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16 octobre 2017

Ecological plant epigenetics : Evidence from model and non-model species, and the way forward [Ecology Letters]

Keywords : bioinformatics, ecological epigenetics, genomics, phenotypic plasticity, response to environment

Growing evidence shows that epigenetic mechanisms contribute to complex traits, with implications across many fields of biology. In plant ecology, recent studies have attempted to merge ecological experiments with epigenetic analyses to elucidate the contribution of epigenetics to plant phenotypes, stress responses, adaptation to habitat, and range distributions. While there has been some progress in revealing the role of epigenetics in ecological processes, studies with non-model species have so far been limited to describing broad patterns based on anonymous markers of DNA methylation. In contrast, studies with model species have benefited from powerful genomic resources, which contribute to a more mechanistic understanding but have limited ecological realism. (...)

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16 octobre 2017

Stochastic variation in the initial phase of bacterial infection predicts the probability of survival in D. melanogaster [eLife]

David Duneau & Jean-Baptiste Ferdy

A central problem in infection biology is understanding why two individuals exposed to identical infections have different outcomes. We have developed an experimental model where genetically identical, co-housed Drosophila given identical systemic infections experience different outcomes, with some individuals succumbing to acute infection while others control the pathogen as an asymptomatic persistent infection. We found that differences in bacterial burden at the time of death did not explain the two outcomes of infection. Inter-individual variation in survival stems from variation in within-host bacterial growth, which is determined by the immune response. We developed a model that captures bacterial growth dynamics and identifies key factors that predict the infection outcome : the rate of bacterial proliferation and the time required for the host to establish an effective immunological control. Our results provide a framework for studying the individual host-pathogen parameters governing the progression of infection and lead ultimately to life or death.

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13 octobre 2017

Attractiveness of wildflower mixtures for wild bees and hoverflies depends on some key plant species [Insect Conservation & Diversity]

Keywords : Apoidea, flowering fields, greening, habitat fragmentation, pollinator loss, supporting ecosystem services, Syrphidae, wildflower plantings, wildflower strips

1.Agricultural intensification is considered to be a major driver of terrestrial biodiversity decline. Resulting loss, isolation and degradation of flower-rich habitats are threatening pollinators. Agri-environmental schemes (AES) aim to counteract these negative effects, including measures to enhance floral resources in agricultural landscapes. The impact of plant species composition on their efficiency to mitigate pollinator loss, however, is largely unexplored.
2.We tested four recommended seed mixtures for their attractiveness to wild bees and hoverflies in a replicated plot design over two consecutive years against the background of the seedbank.(...)

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13 octobre 2017

Explaining ecosystem multifunction with evolutionary models [Ecology]

Keywords : biodiversity, community ecology, ecosystem function, evolutionary models, multifunctionality, phylogenetic diversity, plant ecology

Ecosystem function is the outcome of species interactions, traits, and niche overlap –all of which are influenced by evolution. However, it is not well understood how the tempo and mode of niche evolution can influence ecosystem function. In evolutionary models where either species differences accumulate through random drift in a single trait or species differences accumulate through divergent selection among close relatives, we should expect that ecosystem function is strongly related to diversity. However, when strong selection causes species to converge on specific niches or when novel traits that directly affect function evolve in some clades but not others, the relationship between diversity and ecosystem function might not be very strong. We test these ideas using a field experiment that established plant mixtures with differing phylogenetic diversities and we measured ten different community functions.(...)

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13 octobre 2017

Janzen-Connell patterns can be induced by fungal-driven decomposition and offset by ectomycorrhizal fungi accumulated under a closely related canopy [Functional Ecology]

Keywords : above/below-ground interactions, budburst, leaf herbivory, plant-soil interactions, Quercus sp, spatial community assembly, temperate forest, tree recruitment

1.Seedlings near a conspecific adult might suffer increased mortality due to pressure from enemies such as belowground pathogenic fungi (Janzen-Connell Hypothesis), however variation exists among taxa such that some experience low levels of mortality. We hypothesized that seedlings close to adults might profit, rather than suffer, from belowground fungi, notably from mycorrhiza or decomposers, in particular near large adult trees and under a closely related canopy.(...)

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