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14 décembre 2016

The evolution of sex-specific virulence in infectious diseases [Nature Communications]

Keywords : evolutionary theory, pathogens

Fatality rates of infectious diseases are often higher in men than women. Although this difference is often attributed to a stronger immune response in women, we show that differences in the transmission routes that the sexes provide can result in evolution favouring pathogens with sex-specific virulence. Because women can transmit pathogens during pregnancy, birth or breast-feeding, pathogens adapt, evolving lower virulence in women. (...)

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13 décembre 2016

Effect of acute pesticide exposure on bee spatial working memory using an analogue of the radial-arm maze [Scientific Reports]

Keywords : agroecology, animal behaviour, behavioural ecology

Pesticides, including neonicotinoids, typically target pest insects by being neurotoxic. Inadvertent exposure to foraging insect pollinators is usually sub-lethal, but may affect cognition. One cognitive trait, spatial working memory, may be important in avoiding previously-visited flowers and other spatial tasks such as navigation. To test this, we investigated the effect of acute thiamethoxam exposure on spatial working memory in the bumblebee Bombus terrestris, using an adaptation of the radial-arm maze (RAM).(...)

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12 décembre 2016

Intracellular innate immune surveillance devices in plants and animals [Science/Review]

The innate immune systems of both plants and animals depend on the ability to recognize pathogen-derived molecules and stimulate a defense response. Jones et al. review how that common function is achieved in such diverse kingdoms by similar molecules. The recognition system is built for hair-trigger sensitivity and constructed in a modular manner. Understanding such features could be useful in building new pathways through synthetic biology, whether for broadening disease defenses or constructing new signal-response circuits.

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7 décembre 2016

The missing link in grassland restoration : arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi inoculation increases plant diversity and accelerates succession [Journal of Applied Ecology]

Keywords : arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi, coefficient of conservatism, Floristic Quality Index, fungal community composition, fungal inoculation, plant and fungal interactions, plant diversity, plant succession, restoration, seed recruitment

1.Because soil microbial communities are often altered by anthropogenic disturbance, successful plant community restoration may require the restoration of beneficial soil microbes, such as arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungi. Recent evidence suggests that later successional grassland species are more strongly affected by AM fungi relative to early successional plants and that late successional plants consistently benefit from some AM fungi but not other AM fungal species. Many of these late successional species are also often missing in restorations despite being heavily seeded.
2.To assess the effects of AM fungal composition within grassland restorations, we inoculated plots with six different AM fungal community treatments including one of four different AM fungal species isolated from a prairie, a mixture of all four fungal species, and a non-inoculated control. AM fungi were introduced by planting 16 different inoculated nurse plants into replicated plots. We also seeded the restoration with a diverse, 54 species prairie seed mixture.(...)

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7 décembre 2016

High taxonomic variability despite stable functional structure across microbial communities [Nature Ecology & Evolution]

Keywords : biogeography, metagenomics, microbial ecology

Understanding the processes that are driving variation of natural microbial communities across space or time is a major challenge for ecologists. Environmental conditions strongly shape the metabolic function of microbial communities ; however, other processes such as biotic interactions, random demographic drift or dispersal limitation may also influence community dynamics. The relative importance of these processes and their effects on community function remain largely unknown. To address this uncertainty, here we examined bacterial and archaeal communities in replicate ‘miniature’ aquatic ecosystems contained within the foliage of wild bromeliads. We used marker gene sequencing to infer the taxonomic composition within nine metabolic functional groups, and shotgun environmental DNA sequencing to estimate the relative abundances of these groups.(...)

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