Little is known of the factors influencing soil archaeal community diversity and composition in the tropics. We sampled soils across a range of forest and nonforest environments in the equatorial tropics of Malaysia, covering a wide range of pH values. DNA was PCR-amplified for the V1-V3 region of the 16S rRNA gene, and 454-pyrosequenced. Soil pH was the best predictor of diversity and community composition of Archaea, being a stronger predictor than land use. Archaeal OTU richness was highest in the most acidic soils. Overall archaeal abundance in tropical soils (determined by qPCR) also decreased at higher pH. This contrasts with the opposite trend previously found in temperate soils. Thaumarcheota group 1.1b was more abundant in alkaline soils, whereas group 1.1c was only detected in acidic soils. These results parallel those found in previous studies in cooler climates, emphasizing niche conservatism among broad archaeal groups. Among the most abundant operational taxonomic units (OTUs), there was clear evidence of niche partitioning by pH. No individual OTU occurred across the entire range of pH values. Overall, the results of this study show that pH plays a major role in structuring tropical soil archaeal communities.
This study was carried out during the period 1989-2011. The following areas were included: Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Indonesia, and Malaysia. Climax tropical forest and anthropogenically transformed ecosystems, including those damaged by the chemical warfare program of the United States in Vietnam, were investigated. Some regularities in the structure dynamics and functioning of forests ecosystems under a tropical monsoon climate have been revealed. The principles of classification of tropical forests have been elaborated. The major results of investigation of the tropical monsoon forests in Vietnam are given.
Tropical Africa is not the only area where deadly viruses have recently emerged. In South-East Asia severe epidemics of dengue hemorrhagic fever started in 1954 and flu pandemics have originated from China such as the Asian flu (H2N2) in 1957, the Hong-Kong flu (H3N2) in 1968, and the Russian flu (H1N1) in 1977. However, it is especially during the last ten years that very dangerous viruses for mankind have repeatedly developed in Asia, with the occurrence of Alkhurma hemorrhagic fever in Saudi Arabia (1995), avian flu (H5N1) in Hong-Kong (1997), Nipah virus encephalitis in Malaysia (1998,) and, above all, the SARS pandemic fever from Southern China (2002). The evolution of these viral diseases was probably not directly affected by climate change. In fact, their emergential success may be better explained by the development of large industry poultry flocks increasing the risks of epizootics, dietary habits, economic and demographic constraints, and negligence in the surveillance and reporting of the first cases.
A Danish woman aged 28 years who had travelled in the Far East developed cerebral symptoms with headache and visual disturbances. Migraine was suspected. Subsequent CT scanning revealed multiple processes and metastases were suspected. As the patient had travelled in the Far East 1 1/2 years previously, she was examined for neurocysticercosis. This diagnosis was established and the patient was successfully treated with praziquantel. On account of increased travelling activity, the possibility of neurocysticercosis should be borne in mind when dealing with patients with cerebral symptoms and relevant travelling histories.
Edge-effects greatly extend the area of tropical forests degraded through human activities. At Pasoh, Peninsular Malaysia, it has been suggested that soil disturbance by highly abundant wild pigs (Sus scrofa), which feed in adjacent Oil Palm plantations, may have mediated the invasion of Clidemia hirta (Melastomataceae) into the diverse tropical lowland rain forest. To investigate this hypothesis, we established three 1 km transects from the forest/Oil Palm plantation boundary into the forest interior. We recorded the distribution of soil disturbance by wild pigs, C. hirta abundance, and environmental variables. These data were analyzed using a hierarchical Bayesian model that incorporated spatial auto-correlation in the environmental variables. As predicted, soil disturbance by wild pigs declined with distance from forest edge and C. hirta abundance was correlated with the level of soil disturbance. Importantly there was no effect of distance on C. hirta abundance, after controlling for the effect of soil disturbance. Clidemia hirta abundance was also correlated with the presence of canopy openings, but there was no significant association between the occurrence of canopy openings and distance from the edge. Increased levels of soil disturbance and C. hirta abundance were still detectable approximately 1 km from the edge, demonstrating the potential for exceptionally large-scale animal mediated edge effects.
Tropical forests are highly diverse systems involving extraordinary numbers of interactions between species, with each species responding in a different way to the abiotic environment. Understanding how these systems function and predicting how they respond to anthropogenic global change is extremely challenging. We argue for the necessity of 'whole-ecosystem' experimental manipulations, in which the entire ecosystem is targeted, either to reveal the functioning of the system in its natural state or to understand responses to anthropogenic impacts. We survey the current range of whole-ecosystem manipulations, which include those targeting weather and climate, nutrients, biotic interactions, human impacts, and habitat restoration. Finally we describe the unique challenges and opportunities presented by such projects and suggest directions for future experiments.
Vertical variation in leaf gas exchange characteristics of trees grown in a lowland dipterocarp forest in Peninsular Malaysia was investigated. Maximum net photosynthetic rate, stomatal conductance, and electron transport rate of leaves at the upper canopy, lower canopy, and forest floor were studied in situ with saturated condition photosynthetic photon flux density. The dark respiration rate of leaves at the various heights was also studied. Relationships among gas exchange characteristics, and also with nitrogen content per unit leaf area and leaf dry matter per area were clearly detected, forming general equations representing the vertical profile of several important parameters related to gas exchange. Numerical analysis revealed that the vertical distribution of gas exchange parameters was well determined showing both larger carbon gain for the whole canopy and at the same time positive carbon gain for the leaves of the lowest layer. For correct estimation of gas exchange at both leaf and canopy scales using multi-layer models, it is essential to consider the vertical distribution of gas exchange parameters with proper scaling coefficients.
In this study, the vasodilatory actions of nine edible tropical plant extracts were investigated. Ipomoea batatas (sweet potato leaf), Piper betle (betel leaf), Anacardium occidentale (cashew leaf), Gynandropsis gynandra (maman leaf), Carica papaya (papaya leaf), and Mentha arvensis (mint leaf) extracts exhibited more than 50% relaxing effect on aortic ring preparations, while Piper betle and Cymbopogon citratus (lemongrass stalk) showed comparable vasorelaxation on isolated perfused mesenteric artery preparation. The vascular effect on the aortic ring preparations were mainly endothelium-dependent, and mediated by nitric oxide (NO) as supported by the inhibition of action in the presence of N(omega)-nitro-L-arginine (NOLA), an nitric oxide synthase (NOS) inhibitor, or by the removal of endothelium. In contrast, vasodilatory actions in resistance vessels (perfused mesenteric vascular beds) appear to involve several biochemical mediators, including NO, prostanoids, and endothelium-dependent hyperpolarizing factors (EDHFs). Total phenolic contents and antioxidant capacities varied among different extracts and found to be independent of vascular relaxation effects. This study demonstrates that many edible plants common in Asian diets to possess potential health benefits, affording protection at the vascular endothelium level.
The response of tropical forests to global climate variability and change remains poorly understood. Results from long-term studies of permanent forest plots have reported different, and in some cases opposing trends in tropical forest dynamics. In this study, we examined changes in tree growth rates at four long-term permanent tropical forest research plots in relation to variation in solar radiation, temperature and precipitation. Temporal variation in the stand-level growth rates measured at five-year intervals was found to be positively correlated with variation in incoming solar radiation and negatively related to temporal variation in night-time temperatures. Taken alone, neither solar radiation variability nor the effects of night-time temperatures can account for the observed temporal variation in tree growth rates across sites, but when considered together, these two climate variables account for most of the observed temporal variability in tree growth rates. Further analysis indicates that the stand-level response is primarily driven by the responses of smaller-sized trees (less than 20 cm in diameter). The combined temperature and radiation responses identified in this study provide a potential explanation for the conflicting patterns in tree growth rates found in previous studies.
Seven sulfonamides, trimethoprim, five macrolides, lincomycin and three tetracyclines were measured in 150 water samples of sewage, livestock and aquaculture wastewater, and river and coastal waters, in five tropical Asian countries. The sum of the concentrations of the target antibiotics in sewage and heavily sewage-impacted waters were at sub- to low-ppb levels. The most abundant antibiotic was sulfamethoxazole (SMX), followed by lincomycin and sulfathiazole. The average concentration of SMX in sewage or heavily sewage-impacted waters was 1720 ng/L in Vietnam (Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh, Can Tho; n=15), 802ng/L in the Philippines (Manila; n=4), 538 ng/L in India (Kolkata; n=4), 282 ng/L in Indonesia (Jakarta; n=10), and 76 ng/L in Malaysia (Kuala Lumpur; n=6). These concentrations were higher than those in Japan, China, Europe, the US and Canada. A predominance of sulfonamides, especially SMX, is notable in these tropical countries. The higher average concentrations, and the predominance of SMX, can be ascribed to the lower cost of the antibiotics. Both the concentration and composition of antibiotics in livestock and aquaculture wastewater varied widely. In many cases, sulfamethazine (SMT), oxytetracycline (OTC), lincomycin, and SMX were predominant in livestock and aquaculture wastewater. Both human and animal antibiotics were widely distributed in the respective receiving waters (i.e., the Mekong River and Manila Bay). SMT/SMX ratios indicate a significant contribution from livestock wastewater to the Mekong River and nearby canals, with an estimated ~10% of river water SMX derived from such wastewater. Mass flow calculations estimate that 12 tons of SMX is discharged annually from the Mekong River into the South China Sea. Riverine inputs of antibiotics may significantly increase the concentration of such antibiotics in the coastal waters.
The dominant factors controlling soil bacterial community variation within the tropics are poorly known. We sampled soils across a range of land use types--primary (unlogged) and logged forests and crop and pasture lands in Malaysia. PCR-amplified soil DNA for the bacterial 16S rRNA gene targeting the V1-V3 region was pyrosequenced using the 454 Roche machine. We found that land use in itself has a weak but significant effect on the bacterial community composition. However, bacterial community composition and diversity was strongly correlated with soil properties, especially soil pH, total carbon, and C/N ratio. Soil pH was the best predictor of bacterial community composition and diversity across the various land use types, with the highest diversity close to neutral pH values. In addition, variation in phylogenetic structure of dominant lineages (Alphaproteobacteria, Beta/Gammaproteobacteria, Acidobacteria, and Actinobacteria) is also significantly correlated with soil pH. Together, these results confirm the importance of soil pH in structuring soil bacterial communities in Southeast Asia. Our results also suggest that unlike the general diversity pattern found for larger organisms, primary tropical forest is no richer in operational taxonomic units of soil bacteria than logged forest, and agricultural land (crop and pasture) is actually richer than primary forest, partly due to selection of more fertile soils that have higher pH for agriculture and the effects of soil liming raising pH.
Tropical rainforests are subject to extensive degradation by commercial selective logging. Despite pervasive changes to forest structure, selectively logged forests represent vital refugia for global biodiversity. The ability of these forests to buffer temperature-sensitive species from climate warming will be an important determinant of their future conservation value, although this topic remains largely unexplored. Thermal buffering potential is broadly determined by: (i) the difference between the "macroclimate" (climate at a local scale, m to ha) and the "microclimate" (climate at a fine-scale, mm to m, that is distinct from the macroclimate); (ii) thermal stability of microclimates (e.g. variation in daily temperatures); and (iii) the availability of microclimates to organisms. We compared these metrics in undisturbed primary forest and intensively logged forest on Borneo, using thermal images to capture cool microclimates on the surface of the forest floor, and information from dataloggers placed inside deadwood, tree holes and leaf litter. Although major differences in forest structure remained 9-12 years after repeated selective logging, we found that logging activity had very little effect on thermal buffering, in terms of macroclimate and microclimate temperatures, and the overall availability of microclimates. For 1°C warming in the macroclimate, temperature inside deadwood, tree holes and leaf litter warmed slightly more in primary forest than in logged forest, but the effect amounted to <0.1°C difference between forest types. We therefore conclude that selectively logged forests are similar to primary forests in their potential for thermal buffering, and subsequent ability to retain temperature-sensitive species under climate change. Selectively logged forests can play a crucial role in the long-term maintenance of global biodiversity.
Inadequate funding from developed countries has hampered international efforts to conserve biodiversity in tropical forests. We present two complementary research approaches that reveal a significant increase in public demand for conservation within tropical developing countries as those countries reach upper-middle-income (UMI) status. We highlight UMI tropical countries because they contain nearly four-fifths of tropical primary forests, which are rich in biodiversity and stored carbon. The first approach is a set of statistical analyses of various cross-country conservation indicators, which suggests that protective government policies have lagged behind the increase in public demand in these countries. The second approach is a case study from Malaysia, which reveals in a more integrated fashion the linkages from rising household income to increased household willingness to pay for conservation, nongovernmental organization activity, and delayed government action. Our findings suggest that domestic funding in UMI tropical countries can play a larger role in (i) closing the funding gap for tropical forest conservation, and (ii) paying for supplementary conservation actions linked to international payments for reduced greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in tropical countries.
Natives of the tropics are able to tolerate high ambient temperatures. This results from their long-term residence in hot and often humid tropical climates. This study was designed to compare the peripheral mechanisms of thermal sweating in tropical natives with that of their temperate counterparts. Fifty-five healthy male subjects including 20 native Koreans who live in the temperate Korean climate (Temperate-N) and 35 native tropical Malaysian men that have lived all of their lives in Malaysia (Tropical-N) were enrolled in this study after providing written informed consent to participate. Quantitative sudomotor axon reflex testing after iontophoresis (2 mA for 5 min) with 10% acetylcholine (ACh) was used to determine directly activated (DIR) and axon reflex-mediated (AXR) sweating during ACh iontophoresis. The sweat rate, activated sweat gland density, sweat gland output per single gland activated, and oral and skin temperature changes were measured. The sweat onset time of AXR (nicotinic-receptor-mediated) was 56 s shorter in the Temperate-N than in the Tropical-N subjects (P < 0.0001). The nicotinic-receptor-mediated sweating activity AXR (1), and the muscarinic-receptor-mediated sweating activity DIR, in terms of sweat volume, were 103% and 59% higher in the Temperate-N compared to the Tropical-N subjects (P < 0.0001). The Temperate-N group also had a 17.8% (P < 0.0001) higher active sweat gland density, 35.4% higher sweat output per gland, 0.24 degrees C higher resting oral temperature, and 0.62 degrees C higher resting forearm skin temperature compared to the Tropical-N subjects (P < 0.01). ACh iontophoresis did not influence oral temperature, but increased skin temperature near where the ACh was administered, in both groups. These results suggest that suppressed thermal sweating in the Tropical-N subjects was, at least in part, due to suppressed sweat gland sensitivity to ACh through both recruitment of active sweat glands and the sweat gland output per each gland. This physiological trait guarantees a more economical use of body fluids, thus ensuring more efficient protection against heat stress.
Rivers play a significant role in providing water resources for human and ecosystem survival and health. Hence, river water quality is an important parameter that must be preserved and monitored. As the state of Selangor and the city of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, are undergoing tremendous development, the river is subjected to pollution from point and non-point sources. The water quality of the Klang River basin, one of the most densely populated areas within the region, is significantly degraded due to human activities as well as urbanization. Evaluation of the overall river water quality status is normally represented by a water quality index (WQI), which consists of six parameters, namely dissolved oxygen, biochemical oxygen demand, chemical oxygen demand, suspended solids, ammoniacal nitrogen and pH. The objectives of this study are to assess the water quality status for this tropical, urban river and to establish the WQI trend. Using monthly WQI data from 1997 to 2007, time series were plotted and trend analysis was performed by employing the first-order autocorrelated trend model on the moving average values for every station. The initial and final values of either the moving average or the trend model were used as the estimates of the initial and final WQI at the stations. It was found that Klang River water quality has shown some improvement between 1997 and 2007. Water quality remains good in the upper stream area, which provides vital water sources for water treatment plants in the Klang valley. Meanwhile, the water quality has also improved in other stations. Results of the current study suggest that the present policy on managing river quality in the Klang River has produced encouraging results; the policy should, however, be further improved alongside more vigorous monitoring of pollution discharge from various point sources such as industrial wastewater, municipal sewers, wet markets, sand mining and landfills, as well as non-point sources such as agricultural or urban runoff and commercial activity.
This letter advises the imminent formation of the Companion Animal Parasites Council for the Tropics (CAPCT). The CAPCT consists of region-specific (e.g., Asia-Pacific, Latin America and Caribbean, Africa) experts comprising academics, veterinarians, parasitologists, physicians and allied industry partners that will work together to inform, guide and develop best-practice recommendations for the optimal diagnosis, treatment and control of companion animal parasites in the tropics, with the aim of protecting the health of pets and that of the public.
Free radical scavenging activity of 21 tropical plant extracts was evaluated using 1,1-diphenyl-2-picrylhydrazyl assay (DPPH). Total phenolic compounds and flavonoids were determined using Folin-Ciocalteu and HPLC, respectively. Results of the study revealed that all the plants tested exhibited excellent antioxidant activity with IC(50) in the range of 21.3 to 89.6 microg/mL. The most potent activity was demonstrated by Cosmos caudatus (21.3 microg/mL) and Piper betle (23.0 microg/mL) that are not significantly different than that of -tocopherol or BHA. L. inermis extract was found to consist of the highest concentration of phenolics, catechin, epicatechin, and naringenin. High content of quercetin, myricetin, and kaempferol were identified in Vitex negundo, Centella asiatica, and Sesbania grandiflora extracts, respectively. Luteolin and apigenin, on the other hand, were found in Premna cordifolia and Kaempferia galanga extracts. Strong correlation (R = 0.8613) between total phenolic compounds and total flavonoids (R = 0.8430) and that of antioxidant activity of the extracts were observed. The study revealed that phenolic, in particular flavonoids, may be the main contributors to the antioxidant activity exhibited by the plants.