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17 septembre 2015

Ozone degrades floral scent and reduces pollinator attraction to flowers [New Phytologist]

Keywords : anisaldehyde, behavioural tests, Bombus terrestris, Brassica nigra, monoterpenes, p-cymene, phenol

In this work we analyzed the degradation of floral scent volatiles from Brassica nigra by reaction with ozone along a distance gradient and the consequences for pollinator attraction.
For this purpose we used a reaction system comprising three reaction tubes in which we conducted measurements of floral volatiles using a proton-transfer-reaction time-of-flight mass spectrometer (PTR-TOF-MS) and GC-MS. We also tested the effects of floral scent degradation on the responses of the generalist pollinator Bombus terrestris.(...)

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16 septembre 2015

New frontiers in phenotypic plasticity and evolution [Heredity]

The past decade has seen a surge of interest in phenotypic plasticity. From the thousands of citations of West-Eberhard’s volume (West-Eberhard, 2003), to the emphasis on plasticity in the ‘Extended Evolutionary Synthesis’ presented recently by Laland et al. (2014) in Nature, evolutionary biologists are increasingly considering the possibility that plasticity can influence the direction of evolution.(...)

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16 septembre 2015

Outbred genome sequencing and CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing in butterflies [Nature communications]

Keywords : biological sciences, evolution, genetics, butterfly

Butterflies are exceptionally diverse but their potential as an experimental system has been limited by the difficulty of deciphering heterozygous genomes and a lack of genetic manipulation technology. Here we use a hybrid assembly approach to construct high-quality reference genomes for Papilio xuthus (contig and scaffold N50 : 492 kb, 3.4 Mb) and Papilio machaon (contig and scaffold N50 : 81 kb, 1.15 Mb), highly heterozygous species that differ in host plant affiliations, and adult and larval colour patterns. Integrating comparative genomics and analyses of gene expression yields multiple insights into butterfly evolution, including potential roles of specific genes in recent diversification. To functionally test gene function, we develop an efficient (up to 92.5%) CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing method that yields obvious phenotypes with three genes, Abdominal-B, ebony and frizzled. Our results provide valuable genomic and technological resources for butterflies and unlock their potential as a genetic model system.

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16 septembre 2015

Traffic noise exposure affects telomere length in nestling house sparrows [Biology Letters]

Keywords : anthropogenic noise, development, house sparrow, telomere length

In a consistently urbanizing world, anthropogenic noise has become almost omnipresent, and there are increasing evidence that high noise levels can have major impacts on wildlife. While the effects of anthropogenic noise exposure on adult animals have been widely studied, surprisingly, there has been little consideration of the effects of noise pollution on developing organisms. Yet, environmental conditions experienced in early life can have dramatic lifelong consequences for fitness. Here, we experimentally manipulated the acoustic environment of free-living house sparrows (Passer domesticus) breeding in nest boxes. We focused on the impact of such disturbance on nestlings’ telomere length and fledging success, as telomeres (the protective ends of chromosomes) appear to be a promising predictor of longevity.(...)

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16 septembre 2015

Birds, butterflies and flowers in the tropics are not more colourful than those at higher latitudes [Global Ecology and Biogeography]

Keywords : biogeography, birds, butterflies, colour, flowers, latitude, tropical biology

The idea that species are generally more colourful at tropical latitudes has held great appeal among biologists since the days of exploration by early naturalists. However, advances in colour quantification and analysis only now allow an objective test of this idea. We provide the first quantitative analysis of the latitudinal gradient in colour on a broad scale using data from both animals and plants, encompassing both human-visible and ultraviolet colours.

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