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  • The tribe Empidini (Diptera: Empididae: Empidinae) is a diverse group with fourteen genera, seven of which are exclusive to the Neotropical region: Bolrhamphomyia Rafael, Chilerhamphomyia Rafael, Hystrichonotus Collin, Lamprempis Wheeler and Melander, Macrostomus Wiedemann, Opeatocerata Melander and Porphyrochroa Melander. Although Empidini itself is likely paraphyletic, many presumably monophyletic genera and species groups are recognized. Here, we apply DNA sequences from multiple genes to infer the phylogeny of Empidini, focusing on placing the Neotropical lineages within the entire tribe and identifying monophyletic groups. We included 98 Empidini taxa along with 18 outgrous terminals, spanning the diversity within the group. The results from the analyses performed are largely similar, with major groupings of genera in common. Specifically, the analyses recovered a monophyletic Hilarini and a paraphyletic Empidini. Most species from Chile and Argentina (Andean region) are found to belong to an early branching lineage within Empidinae, and are not monophyletic with other Empidini. A large portion of the remaining Neotropical Empidini (not Andean) comprises a single clade that includes four endemic genera and a number of Neotropical Empis Linneaus species. Macrostomus and Porphyrochroa each recovered as monophyletic and sister to one another, although generic placement of a few taxa remains uncertain due to conflicting morphological features. Lamprempis+Opeatocerata are also found to be sister-taxa in most analyses. Several large genera were found to be polyphyletic or paraphyletic including Empis and Rhamphomyia Meigen. We evaluate our findings and discuss them in light of current Empidinae taxonomy.
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  • Large marine animals may play a crucial role in storing and recycling bioavailable iron in surface waters by consuming iron-rich prey and subsequent defecation of iron that is excess to their requirements. This biological recycling of iron could enhance primary productivity in iron-limited waters. However, quantifying the effects of marine animals on ocean primary productivity remains challenging because of a limited understanding of the key biogeochemical processes involved. In this paper, we develop a preliminary model that explores these uncertainties and examines the potential effects of historical populations of blue, fin and humpback whales, and the biomass of Antarctic krill required to support the whale populations, on primary productivity in the Southern Ocean.
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  • In a joint U.S.–China statement on climate change, the Chinese government declared to peak CO2 emissions around 2030. This demonstrates the government's determination to deal with carbon emission and climate change. Although the food industry is not a carbon emission-intensive industry, its large scale makes the emission reduction in the industry very important. Based on the input–output structural decomposition method, this paper calculates the CO2 emissions of China's food industry from 1991 to 2012, and decomposes the change in CO2 emissions of the industry during 1992–1997, 1997–2002, 2002–2007 and 2007–2010 into four main effects: emission factor, energy structure, energy intensity, and total output (including four sub-effects: intermediate use, domestic final demand, import substitution and export extension). The results show that changes in CO2 emissions in the food industry mainly depends on total output effect and energy intensity effect. Energy intensity effect is the most important factor reducing CO2 emissions, as it reduced cumulative 213 million tons (Mt) CO2 emissions of the industry. Among total output effect, the effects of intermediate use and domestic final demand are the two biggest contributors to carbon emissions. Finally, we provide some policy advices for constraining and reducing CO2 emissions of China's food industry. The advices include increasing R&D investment and the substitution of energy with other input factors to decrease energy intensity, increasing the added value of the food industry, optimizing the energy structure with more clean and low-carbon energy, and maintaining the prices of raw materials of the food industry (i.e. agricultural products) with taxes or subsidies.
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  • Model undefined thermophilic starter cultures were produced from raw milk of nine pasta-filata cheesemaking plants using a selective procedure based on pasteurization and incubation at high temperature with the objective of studying the microbial community dynamics and the variability in performances under repeated (7–13) reproduction cycles with backslopping. The traditional culture-dependent approach, based on random isolation and molecular characterization of isolates was coupled to the determination of pH and the evaluation of the ability to produce acid and fermentation metabolites. Moreover, a culture-independent approach based on amplicon-targeted next-generation sequencing was employed. The microbial diversity was evaluated by 16S rRNA gene sequencing (V1–V3 regions), while the microdiversity of Streptococcus thermophilus populations was explored by using novel approach based on sequencing of partial amplicons of the phosphoserine phosphatase gene (serB). In addition, the occurrence of bacteriophages was evaluated by qPCR and by multiplex PCR. Although it was relatively easy to select for a community dominated by thermophilic lactic acid bacteria (LAB) within a single reproduction cycle, final pH, LAB populations and acid production activity fluctuated over reproduction cycles. Both culture-dependent and -independent methods showed that the cultures were dominated by either S. thermophilus or Lactobacillus delbrueckii subsp. lactis or by both species. Nevertheless, subdominant mesophilic species, including lactococci and spoilage organisms, persisted at low levels. A limited number of serB sequence types (ST) were present in S. thermophilus populations. L. delbrueckii and Lactococcus lactis bacteriophages were below the detection limit of the method used and high titres of cos type S. thermophilus bacteriophages were detected in only two cases. In one case a high titre of bacteriophages was concurrent with a S. thermophilus biotype shift in the culture.
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  • Leptin is an important endocrine regulation factor of food intake and energy homeostasis in mammals; however, the existence of a poultry leptin gene (LEP) is still debated. Here, for the first time, we report the cloning of a partial exon 3 sequence of LEP (qLEP) and four different leptin receptor splicing variants, including a long receptor (qLEPRl) and three soluble receptors (qLEPR-a, qLEPR-b and qLEPR-c) in Japanese quail (Coturnix japonica). The qLEP gene had high GC content (64%), which is similar to other reported avian leptin genes. The encoded qLEP protein possessed the conserved pair of cysteine residues that are required to form a lasso knot for full biological activity, but shared relatively low identities with LEPs of other vertebrates. The translated qLEPRl protein contained 1143 amino acids and shared high amino acid sequence identity with a chicken homolog (89% identity). qLEPRl also contained all the motifs, domains, and basic tyrosine residues that are conserved in the LEPRl proteins of other vertebrates. qRT-PCR analysis showed that LEP and the four LEPR variants were expressed extensively in all tissues examined; the expression levels of LEP were relatively high in hypothalamus, skeletal muscle, and pancreas, while the expression levels of the LEPRs were highest in the pituitary. Compared with the expression levels of juvenile qLEP and total qLEPR (including all LEPR variants), the expression levels of mature qLEP and total qLEPR were up-regulated in the hypothalamus and pituitary, and down-regulated in the ovary. The expressions of LEP/LEPR increased when fasting and decreased when refeeding in the brain and peripheral tissues of juvenile quail, which suggested that the LEP/LEPR system modulated food intake and energy expenditure, although, unlike in mammals, LEP may actually act to inhibit food intake during fasting, at least in juvenile quail. The results indicate that qLEP and qLEPR have unique expression patterns and that the encoded proteins play important roles in the regulation of reproduction and energy status in Japanese quail.
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  • Small heat shock proteins (sHSPs) have been characterized in organisms from all three domains of life and viruses and are involved in a wide range of biological functions. However, the evolution and function of sHSP in Aspergillus species are largely unknown. In the present work, sHSPs were identified in 31 filamentous fungi, including species from Aspergillus, Penicillium, Fusarium and Magnaporthe, as well as Botrytis cinerea and Neurospora crassa. Phylogenetic analysis revealed high level of divergence of sHSPs among filamentous fungi that orthologs could be only found between very closely related species. Strikingly, duplication of shsp genes occurred in genera Penicillium and also Aspergillus nidulans was observed, which might be an important pathway of sHSPs evolution. Expression analysis of shsp genes revealed that sHSPs were involved in response of A. nidulans to various conditions, including cold/heat as well as oxidative and osmotic stresses, and that the recent duplicated sHSPs in A. nidulans had highly similar function.
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  • We classified land cover types from 1940s historical aerial imagery using Object Based Image Analysis (OBIA) and compared these maps with data on recent cover. Few studies have used these kinds of maps to model drivers of cover change, partly due to two statistical challenges: 1) appropriately accounting for spatial autocorrelation and 2) appropriately modeling percent cover which is bounded between 0 and 100 and not normally distributed. We studied the change in woody cover at four sites in California's North Coast using historical (1948) and recent (2009) high spatial resolution imagery. We classified the imagery using eCognition Developer and aggregated the resulting maps to the scale of a Digital Elevation Model (DEM) in order to understand topographic drivers of woody cover change. We used Generalized Additive Models (GAMs) with a quasi-binomial probability distribution to account for spatial autocorrelation and the boundedness of the percent woody cover variable. We explored the relative influences on current percent woody cover of topographic variables (grouped using principal component analysis) reflecting water retention capacity, exposure, and within-site context, as well as historical percent woody cover and geographical coordinates. We estimated these models for pixel sizes of 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, 70, 80, 90, and 100m, reflecting both tree neighborhood scales and stand scales. We found that historical woody cover had a consistent positive effect on current woody cover, and that the spatial autoregressive term in the model was significant even after controlling for historical cover. Specific topographic variables emerged as important for different sites at different scales, but no overall pattern emerged across sites or scales for any of the topographic variables we tested. This GAM framework for modeling historical data is flexible and could be used with more variables, more flexible relationships with predictor variables, and larger scales. Modeling drivers of woody cover change from historical ecology data sources can be a valuable way to plan restoration and enhance ecological insight into landscape change.
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  • The Squamata are the most adaptive and prosperous group among ectothermic amniotes, reptiles, due to their species-richness and geographically wide habitat. Although the molecular mechanisms underlying their prosperity remain largely unknown, unique features have been reported from hormones that regulate energy metabolism. Insulin, a central anabolic hormone, is one such hormone, as its roles and effectiveness in regulation of blood glucose levels remain to be examined in squamates. In the present study, cDNAs coding for insulin were isolated from multiple species that represent various groups of squamates. The deduced amino acid sequences showed a high degree of divergence, with four lineages showing obviously higher number of amino acid substitutions than most of vertebrates, from teleosts to mammals. Among 18 sites presented to comprise the two receptor binding surfaces (one with 12 sites and the other with 6 sites), substitutions were observed in 13 sites. Among them was the substitution of HisB10, which results in the loss of the ability to hexamerize. Furthermore, three of these substitutions were reported to increase mitogenicity in human analogues. These substitutions were also reported from insulin of hystricomorph rodents and agnathan fishes, whose mitogenic potency have been shown to be increased.
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  • Soil available water is an important factor for plant growth. It has been estimated by different soil physical indices, such as the least limiting water range (LLWR), integral water capacity (IWC) and integral energy (EI). Moreover, salinity is an important limitation for soil water availability to plants. Despite the advances in the quantification of LLWR, IWC and EI, a comprehensive description of the computational methods, including data management, curve fitting procedures and graphing techniques, is still lacking. The salinity effect on these quantities has still not been implemented in a computer package. In this paper, we present an R package soilphysics and its implementations to determine LLWR, IWC and EI. We described the theory behind each implementation, illustrated the functionalities and validated the outcomes of soilphysics with other software packages for LLWR, IWC and EI calculations (an Excel® algorithm and SAWCal). The salinity effect on soil available water was also employed in the package. The outcomes are basically the same as other software available, with small differences (<4%). The package soilphysics takes advantage of all the power of R for dealing with extensive algorithms and for building high-quality graphics. It is currently available from the CRAN website (http://cran.r-project.org/web/packages/soilphysics/index.html).
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  • Thelypteridaceae is one of the largest fern families, having about 950 species and a cosmopolitan distribution but with most species occurring in tropical and subtropical regions. Its generic classification remains controversial, with different authors recognizing from one up to 32 genera. Phylogenetic relationships within the family have not been exhaustively studied, but previous studies have confirmed the monophyly of the lineage. Thus far, sampling has been inadequate for establishing a robust hypothesis of infrafamilial relationships within the family. In order to understand phylogenetic relationships within Thelypteridaceae and thus to improve generic reclassification, we expand the molecular sampling, including new samples of Old World taxa and, especially, many additional neotropical representatives. We also explore the monophyly of exclusively or mostly neotropical genera Amauropelta, Goniopteris, Meniscium, and Steiropteris. Our sampling includes 68 taxa and 134 newly generated sequences from two plastid genomic regions (rps4–trnS and trnL–trnF), plus 73 rps4 and 72 trnL–trnF sequences from GenBank. These data resulted in a concatenated matrix of 1980 molecular characters for 149 taxa. The combined data set was analyzed using maximum parsimony and bayesian inference of phylogeny. Our results are consistent with the general topological structure found in previous studies, including two main lineages within the family: phegopteroid and thelypteroid. The thelypteroid lineage comprises two clades; one of these included the segregates Metathelypteris, Coryphopteris, and Amauropelta (including part of Parathelypteris), whereas the other comprises all segregates of Cyclosorus s.l., such as Goniopteris, Meniscium, and Steiropteris (including Thelypteris polypodioides, previously incertae sedis). The three mainly neotropical segregates were found to be monophyletic but nested in a broadly defined Cyclosorus. The fourth mainly neotropical segregate, Amauropelta, was found to include species considered to be part of Parathelypteris. In Old World thelypteroids, which correspond to nearly half the diversity in the family, an increase in sampling is still needed to resolve relationships and circumscription of genera, particularly in the christelloid clade (i.e., Amphineuron, Chingia, Christella, Pneumatopteris, Pronephrium, and Sphaerostephanos). Based on currently available knowledge, we propose the recognition of 16 genera in the family.
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