estradiol were low in reproductive (an average of 0.08 ng/ml) and in nonreproductive animals (0.06 ng/ml). Five nonreproductive females kept in the laboratory were estrogenized by 17-beta estradiol silastic implants. The 17-beta estradiol concentrations were close to those measured in reproductive females during vitellogenesis. Maternal reserves were mobilized, with almost all metabolic parameters exhibiting the vitellogenic pattern. When the silastic implants were removed, 17-beta estradiol concentrations dropped sharply to a basal level, but the other components were maintained near the vitellogenic values for several months. In contrast to previous studies on viviparous snakes, these results suggest that in V. aspis 17-beta estradiol levels are linked strictly to vitellogenesis.[1]


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