Allergenic proteins such as grass pollen and house dust mite (HDM) proteins are known to trigger hypersensitivity reactions of the immune system, leading to what is commonly known as allergy. Key allergenic proteins including sequence variants have been identified but characterization of their post-translational modifications (PTMs) is still limited. Here, we present a detailed PTM characterization of a series of the main and clinically relevant allergens used in allergy tests and vaccines. We employ Orbitrap-based mass spectrometry with complementary fragmentation techniques (HCD/ETD) for site-specific PTM characterization by bottom-up analysis. In addition, top-down mass spectrometry is utilized for targeted analysis of individual proteins, revealing hitherto unknown PTMs of HDM allergens. Moreover, we identified more complex glycan structures than previously reported on the major grass pollen group 1 and 5 allergens, implicating important roles for carbohydrates in allergen recognition and response by the immune system. The new findings are important for understanding basic disease-causing mechanisms at the cellular level, which ultimately may pave the way for instigating novel approaches for targeted de-sensitization strategies and improved allergy vaccines.
Fluid-feeding Lepidoptera use an elongated proboscis, conventionally modeled as a drinking straw, to feed from pools and films of liquid. Using the monarch butterfly, Danaus plexippus (Linnaeus), we show that the inherent structural features of the lepidopteran proboscis contradict the basic assumptions of the drinking-straw model. By experimentally characterizing permeability and flow in the proboscis, we show that tapering of the food canal in the drinking region increases resistance, significantly hindering the flow of fluid. The calculated pressure differential required for a suction pump to support flow along the entire proboscis is greater than 1 atm (~101 kPa) when the butterfly feeds from a pool of liquid. We suggest that behavioral strategies employed by butterflies and moths can resolve this paradoxical pressure anomaly. Butterflies can alter the taper, the interlegular spacing and the terminal opening of the food canal, thereby controlling fluid entry and flow, by splaying the galeal tips apart, sliding the galeae along one another, pulsing hemolymph into each galeal lumen, and pressing the proboscis against a substrate. Thus, although physical construction of the proboscis limits its mechanical capabilities, its functionality can be modified and enhanced by behavioral strategies.
Black flies in the Seybouse River Basin in northeastern Algeria were sampled at 31 sites along the main river and its tributaries across all seasons from 2011 to 2013. Eight nominal species and species complexes in three genera were identified among more than 31,000 specimens. Urosimulium faurei (Bernard, Grenier & Bailly-Choumara), Simulium (Eusimulium) mellah Giudicelli & Bouzidi, and Simulium (Nevermania) lundstromi (Enderlein) were recorded for the first time in northeastern Algeria. Three cytoforms of the Simulium (Eusimulium) velutinum complex and two morphoforms of Simulium (Nevermannia) ruficorne Macquart were found. The most abundant and ubiquitous taxon, Simulium (Wilhelmia) pseudequinum Segúy, representing nearly 80% of collected specimens, occupied the widest range of habitats, including those with anthropogenic influences.
Human alterations to nutrient cycles and herbivore communities are affecting global biodiversity dramatically. Ecological theory predicts these changes should be strongly counteractive: nutrient addition drives plant species loss through intensified competition for light, whereas herbivores prevent competitive exclusion by increasing ground-level light, particularly in productive systems. Here we use experimental data spanning a globally relevant range of conditions to test the hypothesis that herbaceous plant species losses caused by eutrophication may be offset by increased light availability due to herbivory. This experiment, replicated in 40 grasslands on 6 continents, demonstrates that nutrients and herbivores can serve as counteracting forces to control local plant diversity through light limitation, independent of site productivity, soil nitrogen, herbivore type and climate. Nutrient addition consistently reduced local diversity through light limitation, and herbivory rescued diversity at sites where it alleviated light limitation. Thus, species loss from anthropogenic eutrophication can be ameliorated in grasslands where herbivory increases ground-level light.
Studies of experimental grassland communities have demonstrated that plant diversity can stabilize productivity through species asynchrony, in which decreases in the biomass of some species are compensated for by increases in others. However, it remains unknown whether these findings are relevant to natural ecosystems, especially those for which species diversity is threatened by anthropogenic global change. Here we analyse diversity-stability relationships from 41 grasslands on five continents and examine how these relationships are affected by chronic fertilization, one of the strongest drivers of species loss globally. Unmanipulated communities with more species had greater species asynchrony, resulting in more stable biomass production, generalizing a result from biodiversity experiments to real-world grasslands. However, fertilization weakened the positive effect of diversity on stability. Contrary to expectations, this was not due to species loss after eutrophication but rather to an increase in the temporal variation of productivity in combination with a decrease in species asynchrony in diverse communities. Our results demonstrate separate and synergistic effects of diversity and eutrophication on stability, emphasizing the need to understand how drivers of global change interactively affect the reliable provisioning of ecosystem services in real-world systems.
The population genetic structure of Simulium tani was inferred from mitochondria-encoded sequences of cytochrome c oxidase subunits I (COI) and II (COII) along an elevational gradient in Cameron Highlands, Malaysia. A statistical parsimony network of 71 individuals revealed 71 haplotypes in the COI gene and 43 haplotypes in the COII gene; the concatenated sequences of the COI and COII genes revealed 71 haplotypes. High levels of genetic diversity but low levels of genetic differentiation were observed among populations of S. tani at five elevations. The degree of genetic diversity, however, was not in accordance with an altitudinal gradient, and a Mantel test indicated that elevation did not have a limiting effect on gene flow. No ancestral haplotype of S. tani was found among the populations. Pupae with unique structural characters at the highest elevation showed a tendency to form their own haplotype cluster, as revealed by the COII gene. Tajima's D, Fu's Fs, and mismatch distribution tests revealed population expansion of S. tani in Cameron Highlands. A strong correlation was found between nucleotide diversity and the levels of dissolved oxygen in the streams where S. tani was collected.
Ecologists seek general explanations for the dramatic variation in species abundances in space and time. An increasingly popular solution is to predict species distributions, dynamics, and responses to environmental change based on easily measured anatomical and morphological traits. Trait-based approaches assume that simple functional traits influence fitness and life history evolution, but rigorous tests of this assumption are lacking, because they require quantitative information about the full lifecycles of many species representing different life histories. Here, we link a global traits database with empirical matrix population models for 222 species and report strong relationships between functional traits and plant life histories. Species with large seeds, long-lived leaves, or dense wood have slow life histories, with mean fitness (i.e., population growth rates) more strongly influenced by survival than by growth or fecundity, compared with fast life history species with small seeds, short-lived leaves, or soft wood. In contrast to measures of demographic contributions to fitness based on whole lifecycles, analyses focused on raw demographic rates may underestimate the strength of association between traits and mean fitness. Our results help establish the physiological basis for plant life history evolution and show the potential for trait-based approaches in population dynamics.
Nest success is a critical determinant of the dynamics of avian populations, and nest survival modeling has played a key role in advancing avian ecology and management. Beginning with the development of daily nest survival models, and proceeding through subsequent extensions, the capacity for modeling the effects of hypothesized factors on nest survival has expanded greatly. We extend nest survival models further by introducing an approach to deal with incompletely observed, temporally varying covariates using a hierarchical model. Hierarchical modeling offers a way to separate process and observational components of demographic models to obtain estimates of the parameters of primary interest, and to evaluate structural effects of ecological and management interest. We built a hierarchical model for daily nest survival to analyze nest data from reintroduced whooping cranes (Grus americana) in the Eastern Migratory Population. This reintroduction effort has been beset by poor reproduction, apparently due primarily to nest abandonment by breeding birds. We used the model to assess support for the hypothesis that nest abandonment is caused by harassment from biting insects. We obtained indices of blood-feeding insect populations based on the spatially interpolated counts of insects captured in carbon dioxide traps. However, insect trapping was not conducted daily, and so we had incomplete information on a temporally variable covariate of interest. We therefore supplemented our nest survival model with a parallel model for estimating the values of the missing insect covariates. We used Bayesian model selection to identify the best predictors of daily nest survival. Our results suggest that the black fly Simulium annulus may be negatively affecting nest survival of reintroduced whooping cranes, with decreasing nest survival as abundance of S. annulus increases. The modeling framework we have developed will be applied in the future to a larger data set to evaluate the biting-insect hypothesis and other hypotheses for nesting failure in this reintroduced population; resulting inferences will support ongoing efforts to manage this population via an adaptive management approach. Wider application of our approach offers promise for modeling the effects of other temporally varying, but imperfectly observed covariates on nest survival, including the possibility of modeling temporally varying covariates collected from incubating adults.
The ecological and medical importance of black flies drives the need for rapid and reliable identification of these minute, structurally uniform insects. We assessed the efficiency of DNA barcoding for species identification of tropical black flies. A total of 351 cytochrome c oxidase subunit 1 sequences was obtained from 41 species in 6 subgenera of the genus Simulium in Thailand. Despite high intraspecific genetic divergence (mean = 2.00%, maximum = 9.27%), DNA barcodes provided 96% correct identification. Barcodes also differentiated cytoforms of selected species complexes, albeit with varying levels of success. Perfect differentiation was achieved for two cytoforms of S. feuerborni, and 91% correct identification was obtained for the S. angulistylum complex. Low success (33%), however, was obtained for the S. siamense complex. The differential efficiency of DNA barcodes to discriminate cytoforms was attributed to different levels of genetic structure and demographic histories of the taxa. DNA barcode trees were largely congruent with phylogenies based on previous molecular, chromosomal, and morphological analyses, but revealed inconsistencies that will require further evaluation. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
The semiconductor Sr2FeOsO6, depending on temperature, adopts two types of spin structures that differ in the spin sequence of ferrimagnetic iron-osmium layers along the tetragonal c axis. Neutron powder diffraction experiments, 57Fe Mössbauer spectra, and density functional theory calculations suggest that this behavior arises because a lattice instability resulting in alternating iron-osmium distances fine-tunes the balance of competing exchange interactions. Thus, Sr2FeOsO6 is an example of a double perovskite, in which the electronic phases are controlled by the interplay of spin, orbital, and lattice degrees of freedom.
TH2-biased immune responses are important in allergy pathogenesis. Mechanisms of allergen-specific immunotherapy (SIT) might include the induction of regulatory T cells (Tregs) and immunoglobulin (Ig) G4 blocking antibodies, a reduction in the number of effector cells, and skewing of the cytokine profile towards a TH1-polarized immune response. We investigated the effects of SIT on T cells, on immunomodulation of human leukocyte antigen (HLA)-G, which has been associated with allergy, on regulatory cytokine expression, and on serum allergen-specific antibody subclasses (IgE and IgG4).
Invasions have increased the size of regional species pools, but are typically assumed to reduce native diversity. However, global-scale tests of this assumption have been elusive because of the focus on exotic species richness, rather than relative abundance. This is problematic because low invader richness can indicate invasion resistance by the native community or, alternatively, dominance by a single exotic species. Here, we used a globally replicated study to quantify relationships between exotic richness and abundance in grass-dominated ecosystems in 13 countries on six continents, ranging from salt marshes to alpine tundra. We tested effects of human land use, native community diversity, herbivore pressure, and nutrient limitation on exotic plant dominance. Despite its widespread use, exotic richness was a poor proxy for exotic dominance at low exotic richness, because sites that contained few exotic species ranged from relatively pristine (low exotic richness and cover) to almost completely exotic-dominated ones (low exotic richness but high exotic cover). Both exotic cover and richness were predicted by native plant diversity (native grass richness) and land use (distance to cultivation). Although climate was important for predicting both exotic cover and richness, climatic factors predicting cover (precipitation variability) differed from those predicting richness (maximum temperature and mean temperature in the wettest quarter). Herbivory and nutrient limitation did not predict exotic richness or cover. Exotic dominance was greatest in areas with low native grass richness at the site- or regional-scale. Although this could reflect native grass displacement, a lack of biotic resistance is a more likely explanation, given that grasses comprise the most aggressive invaders. These findings underscore the need to move beyond richness as a surrogate for the extent of invasion, because this metric confounds monodominance with invasion resistance. Monitoring species relative abundance will more rapidly advance our understanding of invasions.
Recent functional trait studies have shown that trait differences may favour certain species (environmental filtering) while simultaneously preventing competitive exclusion (niche partitioning). However, phenomenological trait-dispersion analyses do not identify the mechanisms that generate niche partitioning, preventing trait-based prediction of future changes in biodiversity. We argue that such predictions require linking functional traits with recognised coexistence mechanisms involving spatial or temporal environmental heterogeneity, resource partitioning and natural enemies. We first demonstrate the limitations of phenomenological approaches using simulations, and then (1) propose trait-based tests of coexistence, (2) generate hypotheses about which plant functional traits are likely to interact with particular mechanisms and (3) review the literature for evidence for these hypotheses. Theory and data suggest that all four classes of coexistence mechanisms could act on functional trait variation, but some mechanisms will be stronger and more widespread than others. The highest priority for future research is studies of interactions between environmental heterogeneity and trait variation that measure environmental variables at within-community scales and quantify species responses to the environment in the absence of competition. Evidence that similar trait-based coexistence mechanisms operate in many ecosystems would simplify biodiversity forecasting and represent a rare victory for generality over contingency in community ecology.
A frequently advocated approach for forecasting the population-level impacts of climate change is to project models based on historical, observational relationships between climate and demographic rates. Despite the potential pitfalls of this approach, few historically based population models have been experimentally validated. We conducted a precipitation manipulation experiment to test population models fit to observational data collected from the 1930s to the 1970s for six prairie forb species. We used the historical population models to predict experimental responses to the precipitation manipulations, and compared these predictions to ones generated by a statistical model fit directly to the experimental data. For three species, a sensitivity analysis of the effects of precipitation and grass cover on forb population growth showed consistent results for the historical population models and the contemporary statistical models. Furthermore, the historical population models predicted population growth rates in the experimental plots as well or better than the statistical models, ignoring variation explained by spatial random effects and local density-dependence. However, for the remaining three species, the sensitivity analyses showed that the historical and statistical models predicted opposite effects of precipitation on population growth, and the historical models were very poor predictors of experimental responses. For these species, historical observations were not well replicated in space, and for two of them the historical precipitation-demography correlations were weak. Our results highlight the strengths and weaknesses of observational and experimental approaches, and increase our confidence in extrapolating historical relationships to predict population responses to climate change, at least when the historical correlations are strong and based on well-replicated observations.
Plant growth can be limited by resource acquisition and defence against consumers, leading to contrasting trade-off possibilities. The competition-defence hypothesis posits a trade-off between competitive ability and defence against enemies (e.g. herbivores and pathogens). The growth-defence hypothesis suggests that strong competitors for nutrients are also defended against enemies, at a cost to growth rate. We tested these hypotheses using observations of 706 plant populations of over 500 species before and following identical fertilisation and fencing treatments at 39 grassland sites worldwide. Strong positive covariance in species responses to both treatments provided support for a growth-defence trade-off: populations that increased with the removal of nutrient limitation (poor competitors) also increased following removal of consumers. This result held globally across 4 years within plant life-history groups and within the majority of individual sites. Thus, a growth-defence trade-off appears to be the norm, and mechanisms maintaining grassland biodiversity may operate within this constraint.
To determine the geographic origin of the black fly Simulium suzukii on Okinawa Island, Japan, macrogenomic profiles derived from its polytene chromosomes were compared with those of mainland and other insular populations of S. suzukii and of the isomorphic Simulium tani species complex. The Okinawan population is a chromosomally unique cytoform, designated D, which is essentially monomorphic and differs by about 27 fixed rearrangements from the chromosomal standard sequence for the subgenus Simulium and by two fixed differences from its nearest known relative, representing the type of S. suzukii, on the main islands of Japan. Chromosomal band sequences revealed two additional, sympatric cytoforms of S. suzukii, designated A and B, each with species status, in Korea, and a third cytoform, designated C, on Hokkaido, Japan. A new cytoform, K, of S. tani from Malaysia, representing the type of S. tani, is more closely related to cytoforms in Thailand, as are populations from Taiwan previously treated as S. suzukii but more closely aligned with S. tani and newly recognized as cytoform L of the latter nominal species. Rooting of chromosomal band sequences by outgroup comparisons allowed directionality of chromosomal rearrangements to be established, enabling phylogenetic inference of cytoforms. Of 41 macrogenomic rearrangements discovered in the five new cytoforms, four provide evidence for a stepwise origin of the Okinawan population from populations characteristic of the main islands of Japan. The macrogenomic approach applied to black flies on Okinawa Island illustrates its potential utility in defining source areas for other species of flies including those that might pose medical and veterinary risks.
Mouthparts of fluid-feeding insects have unique material properties with no human-engineered analogue: the feeding devices acquire sticky and viscous liquids while remaining clean. We discovered that the external surface of the butterfly proboscis has a sharp boundary separating a hydrophilic drinking region and a hydrophobic non-drinking region. The structural arrangement of the proboscis provides the basis for the wetting dichotomy. Theoretical and experimental analyses show that fluid uptake is associated with enlargement of hydrophilic cuticular structures, the legulae, which link the two halves of the proboscis together. We also show that an elliptical proboscis produces a higher external meniscus than does a cylindrical proboscis of the same circumference. Fluid uptake is additionally facilitated in sap-feeding butterflies that have a proboscis with enlarged chemosensory structures forming a brush near the tip. This structural modification of the proboscis enables sap feeders to exploit films of liquid more efficiently. Structural changes along the proboscis, including increased legular width and presence of a brush-like tip, occur in a wide range of species, suggesting that a wetting dichotomy is widespread in the Lepidoptera.
Since 1965, tens of millions of boys have been circumcised under the Medicaid program, most at birth, at a cost to the United States Federal Government, the States and taxpayers of billions of dollars. Although 18 States have ended coverage since 1982, the United States Government and 32 States continue to pay for non-therapeutic circumcision, even though no medical association in the world recommends it. Many cite American medical association policy that the procedure has potential medical benefits as well as disadvantages, and that the circumcision decision should be left to parents. This article shows that Medicaid coverage of circumcision is not a policy issue because it is prohibited by federal and State law. As American medical associations concede, non-therapeutic circumcision is unnecessary, elective, cosmetic surgery on healthy boys, usually performed for cultural, personal or religious reasons. The fundamental principle of Medicaid law is that Medicaid only covers necessary medical treatments after the diagnosis of a current medical condition. Physicians and hospitals face severe penalties for charging Medicaid for circumcisions. Medicaid officials and the Federal and State Governments are also required to end coverage. It is unlawful to circumcise and to allow the circumcision of healthy boys at the expense of the government and taxpayers.
For more than 30 years, the relationship between net primary productivity and species richness has generated intense debate in ecology about the processes regulating local diversity. The original view, which is still widely accepted, holds that the relationship is hump-shaped, with richness first rising and then declining with increasing productivity. Although recent meta-analyses questioned the generality of hump-shaped patterns, these syntheses have been criticized for failing to account for methodological differences among studies. We addressed such concerns by conducting standardized sampling in 48 herbaceous-dominated plant communities on five continents. We found no clear relationship between productivity and fine-scale (meters(-2)) richness within sites, within regions, or across the globe. Ecologists should focus on fresh, mechanistic approaches to understanding the multivariate links between productivity and richness.
Both theoretical and empirical work have shown that the temporal storage effect can promote coexistence. However, the storage effect depends on temporally fluctuating demographic rates, such as interannually variable germination rates. Because variable demographic rates often reduce fitness, we asked how a storage effect might evolve. Using a model of competing annual plants, we find that variable germination (and hence a storage effect) can evolve only if germination is positively correlated with high-fecundity years (predictive germination) or if one species has limited ability to evolve. Outside of these conditions, the storage effect is evolutionarily unstable: if two species were thrown together with traits that would permit a storage effect, they would coevolve constant germination rates and the storage effect would vanish. Our results suggest that for the temporal storage effect to be widespread, either germination must commonly be positively correlated with later growth or fecundity or community assembly must reflect biogeographic processes more than they do coevolution.
The ability of Lepidoptera, or butterflies and moths, to drink liquids from rotting fruit and wet soil, as well as nectar from floral tubes, raises the question of whether the conventional view of the proboscis as a drinking straw can account for the withdrawal of fluids from porous substrates or of films and droplets from floral tubes. We discovered that the proboscis promotes capillary pull of liquids from diverse sources owing to a hierarchical pore structure spanning nano- and microscales. X-ray phase-contrast imaging reveals that Plateau instability causes liquid bridges to form in the food canal, which are transported to the gut by the muscular sucking pump in the head. The dual functionality of the proboscis represents a key innovation for exploiting a vast range of nutritional sources. We suggest that future studies of the adaptive radiation of the Lepidoptera take into account the role played by the structural organization of the proboscis. A transformative two-step model of capillary intake and suctioning can be applied not only to butterflies and moths but also potentially to vast numbers of other insects such as bees and flies.
Climate change could alter the population growth of dominant species, leading to profound effects on community structure and ecosystem dynamics. Understanding the links between historical variation in climate and population vital rates (survival, growth, recruitment) is one way to predict the impact of future climate change. Using a unique, long-term data set from eastern Idaho, USA, we parameterized integral projection models (IPMs) for Pseudoroegneria spicata, Hesperostipa comata, and Artemisia tripartita to identify the demographic rates and climate variables most important for population growth. We described survival, growth, and recruitment as a function of genet size using mixed-effect regression models that incorporated climate variables. Elasticites for the survival + growth portion of the kernel were larger than the recruitment portion for all three species, with survival + growth accounting for 87-95% of the total elasticity. The genet sizes with the highest elasticity values in each species were very close to the genet size threshold where survival approached 100%. We found strong effects of climate on the population growth rate of two of our three species. In H. comata, a 1% decrease in previous years precipitation would lead to a 0.6% decrease in population growth. In A. tripartita, a 1% increase in summer temperature would result in a 1.3% increase in population growth. In both H. comata and A. tripartita, climate influenced population growth by affecting genet growth more than survival or recruitment. Late-winter snow was the most important climate variable for P. spicata, but its effect on population growth was smaller than the climate effects we found in H. comata or A. tripartita. For all three species, demographic responses lagged climate by at least one year. Our analysis indicates that understanding climate effects on genet growth may be crucial for anticipating future changes in the structure and function of sagebrush steppe vegetation.
The Blastocladiomycota is a recently described phylum of ecologically diverse zoosporic fungi whose species have not been thoroughly sampled and placed within a molecular phylogeny. In this study, we investigated the phylogeny of the Blastocladiomycota based on ribosomal DNA sequences from strains identified by traditional morphological and ultrastructural characters. Our results support the monophyly of the Coelomomycetaceae and Physodermataceae but the Blastocladiaceae and Catenariaceae are paraphyletic or polyphyletic. The data support two clades within Allomyces with strains identified as Allomyces arbusculus in both clades, suggesting that species concepts in Allomyces are in need of revision. A clade of Catenaria species isolated from midge larvae group separately from other Catenaria species, suggesting that this genus may need revision. In the Physodermataceae, Urophlyctis species cluster with a clade of Physoderma species. The algal parasite Paraphysoderma sedebokerensis nom. prov. clusters sister to other taxa in the Physodermataceae. Catenomyces persicinus, which has been classified in the Catenariaceae, groups with the Chytridiomycota rather than Blastocladiomycota. The rDNA operon seems to be suitable for classification within the Blastocladiomycota and distinguishes among genera; however, this region alone is not suitable to determine the position of the Blastocladiomycota among other basal fungal phyla with statistical support. A focused effort to find and isolate, or directly amplify DNA from additional taxa will be necessary to evaluate diversity in this phylum. We provide this rDNA phylogeny as a preliminary framework to guide further taxon and gene sampling and to facilitate future ecological, morphological, and systematic studies.
Many ecosystems worldwide are dominated by introduced plant species, leading to loss of biodiversity and ecosystem function. A common but rarely tested assumption is that these plants are more abundant in introduced vs. native communities, because ecological or evolutionary-based shifts in populations underlie invasion success. Here, data for 26 herbaceous species at 39 sites, within eight countries, revealed that species abundances were similar at native (home) and introduced (away) sites - grass species were generally abundant home and away, while forbs were low in abundance, but more abundant at home. Sites with six or more of these species had similar community abundance hierarchies, suggesting that suites of introduced species are assembling similarly on different continents. Overall, we found that substantial changes to populations are not necessarily a pre-condition for invasion success and that increases in species abundance are unusual. Instead, abundance at home predicts abundance away, a potentially useful additional criterion for biosecurity programmes.
Leaf mechanical properties strongly influence leaf lifespan, plant-herbivore interactions, litter decomposition and nutrient cycling, but global patterns in their interspecific variation and underlying mechanisms remain poorly understood. We synthesize data across the three major measurement methods, permitting the first global analyses of leaf mechanics and associated traits, for 2819 species from 90 sites worldwide. Key measures of leaf mechanical resistance varied c. 500-800-fold among species. Contrary to a long-standing hypothesis, tropical leaves were not mechanically more resistant than temperate leaves. Leaf mechanical resistance was modestly related to rainfall and local light environment. By partitioning leaf mechanical resistance into three different components we discovered that toughness per density contributed a surprisingly large fraction to variation in mechanical resistance, larger than the fractions contributed by lamina thickness and tissue density. Higher toughness per density was associated with long leaf lifespan especially in forest understory. Seldom appreciated in the past, toughness per density is a key factor in leaf mechanical resistance, which itself influences plant-animal interactions and ecosystem functions across the globe.
Understanding the medical, economic, and ecological importance of black flies relies on correct identification of species. However, traditional taxonomy of black flies is impeded by a high degree of morphological uniformity, especially the presence of cryptic biodiversity, historically recognized by details of chromosomal banding patterns. We assess the utility of DNA barcoding, based on cytochrome c oxidase subunit 1 (COI) sequences, for identifying 13 species of Oriental black flies in the subgenus Gomphostilbia. Samples of larvae fixed in Carnoys solution were used to gather molecular and chromosomal data from the same individual. We found that larvae refrigerated in Carnoys fixative for as long as 11 years can be used for DNA study. Levels of intraspecific genetic divergence, based on the Kimura-2 parameter, range from 0% to 9.28%, with a mean of 2.75%, whereas interspecific genetic divergence ranges from 0.34% to 16.05%. Values of intraspecific and interspecific genetic divergence overlap in seven species owing to incomplete lineage sorting and imperfect taxonomy, implying that DNA barcoding to identify these species will be ambiguous. Despite a low level of success, we found that DNA barcoding is useful in revealing cryptic biodiversity, potentially facilitating traditional taxonomy. Phylogenetic analyses indicate that species groups currently recognized on morphological criteria are not monophyletic, suggesting a need to reevaluate the classification of the subgenus Gomphostilbia.
Understanding species richness patterns represents one of the most fundamental problems in ecology. Most research in this area has focused on spatial gradients of species richness, with a smaller area of emphasis dedicated to understanding the temporal dynamics of richness. However, few attempts have been made to understand the linkages between the spatial and temporal patterns related to richness. Here, we argue that spatial and temporal richness patterns and the processes that drive them are inherently linked, and that our understanding of richness will be substantially improved by considering them simultaneously. The species-time-area relationship provides a case in point: successful description of the empirical spatio-temporal pattern led to a rapid development and testing of new theories. Other areas of research on species richness could also benefit from an explicitly spatio-temporal approach, and we suggest future directions for understanding the processes common to these two traditionally isolated fields of research.
Biting midges of the genus Culicoides (Diptera: Ceratopogonidae) were collected during the summer of 2007 at the Greenville and Riverbanks Zoos in South Carolina with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) traps equipped with ultraviolet or incandescent lights and baited with carbon dioxide. Sixteen species of Culicoides were collected, four of which represented more than 80%. They were Culicoides guttipennis (Coquillett), Culicoides mulrenanni Beck, Culicoides obsoletus (Meigen), and Culicoides sanguisuga (Coquillett). C. guttipennis was found on a dead colobus monkey and a dead golden-headed lion tamarin; Culicoides husseyi Wirth & Blanton was collected from an unidentified, abandoned birds nest. Ultraviolet light-equipped traps captured significantly more Culicoides specimens than traps with incandescent light. Half of the collected species previously have been associated with vertebrate pathogens, indicating a potential risk to captive animals.
Despite decades of research documenting niche differences between species, we lack a quantitative understanding of their effect on coexistence in natural communities. We perturbed an empirical sagebrush steppe community model to remove the demographic effect of niche differences and quantify their impact on coexistence. With stabilizing mechanisms operating, all species showed positive growth rates when rare, generating stable coexistence. Fluctuation-independent mechanisms contributed more than temporal variability to coexistence and operated more strongly on recruitment than growth or survival. As expected, removal of stabilizing niche differences led to extinction of all inferior competitors. However, complete exclusion required 300-400 years, indicating small fitness differences among species. Our results show an excess of niche differences: stabilizing mechanisms were not only strong enough to maintain diversity but were much stronger than necessary given the small fitness differences. The diversity of this community cannot be understood without consideration of niche differences.
More than 2000 species of black flies feed on vertebrate blood; 1.5% of all species are vectors of pathogens that cause human diseases. Of nine simuliid-borne animal diseases, only two, mansonellosis and onchocerciasis, afflict humans. Onchocerciasis is a debilitating disease infecting an estimated 40 million people in Africa, Latin America, and Yemen, whereas mansonellosis is a mild disease in the Neotropics. Cytogenetic studies of natural populations of more than 500 species of black flies have revealed that the classic morphospecies of taxonomists is typically a complex of two or more reproductively isolated entities, or sibling (cryptic) species. Most vectors of human pathogens are sibling species, each ecologically unique in traits such as breeding habitats, dispersal capabilities, and degree of vector competence. We review the evolution of black flies, the cytogenetics that have revealed about 260 cytologically distinct entities, the molecular studies that continue to expose additional hidden biodiversity, and a case study of the epidemiology of the Simulium damnosum complex, the largest species complex of blood-feeding arthropods on Earth and the premier group of black flies responsible for human onchocerciasis.
Climate variability, which is expected to increase in the future, can promote coexistence through a mechanism called the storage effect. Currently, we have little understanding of how the importance of the storage effect varies among ecosystems. We tested for the three conditions of the storage effect in a sagebrush steppe plant community in Idaho (USA) by combining long-term observational data with statistical models. The four sagebrush steppe species that we studied satisfied the first two conditions of the storage effect: a long-lived life stage and species-specific responses to the environment. But the critical third condition, environment-competition covariance, was very weak in this community. While the direction of the covariance was consistent with a stabilizing effect of variability (stronger competition in more favorable years), its magnitude was small, reflecting low temporal variability in both competition and species responses to the environment. Consistent with this result, simulations of species population growth rates when rare showed that climate variability had no consistent stabilizing effect on coexistence. This case study provides an important reminder that species-specific responses to the environment are not sufficient for coexistence via the storage effect. Instead, the magnitude of temporal variability in species performance also plays an important role. Comparison of our results with those from a similar study in Kansas mixed prairie suggests that temporal variability in species performance may reflect both the strength of environmental variability as well as life history strategies.
A survey of ectoparasites and their associated pathogens was conducted in two South Carolina zoos, from 2004 to 2007. Dead, wild birds and mammals, as well as captive animals examined during routine veterinary checks constituted the study populations. Ectoparasites were tested for species of Anaplasma, Bartonella, Coxiella burnetii, Ehrlichia, Rickettsia, and Trypanosoma. Forty-six species of ectoparasites were collected from 133 free-roaming and captive hosts and their associated nesting and bedding materials. Six vector-borne pathogens were detected molecularly in the ectoparasites, including Anaplasma phagocytophilum in the tick Ixodes dentatus Marx from an eastern cottontail rabbit, Bartonella clarridgeiae in the cat flea Ctenocephalides felis (Bouché) from a Virginia opossum, Bartonella sp. Oh6 in the squirrel flea Orchopeas howardi (Baker) from an eastern grey squirrel, Bartonella sp. T7498 in the sucking louse Neohaematopinus sciuri Jancke from a squirrel, Rickettsia sp. Rf2125 in C. felis from a zookeeper and a grizzly bear, and Rickettsiales sp. Ib 2006 in Ixodes brunneus Koch from an American crow. While the pathology of some of these pathogens is poorly known, Anaplasma phagocytophilum (causative agent of human granulocytic anaplasmosis) and Bartonella clarridgeiae (causative agent of a disease similar to cat-scratch disease) can infect humans. Ectoparasites and their pathogens, especially those originating from free-roaming animals, present a potential threat to captive animals and humans.
The black soldier fly, Hermetia illucens L., was reared on a grain-based diet at 27, 30, and 36 degrees C. Survival of 4- to 6-d-old larvae to adults averaged 74-97% at 27 and 30 degrees C but was only 0.1% at 36 degrees C. Flies required a mean of approximately 4 d (11%) longer to complete larval and pupal development at 27 degrees C than at 30 degrees C. At 27 and 30 degrees C, females weighed an average of 17-19% more than males but required an average of 0.6-0.8 d (3.0-4.3%) longer to complete larval development. At both temperatures, adult females lived an average of approximately 3.5 d less than adult males. The duration of larval development was a significant predictor of adult longevity. Temperature differences of even 3 degrees C produce significant fitness tradeoffs for males and females, influencing life history attributes and having practical applications for forensic entomology.
Climate change directly affects species by altering their physical environment and indirectly affects species by altering interspecific interactions such as predation and competition. Recent studies have shown that the indirect effects of climate change may amplify or counteract the direct effects. However, little is known about the the relative strength of direct and indirect effects or their potential to impact population persistence.
Previous studies have suggested that QTc prolongation may lead to significant morbidity and mortality. The prevalence of QTc prolongation among emergency department (ED) patients is unknown. The purpose of this study is to determine the prevalence of QTc prolongation among ED patients.
Hematophagous insects can negatively affect the reproductive success of their vertebrate hosts. To determine the influence of hematophagous insects on endangered vertebrates requires specially designed programs that minimize disturbance to the hosts and address problems associated with their small populations. We developed and evaluated a surveillance program for black flies potentially affecting a population of whooping cranes (Grus americana) introduced to central Wisconsin, U.S.A. In one of the few studies to survey host-seeking female black flies and their immature stages concurrently, we processed nearly 346,000 specimens and documented 26 species, of which only two, Simulium annulus and Simulium johannseni, were attracted to nesting whooping cranes. Attempts to assess black fly populations with artificial nests and real crane eggs were unsuccessful. Carbon-dioxide traps performed well in describing black fly taxa on the landscape. However, the number of black flies at whooping crane nests was consistently higher than the number captured in carbon-dioxide traps. The carbon-dioxide traps poorly described the presence/absence, population fluctuations, and periodicity of black flies at whooping crane nests. The weak performance of the carbon-dioxide traps might have resulted from microhabitat differences between trap locations and nests or from Simulium annulus and Simulium johannseni using sensory cues in addition to carbon dioxide to find hosts. Choice of trapping techniques, therefore, depends on the information required for the particular study objectives.
We describe in detail three cases of primary bone lymphoma (PBL), initially treated as osteomyelitis of unknown etiology. These cases show which difficulties can occur with diagnosing this entity and highlight the urgent need for rapid diagnostic results in the field of bone pathology. Case 1: A 22-year-old man with the very rare diagnosis of precursor B-lymphoblastic lymphoma in the tibia (previously published). Case 2: A 13-year-old boy with an anaplastic large cell lymphoma of the "os pubis". With initial diagnosis pointing to multifocal osteomyelitis, histology of the left iliac crest revealed a florid/chronic osteomyelitis. During clinical regression with a new osteolytic lesion, he received treatment for chronic recurrent multifocal osteomyelitis. Case 3: A 60-year-old man with an anaplastic large cell lymphoma of the right sacrum, accompanied by a putrid, florid/chronic osteomyelitis. At first, an incisional biopsy revealed a florid/chronic osteomyelitis-only.
Black fly suppression programs are conducted across a wide range of environmental conditions, targeting a variety of pest species with diverse life histories. Operational applications of Vectobac 12AS (Bacillus thuringiensis subsp. israelensis) were conducted during times characterized by water temperature and turbidity extremes. Applications were conducted in the Yellow River in central Wisconsin targeting Simulium annulus and S. johannseni when water temperatures were 1-2 degrees C. Applications were conducted in the Green River in western North Carolina targeting the S. jenningsi group after a rain event, when portions of the treatment zone experienced turbidities of 276 nephelometric turbidity units. Excellent larvicidal activity was observed in both programs, with 97% mortality or greater being observed at distances over 5 km downstream of a treatment site. Mortality data for larval black flies in 2 operational suppression programs conducted in 2011 demonstrated a negligible effect of near-freezing water temperatures and exceptionally high turbidity on Bti activity.
Nasal allergen challenge can be used to assess the clinical and immunological aspects of rhinitis due to inhalant allergens. We aimed to develop a reproducible technique for grass pollen nasal allergen challenge and to study biomarkers within nasal secretions. 20 Grass pollen allergic individuals underwent nasal challenges with purified Timothy grass allergen. An initial dose-titration challenge was used to determine dose-response characteristics. Subsequently, volunteers underwent 3 further challenges using individualised threshold doses. Symptom scores, visual analogue scores, and peak nasal inspiratory flow (PNIF) were recorded at baseline and up to 6h after challenge. Nasal secretions were collected at each time point using synthetic filter papers or absorptive polyurethane sponges and analysed for IL-4, -5, -10, -13, IFN-?, Tryptase and Eosinophil Cationic Protein (ECP). Challenges gave reproducible symptom scores and decreased PNIF. Tryptase levels in nasal fluid peaked at 5 min after challenge and returned to baseline levels at 1h. ECP, IL-5, IL-13 and IL-4 levels were increased from 2-3 h and showed progressive increases to 5-6 h. Sponges proved the superior nasal fluid sampling technique. We have developed a reproducible nasal allergen challenge technique. This may be used as a surrogate clinical endpoint in trials assessing the efficacy of treatments for allergic rhinitis. Tryptase in local nasal secretions is a potential biomarker of the early phase response; ECP and the Th2 cytokines IL-5, -13 and -4 markers of late phase allergic responses. Our model allows correlation between clinical responses and local biomarkers following nasal allergen challenge.
Effector cell activation and T-cell activation, the latter mediated by facilitated antigen presentation, are immunological mechanisms that play crucial roles in the manifestation and maintenance of allergic disease. In addition to their relevance for the pathogenesis of allergy in-vivo, in-vitro assays based on these immunological mechanisms have been established and used for diagnostics, for monitoring the progression of disease and for the effect of specific immunotherapy as well as for basic research purposes. Here we review different parameters that affect effector cell activation and facilitated antigen uptake and presentation, including assay designs, readout parameters and critical experimental conditions. Central to the two immunological mechanisms is complex formation between allergen-specific IgE, allergen, and cell surface-anchored immunoglobulin receptor; the high affinity IgE-receptor Fc?RI on basophils and mast cells, and the low affinity IgE-receptor Fc?RII (CD23) on B-cells. Accordingly, the effect of IgE repertoire complexity and allergen diversity on effector cell and facilitated antigen presentation is discussed in detail.
Theory has recognized a combination of niche and neutral processes each contributing, with varying importance, to species coexistence. However, long-term persistence of rare species has been difficult to produce in trait-based models of coexistence that incorporate stochastic dynamics, raising questions about how rare species persist despite such variability. Following recent evidence that rare species may experience significantly different population dynamics than dominant species, we use a plant community model to simulate the effect of disproportionately strong negative frequency dependence on the long-term persistence of the rare species in a simulated community. This strong self-limitation produces long persistence times for the rare competitors, which otherwise succumb quickly to stochastic extinction. The results suggest that the mechanism causing species to be rare in this case is the same mechanism allowing those species to persist.
Although hematophagous black flies are well-known socioeconomic pests and vectors of disease agents, their associated bacteria are poorly known. A systematic analysis of the bacterial community associated with freshly emerged adult black flies of four North American species, using cultivation-independent molecular techniques, revealed 75 nonsingleton bacterial phylotypes. Although 17 cosmopolitan phylotypes were shared among host species, each fly species had a distinct bacterial profile. The bacterial composition, however, did not correlate strongly with the host phylogeny but differed between male and female flies of the same species from the same habitat, demonstrating that a group of insects have a gender-dependent bacterial community. In general, female flies harbor a less diverse bacterial community than do males. The anatomical locations of selected bacteria were revealed using fluorescence in situ hybridization. Understanding the physiological function of the associated bacterial community could provide clues for developing novel pest-management strategies.
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