Friday, June 16, 2017

Weekend reads

Hot of the press - more reading material from the DNA barcoding community. Not as many as last week in which I had a lot of catch up to do. Nevertheless, very interesting reads.

Thirty-four species of Culicidae are present in the UK, of which 15 have been implicated as potential vectors of arthropod-borne viruses such as West Nile virus. Identification of mosquito feeding preferences is paramount to the understanding of vector-host-pathogen interactions which, in turn, would assist in the control of disease outbreaks. Results are presented on the application of DNA barcoding for vertebrate species identification in blood-fed female mosquitoes in rural locations. Blood-fed females (n = 134) were collected in southern England from rural sites and identified based on morphological criteria. Blood meals from 59 specimens (44%) were identified as feeding on eight hosts: European rabbit, cow, human, barn swallow, dog, great tit, magpie and blackbird. Analysis of the cytochrome c oxidase subunit I mtDNA barcoding region and the internal transcribed spacer 2 rDNA region of the specimens morphologically identified as Anopheles maculipennis s.l. revealed the presence of An. atroparvus and An. messeae. A similar analysis of specimens morphologically identified as Culex pipiens/Cx. torrentium showed all specimens to be Cx. pipiens (typical form). This study demonstrates the importance of using molecular techniques to support species-level identification in blood-fed mosquitoes to maximize the information obtained in studies investigating host feeding patterns.

We used a 227-bp fragment of the mitochondrial gene cytochrome oxidase I (DNA "barcode") in conjunction with morphological data to study specimens of the Neotropical genus Orthocomotis Dognin, 1906, acquired from natural history collections. We examined over 20 species of Orthocomotis from 17 localities in Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru. The analysis identified 32 haplotypes among the 62 specimens and found no haplotypes shared among species. The molecular study revealed not only the usefulness of short COI sequences in discriminating among Orthocomotis species but also showed distinctness of four clusters which correspond to those based on morphological (genitalia) characters. Moreover, the molecular results suggest the occurrence of rapid speciation in Orthocomotis. We hypothesize that this may be linked to the great biodiversity of potential host plants in Neotropical ecosystems.

Taxonomic identification of pollen has historically been accomplished via light microscopy but requires specialized knowledge and reference collections, particularly when identification to lower taxonomic levels is necessary. Recently, next-generation sequencing technology has been used as a cost-effective alternative for identifying bee-collected pollen; however, this novel approach has not been tested on a spatially or temporally robust number of pollen samples. Here, we compare pollen identification results derived from light microscopy and DNA sequencing techniques with samples collected from honey bee colonies embedded within a gradient of intensive agricultural landscapes in the Northern Great Plains throughout the 2010-2011 growing seasons. We demonstrate that at all taxonomic levels, DNA sequencing was able to discern a greater number of taxa, and was particularly useful for the identification of infrequently detected species. Importantly, substantial phenological overlap did occur for commonly detected taxa using either technique, suggesting that DNA sequencing is an appropriate, and enhancing, substitutive technique for accurately capturing the breadth of bee-collected species of pollen present across agricultural landscapes. We also show that honey bees located in high and low intensity agricultural settings forage on dissimilar plants, though with overlap of the most abundantly collected pollen taxa. We highlight practical applications of utilizing sequencing technology, including addressing ecological issues surrounding land use, climate change, importance of taxa relative to abundance, and evaluating the impact of conservation program habitat enhancement efforts.

Claims abound that the Transvaal red milkwood, Mimusops zeyheri, indigenous to areas with tropical and subtropical commercial fruit trees and fruiting vegetables in South Africa, is relatively pest free owing to its copious concentrations of latex in the above-ground organs. On account of observed fruit fly damage symptoms, a study was conducted to determine whether M. zeyheri was a host to the notorious quarantined Mediterranean fruit fly (Ceratitis capitata).
Fruit samples were kept for 16-21 days in plastic pots containing moist steam-pasteurised growing medium with tops covered with a mesh sheath capable of retaining emerging flies. Microscopic diagnosis of the trapped flies suggested that the morphological characteristics were congruent with those of C. capitata, which was confirmed through cytochrome c oxidase I (COI) gene sequence alignment with a 100% bootstrap value and 99% confidence probability when compared with those from the National Centre for Biotechnology Information database.
This study demonstrated that M. zeyheri is a host of C. capitata. Therefore, C. capitata from infestation reservoirs of M. zeyheri fruit trees could be a major threat to the tropical and subtropical fruit industries in South Africa owing to the fruit-bearing nature of the new host.

International agreements mandate the expansion of Earth's protected-area network as a bulwark against the continued extinction of wild populations, species, and ecosystems. Yet many protected areas are underfunded, poorly managed, and ecologically damaged; the conundrum is how to increase their coverage and effectiveness simultaneously. Innovative restoration and rewilding programmes in Costa Rica's Area de Conservacion Guanacaste and Mozambique's Parque Nacional da Gorongosa highlight how degraded ecosystems can be rehabilitated, expanded, and woven into the cultural fabric of human societies. Worldwide, enormous potential for biodiversity conservation can be realized by upgrading existing nature reserves while harmonizing them with the needs and aspirations of their constituencies.

Seed dispersal constitutes a pivotal process in an increasingly fragmented world, promoting population connectivity, colonization and range shifts in plants. Unveiling how multiple frugivore species disperse seeds through fragmented landscapes, operating as mobile links, has remained elusive owing to methodological constraints for monitoring seed dispersal events. We combine for the first time DNA barcoding and DNA microsatellites to identify, respectively, the frugivore species and the source trees of animal-dispersed seeds in forest and matrix of a fragmented landscape. We found a high functional complementarity among frugivores in terms of seed deposition at different habitats (forest vs. matrix), perches (isolated trees vs. electricity pylons) and matrix sectors (close vs. far from the forest edge), cross-habitat seed fluxes, dispersal distances, and canopy-cover dependency. Seed rain at the landscape-scale, from forest to distant matrix sectors, was characterized by turnovers in the contribution of frugivores and source-tree habitats: open-habitat frugivores replaced forest-dependent frugivores, whereas matrix trees replaced forest trees. As a result of such turnovers, the magnitude of seed rain was evenly distributed between habitats and landscape sectors. We thus uncover key mechanisms behind 'biodiversity-ecosystem function' relationships, in this case, the relationship between frugivore diversity and landscape-scale seed dispersal. Our results reveal the importance of open-habitat frugivores, isolated fruiting trees, and anthropogenic perching sites (infrastructures) in generating seed dispersal events far from the remnant forest, highlighting their potential to drive regeneration dynamics through the matrix. This study helps to broaden the 'mobile link' concept in seed dispersal studies by providing a comprehensive and integrative view of the way in which multiple frugivore species disseminate seeds through real-world landscapes.

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