Genome of the pitcher plant Cephalotus reveals genetic changes associated with carnivory

Kenji Fukushima, Xiaodong Fang, David Alvarez-Ponce, Huimin Cai, Lorenzo Carretero-Paulet, Cui Chen, Tien-Hao Chang, Kimberly M. Farr, Tomomichi Fujita, Yuji Hiwatashi, Yoshikazu Hoshi, Takamasa Imai, Masahiro Kasahara, Pablo Librado, Likai Mao, Hitoshi Mori, Tomoaki Nishiyama, Masafumi Nozawa, Gergő Pálfalvi, Stephen T. Pollard, Julio Rozas, Alejandro Sánchez-Gracia, David Sankoff, Tomoko F. Shibata, Shuji Shigenobu, Naomi Sumikawa, Taketoshi Uzawa, Meiying Xie, Chunfang Zheng, David D. Pollock, Victor A. Albert, Shuaicheng Li & Mitsuyasu Hasebe

Abstract

Carnivorous plants exploit animals as a nutritional source and have inspired long-standing questions about the origin and evolution of carnivory-related traits. To investigate the molecular bases of carnivory, we sequenced the genome of the heterophyllous pitcher plant Cephalotus follicularis, in which we succeeded in regulating the developmental switch between carnivorous and non-carnivorous leaves. Transcriptome comparison of the two leaf types and gene repertoire analysis identified genetic changes associated with prey attraction, capture, digestion and nutrient absorption. Analysis of digestive fluid proteins from C. follicularis and three other carnivorous plants with independent carnivorous origins revealed repeated co-options of stress-responsive protein lineages coupled with convergent amino acid substitutions to acquire digestive physiology. These results imply constraints on the available routes to evolve plant carnivory.

Continue to read the full article on Nature.com

Resilient responses by bats to a severe wildfire: conservation implications

Leonardo Ancillotto, Luciano Bosso, Paola Conti & Danilo Russo

Post originale https://www.facebook.com/WildlifeRes/posts/3581741261890265

Nel 2017 un incendio catastrofico distrusse gran parte delle aree forestali del Vesuvio. Grazie a un monitoraggio dei pipistrelli iniziato prima di quell’evento, siamo stati in grado di misurare la risposta della comunità di chirotteri con un confronto prima-dopo praticamente unico in letteratura. L’articolo è appena uscito: L. Ancillotto, L. Bosso, P. Conti & D. Russo (2020). Resilient responses by bats to a severe wildfire: conservation implications. Animal Conservation. Se vi interessa, richiedetelo tramite Research Gate.

In 2017, a catastrophic wildfire destroyed most of Mt Vesuvius’s forest. Thanks to an ongoing long-term bat monitoring programme, we could establish the bat community response through a before-after comparison, something so far unique in the scientific literature. Find out more by requesting the article through Research Gate: L. Ancillotto, L. Bosso, P. Conti & D. Russo (2020). Resilient responses by bats to a severe wildfire: conservation implications. Animal Conservation.

Abstract

Wildfires shape ecosystems globally, yet little is known on their effects on wildlife distribution and spatial behaviour. We used bats as models to test the effects of fire on ecosystems because they are multi-habitat specialists and feature ecological and life traits such as behavioural plasticity and longevity that make them able to respond to both short-and long-term environmental changes. We aimed at testing the effects of a severe wildfire on a Mediterranean bat assemblage in terms of occupancy, activity and individual fitness. Here, we measure the effects of fire on activity levels and occupancy by a Mediterranean bat assemblage at the Vesuvius National Park, in Southern Italy, over 4 years, encompassing a year when a severe wildfire occurred. By comparing bat occurrence and activity at burnt versus unburnt sites with a Before-After/Control-Impact approach, we found that bat responses to wildfires are species specific and depend on the time elapsed since the fire. Species that rely more strongly on forest areas showed a strong short-term adverse response in terms of occupancy and activity, while species adapted to open habitats showed no response 1 year after the wildfire. However, most species showed a general positive effect due to the passage of fire 2 years after its occurrence , probably because of vegetation regrowth. The wildfire event was also associated with reduced reproduction in at least one species, and to worse individual body conditions 1 year after the wildfire. Our results show that most bats in a Mediterranean ecosystem show resilience to the occurrence of fire, yet many species show negative short-term responses by altering their spatial behaviour and decreasing their investment in reproduction. Future increases in fire occurrence and intensity due to climate change may alter bat assemblages and impair population viability in the long term, hampering the fundamental ecosystem services provided by structured bat communities.

Continue to read the full article on ResearchGate

How to tell apart Saffron and Colchicum

Colchicum sp.
Colchicum sp. picture taken near Brasimone Lake, Bolognese appennine Italy

In the Italian mountain meadows in September the Colchicum flowers are blooming. They are really astonishing flowers and dangerously similar to Crocus.

Within the Genus Crocus, the Species Crocus sativus is quite important for both gastronomic and economical aspects. Crocus sativus is well-known ad “Saffron” and it blooms between October and November. The blooming period of the two species may vary due to altitude, latitude, and weather conditions.

The differences between those two genera are many, but the most important is the presence of some very toxic alkaloids in the Genus Colchicum.

The species Colchicum autumnale is particulary rich in colchicine an extremely toxic alkaloid, that can lead to a painful death if eaten (I will spare you the details, but is a really unpleasant death).
The toxic dose for an adult human is about 10 mg.
The Colchicum autumnale blooming period is usually one or two months before Crocus sativus.

Colchicine has also therapeutic applications and is used in agronomic and medical scientific research even in experimental therapies against the virus SARS-CoV-2.
Should you want to know more read https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32337546/

The morphological difference easier to spot is the number of stamens
The flowers of Colchicum have 6 stamens each
The flowers of Crocus have 3 stamens each

Colchicum sp. flowers near Brasimone Lake in Italy. Please note the 6 stamens
Colchicum autumnale
Crocus sp. flowers, you can see the 3 stamens in each flower

For further information

Crocus sativus L. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crocus_sativus

Colchicum autumnale L. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colchicum_autumnale

Colchicina https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colchicine

If liked this article you might want to check what else I published
to help me maintain this website and produce better pictures and contents, click here
Should you be interested in a particular topic, please tell me

Spider bites of medical significance in the Mediterranean area: misdiagnosis, clinical features and management

Gabriele Fusto, Luigi Bennardo1, Ester Del Duca, Daniela Mazzuca, Federica Tamburi, Cataldo Patruno, Steven Paul Nisticò

Abstract

Despite the disrepute spiders have had for centuries, their bite is a rare occurrence. In the Mediterranean area, only two of the numerous known species are considered of medical significance: Latrodectus tredecimguttatus and Loxosceles rufescens. Spider bites have no pathognomonic signs or symptoms, therefore most diagnoses are presumptive; a spider bite can only be diagnosed when a spider (seen at the time of the bite) is collected and identified by an expert, since most physicians and patients are unable to recognize a certain spider species or distinguish spiders from other arthropods. Skin lesions of uncertain etiology are too often attributed to spider bites. In most cases, these are actually skin and soft-tissue infections, allergic reactions, dermatoses etc. Misdiagnosing a wound as a spider bite can lead to delays in appropriate care, cause adverse or even fatal outcomes and have medical-legal implications. Concerningly, misinformation on spider bites also affects the medical literature and it appears there is lack of awareness on current therapeutic indications for verified bites.

Continue to read the full article on jvat.org

A SPIDER 3 METERS LONG!!!

Fearmeter

In this picture, you can see a harmless Olios argelasius (but we all know this is a vicious Violinus malmignattentsis satanassis, Granny’s assassin and chihuahua’s kidnapper disguised as a harmless domestic spider), AND the fearmeter ruler!

Actually, the graduated scale on the right is boring and dull centimetres, while the left one is in fearmeters calculated at the current exchange rate.

The writing in red shows the size we expect this horrid specimen to grow (3 meters).

There are ANALOGIC measurement tools and DIGITAL one, this is am ANALogic one, i.e. a fucked up one.

To be honest, the fearmeter is variable unit of measure… The arthropod who scare us is getting bigger as it comes closer to our face.

P.S. Please note the final touch to keeping the ruler quite slanted so that we can perceive many more mm due to the perspective.

If liked this article you might want to check what else I published
to help me maintain this website and produce better pictures and contents, click here
Should you be interested in a particular topic, please tell me