- Biodiversität und Klima Forschungszentrum (BiK-F) (35)
Population dynamics and genetic changes of Picea abies in the South Carpathians revealed by pollen and ancient DNA analyses
Enikö K. Magyari
- Background: Studies on allele length polymorphism designate several glacial refugia for Norway spruce (Picea abies) in the South Carpathian Mountains, but infer only limited expansion from these refugia after the last glaciation. To better understand the genetic dynamics of a South Carpathian spruce lineage, we compared ancient DNA from 10,700 and 11,000-year-old spruce pollen and macrofossils retrieved from Holocene lake sediment in the Retezat Mountains with DNA extracted from extant material from the same site. We used eight primer pairs that amplified short and variable regions of the spruce cpDNA. In addition, from the same lake sediment we obtained a 15,000-years-long pollen accumulation rate (PAR) record for spruce that helped us to infer changes in population size at this site. Results: We obtained successful amplifications for Norway spruce from 17 out of 462 pollen grains tested, while the macrofossil material provided 22 DNA sequences. Two fossil sequences were found to be unique to the ancient material. Population genetic statistics showed higher genetic diversity in the ancient individuals compared to the extant ones. Similarly, statistically significant Ks and Kst values showed a considerable level of differentiation between extant and ancient populations at the same loci. Lateglacial and Holocene PAR values suggested that population size of the ancient population was small, in the range of 1/10 or 1/5 of the extant population. PAR analysis also detected two periods of rapid population growths (from ca. 11,100 and 3900 calibrated years before present (cal yr BP)) and three bottlenecks (around 9180, 7200 and 2200 cal yr BP), likely triggered by climatic change and human impact. Conclusion: Our results suggest that the paternal lineages observed today in the Retezat Mountains persisted at this site at least since the early Holocene. Combination of the results from the genetic and the PAR analyses furthermore suggests that the higher level of genetic variation found in the ancient populations and the loss of ancient allele types detected in the extant individuals were likely due to the repeated bottlenecks during the Holocene. This study demonstrates how past population size changes inferred from PAR records can be efficiently used in combination with ancient DNA studies. The joint application of palaeoecological and population genetic analyses proved to be a powerful tool to understand the influence of past population demographic changes on the haplotype diversity and genetic composition of forest tree species.
When Indian crabs were not yet Asian - biogeographic evidence for Eocene proximity of India and Southeast Asia
Christoph D. Schubart
- Background: The faunal and floral relationship of northward-drifting India with its neighboring continents is of general biogeographic interest as an important driver of regional biodiversity. However, direct biogeographic connectivity of India and Southeast Asia during the Cenozoic remains largely unexplored. We investigate timing, direction and mechanisms of faunal exchange between India and Southeast Asia, based on a molecular phylogeny, molecular clock-derived time estimates and biogeographic reconstructions of the Asian freshwater crab family Gecarcinucidae. Results: Although the Gecarcinucidae are not an element of an ancient Gondwana fauna, their subfamily Gecarcinucinae, and probably also the Liotelphusinae, evolved on the Indian Subcontinent and subsequently dispersed to Southeast Asia. Estimated by a model testing approach, this dispersal event took place during the Middle Eocene, and thus before the final collision of India and the Tibet-part of Eurasia. Conclusions: We postulate that the India and Southeast Asia were close enough for exchange of freshwater organisms during the Middle Eocene, before the final Indian--Eurasian collision. Our data support geological models that assume the Indian plate having tracked along Southeast Asia during its move northwards.
Snake bite in South Asia: a review
Sanjib Kumar Sharma
Himmatrao Saluba Bawaskar
- Snake bite is one of the most neglected public health issues in poor rural communities living in the tropics. Because of serious misreporting, the true worldwide burden of snake bite is not known. South Asia is the world's most heavily affected region, due to its high population density, widespread agricultural activities, numerous venomous snake species and lack of functional snake bite control programs. Despite increasing knowledge of snake venoms' composition and mode of action, good understanding of clinical features of envenoming and sufficient production of antivenom by Indian manufacturers, snake bite management remains unsatisfactory in this region. Field diagnostic tests for snake species identification do not exist and treatment mainly relies on the administration of antivenoms that do not cover all of the important venomous snakes of the region. Care-givers need better training and supervision, and national guidelines should be fed by evidence-based data generated by well-designed research studies. Poorly informed rural populations often apply inappropriate first-aid measures and vital time is lost before the victim is transported to a treatment centre, where cost of treatment can constitute an additional hurdle. The deficiency of snake bite management in South Asia is multi-causal and requires joint collaborative efforts from researchers, antivenom manufacturers, policy makers, public health authorities and international funders.
Why would plant species become extinct locally if growing conditions improve?
- wo assumptions underlie current models of the geographical ranges of perennial plant species: 1. current ranges are in equilibrium with the prevailing climate, and 2. changes are attributable to changes in macroclimatic factors, including tolerance of winter cold, the duration of the growing season, and water stress during the growing season, rather than to biotic interactions. These assumptions allow model parameters to be estimated from current species ranges. Deterioration of growing conditions due to climate change, e.g. more severe drought, will cause local extinction. However, for many plant species, the predicted climate change of higher minimum temperatures and longer growing seasons means, improved growing conditions. Biogeographical models may under some circumstances predict that a species will become locally extinct, despite improved growing conditions, because they are based on an assumption of equilibrium and this forces the species range to match the species-specific macroclimatic thresholds. We argue that such model predictions should be rejected unless there is evidence either that competition influences the position of the range margins or that a certain physiological mechanism associated with the apparent improvement in growing conditions negatively affects the species performance. We illustrate how a process-based vegetation model can be used to ascertain whether such a physiological cause exists. To avoid potential modelling errors of this type, we propose a method that constrains the scenario predictions of the envelope models by changing the geographical distribution of the dominant plant functional type. Consistent modelling results are very important for evaluating how changes in species areas affect local functional trait diversity and hence ecosystem functioning and resilience, and for inferring the implications for conservation management in the face of climate change.
Spatial variations of nitrogen trace gas emissions from tropical mountain forests in Nyungwe, Rwanda
Nasrin Gharahi Ghehi
Landry Cizungu Ntaboba
Jean Jacques Mbonigaba Muhinda
Eric Van Ranst
- Globally, tropical forest soils represent the second largest source of N2O and NO. However, there is still considerable uncertainty on the spatial variability and soil properties controlling N trace gas emission. To investigate how soil properties affect N2O and NO emission, we carried out an incubation experiment with soils from 31 locations in the Nyungwe tropical mountain forest in southwestern Rwanda. All soils were incubated at three different moisture levels (50, 70 and 90% water filled pore space (WFPS)) at 17 °C. Nitrous oxide emission varied between 4.5 and 400 μg N m−2 h−1, while NO emission varied from 6.6 to 265 μg N m−2 h−1. Mean N2O emission at different moisture levels was 46.5 ± 11.1 (50% WFPS), 71.7 ± 11.5 (70% WFPS) and 98.8 ± 16.4 (90% WFPS) μg N m−2 h−1, while mean NO emission was 69.3 ± 9.3 (50% WFPS), 47.1 ± 5.8 (70% WFPS) and 36.1 ± 4.2 (90% WFPS) μg N m−2 h−1. The latter suggests that climate (i.e. dry vs. wet season) controls N2O and NO emissions. Positive correlations with soil carbon and nitrogen indicate a biological control over N2O and NO production. But interestingly N2O and NO emissions also showed a negative correlation (only N2O) with soil pH and a positive correlation with free iron. The latter suggest that chemo-denitrification might, at least for N2O, be an important production pathway. In conclusion improved understanding and process based modeling of N trace gas emission from tropical forests will not only benefit from better spatial explicit trace gas emission and basic soil property monitoring, but also by differentiating between biological and chemical pathways for N trace gas formation.
Impact of carnivory on human development and evolution revealed by a new unifying model of weaning in mammals
- Our large brain, long life span and high fertility are key elements of human evolutionary success and are often thought to have evolved in interplay with tool use, carnivory and hunting. However, the specific impact of carnivory on human evolution, life history and development remains controversial. Here we show in quantitative terms that dietary profile is a key factor influencing time to weaning across a wide taxonomic range of mammals, including humans. In a model encompassing a total of 67 species and genera from 12 mammalian orders, adult brain mass and two dichotomous variables reflecting species differences regarding limb biomechanics and dietary profile, accounted for 75.5%, 10.3% and 3.4% of variance in time to weaning, respectively, together capturing 89.2% of total variance. Crucially, carnivory predicted the time point of early weaning in humans with remarkable precision, yielding a prediction error of less than 5% with a sample of forty-six human natural fertility societies as reference. Hence, carnivory appears to provide both a necessary and sufficient explanation as to why humans wean so much earlier than the great apes. While early weaning is regarded as essentially differentiating the genus Homo from the great apes, its timing seems to be determined by the same limited set of factors in humans as in mammals in general, despite some 90 million years of evolution. Our analysis emphasizes the high degree of similarity of relative time scales in mammalian development and life history across 67 genera from 12 mammalian orders and shows that the impact of carnivory on time to weaning in humans is quantifiable, and critical. Since early weaning yields shorter interbirth intervals and higher rates of reproduction, with profound effects on population dynamics, our findings highlight the emergence of carnivory as a process fundamentally determining human evolution.
Spatial variations of nitrogen trace gas emissions from tropical mountain forests in Nyungwe, Rwanda
Nasrin Gharahi Ghehi
Landry Cizungu Ntaboba
Jean Jacques Mbonigaba Muhinda
Eric Van Ranst
- Globally, tropical forest soils represent the second largest source of N2O and NO. However, there is still considerable uncertainty on the spatial variability and soil properties controlling N trace gas emission. Therefore, we carried out an incubation experiment with soils from 31 locations in the Nyungwe tropical mountain forest in southwestern Rwanda. All soils were incubated at three different moisture levels (50, 70 and 90 % water filled pore space (WFPS)) at 17 °C. Nitrous oxide emission varied between 4.5 and 400 μg N m−2 h−1, while NO emission varied from 6.6 to 265 μg N m−2 h−1. Mean N2O emission at different moisture levels was 46.5 ± 11.1 (50 %WFPS), 71.7 ± 11.5 (70 %WFPS) and 98.8 ± 16.4 (90 %WFPS) μg N m−2 h−1, while mean NO emission was 69.3 ± 9.3 (50 %WFPS), 47.1 ± 5.8 (70 %WFPS) and 36.1 ± 4.2 (90 %WFPS) μg N m−2 h−1. The latter suggests that climate (i.e. dry vs. wet season) controls N2O and NO emissions. Positive correlations with soil carbon and nitrogen indicate a biological control over N2O and NO production. But interestingly N2O and NO emissions also showed a positive correlation with free iron and a negative correlation with soil pH (only N2O). The latter suggest that chemo-denitrification might, at least for N2O, be an important production pathway. In conclusion improved understanding and process based modeling of N trace gas emission from tropical forests will benefit from spatially explicit trace gas emission estimates linked to basic soil property data and differentiating between biological and chemical pathways for N trace gas formation.
Deregulation of sucrose-controlled translation of a bZIP-type transcription factor results in sucrose accumulation in leaves
Sunil Kumar Thalor
Sung Shin Lee
Seung Hwan Yang
- Sucrose is known to repress the translation of Arabidopsis thaliana AtbZIP11 transcript which encodes a protein belonging to the group of S (S - stands for small) basic region-leucine zipper (bZIP)-type transcription factor. This repression is called sucrose-induced repression of translation (SIRT). It is mediated through the sucrose-controlled upstream open reading frame (SC-uORF) found in the AtbZIP11 transcript. The SIRT is reported for 4 other genes belonging to the group of S bZIP in Arabidopsis. Tobacco tbz17 is phylogenetically closely related to AtbZIP11 and carries a putative SC-uORF in its 5′-leader region. Here we demonstrate that tbz17 exhibits SIRT mediated by its SC-uORF in a manner similar to genes belonging to the S bZIP group of the Arabidopsis genus. Furthermore, constitutive transgenic expression of tbz17 lacking its 5′-leader region containing the SC-uORF leads to production of tobacco plants with thicker leaves composed of enlarged cells with 3–4 times higher sucrose content compared to wild type plants. Our finding provides a novel strategy to generate plants with high sucrose content.
Host plant use by competing acacia-ants: mutualists monopolize while parasites share hosts
Daniel J. Ballhorn
Steffen U. Pauls
Corrie S. Moreau
- Protective ant-plant mutualisms that are exploited by non-defending parasitic ants represent prominent model systems for ecology and evolutionary biology. The mutualist Pseudomyrmex ferrugineus is an obligate plant-ant and fully depends on acacias for nesting space and food. The parasite Pseudomyrmex gracilis facultatively nests on acacias and uses host-derived food rewards but also external food sources. Integrative analyses of genetic microsatellite data, cuticular hydrocarbons and behavioral assays showed that an individual acacia might be inhabited by the workers of several P. gracilis queens, whereas one P. ferrugineus colony monopolizes one or more host trees. Despite these differences in social organization, neither of the species exhibited aggressive behavior among conspecific workers sharing a tree regardless of their relatedness. This lack of aggression corresponds to the high similarity of cuticular hydrocarbon profiles among ants living on the same tree. Host sharing by unrelated colonies, or the presence of several queens in a single colony are discussed as strategies by which parasite colonies could achieve the observed social organization. We argue that in ecological terms, the non-aggressive behavior of non-sibling P. gracilis workers — regardless of the route to achieve this social structure — enables this species to efficiently occupy and exploit a host plant. By contrast, single large and long-lived colonies of the mutualist P. ferrugineus monopolize individual host plants and defend them aggressively against invaders from other trees. Our findings highlight the necessity for using several methods in combination to fully understand how differing life history strategies affect social organization in ants.
Evolution of microgastropods (Ellobioidea, Carychiidae): integrating taxonomic, phylogenetic and evolutionary hypotheses
- BACKGROUND: Current biodiversity patterns are considered largely the result of past climatic and tectonic changes. In an integrative approach, we combine taxonomic and phylogenetic hypotheses to analyze temporal and geographic diversification of epigean (Carychium) and subterranean (Zospeum) evolutionary lineages in Carychiidae (Eupulmonata, Ellobioidea). We explicitly test three hypotheses: 1) morphospecies encompass unrecognized evolutionary lineages, 2) limited dispersal results in a close genetic relationship of geographical proximally distributed taxa and 3) major climatic and tectonic events had an impact on lineage diversification within Carychiidae.
RESULTS: Initial morphospecies assignments were investigated by different molecular delimitation approaches (threshold, ABGD, GMYC and SP). Despite a conservative delimitation strategy, carychiid morphospecies comprise a great number of unrecognized evolutionary lineages. We attribute this phenomenon to historic underestimation of morphological stasis and phenotypic variability amongst lineages. The first molecular phylogenetic hypothesis for the Carychiidae (based on COI, 16S and H3) reveals Carychium and Zospeum to be reciprocally monophyletic. Geographical proximally distributed lineages are often closely related. The temporal diversification of Carychiidae is best described by a constant rate model of diversification. The evolution of Carychiidae is characterized by relatively few (long distance) colonization events. We find support for an Asian origin of Carychium. Zospeum may have arrived in Europe before extant members of Carychium. Distantly related Carychium clades inhabit a wide spectrum of the available bioclimatic niche and demonstrate considerable niche overlap.
CONCLUSIONS: Carychiid taxonomy is in dire need of revision. An inferred wide distribution and variable phenotype suggest underestimated diversity in Zospeum. Several Carychium morphospecies are results of past taxonomic lumping. By collecting populations at their type locality, molecular investigations are able to link historic morphospecies assignments to their respective evolutionary lineage. We propose that rare founder populations initially colonized a continent or cave system. Subsequent passive dispersal into adjacent areas led to in situ pan-continental or mountain range diversifications. Major environmental changes did not influence carychiid diversification. However, certain molecular delimitation methods indicated a recent decrease in diversification rate. We attribute this decrease to protracted speciation.