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We aimed to establish gestation age specific reference intervals for Doppler indices of fetal cardiac function from 12 to 40 weeks of pregnancy. In a cross-sectional observational study of singleton pregnancies, examinations were performed in 221 women evenly distributed across each week of pregnancy. Blood flow through the four cardiac valves was examined with Doppler. For the atrioventricular valves, velocity and duration of early (E) and atrial (A) waves and the interval (a) between E/A complexes was recorded. For the outflow valves, the duration (b), peak and average velocity of flow in systole was measured. Myocardial performance index (MPI) was calculated as (a - b)/b. Outlet valve diameters were measured and cardiac outputs were calculated. Gestation age specific ranges were constructed for all these parameters. We demonstrated that the cardiac output, peak systolic and time-averaged velocity increase with advancing gestation. However the MPI and E/A ratios show little change across gestation. Fetal cardiac physiology can be studied and Doppler indices reliably measured as early as the late first trimester of pregnancy. Establishing gestation age specific ranges for various cardiac indices throughout pregnancy will help the study of development of fetal cardiac function.
An experiment was designed to test whether ambient levels of UV-B radiation affect stomatal development, decrease stomatal density, and lead to increased water-use efficiency (WUE). Soybean [Glycine max (L.) Merr.] isolines with different stomatal distribution and flavonol expression patterns were field grown under shelters that either transmitted or blocked solar UV-B. All isolines exposed to solar UV-B accumulated higher concentrations of UV-screening phenolic pigments but other responses were isoline dependent. Solar UV-B decreased stomatal density and conductance in isolines expressing a unique branched kaempferol triglycoside. Decreased stomatal density was associated with increased season-long WUE and decreased internal CO2 concentration of leaf (estimated by δ13C discrimination). We concluded that photomorphogenic responses to UV-B affected stomatal density and WUE in field grown soybean; but that the magnitude and direction of these response were associated with isogenic pleiotropic differences in stomatal distribution and pigment expression. UV-B radiation had no effect on biomass accumulation or yield in a cultivar expressing only trace levels of kaempferol suggesting that flavonol expression is not prerequisite to UV-B tolerance.