Pigeon Navigation: Different Routes Lead to Frankfurt
Tracks of pigeons homing to the Frankfurt loft revealed an odd phenomenon: whereas birds returning from the North approach their loft more or less directly in a broad front, pigeons returning from the South choose, from 25 km from home onward, either of two corridors, a direct one and one with a considerable detour to the West. This implies differences in the navigational process.
Pigeons released at sites at the beginning of the westerly corridor and in this corridor behave just like pigeons returning from farther south, deviating to the west before turning towards their loft. Birds released at sites within the straight corridors, in contrast, take more or less straight routes. The analysis of the short-term correlation dimension, a quantity reflecting the complexity of the system and with it, the number of factors involved in the navigational process, reveals that it is significantly larger in pigeons choosing the westerly corridor than in the birds flying straight - 3.03 vs. 2.85. The difference is small, however, suggesting a different interpretation of the same factors, with some birds apparently preferring particular factors over others.
The specific regional distribution of the factors which pigeons use to determine their home course seems to provide ambiguous information in the area 25 km south of the loft, resulting in the two corridors. Pigeons appear to navigate by deriving their routes directly from the locally available navigational factors which they interpret in an individual way. The fractal nature of the correlation dimensions indicates that the navigation process of pigeons is chaotic-deterministic; published tracks of migratory birds suggest that this may apply to avian navigation in general.
Ribosomal Readthrough at a Short UGA Stop Codon Context Triggers Dual Localization of Metabolic Enzymes in Fungi and Animals
Alina C. Stiebler
Kay O. Schink
Britta A. M. Tillmann
- Translation of mRNA into a polypeptide chain is a highly accurate process. Many prokaryotic and eukaryotic viruses, however, use leaky termination of translation to optimize their coding capacity. Although growing evidence indicates the occurrence of ribosomal readthrough also in higher organisms, a biological function for the resulting extended proteins has been elucidated only in very few cases. Here, we report that in human cells programmed stop codon readthrough is used to generate peroxisomal isoforms of cytosolic enzymes. We could show for NAD-dependent lactate dehydrogenase B (LDHB) and NAD-dependent malate dehydrogenase 1 (MDH1) that translational readthrough results in C-terminally extended protein variants containing a peroxisomal targeting signal 1 (PTS1). Efficient readthrough occurs at a short sequence motif consisting of a UGA termination codon followed by the dinucleotide CU. Leaky termination at this stop codon context was observed in fungi and mammals. Comparative genome analysis allowed us to identify further readthrough-derived peroxisomal isoforms of metabolic enzymes in diverse model organisms. Overall, our study highlights that a defined stop codon context can trigger efficient ribosomal readthrough to generate dually targeted protein isoforms. We speculate that beyond peroxisomal targeting stop codon readthrough may have also other important biological functions, which remain to be elucidated.
Getting What Is Served? Feeding Ecology Influencing Parasite-Host Interactions in Invasive Round Goby Neogobius melanostomus
- Freshwater ecosystems are increasingly impacted by alien invasive species which have the potential to alter various ecological interactions like predator-prey and host-parasite relationships. Here, we simultaneously examined predator-prey interactions and parasitization patterns of the highly invasive round goby (Neogobius melanostomus) in the rivers Rhine and Main in Germany. A total of 350 N. melanostomus were sampled between June and October 2011. Gut content analysis revealed a broad prey spectrum, partly reflecting temporal and local differences in prey availability. For the major food type (amphipods), species compositions were determined. Amphipod fauna consisted entirely of non-native species and was dominated by Dikerogammarus villosus in the Main and Echinogammarus trichiatus in the Rhine. However, the availability of amphipod species in the field did not reflect their relative abundance in gut contents of N. melanostomus. Only two metazoan parasites, the nematode Raphidascaris acus and the acanthocephalan Pomphorhynchus sp., were isolated from N. melanostomus in all months, whereas unionid glochidia were only detected in June and October in fish from the Main. To analyse infection pathways, we examined 17,356 amphipods and found Pomphorhynchus sp. larvae only in D. villosus in the river Rhine at a prevalence of 0.15%. Dikerogammarus villosus represented the most important amphipod prey for N. melanostomus in both rivers but parasite intensities differed between rivers, suggesting that final hosts (large predatory fishes) may influence host-parasite dynamics of N. melanostomus in its introduced range.
Seed Transmission of Pseudoperonospora cubensis
Avia E. Rubin
- Pseudoperonospora cubensis, an obligate biotrophic oomycete causing devastating foliar disease in species of the Cucurbitaceae family, was never reported in seeds or transmitted by seeds. We now show that P. cubensis occurs in fruits and seeds of downy mildew-infected plants but not in fruits or seeds of healthy plants. About 6.7% of the fruits collected during 2012–2014 have developed downy mildew when homogenized and inoculated onto detached leaves and 0.9% of the seeds collected developed downy mildew when grown to the seedling stage. This is the first report showing that P. cubensis has become seed-transmitted in cucurbits. Species-specific PCR assays showed that P. cubensis occurs in ovaries, fruit seed cavity and seed embryos of cucurbits. We propose that international trade of fruits or seeds of cucurbits might be associated with the recent global change in the population structure of P. cubensis.
Halophilic Archaea Cultivated from Surface Sterilized Middle-Late Eocene Rock Salt Are Polyploid
Salla T. Jaakkola
Dennis H. Bamford
Hanna M. Oksanen
- Live bacteria and archaea have been isolated from several rock salt deposits of up to hundreds of millions of years of age from all around the world. A key factor affecting their longevity is the ability to keep their genomic DNA intact, for which efficient repair mechanisms are needed. Polyploid microbes are known to have an increased resistance towards mutations and DNA damage, and it has been suggested that microbes from deeply buried rock salt would carry several copies of their genomes. Here, cultivable halophilic microbes were isolated from a surface sterilized middle-late Eocene (38–41 million years ago) rock salt sample, drilled from the depth of 800 m at Yunying salt mine, China. Eight unique isolates were obtained, which represented two haloarchaeal genera, Halobacterium and Halolamina. We used real-time PCR to show that our isolates are polyploid, with genome copy numbers of 11–14 genomes per cell in exponential growth phase. The ploidy level was slightly downregulated in stationary growth phase, but the cells still had an average genome copy number of 6–8. The polyploidy of halophilic archaea living in ancient rock salt might be a factor explaining how these organisms are able to overcome the challenge of prolonged survival during their entombment.
A phylogeographic break and bioacoustic intraspecific differentiation in the Buff-barred Warbler (Phylloscopus pulcher) (Aves: Passeriformes, Phylloscopidae)
Balduin S. Fischer
Dieter Thomas Tietze
- Background: According to current taxonomy only three out of 27 Sinohimalayan leaf warbler species (Phylloscopidae) are considered genetically uniform across their entire breeding range along the Southeastern margin of the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau, the Buff-barred Warbler (Phylloscopus pulcher) being one of them. Because marked differentiation among Himalayan and Chinese populations has been recently demonstrated for a number of Phylloscopus species (or sister species) we investigated the intraspecific variation of a mitochondrial gene, songs and morphology of P. pulcher in a phylogeographic approach.
Methods: We sequenced a fragment of the mitochondrial cytochrome b, reconstructed haplotype networks and analyzed DNA polymorphism among Himalayan and Chinese populations. We measured time and frequency parameters of two distinct song types and analyzed among population-differentiation in a principal component analysis and a discriminant analysis. We also compared measurements of body size dimensions taken from museum specimens.
Results: The mitochondrial haplotype network (cytb) was divided into two distinct clusters corresponding to geographic origin of samples. Pairwise genetic distances among Himalayan and Chinese mtDNA lineages account for 1.3% which coincides with Pleistocene lineage separation at roughly 650,000 years ago. Genetic diversity is slightly higher in the Chinese part of the species’ range with respect to haplotype and nucleotide diversity while the less diversified Himalayan population lineage shows signs of recent range expansion. The vocal repertoire of P. pulcher comprises two distinct verse types that are combined with short interspersed click notes to long continuous song displays. Trill verse types showed significant differences among regions in almost all measured frequency and time parameters: Chinese males displayed more rapid and more broad-banded trills at a lower pitch. In contrast, warbling verse types showed a distinctively different structure among regions: Himalayan songs consisted of repeated syllables while Chinese songs comprised repetitions of single, long and strongly modulated elements. Subtle morphological differences among specimens from the two study regions could only be confirmed for plumage coloration but not for metric characters.
Conclusions: Based on the genetic and bioacoustic distinctiveness of Chinese Buff-barred Warbler populations, we recommend that the name Phylloscopus pulcher vegetus Bangs, 1913 should be re-validated for this taxon.
In silico analysis of regulatory networks underlines the role of miR-10b-5p and its target BDNF in huntington’s disease
- Non-coding RNAs (ncRNAs) play various roles during central nervous system development. MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are a class of ncRNAs that exert their function together with argonaute proteins by post-transcriptional gene silencing of messenger RNAs (mRNAs). Several studies provide evidence for alterations in miRNA expression in patients with neurodegenerative diseases. Among these is huntington‘s disease (HD), a dominantly inherited fatal disorder characterized by deregulation of neuronal-specific mRNAs as well as miRNAs. Recently, next-generation sequencing (NGS) miRNA profiles from human HD and neurologically normal control brain tissues were reported. Five consistently upregulated miRNAs affect the expression of genes involved in neuronal differentiation, neurite outgrowth, cell death and survival. We re-analyzed the NGS data publicly available in array express and detected nineteen additional differentially expressed miRNAs. Subsequently, we connected these miRNAs to genes implicated in HD development and network analysis pointed to miRNA-mediated downregulation of twenty-two genes with roles in the pathogenesis as well as treatment of the disease. In silico prediction and reporter systems prove that levels of BDNF, a central node in the miRNA-mRNA regulatory network, can be post-transcriptionally controlled by upregulated miR-10b-5p and miR-30a-5p. Reduced BDNF expression is associated with neuronal dysfunction and death in HD. Moreover, the 3’UTR of CREB1 harbors a predicted binding site for these two miRNAs. CREB1 is similarly downregulated in HD and overexpression decreased susceptibility to 3-nitropropionic-induced toxicity in a cell model. In contradiction to these observations, it is presumed that miR-10b-5p upregulation in HD exerts a neuroprotective role in response to the mutation in the huntingtin gene. Therefore, the function of miR-10b-5p and especially its effect on BDNF expression in HD requires further academic research.
Editorial: (Micro)Plastics and the environment
- (Micro)Plastics in the aquatic environment are an issue of emerging concern. However, to date, there is considerable lack of knowledge on the abundance and toxicity of plastic debris in aquatic ecosystems, especially with regard to the freshwater situation. In this editorial, we briefly discuss important aspects of the research on environmental (micro)plastics to stimulate research and call for papers.
Mitochondrial sequences reveal a clear separation between Angolan and South African giraffe along a cryptic rift valley
- Background: The current taxonomy of the African giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis) is primarily based on pelage pattern and geographic distribution, and nine subspecies are currently recognized. Although genetic studies have been conducted, their resolution is low, mainly due to limited sampling. Detailed knowledge about the genetic variation and phylogeography of the South African giraffe (G. c. giraffa) and the Angolan giraffe (G. c. angolensis) is lacking. We investigate genetic variation among giraffe matrilines by increased sampling, with a focus on giraffe key areas in southern Africa.
Results: The 1,562 nucleotides long mitochondrial DNA dataset (cytochrome b and partial control region) comprises 138 parsimony informative sites among 161 giraffe individuals from eight populations. We additionally included two okapis as an outgroup. The analyses of the maternally inherited sequences reveal a deep divergence between northern and southern giraffe populations in Africa, and a general pattern of distinct matrilineal clades corresponding to their geographic distribution. Divergence time estimates among giraffe populations place the deepest splits at several hundred thousand years ago.
Conclusions: Our increased sampling in southern Africa suggests that the distribution ranges of the Angolan and South African giraffe need to be redefined. Knowledge about the phylogeography and genetic variation of these two maternal lineages is crucial for the development of appropriate management strategies.
Canadian hereditary angioedema guideline
- Hereditary angioedema (HAE) is a disease which is associated with random and often unpredictable attacks of painful swelling typically affecting the extremities, bowel mucosa, genitals, face and upper airway. Attacks are associated with significant functional impairment, decreased Health Related Quality of Life, and mortality in the case of laryngeal attacks. Caring for patients with HAE can be challenging due to the complexity of this disease. The care of patients with HAE in Canada is neither optimal nor uniform across the country. It lags behind other countries where there are more organized models for HAE management, and where additional therapeutic options are licensed and available for use. The objective of this guideline is to provide graded recommendations for the management of patients in Canada with HAE. This includes the treatment of attacks, short-term prophylaxis, long-term prophylaxis, and recommendations for self-administration, individualized therapy, quality of life, and comprehensive care. It is anticipated that by providing this guideline to caregivers, policy makers, patients and their advocates, that there will be an improved understanding of the current recommendations regarding management of HAE and the factors that need to be considered when choosing therapies and treatment plans for individual patients. The primary target users of this guideline are healthcare providers who are managing patients with HAE. Other healthcare providers who may use this guideline are emergency physicians, gastroenterologists, dentists and otolaryngologists, who will encounter patients with HAE and need to be aware of this condition. Hospital administrators, insurers and policy makers may also find this guideline helpful.