The Pictet-Spengler (PS) reaction constructs plant alkaloids such as morphine and camptothecin, but it has not yet been noticed in the fungal kingdom. Here, a silent fungal Pictet-Spenglerase (FPS) gene of Chaetomium globosum 1C51 residing in Epinephelus drummondhayi guts is described and ascertained to be activable by 1-methyl-L-tryptophan (1-MT). The activated FPS expression enables the PS reaction between 1-MT and flavipin (fungal aldehyde) to form "unnatural" natural products with unprecedented skeletons, of which chaetoglines B and F are potently antibacterial with the latter inhibiting acetylcholinesterase. A gene-implied enzyme inhibition (GIEI) strategy has been introduced to address the key steps for PS product diversifications. In aggregation, the work designs and validates an innovative approach that can activate the PS reaction-based fungal biosynthetic machinery to produce unpredictable compounds of unusual and novel structure valuable for new biology and biomedicine.
Aquaculture is the fastest growing food sector and continues to expand alongside terrestrial crop and livestock production. Using portfolio theory as a conceptual framework, we explore how current interconnections between the aquaculture, crop, livestock, and fisheries sectors act as an impediment to, or an opportunity for, enhanced resilience in the global food system given increased resource scarcity and climate change. Aquaculture can potentially enhance resilience through improved resource use efficiencies and increased diversification of farmed species, locales of production, and feeding strategies. However, aquaculture's reliance on terrestrial crops and wild fish for feeds, its dependence on freshwater and land for culture sites, and its broad array of environmental impacts diminishes its ability to add resilience. Feeds for livestock and farmed fish that are fed rely largely on the same crops, although the fraction destined for aquaculture is presently small (∼4%). As demand for high-value fed aquaculture products grows, competition for these crops will also rise, as will the demand for wild fish as feed inputs. Many of these crops and forage fish are also consumed directly by humans and provide essential nutrition for low-income households. Their rising use in aquafeeds has the potential to increase price levels and volatility, worsening food insecurity among the most vulnerable populations. Although the diversification of global food production systems that includes aquaculture offers promise for enhanced resilience, such promise will not be realized if government policies fail to provide adequate incentives for resource efficiency, equity, and environmental protection.
The Li-Fraumeni syndrome (LFS) and its variant form (LFL) is a familial predisposition to multiple forms of childhood, adolescent, and adult cancers associated with germ-line mutation in the TP53 tumor suppressor gene. Individual disparities in tumor patterns are compounded by acceleration of cancer onset with successive generations. It has been suggested that this apparent anticipation pattern may result from germ-line genomic instability in TP53 mutation carriers, causing increased DNA copy-number variations (CNVs) with successive generations. To address the genetic basis of phenotypic disparities of LFS/LFL, we performed whole-genome sequencing (WGS) of 13 subjects from two generations of an LFS kindred. Neither de novo CNV nor significant difference in total CNV was detected in relation with successive generations or with age at cancer onset. These observations were consistent with an experimental mouse model system showing that trp53 deficiency in the germ line of father or mother did not increase CNV occurrence in the offspring. On the other hand, individual records on 1,771 TP53 mutation carriers from 294 pedigrees were compiled to assess genetic anticipation patterns (International Agency for Research on Cancer TP53 database). No strictly defined anticipation pattern was observed. Rather, in multigeneration families, cancer onset was delayed in older compared with recent generations. These observations support an alternative model for apparent anticipation in which rare variants from noncarrier parents may attenuate constitutive resistance to tumorigenesis in the offspring of TP53 mutation carriers with late cancer onset.
The extent of Dipterocarp rainforests on the emergent Sundaland landmass in Southeast Asia during Quaternary glaciations remains a key question. A better understanding of the biogeographic history of Sundaland could help explain current patterns of biodiversity and support the development of effective forest conservation strategies. Dipterocarpaceae trees dominate the rainforests of Sundaland, and their distributions serve as a proxy for rainforest extent. We used species distribution models (SDMs) of 317 Dipterocarp species to estimate the geographic extent of appropriate climatic conditions for rainforest on Sundaland at the last glacial maximum (LGM). The SDMs suggest that the climate of central Sundaland at the LGM was suitable to sustain Dipterocarp rainforest, and that the presence of a previously suggested transequatorial savannah corridor at that time is unlikely. Our findings are supported by palynologic evidence, dynamic vegetation models, extant mammal and termite communities, vascular plant fatty acid stable isotopic compositions, and stable carbon isotopic compositions of cave guano profiles. Although Dipterocarp species richness was generally lower at the LGM, areas of high species richness were mostly found off the current islands and on the emergent Sunda Shelf, indicating substantial species migration and mixing during the transitions between the Quaternary glacial maxima and warm periods such as the present.
Environmental factors clearly affect colorectal cancer (CRC) incidence, but the mechanisms through which these factors function are unknown. One prime candidate is an altered colonic microbiota. Here we show that the mucosal microbiota organization is a critical factor associated with a subset of CRC. We identified invasive polymicrobial bacterial biofilms (bacterial aggregates), structures previously associated with nonmalignant intestinal pathology, nearly universally (89%) on right-sided tumors (13 of 15 CRCs, 4 of 4 adenomas) but on only 12% of left-sided tumors (2 of 15 CRCs, 0 of 2 adenomas). Surprisingly, patients with biofilm-positive tumors, whether cancers or adenomas, all had biofilms on their tumor-free mucosa far distant from their tumors. Bacterial biofilms were associated with diminished colonic epithelial cell E-cadherin and enhanced epithelial cell IL-6 and Stat3 activation, as well as increased crypt epithelial cell proliferation in normal colon mucosa. High-throughput sequencing revealed no consistent bacterial genus associated with tumors, regardless of biofilm status. However, principal coordinates analysis revealed that biofilm communities on paired normal mucosa, distant from the tumor itself, cluster with tumor microbiomes as opposed to biofilm-negative normal mucosa bacterial communities also from the tumor host. Colon mucosal biofilm detection may predict increased risk for development of sporadic CRC.
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.
Burkholderia pseudomallei is a Gram-negative soil bacterium that infects both humans and animals. Although cell culture studies have revealed significant insights into factors contributing to virulence and host defense, the interactions between this pathogen and its intact host remain to be elucidated. To gain insights into the host defense responses to B. pseudomallei infection within an intact host, we analyzed the genome-wide transcriptome of infected Caenorhabditis elegans and identified ∼6% of the nematode genes that were significantly altered over a 12-h course of infection. An unexpected feature of the transcriptional response to B. pseudomallei was a progressive increase in the proportion of down-regulated genes, of which ELT-2 transcriptional targets were significantly enriched. ELT-2 is an intestinal GATA transcription factor with a conserved role in immune responses. We demonstrate that B. pseudomallei down-regulation of ELT-2 targets is associated with degradation of ELT-2 protein by the host ubiquitin-proteasome system. Degradation of ELT-2 requires the B. pseudomallei type III secretion system. Together, our studies using an intact host provide evidence for pathogen-mediated host immune suppression through the destruction of a host transcription factor.
Rafflesiaceae, which produce the world's largest flowers, have captivated the attention of biologists for nearly two centuries. Despite their fame, however, the developmental nature of the floral organs in these giants has remained a mystery. Most members of the family have a large floral chamber defined by a diaphragm. The diaphragm encloses the reproductive organs where pollination by carrion flies occurs. In lieu of a functional genetic system to investigate floral development in these highly specialized holoparasites, we used comparative studies of structure, development, and gene-expression patterns to investigate the homology of their floral organs. Our results surprisingly demonstrate that the otherwise similar floral chambers in two Rafflesiaceae subclades, Rafflesia and Sapria, are constructed very differently. In Rafflesia, the diaphragm is derived from the petal whorl. In contrast, in Sapria it is derived from elaboration of a unique ring structure located between the perianth and the stamen whorl, which, although developed to varying degrees among the genera, appears to be a synapomorphy of the Rafflesiaceae. Thus, the characteristic features that define the floral chamber in these closely related genera are not homologous. These differences refute the prevailing hypothesis that similarities between Sapria and Rafflesia are ancestral in the family. Instead, our data indicate that Rafflesia-like and Sapria-like floral chambers represent two distinct derivations of this morphology. The developmental repatterning we identified in Rafflesia, in particular, may have provided architectural reinforcement, which permitted the explosive growth in floral diameter that has arisen secondarily within this subclade.
This article examines two strands of discourse on wild capture fisheries; one that focuses on resource sustainability and environmental impacts, another related to food and nutrition security and human well-being. Available data and research show that, for countries most dependent on fish to meet the nutritional requirements of their population, wild capture fisheries remain the dominant supplier. Although, contrary to popular narratives, the sustainability of these fisheries is not always and everywhere in crisis, securing their sustainability is essential and requires considerable effort across a broad spectrum of fishery systems. An impediment to achieving this is that the current research and policy discourses on environmental sustainability of fisheries and food security remain only loosely and superficially linked. Overcoming this requires adoption of a broader sustainability science paradigm to help harness synergies and negotiate tradeoffs between food security, resource conservation, and macroeconomic development goals. The way society chooses to govern fisheries is, however, an ethical choice, not just a technical one, and we recommend adding an ethical dimension to sustainability science as applied to fisheries.
Kisspeptin, a neuropeptide encoded by the KISS1/Kiss1, and its cognate G protein-coupled receptor, GPR54 (kisspeptin receptor, Kiss-R), are critical for the control of reproduction in vertebrates. We have previously identified two kisspeptin genes (kiss1 and kiss2) in the zebrafish, of which kiss1 neurons are located in the habenula, which project to the median raphe. kiss2 neurons are located in the hypothalamic nucleus and send axonal projections to gonadotropin-releasing hormone neurons and regulate reproductive functions. However, the physiological significance of the Kiss1 expressed in the habenula remains unknown. Here we demonstrate the role of habenular Kiss1 in alarm substance (AS)-induced fear response in the zebrafish. We found that AS-evoked fear experience significantly reduces kiss1 and serotonin-related genes (plasmacytoma expressed transcript 1 and solute carrier family 6, member 4) in the zebrafish. Furthermore, Kiss1 administration suppressed the AS-evoked fear response. To further evaluate the role of Kiss1 in fear response, zebrafish Kiss1 peptide was conjugated to saporin (SAP) to selectively inactivate Kiss-R1-expressing neurons. The Kiss1-SAP injection significantly reduced Kiss1 immunoreactivity and c-fos mRNA in the habenula and the raphe compared with control. Furthermore, 3 d after Kiss1-SAP injection, the fish had a significantly reduced AS-evoked fear response. These findings provide an insight into the role of the habenular kisspeptin system in inhibiting fear.
The Toba supereruption in Sumatra, ∼74 thousand years (ka) ago, was the largest terrestrial volcanic event of the Quaternary. Ash and sulfate aerosols were deposited in both hemispheres, forming a time-marker horizon that can be used to synchronize late Quaternary records globally. A precise numerical age for this event has proved elusive, with dating uncertainties larger than the millennial-scale climate cycles that characterized this period. We report an astronomically calibrated (40)Ar/(39)Ar age of 73.88 ± 0.32 ka (1σ, full external errors) for sanidine crystals extracted from Toba deposits in the Lenggong Valley, Malaysia, 350 km from the eruption source and 6 km from an archaeological site with stone artifacts buried by ash. If these artifacts were made by Homo sapiens, as has been suggested, then our age indicates that modern humans had reached Southeast Asia by ∼74 ka ago. Our (40)Ar/(39)Ar age is an order-of-magnitude more precise than previous estimates, resolving the timing of the eruption to the middle of the cold interval between Dansgaard-Oeschger events 20 and 19, when a peak in sulfate concentration occurred as registered by Greenland ice cores. This peak is followed by a ∼10 °C drop in the Greenland surface temperature over ∼150 y, revealing the possible climatic impact of the eruption. Our (40)Ar/(39)Ar age also provides a high-precision calibration point for other ice, marine, and terrestrial archives containing Toba sulfates and ash, facilitating their global synchronization at unprecedented resolution for a critical period in Earth and human history beyond the range of (14)C dating.
Emerging infectious diseases (EIDs) pose a significant threat to human health, economic stability, and biodiversity. Despite this, the mechanisms underlying disease emergence are still not fully understood, and control measures rely heavily on mitigating the impact of EIDs after they have emerged. Here, we highlight the emergence of a zoonotic Henipavirus, Nipah virus, to demonstrate the interdisciplinary and macroecological approaches necessary to understand EID emergence. Previous work suggests that Nipah virus emerged due to the interaction of the wildlife reservoir (Pteropus spp. fruit bats) with intensively managed livestock. The emergence of this and other henipaviruses involves interactions among a suite of anthropogenic environmental changes, socioeconomic factors, and changes in demography that overlay and interact with the distribution of these pathogens in their wildlife reservoirs. Here, we demonstrate how ecological niche modeling may be used to investigate the potential role of a changing climate on the future risk for Henipavirus emergence. We show that the distribution of Henipavirus reservoirs, and therefore henipaviruses, will likely change under climate change scenarios, a fundamental precondition for disease emergence in humans. We assess the variation among climate models to estimate where Henipavirus host distribution is most likely to expand, contract, or remain stable, presenting new risks for human health. We conclude that there is substantial potential to use this modeling framework to explore the distribution of wildlife hosts under a changing climate. These approaches may directly inform current and future management and surveillance strategies aiming to improve pathogen detection and, ultimately, reduce emergence risk.
Protein profiling has revealed the presence of glacontryphan-M, a peptide toxin identified only in the sea snail genus Conus, in the wings of Hebomoia glaucippe (HG). The wings and body of HG were homogenized and the proteins were extracted and analyzed by 2D gel electrophoresis with subsequent in-gel digestion. Posttranslational protein modifications were detected and analyzed by nano-LC-MS/MS. An antibody was generated against glacontryphan-M, and protein extracts from the wings of HG samples from Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines were tested by immunoblotting. Glacontryphan-M was unambiguously identified in the wings of HG containing the following posttranslational protein modifications: monoglutamylation at E55, methylation at E53, quinone modification at W61, cyanylation at C56, and amidation of the C terminus at G63. Immunoblotting revealed the presence of the toxin in the wings of HG from all origins, showing a single band for glacontryphan-M in HG samples from Malaysia and Philippines and a double band in HG samples from Indonesia. Intriguingly, sequence analysis indicated that the Conus glacontryphan is identical to that of HG. The toxin may function as a defense against diverse predators, including ants, mantes, spiders, lizards, green frogs, and birds.
The dominant cause of malaria in Malaysia is now Plasmodium knowlesi, a zoonotic parasite of cynomolgus macaque monkeys found throughout South East Asia. Comparative genomic analysis of parasites adapted to in vitro growth in either cynomolgus or human RBCs identified a genomic deletion that includes the gene encoding normocyte-binding protein Xa (NBPXa) in parasites growing in cynomolgus RBCs but not in human RBCs. Experimental deletion of the NBPXa gene in parasites adapted to growth in human RBCs (which retain the ability to grow in cynomolgus RBCs) restricted them to cynomolgus RBCs, demonstrating that this gene is selectively required for parasite multiplication and growth in human RBCs. NBPXa-null parasites could bind to human RBCs, but invasion of these cells was severely impaired. Therefore, NBPXa is identified as a key mediator of P. knowlesi human infection and may be a target for vaccine development against this emerging pathogen.
Very short-lived brominated substances (VSLBr) are an important source of stratospheric bromine, an effective ozone destruction catalyst. However, the accurate estimation of the organic and inorganic partitioning of bromine and the input to the stratosphere remains uncertain. Here, we report near-tropopause measurements of organic brominated substances found over the tropical Pacific during the NASA Airborne Tropical Tropopause Experiment campaigns. We combine aircraft observations and a chemistry-climate model to quantify the total bromine loading injected to the stratosphere. Surprisingly, despite differences in vertical transport between the Eastern and Western Pacific, VSLBr (organic + inorganic) contribute approximately similar amounts of bromine [∼6 (4-9) parts per trillion] [corrected] to the stratospheric input at the tropical tropopause. These levels of bromine cause substantial ozone depletion in the lower stratosphere, and any increases in future abundances (e.g., as a result of aquaculture) will lead to larger depletions.
Dengue is a mosquito-transmitted virus infection that causes epidemics of febrile illness and hemorrhagic fever across the tropics and subtropics worldwide. Annual epidemics are commonly observed, but there is substantial spatiotemporal heterogeneity in intensity. A better understanding of this heterogeneity in dengue transmission could lead to improved epidemic prediction and disease control. Time series decomposition methods enable the isolation and study of temporal epidemic dynamics with a specific periodicity (e.g., annual cycles related to climatic drivers and multiannual cycles caused by dynamics in population immunity). We collected and analyzed up to 18 y of monthly dengue surveillance reports on a total of 3.5 million reported dengue cases from 273 provinces in eight countries in Southeast Asia, covering ∼ 10(7) km(2). We detected strong patterns of synchronous dengue transmission across the entire region, most markedly during a period of high incidence in 1997-1998, which was followed by a period of extremely low incidence in 2001-2002. This synchrony in dengue incidence coincided with elevated temperatures throughout the region in 1997-1998 and the strongest El Niño episode of the century. Multiannual dengue cycles (2-5 y) were highly coherent with the Oceanic Niño Index, and synchrony of these cycles increased with temperature. We also detected localized traveling waves of multiannual dengue epidemic cycles in Thailand, Laos, and the Philippines that were dependent on temperature. This study reveals forcing mechanisms that drive synchronization of dengue epidemics on a continental scale across Southeast Asia.
Malaria cases caused by the zoonotic parasite Plasmodium knowlesi are being increasingly reported throughout Southeast Asia and in travelers returning from the region. To test for evidence of signatures of selection or unusual population structure in this parasite, we surveyed genome sequence diversity in 48 clinical isolates recently sampled from Malaysian Borneo and in five lines maintained in laboratory rhesus macaques after isolation in the 1960s from Peninsular Malaysia and the Philippines. Overall genomewide nucleotide diversity (π = 6.03 × 10(-3)) was much higher than has been seen in worldwide samples of either of the major endemic malaria parasite species Plasmodium falciparum and Plasmodium vivax. A remarkable substructure is revealed within P. knowlesi, consisting of two major sympatric clusters of the clinical isolates and a third cluster comprising the laboratory isolates. There was deep differentiation between the two clusters of clinical isolates [mean genomewide fixation index (FST) = 0.21, with 9,293 SNPs having fixed differences of FST = 1.0]. This differentiation showed marked heterogeneity across the genome, with mean FST values of different chromosomes ranging from 0.08 to 0.34 and with further significant variation across regions within several chromosomes. Analysis of the largest cluster (cluster 1, 38 isolates) indicated long-term population growth, with negatively skewed allele frequency distributions (genomewide average Tajima's D = -1.35). Against this background there was evidence of balancing selection on particular genes, including the circumsporozoite protein (csp) gene, which had the top Tajima's D value (1.57), and scans of haplotype homozygosity implicate several genomic regions as being under recent positive selection.
The mangrove forests of Southeast Asia are highly biodiverse and provide multiple ecosystem services upon which millions of people depend. Mangroves enhance fisheries and coastal protection, and store among the highest densities of carbon of any ecosystem globally. Mangrove forests have experienced extensive deforestation owing to global demand for commodities, and previous studies have identified the expansion of aquaculture as largely responsible. The proportional conversion of mangroves to different land use types has not been systematically quantified across Southeast Asia, however, particularly in recent years. In this study we apply a combined geographic information system and remote sensing method to quantify the key proximate drivers (i.e., replacement land uses) of mangrove deforestation in Southeast Asia between 2000 and 2012. Mangrove forests were lost at an average rate of 0.18% per year, which is lower than previously published estimates. In total, more than 100,000 ha of mangroves were removed during the study period, with aquaculture accounting for 30% of this total forest change. The rapid expansion of rice agriculture in Myanmar, and the sustained conversion of mangroves to oil palm plantations in Malaysia and Indonesia, are identified as additional increasing and under-recognized threats to mangrove ecosystems. Our study highlights frontiers of mangrove deforestation in the border states of Myanmar, on Borneo, and in Indonesian Papua. To implement policies that conserve mangrove forests across Southeast Asia, it is essential to consider the national and subnational variation in the land uses that follow deforestation.