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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Open AccessArticle
Putting Plant Genetic Diversity and Variability at Work for Breeding: Hybrid Rice Suitability in West Africa
Diversity 2017, 9(3), 27; doi:10.3390/d9030027 -
Abstract
Rice is a staple food in West Africa, where its demand keeps increasing due to population growth. Hence, there is an urgent need to identify high yielding rice cultivars that fulfill this demand locally. Rice hybrids are already known to significantly increase productivity.
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Rice is a staple food in West Africa, where its demand keeps increasing due to population growth. Hence, there is an urgent need to identify high yielding rice cultivars that fulfill this demand locally. Rice hybrids are already known to significantly increase productivity. This study evaluated the potential of Asian hybrids with good adaptability to irrigated and rainfed lowland rice areas in Mali, Nigeria, and Senegal. There were 169 hybrids from China included in trials at target sites during 2009 and 2010. The genotype × environment interaction was highly significant (p < 0.0001) for grain yield indicating that the hybrids’ and their respective cultivar checks’ performance differed across locations. Two hybrids had the highest grain yield during 2010 in Mali, while in Nigeria, four hybrids in 2009 and one hybrid in 2010 had higher grain yield and matured earlier than the best local cultivar. The milling recovery, grain shape and cooking features of most hybrids had the quality preferred by West African consumers. Most of the hybrids were, however, susceptible to African rice gall midge (AfRGM) and Rice Yellow Mottle Virus (RMYV) isolate Ng40. About 60% of these hybrids were resistant to blast. Hybrids need to incorporate host plant resistant for AfRGM and RYMV to be grown in West Africa. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Does Stream Size Really Explain Biodiversity Patterns in Lotic Systems? A Call for Mechanistic Explanations
Diversity 2017, 9(3), 26; doi:10.3390/d9030026 -
Abstract
Understanding drivers of biodiversity is a long-standing goal of basic and applied ecological research. In riverine systems, there remains a critical need to identify these drivers as efforts to manage and protect rivers grow increasingly desperate in the face of global change. We
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Understanding drivers of biodiversity is a long-standing goal of basic and applied ecological research. In riverine systems, there remains a critical need to identify these drivers as efforts to manage and protect rivers grow increasingly desperate in the face of global change. We explored one commonly cited potential driver of riverine biodiversity, stream size (e.g., stream order, watershed area, width), using a systematic literature review paired with an analysis of broad-scale macroinvertebrate and fish communities. Of the 165 papers reviewed, we found mostly positive, but no universal, relationship between biodiversity and stream size despite inconsistent use of over 30 measures of stream size. One-third of studies failed to report explanatory mechanisms driving biodiversity–stream size relationships. Across over 4000 macroinvertebrate and fish samples from 1st–8th order streams in the contiguous USA, our analysis showed biodiversity (Shannon diversity, functional diversity, beta diversity) generally increased with measures of stream size. However, because of inconsistent and generally weak relationships between biodiversity and stream size across organismal groups, we emphasize the need to look beyond simple physical stream size measures to understand and predict riverine biodiversity, and strongly suggest that studies search for more mechanistic explanations of biodiversity patterns in lotic systems. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Species Richness and Relative Abundance of Reef-Building Corals in the Indo-West Pacific
Diversity 2017, 9(3), 25; doi:10.3390/d9030025 -
Abstract
Scleractinian corals, the main framework builders of coral reefs, are in serious global decline, although there remains significant uncertainty as to the consequences for individual species and particular regions. We assessed coral species richness and ranked relative abundance across 3075 depth-stratified survey sites,
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Scleractinian corals, the main framework builders of coral reefs, are in serious global decline, although there remains significant uncertainty as to the consequences for individual species and particular regions. We assessed coral species richness and ranked relative abundance across 3075 depth-stratified survey sites, each < 0.5 ha in area, using a standardized rapid assessment method, in 31 Indo-West Pacific (IWP) coral ecoregions (ERs), from 1994 to 2016. The ecoregions cover a significant proportion of the ranges of most IWP reef coral species, including main centres of diversity, providing a baseline (albeit a shifted one) of species abundance over a large area of highly endangered reef systems, facilitating study of future change. In all, 672 species were recorded. The richest sites and ERs were all located in the Coral Triangle. Local (site) richness peaked at 224 species in Halmahera ER (IWP mean 71 species Standard Deviation 38 species). Nineteen species occurred in more than half of all sites, all but one occurring in more than 90% of ERs. Representing 13 genera, these widespread species exhibit a broad range of life histories, indicating that no particular strategy, or taxonomic affiliation, conferred particular ecological advantage. For most other species, occurrence and abundance varied markedly among different ERs, some having pronounced “centres of abundance”. Conversely, another 40 species, also with widely divergent life histories, were very rare, occurring in five or fewer sites, 14 species of which are ranked as “Vulnerable” or “Endangered” on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List. Others may also qualify in these Threatened categories under criteria of small geographic range and population fragmentation, the utility of which is briefly assessed. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Species Richness, Taxonomic Distinctness and Environmental Influences on Euphausiid Zoogeography in the Indian Ocean
Diversity 2017, 9(2), 23; doi:10.3390/d9020023 -
Abstract
Although two thirds of the world’s euphausiid species occur in the Indian Ocean, environmental factors influencing patterns in their diversity across this atypical ocean basin are poorly known. Distribution data for 56 species of euphausiids were extracted from existing literature and, using a
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Although two thirds of the world’s euphausiid species occur in the Indian Ocean, environmental factors influencing patterns in their diversity across this atypical ocean basin are poorly known. Distribution data for 56 species of euphausiids were extracted from existing literature and, using a geographic information system, spatially-explicit layers of species richness and average taxonomic distinctness (AveTD) were produced for the Indian Ocean. Species richness was high in tropical areas of the southern Indian Ocean (0–20° S), and this high richness extended southwards via the Agulhas and Leeuwin boundary currents. In contrast, the land-locked northern Indian Ocean exhibited lower species richness but higher AveTD, with the presence of the monotypic family Bentheuphausiidae strongly influencing the latter result. Generalised additive modelling incorporating environmental variables averaged over 0–300 m depth indicated that low oxygen concentrations and reduced salinity in the northern Indian Ocean correlated with low species richness. Depth-averaged temperature and surface chlorophyll a concentration were also significant in explaining some of the variation in species richness of euphausiids. Overall, this study has indicated that the patterns in species richness in the Indian Ocean are reflective of its many unusual oceanographic features, and that patterns in AveTD were not particularly informative because of the dominance by the family Euphausiidae. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
The Significance of New Records of Benthic Red Algae (Rhodophyta) for Hainan Island (and China) between 1990 and 2016
Diversity 2017, 9(2), 24; doi:10.3390/d9020024 -
Abstract
We present an annotated list of new finds of red algae from Hainan Island, Southern China, including those found in 1990 and 1992 during the German-Chinese expeditions to Hainan Island and in 2008–2016 by Titlyanova, Titlyanov, and Li. Between 1990 and 1992, a
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We present an annotated list of new finds of red algae from Hainan Island, Southern China, including those found in 1990 and 1992 during the German-Chinese expeditions to Hainan Island and in 2008–2016 by Titlyanova, Titlyanov, and Li. Between 1990 and 1992, a total of 64 taxa of red algae were newly recorded for Hainan Island. Of these 15 species were new records for China. During the period 2008–2016, a further 54 taxa were newly recorded for Hainan Island, of which 20 were new records for China. The full list of new taxa includes taxonomic forms, dates, and locales, together with known biogeographical distributions. During both periods, the apparent enrichment of red algal marine flora has occurred in a similar way—mainly at the expense of epiphytes with filamentous, thin-filamentous, and finely branched forms. We believe that the changes in the flora of Hainan Island have been influenced by both anthropogenic and natural factors including in particular exploitation of herbivores, nutrient pollution, and coral bleaching. Full article
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Open AccessOpinion
Persistent Gaps of Knowledge for Naming and Distinguishing Multiple Species of Crown-of-Thorns-Seastar in the Acanthaster planci Species Complex
Diversity 2017, 9(2), 22; doi:10.3390/d9020022 -
Abstract
Nearly a decade ago, DNA barcoding (partial mitochondrial COI gene sequences) showed that there are at least four species in the Indo-Pacific within what was previously conceived to be a single Crown-of-Thorns-Seastar (COTS) species, Acanthaster planci. Two of these species—A. planci
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Nearly a decade ago, DNA barcoding (partial mitochondrial COI gene sequences) showed that there are at least four species in the Indo-Pacific within what was previously conceived to be a single Crown-of-Thorns-Seastar (COTS) species, Acanthaster planci. Two of these species—A. planci Linnaeus, 1758, distributed in the North Indian Ocean, and A. mauritiensis de Loriol, 1885, distributed in the South Indian Ocean—have been already unequivocally named. In contrast, the Pacific COTS (proposed name: A. solaris (Schreber, 1795) and the COTS from the Red Sea (still to be named) require further taxonomic work. COI barcoding sequences and Barcode Identification Numbers (BINs) are available for all four COTS species in the global Barcode of Life Database (BOLD). We recommend depositing voucher specimens or tissue samples suitable for DNA analyses when studying any aspect of COTS, and use BINs to identify species, to ensure that no information is lost on species allocation until unequivocal Linnean names are available for the Pacific and Red Sea species as well. We also review the differences between COTS species with respect to morphology, ecology, and toxicity. Future studies should widen the current biogeographic coverage of the different COTS species by strategically sampling neglected areas, especially at the geographic distribution limits of each species, to enhance our understanding of the diversity of this reef coral predator. Full article
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Open AccessReview
Barley Developmental Mutants: The High Road to Understand the Cereal Spike Morphology
Diversity 2017, 9(2), 21; doi:10.3390/d9020021 -
Abstract
A better understanding of the developmental plan of a cereal spike is of relevance when designing the plant for the future, in which innovative traits can be implemented through pre-breeding strategies. Barley developmental mutants can be a Mendelian solution for identifying genes controlling
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A better understanding of the developmental plan of a cereal spike is of relevance when designing the plant for the future, in which innovative traits can be implemented through pre-breeding strategies. Barley developmental mutants can be a Mendelian solution for identifying genes controlling key steps in the establishment of the spike morphology. Among cereals, barley (Hordeum vulgare L.) is one of the best investigated crop plants and is a model species for the Triticeae tribe, thanks to several characteristics, including, among others, its adaptability to a wide range of environments, its diploid genome, and its self-pollinating mating system, as well as the availability of its genome sequence and a wide array of genomic resources. Among them, large collections of natural and induced mutants have been developed since the 1920s, with the aim of understanding developmental and physiological processes and exploiting mutation breeding in crop improvement. The collections are not only comprehensive in terms of single Mendelian spike mutants, but with regards to double and triple mutants derived from crosses between simple mutants, as well as near isogenic lines (NILs) that are useful for genetic studies. In recent years the integration of the most advanced omic technologies with historical mutation-genetics research has helped in the isolation and validation of some of the genes involved in spike development. New interrogatives have raised the question about how the behavior of a single developmental gene in different genetic backgrounds can help in understanding phenomena like expressivity, penetrance, phenotypic plasticity, and instability. In this paper, some genetic and epigenetic studies on this topic are reviewed. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
The Phylogeny and Biogeography of Phyla nodiflora (Verbenaceae) Reveals Native and Invasive Lineages throughout the World
Diversity 2017, 9(2), 20; doi:10.3390/d9020020 -
Abstract
Phyla nodiflora is an herbaceous perennial and an enigmatic species. It is indigenous to the Americas but is considered a natural component of the flora in many areas and a weed in others. Our aim was to circumscribe the native range of P.
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Phyla nodiflora is an herbaceous perennial and an enigmatic species. It is indigenous to the Americas but is considered a natural component of the flora in many areas and a weed in others. Our aim was to circumscribe the native range of P. nodiflora, to explore dispersal mechanisms and routes and to test the hypothesis that P. nodiflora is native outside of the Americas. Determining whether distributions are natural or human-induced has implications for decisions regarding weed control or conservation. We undertook phylogenetic analyses using sequence variation in nuclear DNA marker ITS (Internal Transcribed Spacer) for a global sample of 160 populations of P. nodiflora sourced from Asia, Australia, central America, the Mediterranean, southern North America, South America and Africa. Analyses included maximum likelihood, maximum parsimony, a Bayesian estimation of phylogeny and a parsimony network analysis which provided a genealogical reconstruction of ribotypes. We evaluated phylogenies against extensive historical and biogeographical data. Based on the sequences, 64 ribotypes were identified worldwide within P. nodiflora and considerable geographic structure was evident with five clades: one unsupported and the remaining weakly supported (bootstrap support ranging from 52% to 71%). Populations from central and southern North America formed the core area in the indigenous range and we have detected at least three native lineages outside of this range. Within Australia P. nodiflora is represented by at least one native lineage and several post-European introductions. Phyla nodiflora is one of the few species in the family Verbenaceae to have a pan-tropical native distribution, probably resulting from natural dispersal from America to Africa then to Australasia. However, it has also undergone human-mediated dispersal, which has obscured the native-origin of some ribotypes. These introductions present a risk of diluting the pan-tropical structure evident in this species and therefore they have important conservation implications. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Molecular Assisted Identification Reveals Hidden Red Algae Diversity from the Burica Peninsula, Pacific Panama
Diversity 2017, 9(2), 19; doi:10.3390/d9020019 -
Abstract
The marine flora of Panama harbors a rich diversity of green, red and brown algae, and despite chronic understudy, it is reported as the second most diverse marine flora along the Pacific Central American coast, with 174 macroalgal species. Extensive new collections and
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The marine flora of Panama harbors a rich diversity of green, red and brown algae, and despite chronic understudy, it is reported as the second most diverse marine flora along the Pacific Central American coast, with 174 macroalgal species. Extensive new collections and molecular assisted identification (MAI) by an international team of researchers has revealed an even greater diversity for this country. Here, the intertidal and shallow subtidal marine flora of the remote Burica Peninsula is introduced. This area is characterized by an uplifted extensive intertidal flat composed of firm, sedimentary benthos known as mudrock, on which abundant algal communities thrive, even during extended periods of exposure. A collection of nearly 200 brown, green and red macroalgae specimens representing the first marine floristic inventory of this region was made in January 2011, and results of analyses of 45 foliose red algae specimens are presented. DNA sequence data for several loci (rbcL-3P; COI-5P; UPA) have been generated for molecular assisted identification and to guide morphological assessments. Twenty-six species were identified among the specimens including 21 new Pacific Panama records, as well as previously unrealized transisthmian distributions, and two new species, Neorubra parvolacertoides sp. nov. and Grateloupia irregularis sp. nov. Full article
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
Age and Growth of An Outbreaking Acanthaster cf. solaris Population within the Great Barrier Reef
Diversity 2017, 9(1), 18; doi:10.3390/d9010018 -
Abstract
Despite having been studied for more than 40 years, much about the basic life history of crown-of-thorns starfish (CoTS; Acanthaster spp.) remains poorly understood. Size at age—a key metric of productivity for any animal population—has yet to be clearly defined, primarily due to
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Despite having been studied for more than 40 years, much about the basic life history of crown-of-thorns starfish (CoTS; Acanthaster spp.) remains poorly understood. Size at age—a key metric of productivity for any animal population—has yet to be clearly defined, primarily due to difficulties in obtaining validated ages and potentially indeterminate growth due to factors such as starvation; within-population variability is entirely unknown. Here we develop age and growth estimates for an outbreaking CoTS population in Australian waters by integrating prior information with data from CoTS collected from multiple outbreaking reefs. Age estimates were made from un-validated band counts of 2038 individual starfish. Results from our three-parameter von Bertalanffy Bayesian hierarchical model show that, under 2013–2014 outbreak conditions, CoTS on the GBR grew to a 349 (326, 380) mm (posterior median (95% uncertainty interval)) total diameter at a 0.54 (0.43, 0.66) intrinsic rate of increase. However, we also found substantial evidence (ΔDIC > 200) for inter-reef variability in both maximum size (SD 38 (19, 76)) and intrinsic rate of increase (SD 0.32 (0.20, 0.49)) within the CoTS outbreak initiation area. These results suggest that CoTS demography can vary widely with reef-scale environmental conditions, supporting location-based mechanisms for CoTS outbreaks generally. These findings should help improve population and metapopulation models of CoTS dynamics and better predict the potential damage they may cause in the future. Full article
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Open AccessReview
Potential Enhanced Survivorship of Crown of Thorns Starfish Larvae due to Near-Annual Nutrient Enrichment during Secondary Outbreaks on the Central Mid-Shelf of the Great Barrier Reef, Australia
Diversity 2017, 9(1), 17; doi:10.3390/d9010017 -
Abstract
The Great Barrier Reef (GBR) is currently experiencing widespread crown of thorns starfish (CoTS) outbreaks, as part of the fourth wave of outbreaks since 1962. It is believed that these outbreaks have become more frequent on the GBR and elsewhere in the Indo-Pacific
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The Great Barrier Reef (GBR) is currently experiencing widespread crown of thorns starfish (CoTS) outbreaks, as part of the fourth wave of outbreaks since 1962. It is believed that these outbreaks have become more frequent on the GBR and elsewhere in the Indo-Pacific and are associated with anthropogenic causes. The two widely accepted potential causes are (1) anthropogenic nutrient enrichment leading to the increased biomass of phytoplankton, the food of the planktonic stage of larval CoTS; and (2) the overfishing of predators in the juvenile to adult stages of CoTS, for example, commercially fished species such as coral trout. In this study, we show that the evidence for the nutrient enrichment causation hypothesis is strongly based on a large number of recent studies in the GBR. We also hypothesise that secondary outbreaks in the region between Cairns and Townsville can also be enhanced by nutrient enriched conditions associated with the annual nutrient discharge from Wet Tropics rivers. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Microsatellites Reveal Genetic Homogeneity among Outbreak Populations of Crown-of-Thorns Starfish (Acanthaster cf. solaris) on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef
Diversity 2017, 9(1), 16; doi:10.3390/d9010016 -
Abstract
Specific patterns in the initiation and spread of reef-wide outbreaks of crown-of-thorns starfish are important, both to understand potential causes (or triggers) of outbreaks and to develop more effective and highly targeted management and containment responses. Using analyses of genetic diversity and structure
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Specific patterns in the initiation and spread of reef-wide outbreaks of crown-of-thorns starfish are important, both to understand potential causes (or triggers) of outbreaks and to develop more effective and highly targeted management and containment responses. Using analyses of genetic diversity and structure (based on 17 microsatellite loci), this study attempted to resolve the specific origin for recent outbreaks of crown-of-thorns on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef (GBR). We assessed the genetic structure amongst 2705 starfish collected from 13 coral reefs in four regions that spanned ~1000 km of the GBR. Our results indicate that populations sampled across the full length of the GBR are genetically homogeneous (G’ST = −0.001; p = 0.948) with no apparent genetic structure between regions. Approximate Bayesian computational analyses suggest that all sampled populations had a common origin and that current outbreaking populations of crown-of-thorns starfish (CoTS) in the Swains are not independent of outbreak populations in the northern GBR. Despite hierarchical sampling and large numbers of CoTS genotyped from individual reefs and regions, limited genetic structure meant we were unable to determine a putative source population for the current outbreak of CoTS on the GBR. The very high genetic homogeneity of sampled populations and limited evidence of inbreeding indicate rapid expansion in population size from multiple, undifferentiated latent populations. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Interactive Effects of Endogenous and Exogenous Nutrition on Larval Development for Crown-Of-Thorns Starfish
Diversity 2017, 9(1), 15; doi:10.3390/d9010015 -
Abstract
Outbreaks of crown-of-thorns starfish are often attributed to step-changes in larval survivorship following anomalous increases in nutrients and food availability. However, larval growth and development is also influenced by the nutritional condition of spawning females, such that maternal provisioning may offset limitations imposed
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Outbreaks of crown-of-thorns starfish are often attributed to step-changes in larval survivorship following anomalous increases in nutrients and food availability. However, larval growth and development is also influenced by the nutritional condition of spawning females, such that maternal provisioning may offset limitations imposed by limited access to exogenous sources of nutrients during the formative stages of larval development. This study examined the individual, additive, and interactive effects of endogenous (maternal diet: Acropora, Porites, mixed, and starved) and exogenous (larval diet: high concentration at 104 cells·mL−1, low concentration at 103 algal cells·mL−1, and starved) nutrition on the survival, growth, morphology, and development of larvae of the crown-of-thorns starfish. Female starfish on Acropora and mixed diet produced bigger oocytes compared to Porites-fed and starved treatments. Using oocyte size as a proxy for maternal provisioning, endogenous reserves in the oocyte had a strong influence on initial larval survival and development. This suggests that maternal reserves can delay the onset of obligate exogenous food acquisition and allow larvae to endure prolonged periods of poor environmental nutritive conditions or starvation. The influence of exogenous nutrition became more prominent in later stages, whereby none of the starved larvae reached the mid-to-late brachiolaria stage 16 days after the onset of the ability to feed. There was no significant difference in the survival, development, and competency of larvae between high and low food treatments. Under low algal food conditions, larvae compensate by increasing the length of ciliated feeding bands in relation to the maximum length and width, which improve food capture and feeding efficiency. However, the effects of endogenous nutrition persisted in the later developmental stages, as larvae from starved females were unable to develop larger feeding structures in response to food-limiting conditions. Phenotypic plasticity influenced by endogenous provisions and in response to exogenous food availability may be an important strategy in boosting the reproductive success of crown-of-thorns starfish, leading to population outbreaks. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Phenotyping, Genotyping, and Selections within Italian Local Landraces of Romanesco Globe Artichoke
Diversity 2017, 9(1), 14; doi:10.3390/d9010014 -
Abstract
Ten Italian globe artichoke clones belonging to the Romanesco typology were characterized in the western coastal area of Italy (Cerveteri, Rome), using a combination of morphological (UPOV descriptors), biochemical (HPLC analysis), and molecular (AFLP, ISSR, and SSR markers) traits. Significant differences among clones
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Ten Italian globe artichoke clones belonging to the Romanesco typology were characterized in the western coastal area of Italy (Cerveteri, Rome), using a combination of morphological (UPOV descriptors), biochemical (HPLC analysis), and molecular (AFLP, ISSR, and SSR markers) traits. Significant differences among clones were found for many of the quantitative and qualitative morphological traits. Multivariate analyses (Principal Component Analysis) showed that, of the 47 morphological descriptors assessed, four (i.e., plant height, central flower-head weight, earliness, and total flower-head weight) presented a clear grouping of the clones. Biochemical analyses showed that the clones significantly differed in the polyphenolic profiles of the flower-head, with the suggestion that some of these, such as S2, S3, S5, and S18, are more suitable for the fresh market. The clones, clustered by a UPGMA dendrogram based on 393 polymorphic AFLP and ISSR loci, showed that the clones were genetically separated from each other. This highlights the importance of characterizing, evaluating, and conserving autochthonous germplasm for future plant breeding activities. Overall, these studies resulted in the identification of two new clones, selected on the basis of flower-head morphology and earliness. These clones, named Michelangelo and Raffaello, are registered on the Italian National Register of Varieties (DM n. 6135, 3/29/2013 G.U. 91, 18 April 2013). Full article
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Open AccessArticle
The Effects of Salinity and pH on Fertilization, Early Development, and Hatching in the Crown-of-Thorns Seastar
Diversity 2017, 9(1), 13; doi:10.3390/d9010013 -
Abstract
Understanding the influence of environmental factors on the development and dispersal of crown-of-thorns seastars is critical to predicting when and where outbreaks of these coral-eating seastars will occur. Outbreaks of crown-of-thorns seastars are hypothesized to be driven by terrestrial runoff events that increase
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Understanding the influence of environmental factors on the development and dispersal of crown-of-thorns seastars is critical to predicting when and where outbreaks of these coral-eating seastars will occur. Outbreaks of crown-of-thorns seastars are hypothesized to be driven by terrestrial runoff events that increase nutrients and the phytoplankton food for the larvae. In addition to increasing larval food supply, terrestrial runoff may also reduce salinity in the waters where seastars develop. We investigated the effects of reduced salinity on the fertilization and early development of seastars. We also tested the interactive effects of reduced salinity and reduced pH on the hatching of crown-of-thorns seastars. Overall, we found that reduced salinity has strong negative effects on fertilization and early development, as shown in other echinoderm species. We also found that reduced salinity delays hatching, but that reduced pH, in isolation or in combination with lower salinity, had no detectable effects on this developmental milestone. Models that assess the positive effects of terrestrial runoff on the development of crown-of-thorns seastars should also consider the strong negative effects of lower salinity on early development including lower levels of fertilization, increased frequency of abnormal development, and delayed time to hatching. Full article
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