Diversity2014, 6(2), 323-338; doi:10.3390/d6020323 - published online 15 April 2014 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Planarians are a group of free-living platyhelminths (triclads) best-known largely due to long-standing regeneration and pattern formation research. However, the group’s diversity and evolutionary history has been mostly overlooked. A few taxonomists have focused on certain groups, resulting in the description of many species and the establishment of higher-level groups within the Tricladida. However, the scarcity of morphological features precludes inference of phylogenetic relationships among these taxa. The incorporation of molecular markers to study their diversity and phylogenetic relationships has facilitated disentangling many conundrums related to planarians and even allowed their use as phylogeographic model organisms. Here, we present some case examples ranging from delimiting species in an integrative style, and barcoding them, to analysing their evolutionary history on a lower scale to infer processes affecting biodiversity origin, or on a higher scale to understand the genus level or even higher relationships. In many cases, these studies have allowed proposing better classifications and resulted in taxonomical changes. We also explain shortcomings resulting in a lack of resolution or power to apply the most up-to-date data analyses. Next-generation sequencing methodologies may help improve this situation and accelerate their use as model organisms.
Diversity2014, 6(2), 296-322; doi:10.3390/d6020296 - published online 15 April 2014 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Corsica Island is a sub-basin of the Northwestern Mediterranean Sea, with hydrological features typical of both oligotrophic systems and eutrophic coastal zones. Phytoplankton assemblages in two coastal ecosystems of Corsica (the deep Bay of Calvi and the shallow littoral of Bastia) show contrasting patterns over a one-year cycle. In order to determine what drives these variations, seasonal changes in littoral phytoplankton are considered together with environmental parameters. Our methodology combined a survey of the physico-chemical structure of the subsurface water with a characterization of the phytoplankton community structure. Sampling provided a detailed record of the seasonal changes and successions that occur in these two areas. Results showed that the two sampled stations presented different phytoplankton abundance and distribution patterns, notably during the winter–spring bloom period. Successions in pico-, nano-, and microphytoplankton communities appeared mainly driven by differences in the ability to acquire nutrients, and in community-specific growth rates. Phytoplankton structure and dynamics are discussed in relation to available data on the Northwestern Mediterranean Sea. These results confirm that integrated monitoring of coastal areas is a requisite for gaining a proper understanding of marine ecosystems.
Diversity2014, 6(2), 283-295; doi:10.3390/d6020283 - published online 4 April 2014 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Molecular markers have proven to be invaluable tools for assessing plants’ genetic resources by improving our understanding with regards to the distribution and the extent of genetic variation within and among species. Recently developed marker technologies allow the uncovering of the extent of the genetic variation in an unprecedented way through increased coverage of the genome. Markers have diverse applications in plant sciences, but certain marker types, due to their inherent characteristics, have also shown their limitations. A combination of diverse marker types is usually recommended to provide an accurate assessment of the extent of intra- and inter-population genetic diversity of naturally distributed plant species on which proper conservation directives for species that are at risk of decline can be issued. Here, specifically, natural populations of forest trees are reviewed by summarizing published reports in terms of the status of genetic variation in the pure species. In general, for outbred forest tree species, the genetic diversity within populations is larger than among populations of the same species, indicative of a negligible local spatial structure. Additionally, as is the case for plants in general, the diversity at the phenotypic level is also much larger than at the marker level, as selectively neutral markers are commonly used to capture the extent of genetic variation. However, more and more, nucleotide diversity within candidate genes underlying adaptive traits are studied for signatures of selection at single sites. This adaptive genetic diversity constitutes important potential for future forest management and conservation purposes.
Diversity2014, 6(2), 188-282; doi:10.3390/d6020188 - published online 1 April 2014 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Among the diversity of secondary metabolites which are produced by plants as means of defence against herbivores and microbes, pyrrolizidine alkaloids (PAs) are common in Boraginaceae, Asteraceae and some other plant families. Pyrrolizidine alkaloids are infamous as toxic compounds which can alkylate DNA und thus cause mutations and even cancer in herbivores and humans. Almost all genera of the family Boraginaceae synthesize and store this type of alkaloids. This review reports the available information on the present status (literature up to early 2014) of the pyrrolizidine alkaloids in the Boraginaceae and summarizes the topics structure, distribution, chemistry, chemotaxonomic significance, and biological properties.
Diversity2014, 6(1), 178-187; doi:10.3390/d6010178 - published online 14 March 2014 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Several studies have investigated the differentiation of mitochondrial DNA in Eurasian, African and American cattle as well as archaeological bovine material. A global survey of these studies shows that haplogroup distributions are more stable in time than in space. All major migrations of cattle have shifted the haplogroup distributions considerably with a reduction of the number of haplogroups and/or an expansion of haplotypes that are rare or absent in the ancestral populations. The most extreme case is the almost exclusive colonization of Africa by the T1 haplogroup, which is rare in Southwest Asian cattle. In contrast, ancient samples invariably show continuity with present-day cattle from the same location. These findings indicate strong maternal founder effects followed by limited maternal gene flow when new territories are colonized. However, effects of adaptation to new environments may also play a role.