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21 September 2018

Changes in rearing conditions rapidly modify gut microbiota structure in Tenebrio molitor larvae [BioRxiv]

Marine Cambon, Jean-Baptiste Ferdy

The gut microbiota of multicellular organisms has been shown to play a key role in their host biology. In mammals, it has an invariant component, responsible for establishing a mutualistic relationship with the host. It also contains a dynamic fraction which facilitates adaptation in response to changes in the environment. These features have been well described in mammals, but little is known about microbiota stability or plasticity in insects. We assessed changes in microbiota composition and structure in a reared insect after a change in rearing conditions. We reared Tenebrio molitor (Coleoptera, Tenebrioninae) larvae for five days in soil samples from two river banks and analyzed their gut microbial communities by a metabarcoding technique, using the V3-V4 region of the 16S rRNA gene and the housekeeping gene gyrB.(...)

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21 September 2018

Repeated inversions within a pannier intron drive diversification of intraspecific colour patterns of ladybird beetles [Nature Communications]

How genetic information is modified to generate phenotypic variation within a species is one of the central questions in evolutionary biology. Here we focus on the striking intraspecific diversity of >200 aposematic elytral (forewing) colour patterns of the multicoloured Asian ladybird beetle, Harmonia axyridis, which is regulated by a tightly linked genetic locus h. Our loss-of-function analyses, genetic association studies, de novo genome assemblies, and gene expression data reveal that the GATA transcription factor gene pannier is the major regulatory gene located at the h locus, and suggest that repeated inversions and cis-regulatory modifications at pannier led to the expansion of colour pattern variation in H. axyridis.(...)

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21 September 2018

Transgenerational and Within-Generation Plasticity in Response to Climate Change: Insights from a Manipulative Field Experiment across an Elevational Gradient [The American Naturalist]

Keywords: seed dormancy, germination, maternal effects, parental effects, seed mass, reciprocal transplant.

Parental environmental effects—or transgenerational plasticity—can influence an individual’s phenotype or fitness yet remain underexplored in the context of global change. Using the perennial self-pollinating plant Boechera stricta, we explored the effects of climate change on transgenerational and within-generation plasticity in dormancy, germination, growth, and survival. We first conducted a snow removal experiment in the field, in which we transplanted 16 families of known origin into three common gardens at different elevations and exposed half of the siblings to contemporary snow dynamics and half to early snow removal. We planted the offspring of these individuals in a factorial manipulation of temperature and water level in the growth chamber and reciprocally transplanted them across all parental environments in the field. The growth chamber experiment revealed that the effects of transgenerational plasticity persist in traits expressed after establishment, even when accounting for parental effects on seed mass.(...)

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21 September 2018

Extinction risk in extant marine species integrating palaeontological and biodistributional data [Proceedings of the Royal Society B - Biological Sciences]

Keywords : extinction vulnerability, extinction rate, geographical range size, thermal niche, conservation, biodiversity

Extinction risk assessments of marine invertebrate species remain scarce, which hinders effective management of marine biodiversity in the face of anthropogenic impacts. To help close this information gap, in this paper we provide a metric of relative extinction risk that combines palaeontological data, in the form of extinction rates calculated from the fossil record, with two known correlates of risk in the modern day: geographical range size and realized thermal niche. We test the performance of this metric—Palaeontological Extinction Risk In Lineages (PERIL)—using survivorship analyses of Pliocene bivalve faunas from California and New Zealand, and then use it to identify present-day hotspots of extinction vulnerability for extant shallow-marine Bivalvia.(...)

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21 September 2018

Hydraulic diversity of forests regulates ecosystem resilience during drought [Nature]

Plants influence the atmosphere through fluxes of carbon, water and energy, and can intensify drought through land–atmosphere feedback effects. The diversity of plant functional traits in forests, especially physiological traits related to water (hydraulic) transport, may have a critical role in land–atmosphere feedback, particularly during drought. Here we combine 352 site-years of eddy covariance measurements from 40 forest sites, remote-sensing observations of plant water content and plant functional-trait data to test whether the diversity in plant traits affects the response of the ecosystem to drought.(...)

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