Open AccessCommunication
An Update on the Invasion of Weakfish Cynoscion regalis (Bloch & Schneider, 1801) (Actinopterygii: Sciaenidae) into Europe
Diversity 2017, 9(4), 47; doi:10.3390/d9040047 -
Abstract
New information on weakfish introduction vectors, its invasive status, distribution, and use as a fishing resource arose after the publication of “The transatlantic introduction of weakfish Cynoscion regalis (Bloch & Schneider, 1801) (Sciaenidae, Pisces) into Europe” by Morais and Teodósio (2016). Currently, the
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New information on weakfish introduction vectors, its invasive status, distribution, and use as a fishing resource arose after the publication of “The transatlantic introduction of weakfish Cynoscion regalis (Bloch & Schneider, 1801) (Sciaenidae, Pisces) into Europe” by Morais and Teodósio (2016). Currently, the first known report of weakfish in Europe dates back to September 2009, with a specimen captured in the Schelde estuary (Belgium/The Netherlands). This fact suggests that weakfish could have been introduced into Europe via multiple and independent ballast water introduction events, and not through a point-source introduction event with subsequent dispersion as previously hypothesized. It is also unlikely that Schelde weakfish migrated southwards to colonize Iberian aquatic ecosystems. Weakfish have established a population in the Gulf of Cádiz region and have already reached an invasive status in the Sado estuary (Portugal). Weakfish were also captured in several other locations along the Portuguese coast, including the Tagus and Mira estuaries at least since 2013 or 2014, and the Ria Formosa lagoon in 2017. Tagus anglers caught weakfish specimens of ~1 kg and ~40 cm in November 2016, which corresponds to fish of 3+ years of age in the native range. The presence of weakfish in the Tagus estuary is still fairly unknown to local anglers. Sado weakfish has already been sold in local fish markets in southern Portugal for 3 to 10 € kg−1. However, we consider that the weakfish sale price is underrated in comparison with other wild species (e.g., meagre, seabass, gilthead seabream). Increasing sale price will convince fishers to use weakfish as a new fishing resource; however, it is necessary to promote the species among consumers and evaluate consumers’ preference in respect to other species. A putative biological threat might turn into a new valuable fishing resource by implementing adequate management solutions. Full article
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Open AccessReview
Positive Diagnosis of Ancient Leprosy and Tuberculosis Using Ancient DNA and Lipid Biomarkers
Diversity 2017, 9(4), 46; doi:10.3390/d9040046 -
Abstract
Diagnosis of leprosy and tuberculosis in archaeological material is most informative when based upon entire genomes. Ancient DNA (aDNA) is often degraded but amplification of specific fragments also provides reliable diagnoses. Cell wall lipid biomarkers can distinguish ancient leprosy from tuberculosis and DNA
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Diagnosis of leprosy and tuberculosis in archaeological material is most informative when based upon entire genomes. Ancient DNA (aDNA) is often degraded but amplification of specific fragments also provides reliable diagnoses. Cell wall lipid biomarkers can distinguish ancient leprosy from tuberculosis and DNA extraction residues can be utilized. The diagnostic power of combined aDNA and lipid biomarkers is illustrated by key cases of ancient leprosy and/or tuberculosis. Human tuberculosis was demonstrated in a woman and child from Atlit-Yam (~9 ka) in the Eastern Mediterranean and in the 600 BCE Egyptian “Granville” mummy. Both aDNA and lipids confirmed Pleistocene tuberculosis in a ~17 ka bison from Natural Trap Cave, Wyoming. Leprosy is exemplified by cases from Winchester (10th–12th centuries CE) and Great Chesterford (5th–6th centuries CE). A mixed infection from Kiskundorozsma, Hungary (7th century CE) allowed lipid biomarkers to assess the relative load of leprosy and tuberculosis. Essential protocols for aDNA amplification and analysis of mycolic, mycolipenic, mycocerosic acid, and phthiocerol lipid biomarkers are summarized. Diagnoses of ancient mycobacterial disease can be extended beyond the reach of whole genomics by combinations of aDNA amplification and lipid biomarkers, with sole use of the latter having the potential to recognize even older cases. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Patterns of Spontaneous Nucleotide Substitutions in Grape Processed Pseudogenes
Diversity 2017, 9(4), 45; doi:10.3390/d9040045 -
Abstract
Pseudogenes are dead copies of genes. Owing to the absence of functional constraint, all nucleotide substitutions that occur in these sequences are selectively neutral, and thus represent the spontaneous pattern of substitution within a genome. Here, we analysed the patterns of nucleotide substitutions
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Pseudogenes are dead copies of genes. Owing to the absence of functional constraint, all nucleotide substitutions that occur in these sequences are selectively neutral, and thus represent the spontaneous pattern of substitution within a genome. Here, we analysed the patterns of nucleotide substitutions in Vitis vinifera processed pseudogenes. In total, 259 processed pseudogenes were used to compile two datasets of nucleotide substitutions. The ancestral states of polymorphic sites were determined based on either parsimony or site functional constraints. An overall tendency towards an increase in the pseudogene A:T content was suggested by all of the datasets analysed. Low association was seen between the patterns and rates of substitutions, and the compositional background of the region where the pseudogene was inserted. The flanking nucleotide significantly influenced the substitution rates. In particular, we noted that the transition of G→A was influenced by the presence of C at the contiguous 5′ end base. This finding is in agreement with the targeting of cytosine to methylation, and the consequent methyl-cytosine deamination. These data will be useful to interpret the roles of selection in shaping the genetic diversity of grape cultivars. Full article
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Open AccessCommunication
Evidence of Recent Fine-Scale Population Structuring in South American Puma concolor
Diversity 2017, 9(4), 44; doi:10.3390/d9040044 -
Abstract
Habitat loss and fragmentation are considered the major treats to worldwide biodiversity. Carnivores in particular can be more sensitive to landscape modification due to their low occurrence density and large home ranges. Population structuring of Puma concolor has been already reported as a
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Habitat loss and fragmentation are considered the major treats to worldwide biodiversity. Carnivores in particular can be more sensitive to landscape modification due to their low occurrence density and large home ranges. Population structuring of Puma concolor has been already reported as a consequence of extensive human activities in the North American continent. Here, we investigated the occurrence of fine-scale population structuring in the South American cougar population, contrasting two conservation areas immersed in a highly human-fragmented landscape dominated by the presence of sugar cane monoculture, roads, and urbanization, including a series of dams in the Tietê River which enlarges its water body. Seven microsatellites were amplified using non-invasive DNA obtained from fecal samples. We conducted genetic clustering analyses using Bayesian and factorial components. We also performed genetic differentiation analyses by fixation indices (Fst and Dest). Two genetic clusters represented by individuals from each area were found, indicating the occurrence of gene flow reduction between the areas. The intense human-induced landscape modification—which includes the Tietê River water body enlargement, imposing physical barriers to the movement of the individuals—could explain the gene flow reduction. Increasing connectivity among the preserved areas can mitigate such effects, and the creation of corridors or further management actions such as individual translocation to ensure gene flow in the highly-modified landscape may be essential for maintaining the genetic and demographic health of the species and its long-term persistence. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Staphylococcus aureus Sequences from Osteomyelitic Specimens of a Pathological Bone Collection from Pre-Antibiotic Times
Diversity 2017, 9(4), 43; doi:10.3390/d9040043 -
Abstract
Staphylococcus aureus is a major pathogen causing osteomyelitis, amongst other diseases, and its methicillin-resistant form (MRSA) in particular poses a huge threat to public health. To increase our knowledge of the origin and evolution of S. aureus, genetic studies of historical microorganisms
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Staphylococcus aureus is a major pathogen causing osteomyelitis, amongst other diseases, and its methicillin-resistant form (MRSA) in particular poses a huge threat to public health. To increase our knowledge of the origin and evolution of S. aureus, genetic studies of historical microorganisms may be beneficial. Thus, the aim of this study was to investigate whether osteomyelitic skeletal material (autopsy specimens collected from the mid 19th century until the 1920s) is suitable for detecting historical S. aureus DNA sequences. We established a PCR-based analysis system targeting two specific genes of S. aureus (nuc and fib). We successfully amplified the historical S. aureusnuc and fib sequences for six and seven pre-antibiotic, osteomyelitic bone specimens, respectively. These results encourage further investigations of historical S. aureus genomes that may increase our understanding of pathogen evolution in relation to anthropogenically introduced antibiotics. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
High Levels of Antibiotic Resistance but No Antibiotic Production Detected Along a Gypsum Gradient in Great Onyx Cave, KY, USA
Diversity 2017, 9(4), 42; doi:10.3390/d9040042 -
Abstract
A preliminary study of antibiotic production and antibiotic resistance was conducted in Great Onyx Cave in Mammoth Cave National Park, KY, to determine if gypsum (CaSO4∙2H2O) affects these bacterial activities. The cave crosses through the width of Flint Ridge,
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A preliminary study of antibiotic production and antibiotic resistance was conducted in Great Onyx Cave in Mammoth Cave National Park, KY, to determine if gypsum (CaSO4∙2H2O) affects these bacterial activities. The cave crosses through the width of Flint Ridge, and passages under the sandstone caprock are dry with different amounts of gypsum. The Great Kentucky Desert hypothesis posits that gypsum limits the distribution of invertebrates in the central areas of Great Onyx Cave. Twenty-four bacterial isolates were cultivated from swabs and soils. Using three methods (soil crumb, soil crumb with indicator bacteria, and the cross-streak method using isolated bacteria) we did not detect any production of antibiotics. Antibiotic resistance was widespread, with all 24 isolates resistant to a minimum of two antibiotics of seven tested, with three isolates resistant to all. Antibiotic resistance was high and not correlated with depth into the cave or the amount of gypsum. The Great Kentucky Desert hypothesis of the negative effects of gypsum seems to have no impact on bacterial activity. Full article
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Open AccessReview
An Overview on Marine Sponge-Symbiotic Bacteria as Unexhausted Sources for Natural Product Discovery
Diversity 2017, 9(4), 40; doi:10.3390/d9040040 -
Abstract
Microbial symbiotic communities of marine macro-organisms carry functional metabolic profiles different to the ones found terrestrially and within surrounding marine environments. These symbiotic bacteria have increasingly been a focus of microbiologists working in marine environments due to a wide array of reported bioactive
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Microbial symbiotic communities of marine macro-organisms carry functional metabolic profiles different to the ones found terrestrially and within surrounding marine environments. These symbiotic bacteria have increasingly been a focus of microbiologists working in marine environments due to a wide array of reported bioactive compounds of therapeutic importance resulting in various patent registrations. Revelations of symbiont-directed host specific functions and the true nature of host-symbiont interactions, combined with metagenomic advances detecting functional gene clusters, will inevitably open new avenues for identification and discovery of novel bioactive compounds of biotechnological value from marine resources. This review article provides an overview on bioactive marine symbiotic organisms with specific emphasis placed on the sponge-associated ones and invites the international scientific community to contribute towards establishment of in-depth information of the environmental parameters defining selection and acquisition of true symbionts by the host organisms. Full article
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Open AccessReview
Thirty Years of Research on Crown-of-Thorns Starfish (1986–2016): Scientific Advances and Emerging Opportunities
Diversity 2017, 9(4), 41; doi:10.3390/d9040041 -
Abstract
Research on the coral-eating crown-of-thorns starfish (CoTS) has waxed and waned over the last few decades, mostly in response to population outbreaks at specific locations. This review considers advances in our understanding of the biology and ecology of CoTS based on the resurgence
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Research on the coral-eating crown-of-thorns starfish (CoTS) has waxed and waned over the last few decades, mostly in response to population outbreaks at specific locations. This review considers advances in our understanding of the biology and ecology of CoTS based on the resurgence of research interest, which culminated in this current special issue on the Biology, Ecology and Management of Crown-of-Thorns Starfish. More specifically, this review considers progress in addressing 41 specific research questions posed in a seminal review by P. Moran 30 years ago, as well as exploring new directions for CoTS research. Despite the plethora of research on CoTS (>1200 research articles), there are persistent knowledge gaps that constrain effective management of outbreaks. Although directly addressing some of these questions will be extremely difficult, there have been considerable advances in understanding the biology of CoTS, if not the proximate and ultimate cause(s) of outbreaks. Moving forward, researchers need to embrace new technologies and opportunities to advance our understanding of CoTS biology and behavior, focusing on key questions that will improve effectiveness of management in reducing the frequency and likelihood of outbreaks, if not preventing them altogether. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Diversity and Bioactivity of Marine Bacteria Associated with the Sponges Candidaspongia flabellata and Rhopaloeides odorabile from the Great Barrier Reef in Australia
Diversity 2017, 9(3), 39; doi:10.3390/d9030039 -
Abstract
Sponges and their associated microbial communities have sparked much interest in recent decades due on the abundant production of chemically diverse metabolites that in nature serve as functional compounds required by the marine sponge host. These compounds were found to carry therapeutic importance
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Sponges and their associated microbial communities have sparked much interest in recent decades due on the abundant production of chemically diverse metabolites that in nature serve as functional compounds required by the marine sponge host. These compounds were found to carry therapeutic importance for medicinal applications. In the presented study, 123 bacterial isolates from the culture collection of the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) previously isolated from two different sponge species, namely Candidaspongia flabellata and Rhopaloeides odorabile, originating from different locations on the Great Barrier Reef in Queensland, Australia, were thus studied for their bioactivity. The symbiotic bacterial isolates were first identified using 16S rRNA gene analysis and they were found to belong to five different dominating classes of Domain Bacteria, namely Alphaproteobacteria, Gammaproteobacteria, Flavobacteria, Bacilli and Actinobacteria. Following their taxonomical categorization, the isolates were screened for their antimicrobial activity against human pathogenic microbial reference strains: Escherichia coli (ATCC® BAA-196™), E. coli (ATCC® 13706™), E. coli (ATCC® 25922™), Klebsiella pneumoniae (ATCC® BAA-1705™), Enterococcus faecalis (ATCC® 51575™), Bacillus subtilis (ATCC® 19659™), Staphylococcus aureus (ATCC® 29247™), Candida albicans (ATCC® 10231™) and Aspergillus niger (ATCC® 16888™). Over 50% of the isolates displayed antimicrobial activity against one or more of the reference strains tested. The subset of these bioactive bacterial isolates was further investigated to identify their biosynthetic genes such as polyketide synthase (PKS) type I and non-ribosomal peptide synthetase (NRPS) genes. This was done using polymerase chain reaction (PCR) with degenerate primers that have been previously used to amplify PKS-I and NRPS genes. These specific genes have been reported to be possibly involved in bacterial secondary metabolite production. In 47% of the bacterial isolates investigated, the PKS and NRPS genes were located. Some of the bacterial isolates were found to possess both gene types, which agrees with the previous reported biosynthetic ability of certain sponge-symbiotic bacteria such as the Actinobacteria or Gammaproteobacteria to produce secondary metabolites with antimicrobial activity. All these reported activities further confirm that sponge-symbiotic bacteria hold significant bioactivity with medicinal and biotechnological importance. Full article
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Open AccessReview
NGS-Based Genotyping, High-Throughput Phenotyping and Genome-Wide Association Studies Laid the Foundations for Next-Generation Breeding in Horticultural Crops
Diversity 2017, 9(3), 38; doi:10.3390/d9030038 -
Abstract
Demographic trends and changes to climate require a more efficient use of plant genetic resources in breeding programs. Indeed, the release of high-yielding varieties has resulted in crop genetic erosion and loss of diversity. This has produced an increased susceptibility to severe stresses
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Demographic trends and changes to climate require a more efficient use of plant genetic resources in breeding programs. Indeed, the release of high-yielding varieties has resulted in crop genetic erosion and loss of diversity. This has produced an increased susceptibility to severe stresses and a reduction of several food quality parameters. Next generation sequencing (NGS) technologies are being increasingly used to explore “gene space” and to provide high-resolution profiling of nucleotide variation within germplasm collections. On the other hand, advances in high-throughput phenotyping are bridging the genotype-to-phenotype gap in crop selection. The combination of allelic and phenotypic data points via genome-wide association studies is facilitating the discovery of genetic loci that are associated with key agronomic traits. In this review, we provide a brief overview on the latest NGS-based and phenotyping technologies and on their role to unlocking the genetic potential of vegetable crops; then, we discuss the paradigm shift that is underway in horticultural crop breeding. Full article
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Open AccessReview
Dispersal, Isolation, and Interaction in the Islands of Polynesia: A Critical Review of Archaeological and Genetic Evidence
Diversity 2017, 9(3), 37; doi:10.3390/d9030037 -
Abstract
Integration of archaeology, modern genetics, and ancient DNA holds promise for the reconstruction of the human past. We examine the advances in research on the indigenous peoples of Polynesia to determine: (1) what do archaeological and genetic data (ancient and modern DNA) tell
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Integration of archaeology, modern genetics, and ancient DNA holds promise for the reconstruction of the human past. We examine the advances in research on the indigenous peoples of Polynesia to determine: (1) what do archaeological and genetic data (ancient and modern DNA) tell us about the origins of Polynesians; and, (2) what evidence is there for long-distance travel and contacts between Polynesians and indigenous populations of the Americas? We note that the general dispersal pattern of founding human populations in the remote islands of the Pacific and long-distance interaction spheres continue to reflect well-established models. New research suggests that the formation of an Ancestral Polynesia Culture in Western Polynesia may have involved differential patterns of dispersal followed by significant later migrations. It has also been suggested that the pause between the settlement of Western and Eastern Polynesia was centuries longer than currently thought, followed by a remarkably rapid pulse of island colonization. Long-distance travel between islands of the Pacific is currently best documented through the sourcing of artifacts, while the discovery of admixture of Native American DNA within the genome of the people from Easter Island (Rapa Nui) is strong new evidence for sustained contacts between Polynesia and the Americas. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
In Situ Cultured Bacterial Diversity from Iron Curtain Cave, Chilliwack, British Columbia, Canada
Diversity 2017, 9(3), 36; doi:10.3390/d9030036 -
Abstract
The culturable bacterial diversity from Iron Curtain Cave, Chilliwack, British Columbia, Canada was examined. Sixty five bacterial isolates were successfully cultivated, purified, and identified based on 16S rRNA gene sequencing. Four distinguishable phyla, i.e., Actinobacteria (44.61%), Proteobacteria (27.69%), Firmicutes (20%) and Bacteroidetes (7.69%)
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The culturable bacterial diversity from Iron Curtain Cave, Chilliwack, British Columbia, Canada was examined. Sixty five bacterial isolates were successfully cultivated, purified, and identified based on 16S rRNA gene sequencing. Four distinguishable phyla, i.e., Actinobacteria (44.61%), Proteobacteria (27.69%), Firmicutes (20%) and Bacteroidetes (7.69%) were identified. Arthrobacter (21.53%) was identified as the major genus, followed by Sporosarcina (9.23%), Stenotrophomonas (9.23%), Streptomyces (6.15%), Brevundimonas (4.61%), and Crocebacterium (2.8%). Noteworthy, 12.3% of the population was recognized as unidentified bacteria. The isolates were evaluated for their potential antimicrobial activities against multidrug resistant microbial strains. Two species of the genus Streptomyces exhibited a wide range of antimicrobial activities against multidrug resistance (MDR) strains of Escherichiacoli and Pseudomonas spp. along with non-resistant strains of Staphylococcus aureus and E. coli. However, all of the antimicrobial activities were only observed when the isolates were grown at 8 °C in different media. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first study conducted on the Iron Curtain Cave’s bacterial diversity, and reveals some bacterial isolates that have never been reported from a cave. Bacterial isolates identified with antimicrobial properties demonstrated that the Iron Curtain Cave can be further considered as a potential habitat for antimicrobial agents. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
A Comparative Analysis of Viral Richness and Viral Sharing in Cave-Roosting Bats
Diversity 2017, 9(3), 35; doi:10.3390/d9030035 -
Abstract
Caves provide critical roosting habitats for bats globally, but are increasingly disturbed or destroyed by human activities such as tourism and extractive industries. In addition to degrading the habitats of cave-roosting bats, such activities often promote contact between humans and bats, which may
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Caves provide critical roosting habitats for bats globally, but are increasingly disturbed or destroyed by human activities such as tourism and extractive industries. In addition to degrading the habitats of cave-roosting bats, such activities often promote contact between humans and bats, which may have potential impacts on human health. Cave-roosting bats are hosts to diverse viruses, some of which emerged in humans with severe consequences (e.g., severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus and Marburg virus). Characterizing patterns of viral richness and sharing among bat species are therefore important first steps for understanding bat-virus dynamics and mitigating future bat-human spillover. Here we compile a database of bat-virus associations and bat species ecological traits, and investigate the importance of roosting behavior as a determinant of viral richness and viral sharing among bat species. We show that cave-roosting species do not host greater viral richness, when accounting for publication bias, diet, body mass, and geographic range size. Our global analyses, however, show that cave-roosting bats do exhibit a greater likelihood of viral sharing, especially those documented in the literature as co-roosting in the same cave. We highlight the importance of caves as critical foci for bat conservation, as well as ideal sites for longitudinal surveillance of bat-virus dynamics. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Millennia-Long Co-Existence of Two Major European Whitefish (Coregonus spp.) Lineages in Switzerland Inferred from Ancient Mitochondrial DNA
Diversity 2017, 9(3), 34; doi:10.3390/d9030034 -
Abstract
Archaeological fish remains are an important source for reconstructing past aquatic ecosystems and ancient fishing strategies using aDNA techniques. Here, we focus on archaeological samples of European whitefish (Coregonus spp.) from Switzerland covering different time periods. Coregonus bones and scales are commonly
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Archaeological fish remains are an important source for reconstructing past aquatic ecosystems and ancient fishing strategies using aDNA techniques. Here, we focus on archaeological samples of European whitefish (Coregonus spp.) from Switzerland covering different time periods. Coregonus bones and scales are commonly found in archaeological assemblages, but these elements lack species specific features and thus inhibit morphological species identification. Even today, fish taxonomy is confusing and numerous species and ecotypes are recognized, and even more probably existed in the past. By targeting short fragments of the mitochondrial d-loop in 48 morphologically identified Coregonus scales and vertebrae from 10 archaeological sites in Switzerland, endogenous d-loop sequences were found in 24 samples from one Neolithic, two Roman, and four Medieval sites. Two major mtDNA clades, C and N, known from contemporary European whitefish populations were detected, suggesting co-occurrence for at least 5000 years. In the future, NGS technologies may be used to explore Coregonus or other fish species and ecotype diversity in the past to elucidate the human impact on lacustrine/limnic environments. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
An eDNA-Based SNP Assay for Ungulate Species and Sex Identification
Diversity 2017, 9(3), 33; doi:10.3390/d9030033 -
Abstract
Many processes in wild populations are difficult to study. Genetic data, often non-invasively collected, may provide a solution to these difficulties and are increasingly used to study behavioral, demographic, ecological, and evolutionary processes. Moreover, the improved sensitivity of genetic methods now allows analyses
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Many processes in wild populations are difficult to study. Genetic data, often non-invasively collected, may provide a solution to these difficulties and are increasingly used to study behavioral, demographic, ecological, and evolutionary processes. Moreover, the improved sensitivity of genetic methods now allows analyses of trace amounts of DNA left by animals in their environment (e.g., saliva, urine, epithelial cells). Environmental DNA (eDNA) thus offers new opportunities to study a range of historic and contemporary questions. Here, we present a species and sex diagnostic kit for studying browsing in a multispecies temperate ungulate assemblage. Using mitochondrial sequences deposited in Genbank, we developed four single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) for identifying four temperate ungulate species. We also sequenced portions of the Amelogenin gene on the X- and Y-chromosomes and developed six SNPs (three on the X-chromosome and three on the Y-chromosome) for sex determination. We tested the SNP assays on high and low quality/quantity DNA samples. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Venetian Local Corn (Zea mays L.) Germplasm: Disclosing the Genetic Anatomy of Old Landraces Suited for Typical Cornmeal Mush Production
Diversity 2017, 9(3), 32; doi:10.3390/d9030032 -
Abstract
Due to growing concern for the genetic erosion of local varieties, four of the main corn landraces historically grown in Veneto (Italy)—Sponcio, Marano, Biancoperla and Rosso Piave—were characterized in this work. A total of 197 phenotypically representative plants collected from field populations were
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Due to growing concern for the genetic erosion of local varieties, four of the main corn landraces historically grown in Veneto (Italy)—Sponcio, Marano, Biancoperla and Rosso Piave—were characterized in this work. A total of 197 phenotypically representative plants collected from field populations were genotyped at 10 SSR marker loci, which were regularly distributed across the 10 genetic linkage groups and were previously characterized for high polymorphism information content (PIC), on average equal to 0.5. The population structure analysis based on this marker set revealed that 144 individuals could be assigned with strong ancestry association (>90%) to four distinct clusters, corresponding to the landraces used in this study. The remaining 53 individuals, mainly from Sponcio and Marano, showed admixed ancestry. Among all possible pairwise comparisons of individual plants, these two landraces exhibited the highest mean genetic similarity (approximately 67%), as graphically confirmed through ordination analyses based on PCoA centroids and UPGMA trees. Our findings support the hypothesis of direct gene flow between Sponcio and Marano, likely promoted by the geographical proximity of these two landraces and their overlapping cultivation areas. Conversely, consistent with its production mainly confined to the eastern area of the region, Rosso Piave scored the lowest genetic similarity (<59%) to the other three landraces and firmly grouped (with average membership of 89%) in a separate cluster, forming a molecularly distinguishable gene pool. The elite inbred B73 used as tester line scored very low estimates of genetic similarity (on average <45%) with all the landraces. Finally, although Biancoperla was represented at K = 4 by a single subgroup with individual memberships higher than 80% in almost all cases (57 of 62), when analyzed with an additional level of population structure for K = 6, it appeared to be entirely (100%) constituted by individuals with admixed ancestry. This suggests that the current population could be the result of repeated hybridization events between the two accessions currently bred in Veneto. The genetic characterization of these heritage landraces should prove very useful for monitoring and preventing further genetic erosion and genetic introgression, thus preserving their gene pools, phenotypic identities and qualitative traits for the future. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
16S rRNA Gene-Based Metagenomic Analysis of Ozark Cave Bacteria
Diversity 2017, 9(3), 31; doi:10.3390/d9030031 -
Abstract
The microbial diversity within cave ecosystems is largely unknown. Ozark caves maintain a year-round stable temperature (12–14 °C), but most parts of the caves experience complete darkness. The lack of sunlight and geological isolation from surface-energy inputs generate nutrient-poor conditions that may limit
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The microbial diversity within cave ecosystems is largely unknown. Ozark caves maintain a year-round stable temperature (12–14 °C), but most parts of the caves experience complete darkness. The lack of sunlight and geological isolation from surface-energy inputs generate nutrient-poor conditions that may limit species diversity in such environments. Although microorganisms play a crucial role in sustaining life on Earth and impacting human health, little is known about their diversity, ecology, and evolution in community structures. We used five Ozark region caves as test sites for exploring bacterial diversity and monitoring long-term biodiversity. Illumina MiSeq sequencing of five cave soil samples and a control sample revealed a total of 49 bacterial phyla, with seven major phyla: Proteobacteria, Acidobacteria, Actinobacteria, Firmicutes, Chloroflexi, Bacteroidetes, and Nitrospirae. Variation in bacterial composition was observed among the five caves studied. Sandtown Cave had the lowest richness and most divergent community composition. 16S rRNA gene-based metagenomic analysis of cave-dwelling microbial communities in the Ozark caves revealed that species abundance and diversity are vast and included ecologically, agriculturally, and economically relevant taxa. Full article
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Open AccessReview
Biodiversity Dynamics on Islands: Explicitly Accounting for Causality in Mechanistic Models
Diversity 2017, 9(3), 30; doi:10.3390/d9030030 -
Abstract
Island biogeography remains a popular topic in ecology and has gained renewed interest due to recent theoretical development. As experimental investigation of the theory is difficult to carry out, mechanistic simulation models provide useful alternatives. Several eco-evolutionary mechanisms have been identified to affect
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Island biogeography remains a popular topic in ecology and has gained renewed interest due to recent theoretical development. As experimental investigation of the theory is difficult to carry out, mechanistic simulation models provide useful alternatives. Several eco-evolutionary mechanisms have been identified to affect island biodiversity, but integrating more than a few of these processes into models remains a challenge. To get an overview of what processes mechanistic island models have integrated so far and what conclusions they came to, we conducted an exhaustive literature review of studies featuring island-specific mechanistic models. This was done using an extensive systematic literature search with subsequent manual filtering. We obtained a list of 28 studies containing mechanistic island models, out of 647 total hits. Mechanistic island models differ greatly in their integrated processes and computational structure. Their individual findings range from theoretical (such as humped-shaped extinction rates for oceanic islands) to system-specific dynamics (e.g., equilibrium and non-equilibrium dynamics for Galápagos’ birds). However, most models so far only integrate theories and processes pair-wise, while focusing on hypothetical systems. Trophic interactions and explicit micro-evolution are largely underrepresented in models. We expect future models to continue integrating processes, thus promoting the full appraisal of biodiversity dynamics. Full article
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Open AccessReview
A Unique Coral Community in the Mangroves of Hurricane Hole, St. John, US Virgin Islands
Diversity 2017, 9(3), 29; doi:10.3390/d9030029 -
Abstract
Corals do not typically thrive in mangrove environments. However, corals are growing on and near the prop roots of red mangrove trees in Hurricane Hole, an area within the Virgin Islands Coral Reef National Monument under the protection of the US National Park
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Corals do not typically thrive in mangrove environments. However, corals are growing on and near the prop roots of red mangrove trees in Hurricane Hole, an area within the Virgin Islands Coral Reef National Monument under the protection of the US National Park Service in St. John, US Virgin Islands. This review summarizes current knowledge of the remarkable biodiversity of this area. Over 30 scleractinian coral species, about the same number as documented to date from nearby coral reefs, grow here. No other mangrove ecosystems in the Caribbean are known to have so many coral species. This area may be a refuge from changing climate, as these corals weathered the severe thermal stress and subsequent disease outbreak that caused major coral loss on the island’s coral reefs in 2005 and 2006. Shading by the red mangrove trees reduces the stress that leads to coral bleaching. Seawater temperatures in these mangroves are more variable than those on the reefs, and some studies have shown that this variability results in corals with a greater resistance to higher temperatures. The diversity of sponges and fish is also high, and a new genus of serpulid worm was recently described. Continuing research may lead to the discovery of more new species. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Spacio-Temporal Distribution and Tourist Impact on Airborne Bacteria in a Cave (Škocjan Caves, Slovenia)
Diversity 2017, 9(3), 28; doi:10.3390/d9030028 -
Abstract
(1) Background: Airborne microbes are an integral part of a cave ecosystem. Cave allochtonous airborne microbiota, which occurs mainly during aerosolization from an underground river, from animals, and from visitors, is particularly pronounced in show caves. The impacts of tourists and natural river
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(1) Background: Airborne microbes are an integral part of a cave ecosystem. Cave allochtonous airborne microbiota, which occurs mainly during aerosolization from an underground river, from animals, and from visitors, is particularly pronounced in show caves. The impacts of tourists and natural river aerosolization on the cave air were estimated in large cave spaces within the Škocjan Caves; (2) Methods: Simultaneously with the measurements of atmospheric parameters, cultivable airborne bacteria were impacted, counted and identified using MALDI-TOF MS (Matrix-Assisted Laser Desorption/Ionization Time-Of-Flight Mass Spectrometry); (3) Results: A mix of bacteria typically associated with humans and with natural habitats, including a large percentage of non-identified isolates, was found in the cave air. Few of the isolates were attributed to Risk Group 2. A strong positive correlation between tourist numbers and the rise in the concentration of airborne bacteria was indicated. Concentration of airborne bacteria rises to particularly high levels close to the underground river during periods of high discharge. A 10-times lower discharge reflected an approximately 20-times lower concentration of airborne bacteria; (4) Conclusions: Caves that are open and visited contain a diverse airborne microbiota originating from different sources. Enormous cave chambers that display relatively dynamic cave climate conditions do not normally support the enhancement of airborne bacterial concentrations. Full article
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