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4 December 2017

Bacterial endosymbionts influence host sexuality and reveal reproductive genes of early divergent fungi [Nature Communications]

Keywords : coevolution, fungal evolution

Many heritable mutualisms, in which beneficial symbionts are transmitted vertically between host generations, originate as antagonisms with parasite dispersal constrained by the host. Only after the parasite gains control over its transmission is the symbiosis expected to transition from antagonism to mutualism. Here, we explore this prediction in the mutualism between the fungus Rhizopus microsporus (Rm, Mucoromycotina) and a beta-proteobacterium Burkholderia, which controls host asexual reproduction. We show that reproductive addiction of Rm to endobacteria extends to mating, and is mediated by the symbiont gaining transcriptional control of the fungal ras2 gene, which encodes a GTPase central to fungal reproductive development.(...)

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4 December 2017

Climatic niche shifts are common in introduced plants [Nature Ecology & Evolution]

Keywords : biogeography, invasive species, macroecology

Our understanding of how climate influences species distributions and our ability to assess the risk of introduced species depend on the assumption that species’ climatic niches remain stable across space and time. While niche shifts have been detected in individual invasive species, one assessment of 50 plants in Europe and North America concluded that niche shifts were rare, while another concluded the opposite. These contradictory findings, limited in species number and geographic scope, leave open a need to understand how often introduced species experience niche shifts and whether niche shifts can be predicted. We found evidence of climatic niche shifts in 65–100% of 815 terrestrial plant species introduced across five continents, depending on how niche shifts were measured.(...)

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1 December 2017

Sharing resources for mutual benefit: crosstalk between disciplines deepens the understanding of mycorrhizal symbioses across scales [New Phytologist - Meetings]

Keywords : AMF, biogeography, community ecology, EcM, evolution, ICOM9, mycorrhizal fungi, mycorrhizal traits

Mycorrhizal scientists from 53 countries gathered in the city of Prague from 30 July until 4 August 2017 for the 9th International Conference on Mycorrhiza (ICOM9). They came to discuss an ancient symbiosis based on the exchange of resources between plant and fungal partners, with many impacts on plant health (van der Heijden et al., 2015). Much like this mutualistic interaction, delegates from disparate disciplines united with a strong focus on integration and sharing of resources for mutual benefit. By exchanging knowledge among researchers from the fields of molecular biology, physiology and ecology, the participants of ICOM9 made a leap forward in our understanding of symbiotic structure and function at multiple scales (Fig. 1).

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1 December 2017

Adding landscape genetics and individual traits to the ecosystem function paradigm reveals the importance of species functional breadth [PNAS]

Keywords : bees, body size, ecological services, pollination, pollen-mediated gene flow

Animal pollination mediates both reproduction and gene flow for the majority of plant species across the globe. However, past functional studies have focused largely on seed production; although useful, this focus on seed set does not provide information regarding species-specific contributions to pollen-mediated gene flow. Here we quantify pollen dispersal for individual pollinator species across more than 690 ha of tropical forest. Specifically, we examine visitation, seed production, and pollen-dispersal ability for the entire pollinator community of a common tropical tree using a series of individual-based pollinator-exclusion experiments followed by molecular-based fractional paternity analyses. We investigate the effects of pollinator body size, plant size (as a proxy of floral display), local plant density, and local plant kinship on seed production and pollen-dispersal distance.(...)

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30 November 2017

Low resistance to chytridiomycosis in direct-developing amphibians [Scientific Reports]

Keywords : conservation biology, ecological epidemiology, tropical ecology

Host-generalist pathogens sporadically infect naive hosts, potentially triggering epizootics. The waterborne fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd) is linked to declines of hundreds of amphibian species with aquatic larvae. Although several population declines and extinctions attributed to Bd have been reported among cryptic species undergoing direct development away from water, epidemiological studies focused on these terrestrial frogs are lacking. Our field data support that terrestrial direct-developing hosts are less exposed to Bd during their ontogeny than species with aquatic larvae, and thus they might lack adaptive responses against waterborne chytrids.(...)

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