Authors:A. Wiater, J. Szczodrak, and M. Pleszczyńska
Conidia of TrichodermaharzianumF-340, an active producer of fungal mutanase, were mutagenized with physical and chemical mutagens used separately or in combination. After mutagenesis, the drop in conidia viability ranged from 0.004% to 71%. Among the applied mutagens, nitrosoguanidine gave the highest frequency of cultures with enhanced mutanase activity (98%). In total, 400 clones were isolated, and preliminarily evaluated for mutanase activity in flask microcultures. Eight most productive mutants were then quantified for mutanase production in shake flask cultures. The obtained results fully confirmed a great propensity of all the tested mutants to synthesize mutanase, the activity of which increased from 59 to 107% in relation to the parental T.harzianumculture. The best mutanase-overproducing mutant (T. harzianumF-340-48), obtained with nitrosoguanidine, produced the enzyme activity of 1.36 U/ml (4.5 U/mg protein) after 4 days of incubation in shake flask culture. This productivity was almost twices higher than that achieved by the initial strain F-340, and, at present, is the best reported in the literature. The potential application of mutanase in dentistry is also discussed.
Species diversity loss is expected to alter ecosystem function, but previous work has demonstrated inconsistent relationships between these two factors. Productivity is the most common measure of ecosystem function, but given the difficulty in measuring productivity, standing biomass or change in biomass are frequently used as proxy measures. A review of the recent ecosystem-function literature revealed that 93% of studies measure productivity as biomass, thereby assuming a strong positive relationship between these two variables. We tested this assumption by measuring biomass and productivity in seagrass beds in the Gulf of Mexico. We found that the relationship between standing biomass and productivity could be positive or negative, depending on site. Change in biomass over months inconsistently underestimated short-term productivity. The relationship between biomass and productivity may depend on plant age, successional stage, or site-specific rates of tissue loss to herbivory, senescence, or disturbance. Our results suggest that if biomass continues to be used as a measure of productivity without justification, highly productive communities that typically show little change in biomass, such as healthy climax communities, will not be interpreted as such. The conflicting results of previous studies investigating the relationship between diversity and productivity may be due to differences in the inherently variable relationship between biomass and productivity at different sites and scales.
Authors:V. Posevitz, C. Vizler, S. Benyhe, E. Duda, and Anna Borsodi
Psychological stress modulates the immune system through the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis, the sympatho-adrenomedullary axis and the opioid system. According to literature data, restraint stress increases the immune cell apoptosis, decreases the spleen and thymus cell content, the natural killer (NK) activity in the spleen, and it compromises the anti-tumor immune response in mice. We immobilized mice in two consecutive nights, and then determined the cell number, apoptosis, NK cell content, NK activity and the level of cytokine mRNAs (TNF-β, TNF-α, IL-4, IL-5, IL-1α, IFN-γ, IL-2, IL-6, IL-1β and IL-3) in the thymus and spleen. No consistent changes were detected in any of the immune parameters either in C57Bl/6 or in DBA/2 mice. Stressed or control B6 mice were injected with B16 melanoma cells immediately after the immobilization or one week later. No significant differences were found in the growth of primary tumors and lung metastases in stressed and control animals. Taken together, our mice, kept in a general-purpose non-SPF animal house, seemed to be refractory to the stress-induced immunomodulation. Our interpretation is that stress-induced immunomodulation can occur only in mice isolated from any background stressors, or rather natural stimuli, throughout their life.
In the 19th century, it was found that attraction of bees to light was controlled by light intensity irrespective of colour, and a few critical entomologists inferred that vision of bees foraging on flowers was unlike human colour vision. Therefore, quite justly, Professor Carl von Hess concluded in his book on the Comparative Physiology of Vision (1912) that bees do not distinguish colours in the way that humans enjoy. Immediately, Karl von Frisch, an assistant in the Zoology Department of the same University of Münich, set to work to show that indeed bees have colour vision like humans, thereby initiating a new research tradition, and setting off a decade of controversy that ended only at the death of Hess in 1923. Until 1939, several researchers continued the tradition of trying to untangle the mechanism of bee vision by repeatedly testing trained bees, but made little progress, partly because von Frisch and his legacy dominated the scene. The theory of trichromatic colour vision further developed after three types of receptors sensitive to green, blue, and ultraviolet (UV), were demonstrated in 1964 in the bee. Then, until the end of the century, all data was interpreted in terms of trichromatic colour space. Anomalies were nothing new, but eventually after 1996 they led to the discovery that bees have a previously unknown type of colour vision based on a monochromatic measure and distribution of blue and measures of modulation in green and blue receptor pathways. Meanwhile, in the 20th century, search for a suitable rationalization, and explorations of sterile culs-de-sac had filled the literature of bee colour vision, but were based on the wrong theory.
Authors:P. Bukovics, Zs. Orosz-Kovács, L. Gy. Szabó, Á. Farkas, and T. Bubán
The sugar composition of floral nectar was studied in 17 sour cherry cultivars in Újfehértó in 1997-2000. All samples contained the three most frequent sugar components: glucose, fructose and sucrose, similarly to our previous data. The ranking of the floral nectar in sour cherry cultivars based on sucrose content was the following: 'Újfehértói fürtös' and 'Pándy 48' reached the threshold value of bee visitation in at least three seasons, and a significant amount of sucrose was detected in the flowers of 'Érdi jubileum AB' and 'Érdi bőtermő' as well. The above cultivars proved to be the most valuable in Újfehértó from the viewpoint of apiculture. According to the ranking based on fructose content, which considers human sensation of taste, the most favourable cultivars were 'Újfehértói fürtös', 'Meteor USA' and 'Korai pipacs'. Based on total sugar content the secretory products preferred by bees were those of 'Újfehértói fürtös' (in three seasons); 'Korai pipacs', 'Érdi nagygyümölcsű', 'Sárándi S/Gy', 'Debreceni bőtermő', 'Kántorjánosi 3', 'Montmorency' and 'Meteor USA' (in two seasons). The ratio of nectar sugars, based on the Baker-quotient, S/(G+F), was sucrose-dominant at least in one season in 'Érdi jubileum AB', 'Érdi nagygyümölcsű' and 'Pándy 48'; hexose-rich in 'Korai pipacs', 'Kántorjánosi 3' and 'Montmorency'; all other cultivars had a sucrose-rich nectar. The nectar of all studied sour cherry cultivars possessed a composition preferred by bees. The basis of bees' nectar preference is the ratio, quantity and concentration of nectar sugar components, which were influenced by the effects of season to a high degree, differing from data in literature. From the viewpoint of nectar composition and concentration the most favourable temperature was around 20 °C.
Authors:G. Bonanomi, G. Incerti, A. Stinca, F. Cartenì, F. Giannino, and S. Mazzoleni
Ring shaped patches of clonal plants fascinated plant ecologists since long time. In this work we review the reports on the occurrence of ring pattern in different environmental conditions, the growth forms of ring-forming plants, the mechanisms underlying ring formation, and the consequences for species diversity at community scale. Rings formed by 83 species of clonal vascular plants have been found in grasslands, deserts, bare substrates of lava flow, harvested peat lands, salt marshes, and sand dunes. Four causal hypotheses have been proposed for the emergence of ring patterns: i. occurrence of architectural constraints for ramets development; ii. induction by fire, drought, trampling or overgrazing; iii. nutrient and water depletion by competition inside the ring; and iv. onset of species-specific negative plant-soil feedback in the inner zone of the clone. Since almost all the available studies are observations of ring structure or modelling exercises, none of the putative mechanisms for ring formation emerged from the literature as either generally applicable or suitable for rejection. Therefore, long-term field experiments are needed to investigate the relative prevalence of different mechanisms in different environments. Ring formation bears important consequences at community scale, because ring forming plants often act as “nurses”, enhancing the recruitment and development of different plant species. In fact, ring establishment modifies above- and below-ground environmental conditions, providing specialized safe sites for beneficiaries in the inner zone of the clones. Such interspecific facilitation by ring forming plants, particularly in chronically stressed environments, contributes to increase plant species richness and can locally promote the successional dynamics.
Ponds contribute substantially to the maintenance of regional biodiversity. Despite a growing body of literature on biotic-abiotic relationships in ponds, only few generalizations have been made. The difficulty in identifying the main drivers of pond biodiversity has been typically attributed to the heterogeneity of the local and regional conditions characterizing ponds. However, little is known on how the use of different analytical approaches and community response variables affects the results of analysis of community patterns in ponds. Here, we used a range of methods to model the response of water beetle and plant community data (species richness and composition) to a set of 12 environmental and management variables in 45 farmland ponds. The strength of biotic-abiotic relationships and the contribution of each variable to the overall explained variance in the reduced models varied substantially, for both plants and beetles, depending on the method used to analyze the data. Models of species richness included a lower number of variables and explained a larger amount of variation compared to models of species composition, reflecting the higher complexity characterizing multispecies response matrices. Only two variables were never selected by any of the model, indicative of the heterogeneity characterizing pond ecosystems, while some models failed to select important variables. Based on our findings, we recommend the use of multiple modeling approaches when attempting to identify the principal determinants of biodiversity for each response variable, including at least a non-parametric approach, as well as the use of both species richness and composition as the response variables. The results of this modeling exercise are discussed in relation to their practical use in the formulation of conservation strategies.
Community patterns in species-by-site matrices provide valuable clues for inferring ecological processes at work. One such pattern is the occupancy frequency distribution (OFD) depicting the frequency distribution of row sums (i.e., occupancy) with a quarter OFDs of bimodal forms. Another pattern that also reflects the structure of row sums is the ranked species occupancy curve (RSOC), and has been shown to imply a 50% of bimodality in OFDs. The use of RSOCs has been advocated in literature over the OFD based on two conclusions from a 6-model inference using only 24 matrices: (i) RSOCs have two general forms, with half representing bimodal OFDs; (ii) there are no effects of spatial and study scales on RSOCs of different forms. Using a much more representative dataset of 289 matrices, I cast doubt on these two conclusions. A missing but dominant RSOC model (the truncated power law) is added. The number of species and the nestedness of the community differ significantly among matrices of different RSOC forms; however, the number of sites and the taxa in the studies do not differ among RSOC or OFD forms. The quarter OFDs of bimodal forms is reassured, with the least frequent occupancy consistent with Raunkiaer’s law of frequency. Importantly, a RSOC is mathematically transferrable to an OFD, with the derivative of the occupancy ranking curve being equal to the negative reciprocal of the occupancy frequency. Based on the type of the community (null versus interactive) and site environment (homogenous versus heterogeneous), four scenarios are needed to identify pre-inferring assemblage mechanisms. The results highlight the need for shifting research from the emphasis of marginal sums to the analysis of matrix structure for an in-depth understanding of the community assemblage patterns and mechanisms.