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Abstract

Sleep quality and duration can be impacted by diet, and has been linked to gut microbiota composition and function as the result of communication via the microbiota-gut-brain axis. As one strategy to improve sleep quality could be through the modulation of the gut microbiome, we assessed the effects of a dairy-based product containing whey protein, galacto-oligosaccharides, tryptophan, vitamins and minerals after a 3 weeks intervention on gut microbiota composition and (gut-brain related) functions on basis of 67 healthy subjects with moderate sleep disturbances. Associations of the gut microbiota with sleep quality and with response/non-response to the treatment were revealed by shotgun metagenomics sequencing of faecal DNA samples, and subsequent analyses of microbiota taxonomy and generic functionality. A database of manually curated Gut-Brain Modules (GBMs) was applied to analyse specific microbial functions/pathways that have the potential to interact with the brain. A moderate discriminating effect of the DP treatment on gut microbiota composition was revealed which could be mainly attributed to a decrease in Pseudomonas resinovorans, Flintibacter sp. KGM00164, Intestinimonas butyriciproducens, and Flavonifractor plautii. As interindividual variance in microbiota composition could have given rise to a heterogenous responsiveness of the subjects in the intervention group, we zoomed in on the differences between responders and non-responders. A significant difference in baseline microbiota composition between responders and non-responders was apparent, showing lower Bifidobacterium longum and Bifidobacterium adolescentis, and higher Faecalibacterium prausnitzii relative abundances in responders. The findings provide leads with respect to the effectiveness and potential underlying mechanisms of mode of action in sleep improvement that could support future nutritional interventions to aid sleep improvement.

Open Access
In: Beneficial Microbes

Abstract

Marechera and his literary texts do not fit easily into Africanist categories of reading, principally due to his vitriolic invocation of the ‘f-word’ when asked if he was an African writer. Despite this iconoclasm, Afro-cosmic creeds undeniably inform aspects of his novella. An Afro-cosmological approach acknowledges non-empirical influences for certain behavioural traits portrayed by various characters in the novella which Marechera utilises and assails to address a ‘diseased’ colonial life. Using Falola’s Ritual Archives (2017), we approach this novella as a repository of Shona social ideation and cultural mythologies of haunting, and the Isisism trope of putting material remains back together. Numerous invocations of Shona cosmologies demonstrate Marechera’s socialisation into an African cosmology which manifests itself in his writing and life in unlimited ways. In sum, we interrogate the author’s use of culture codes to relocate him within an African rationale, thus, unmooring him from the Western-centric frameworks emphasised by Veit-Wild’s memoir (2020). We offer insights into the spirituality surrounding Marechera, his vagabondage and his seemingly self-sabotaging behaviour succinctly summarised by Veit-Wild as ‘biting every hand that fed you.’ Flora Veit-Wild, using the logic of a European, fails to appreciate this aspect of his life. In this article we recentre an African cosmology through the topos of being haunted to conceptualise Marechera’s writing and life to account for non-Western occurrences and modes of psychic distress which find no diagnosis in Western psychiatry.

Open Access
In: Matatu
Author:

Abstract

This paper investigates the degree to which Antiochus III’s treatment of Jerusalem conforms to a common Seleucid model. It develops this through a comparison with the same king’s treatment of Sardis in 213 BCE. It then attempts to identify a local cultural script deployed by the Seleucid court in its conquest of Judea. The paper concludes by raising some broader methodological questions.

In: Journal of Ancient Judaism

Abstract

Dambudzo Marechera who died in 1987 remains a fascinating phenomenon in African literary culture. He is very much alive in the visual culture in which he circulates digitally. He is at once posthumous, multiple, and contemporary. Even though Marechera did not live to see the 21st century, he left versions of himself that remain both relevant and resonant. This paper considers the various ways Marechera’s digital afterlives manifest and force us to interrogate the intersections of life, death, personal data and human autonomy and presents a critique of unethical digital resurrection. Who does digital Marechera belong to?

Open Access
In: Matatu

Abstract

The black soldier fly (BSF), Hermetia illucens. L (Diptera: Stratiomyidae), is often harnessed to transform organic waste into nutrient-rich larval biomass, providing an alternative animal feed in the aquaculture industry. In Israel, rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) is a common ornamental plant in gardens that also demonstrates insecticidal and repellent properties and medicinal value. This study focuses on utilizing rosemary waste to produce nutrient-enriched BSF larvae for animal feed and potential medical applications. We evaluated BSF larval survivability, adult emergence and metabolomics following supplementation with different percentages of rosemary leaves (4%, 15%, and 20%, relative to 25 g of the total Gainesville diet). Surprisingly, we observed 95-99.6% larval survivability in the rosemary treatments, comparable to the control. Larval body weight slightly decreased by 4%, 12%, and 20%, respectively, measured as 219 ± 3 mg, 220 ± 3 mg, and 219 ± 4 mg, respectively, compared to the control (249 ± 5 mg) (x̄ ± SE; P = 1.83 × 10 7 ). There was a significant difference in adult emergence at 10 days from larval addition ( P = 0.002 ), but no difference after 16 days ( P = 0.15 ). Metabolomics analysis unveiled the over-accumulation of metabolites in BSF larvae after rosemary supplementation linked to aminoacyl-tRNA biosynthesis, glutathione metabolism, phenylalanine metabolism, arginine biosynthesis, phenylalanine, tyrosine, and tryptophan biosynthesis, butanoate metabolism, and arginine and proline metabolism. Conversely, purine metabolism, tyrosine metabolism, and pantothenate and CoA biosynthesis were down-accumulated. Rosemary supplementation also led to the over-accumulation of antioxidant metabolites (rosmarinic acid, carnosic acid, and caffeic acid), suggesting that including rosemary powder in organic compost slightly reduced larval body weight but shortened adult developmental time and enhancing the nutritional value of BSF larvae. However, further molecular studies are necessary to understand BSF resistance and other biochemical changes resulting from rosemary inclusion in their diet.

In: Journal of Insects as Food and Feed

Abstract

Sarcopenia is an age-related condition characterised by muscle atrophy and loss of muscle mass. The degradation of myofibrils (atrophy) caused by the activation of myofibrillar degradation proteins, e.g. due to a decrease in nitric oxide (NO) associated with aging, contributes to sarcopenia. NO is involved in glucose and lipid metabolism and mitochondrial proliferation; however, whether endurance exercise increases NO production remains unclear. Therefore, in this study, we examined whether endurance exercise promotes metabolic signalling in muscles during continuous suppression of NO production. Mice were assigned to three groups: control, nitric oxide synthase inhibitor administration (L-NAME), and L-NAME administration plus endurance exercise (L-NAME + Ex). The L-NAME group was administered an NO synthesis inhibitor, and the L-NAME + Ex group was administered the inhibitor and performed exercise. The relative amounts of calmodulin (CaM) and nitric oxide synthase (nNOS) in the soleus muscle were significantly increased in the L-NAME + Ex group compared with those in the control and L-NAME groups. In addition, the relative amounts of Sirtuin 1 (Sirt1) and peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma coactivator 1-alpha (PGC1α) in the L-NAME + Ex group were significantly higher than those in the L-NAME group and similar to those in the control group. CaM and nNOS are involved in NO production, whereas Sirt1 and PGC1α play facilitatory roles in glucose and lipid metabolism. These findings suggest that endurance exercise may enhance muscle metabolic signalling by increasing NO production, even with the suppression of NO synthesis.

In: Comparative Exercise Physiology
Free access
In: Matatu
Author:

Abstract

This article offers an in-depth reading of Flora Veit-Wild’s They Called You Dambudzo: A Memoir (2020) and its contentious racial politics of representation. Through the memoir, which I contend is an apologia pro vita sua, a justification for the author’s own life and work, Veit-Wild seeks to dispel long-standing accusations that she has benefitted from Dambudzo Marechera and his legacy. As she depicts herself as a magnanimous activist and scholar, Veit-Wild reverses the script by portraying Marechera as a “galling scoundrel” who “depended on others to sustain him.” In the process, far from offering an authoritative portrait of Marechera that we can trust, the memoir dehumanises the writer. Suggesting that Veit-Wild’s relationship with Marechera was motivated more by racialised objectification than love and respect, the text reproduces a white saviour narrative that reinscribes racist tropes of representation. While it also engages other works by Veit-Wild, this article delves into They Called You Dambudzo’s (un)critical reception, its unsettling portrayal of Marechera as a spoilt, ungrateful, and mentally ill writer who “had a way of taking for granted whatever was done for him,” Veit-Wild’s self-representation as both Marechera’s victim and saviour, her misappropriation of Marechera’s thought to enforce colourblindness, and the vexed colonial politics of speaking for others that the memoir lays bare.

Open Access
In: Matatu
Author:

Abstract

This article weaves the impossibilities of Dambudzo Marechera’s life under colonialism, racism, poverty, and violence, and of love between the Zimbabwean poet and the German scholar, Flora Veit-Wild. In this article, Veit-Wild is characterized as an “unreliable narrator” and “inside trader” due to her relationship with the poet. However, it is this position of Veit-Wild that allows us to decipher one of Marechera’s most difficult poems, “My Arms Vanished Mountains.” In using Veit-Wild as a window into my intepretation of Marechera, I also link Marechera’s poetics with that of a highly unlikely counterpart, Vladimir Nabokov. The impossibilities I allude to find their representation in Dambudzo Marechera’s “My Arms Vanished Mountains,” the poem Veit-Wild saved by chance.

In: Matatu