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Bacillus subtilis natto is a potential source of fructooligosaccharides (FOS), which can be obtained by fermentation and may stimulate the growth of beneficial microorganisms in the colon representing a strategy to manipulate the intestinal microbiota acting as a prebiotic compound. The present study focuses on the ability of Lactobacillus ssp. strains to utilize FOS as a sole energy source. The results showed that FOS was equally good as glucose to provide energy source. The highest prebiotic activity score was obtained with Lactobacillus plantarum ATCC 14917 grown on FOS (0.526), followed by Lactobacillus casei (LC-1) (0.222). The lowest score was for Lactobacillus paracasei ATCC 27092 (−0.051). The results suggests that specific combinations of probiotic (L. plantarum ATCC 14917 and L. casei (LC-1)) and prebiotic (FOS) could be used as synbiotics in dairy and other foods.

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Community Ecology
Authors:
A.F.S. Garcia
,
A.M. Garcia
,
S.R. Vollrath
,
F. Schneck
,
C.F.M. Silva
,
Í.J. Marchetti
, and
J.P. Vieira

Food partitioning among coexisting species in different habitats remains an important research topic in trophic ecology. In this work, we combined carbon and nitrogen stable isotope ratios and stomach content analyses to investigate differences in diet and niche overlap of two congeneric juvenile mullet species (Mugil curema and Mugil liza) coexisting in a marine surf-zone and an estuarine zone in southern Brazil (29oS). These habitats have contrasting levels of food availability, especially in terms of prey diversity, with higher microalgae diversity in the estuary than in the marine surf-zone. In these contrasting conditions, we predicted that both mullet species will have (a) higher niche overlap and smaller niche breadth at the marine surf-zone due to the common exploration of highly abundant surf-zone diatoms and (b) lower niche overlap and higher niche breadth inside the estuary due to selective feeding on more diverse food resources. Isotope niche areas (measured as standard ellipse areas) were higher in the estuary (6.10 and 6.18) than in the marine surf-zone (3.68 and 3.37) for both M. curema and M. liza, respectively. We observed an overlap of 52% in isotopic niches of both species in the marine surf-zone and none in the estuary. We also found contrasting patterns in the diet composition between species according to the habitat. At the marine surfzone, diatoms of the classes Bacillariophyceae and Coscinodiscophyceae dominated (> 99%) the food content of both mullet species. In contrast, green algae, cyanobacteria, dinoflagellates and flagellates comprised the diet of both species in the estuary. These results could be explained by spatial differences in food availability (especially regarding diversity of microalgae) between both habitats. At the marine site, both species explored the most abundant microalgae available (mostly the surf-zone diatom Asterionellopsis cf. guyunusae and fragments of Coscinodiscus), whereas in the estuary both species shifted their diets to explore the greater diversity of microalgae resources. Overall, our findings revealed that niche partitioning theory could not fully predict changes in breadth and overlap of food niches of estuarine dependent fish species with complex life cycles encompassing marine to estuarine systems with contrasting food availabilities.

Open access
Community Ecology
Authors:
J. Madrigal-González
,
J. García-Rodríguez
,
A. Puerto-Martín
,
B. Fernández-Santos
, and
P. Alonso-Rojo

In arid and semi-arid ecosystems, the presence of woody neighbours affects the existence of several herbaceous species by modifying critical aspects of the environment (e.g., soil humidity, nutrient content or light availability) beneath their canopies. Herbaceous species growing in the understory of Pinus pinaster may be distinct from those in open areas due to litter fall, light interception and changes in nutrient availability. We suggest that the overall effect of woody neighbours on herbaceous layer diversity may vary with the scale focus of analysis. To examine this hypothesis, we collected data on the abundance of herbaceous species in open pineland forests of the central Iberian Peninsula (Spain) using sample quadrats of 0.5 m × 0.5 m distributed beneath, at the edge, and outside the canopy of pines in a landscape composed of dunes and plains. The results of CCA ordination revealed significant spatial segregation of herbaceous species reflecting the occurrence of pines and dunes in the landscape. Nested ANOVA disclosed markedly lower species richness beneath the pines, particularly in the dune sites. Species richness partitioning showed higher pine-induced heterogeneity than expected from the sample-based randomized model, leading to significantly increased species richness at the patch level. Hence, the outcome of pine-induced effects on the herbaceous plant diversity is scale-dependent, negative if we focus on separate communities, but positive if the scale focus is extended to whole patches comprising the sum of communities beneath, at the edge, and outside pine tree canopies. These results emphasize the necessity of using various scale perspectives to clarify the different ways in which pines and other woody nurse species affect structure of herbaceous communities in semi-arid Mediterranean ecosystems.

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Phytoremediation could reduce heavy metal bioavailability in soils and obtain renewable energy from lands useless. Some fast-growing, high biomass crop species are known to display a significant heavy metal tolerance, particularly those from the genus Brassica. These species could be phytoremediator candidates for recuperate polluted soils with heavy metals. Brachypodium distachyon has also been recently proposed as a model species to develop bioenergy. However, there are no experiments about the tolerance of this plant to metals. The present work reports data concerning the ability of Brachypodium distachyon and Brassica napus seeds to germinate and grow in media containing different doses of Cd, Cr, As and Zn, in order to evaluate their use as energy crops in polluted sites. Biomass reduction and length decreasing were observed as consequence on increasing metal doses in both species, but the effect was different attending to metal and species. The maximum toxicity level was found in plants treated with Cr (VI). Exposures of 30 mg L−1 of Cd and As (V) reduced the shoot elongation by 50% in both species, while root was affected by lower doses than 30 mg L−1. Concentrations of Zn affected neither length, nor biomass of B. distachyon, but shoot and root elongation of B. napus were reduced from the lowest dose of Zn.

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Acta Alimentaria
Authors:
J.M. Garcia
,
S. M. Castro
,
R. Casquete
,
J. Silva
,
R. Queirós
,
J.A. Saraiva
, and
P. Teixeira

The effect of sequential treatments of pressure (50–150 MPa, 10 ºC, 5 min) and temperature (57 ºC, 15 min) on the survival and bacteriocin production of Pediococcus acidilactici HA-6111-2 cells in the exponential growth phase was assessed. The growth curves were fitted with the modified Gompertz model, and the estimated maximum specific growth rate was considered to be pressure dependent. A delay in the maximum value of bacteriocin production was registered for more severe pressure conditions, but it was found more notorious for pressure followed by temperature treatments. At lower pressure intensity treatment, regardless of the application order, there was an enhancement of bacteriocin production per cell when compared to the control while maintaining the maximum production value. Bacteriocin production after the treatments can be described by an exponential model.

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