In this study, factor analysis (FA) was applied to extract the hidden factors responsible for water quality variations during both wet and dry seasons. Water samples were collected from six sampling stations (St. 1 Lalang River, St. 2 Semeling River, St. 3 Jagung River, St. 4 Teluk Wang River, St. 5 Gelam River and St. 6 Derhaka River) in the Merbok estuary, Malaysia from January to December 2011; the samples were further analysed in the laboratory. Correlation analysis of the data sets showed strong correlations between the parameters. Nutrients such as nitrate (NO3 (-)), nitrite (NO2 (-)), ammonia (NH3) and phosphate (PO4 (3-)) were determined to be critical indicators of water quality throughout the year. Influential water quality parameters during the wet season were conductivity, salinity, biochemical oxygen demand (BOD), dissolved oxygen (DO) and chlorophyll a (Chla), whereas total suspended solid (TSS) and pH were critical water quality indicators during the dry season. The Kruskal-Wallis H test showed that water quality parameters were significantly different among the sampling months and stations (p<0.05), and Mann-Whitney U tests further revealed that the significantly different parameters were temperature, pH, DO, TSS, NO2 (-) and BOD (p<0.01), whereas salinity, conductivity, NO3 (-), PO4 (3-), NH3 and Chla were not significantly different (p>0.05). Water quality parameters in the estuary varied on both temporal and spatial scales and these results may serve as baseline information for estuary management, specifically for the Merbok estuary.
A study on the variation of leaf venation patterns was conducted on 21 taxa of the genus Ficus in Peninsular Malaysia. The results showed the existence of eight leaf venation patterns based on veinlets, the ultimate marginal and areolar venation. The majority of species, such as F. annulata, F. benghalensis, F. benjamina, F. deltoidea var. angustifolia, F. deltoidea var. kunstleri, F. depressa, F. elastica, F. hispida, F. microcarpa, F. religiosa, F. tinctoria, F. ucinata and F. vasculosa, show tri-veinlets. The others exhibit the following: bi-veinlets in F. aurata and F. heteropleura; uni-veinlets in F. lepicarpa, F. schwarzii and F. superba; and simple veinlets in F. aurantiacea and F. fulva. F. sagittata presents no veinlets for areolar venation. The presence of tracheid or swollen veins at the centre of the lamina and the presence of cystolith cells and trichomes are common anatomical characteristics that could assist in group classification of the studied species. Variations in leaf venation patterns are not only valuable in identifying a taxon group, but can also be used to differentiate between species in the genus Ficus.
The hemipteran (Insecta) diversity in the upper part of the Kerian River Basin was low with only 8 families and 16 genera recorded at 4 study sites from 3 rivers. Water bug composition varied among sampling sites (Kruskal-Wallis χ (2) = 0.00, p<0.05) but was not affected by wet-dry seasons (Z = 0.00, p>0.05). All recorded water parameters were weakly associated with generic abundance but the biochemical oxygen demand (BOD), chemical oxygen demand (COD), Water Quality Index (WQI) and heavy metals (zinc and manganese) showed relatively strong positive or negative relations with hemipteran diversity and richness (H' and R2). Within the ranges of measured water parameters, the WQI was negatively associated with hemipteran diversity and richness, implying the tolerance of the water bugs to the level of pollution encountered in the river basin. Based on its highest abundance and occurrence (ISI), Rhagovelia was the most important genus and along with Rheumatogonus and Paraplea, these genera were common at all study sites. In conclusion, habitat availability and suitability together with some environmental parameters influenced the abundance and composition of hemipterans in this river basin.
We examined the olfactory and visual abilities of megachiropteran bats, Cynopterus sphinx, for discrimination of the odour and shape of the banana fruit, Musa sp. We conducted the experiments in captive conditions by offering a selection of ripe bananas, blended bananas and artificial bananas. The behaviour of the bats was observed visually, and the percentage of activity and rest, duration of the first foraging bout, number of feeding attempts and the average duration of successful attempts was recorded for each bat. The bats exhibited an increased number of visits to ripe bananas and blended banana fruits. However, the artificial fruit did not evoke any response. Our study suggests that odour cues are more important than visual cues for the location of fruits by C. sphinx.
The oil palm seed production unit that generates germinated oil palm seeds is the first link in the palm oil supply chain, followed by the nursery to produce seedling, the plantation to produce fresh fruit bunches (FFB), the mill to produce crude palm oil (CPO) and palm kernel, the kernel crushers to produce crude palm kernel oil (CPKO), the refinery to produce refined palm oil (RPO) and finally the palm biodiesel plant to produce palm biodiesel. This assessment aims to investigate the life cycle assessment (LCA) of germinated oil palm seeds and the use of LCA to identify the stage/s in the production of germinated oil palm seeds that could contribute to the environmental load. The method for the life cycle impact assessment (LCIA) is modelled using SimaPro version 7, (System for Integrated environMental Assessment of PROducts), an internationally established tool used by LCA practitioners. This software contains European and US databases on a number of materials in addition to a variety of European- and US-developed impact assessment methodologies. LCA was successfully conducted for five seed production units and it was found that the environmental impact for the production of germinated oil palm was not significant. The characterised results of the LCIA for the production of 1000 germinated oil palm seeds showed that fossil fuel was the major impact category followed by respiratory inorganics and climate change.
This study aimed to assess the concentrations of cadmium (Cd), nickel (Ni) and lead (Pb) in the tissues of fish collected from the lower reach of the Kelantan River, Malaysia. Fishes were collected using gill nets during the dry and wet seasons. A total of 78 individual fish were caught and comprised 6 families, 11 genera and 13 species. The dorsal muscle was analysed using a graphite furnace Atomic Absorption Spectrometer (AAS). The mean concentration of Cd in Chitala chitala (0.076 mg/kg) was above the critical limit values of the European Commission (EC), World Health Organization (WHO) and Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). The mean concentrations of Cd in Barbonymus gonionatus and Tachysurus maculatus were already at the level of concern, whereas the other species were approaching the limits of permissible levels. No fish samples were found to have a Ni level higher than the permissible limit of 0.5-0.6 mg/kg set by the WHO (1985). Osteochilus hasseltii (0.169 mg/kg) and T. maculatus (0.156 mg/kg) showed high Pb concentrations. The concentrations of heavy metals were found to be elevated in the wet season (p<0.05). Omnivorous fish were detected with elevated concentrations of Cd and Ni, whereas carnivorous fish had the highest concentration of Pb. The concentrations of Cd and Pb in fish tissues were positively correlated with fish weight (p<0.05). This study determined that the fish species caught in the Kelantan River were contaminated with non-essential metals (Cd, Ni and Pb). Nevertheless, the heavy metal concentration in the fish tissues, with the exception of C. chitala, O. hasseltii and T. maculatus, did not exceed the EC, FAO, Malaysian Food Act (MFA) or WHO guidelines.
THE DIVERSITIES OF MANGROVE TREES AND OF THEIR ASSOCIATED GASTROPODS WERE ASSESSED FOR TWO MANGROVE REGIONS ON THE WEST COAST OF PENINSULAR MALAYSIA: Langkawi Island and Sungai Merbok. The mangrove area sampled on Langkawi Island was recently logged and replanted, whereas the area sampled in Sungai Merbok was part of a protected nature reserve. Mangrove and gastropod diversity were assessed in four 50 m(2) (10 × 5 m) sites per region. The species richness (S), Shannon Index (H') and Evenness Index (J') were calculated for each site, and the mean S, H' and J' values were calculated for each region. We report low tree and gastropod S, H' and J' values in all sites from both regions. For Langkawi Island, the mean S, H' and J' values for mangrove trees were S = 2.00±0, H' = 0.44±0.17 and J' = 0.44±0.17; the mean S, H' and J' values for gastropods were S = 4.00±1.63, H' = 0.96±0.41 and J' = 0.49±0.06. In Sungai Merbok, the mean S, H' and J' values for mangrove trees were S = 1.33±0.58, H' = 0.22±0.39 and J' = 0.22 ±0.39; the mean S, H' and J' values for gastropods were S = 4.75±2.22, H' = 1.23±0.63 and J' = 0.55±0.12. This study emphasises the need for baseline biodiversity measures to be established in mangrove ecosystems to track the impacts of anthropogenic disturbances and to inform management and restoration efforts.
The acute and sub-chronic antihyperglycaemic activity, safety margin evaluations and chemical composition of ethanol extract (EE) and fractions of Gynura procumbens (GP) were studied. Streptozotocin (STZ)-induced diabetic rats (SDRs) and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) guidelines 425 and 407 were used in the antidiabetic and toxicity studies, respectively. Biochemical and haematological data obtained from both acute and sub-chronic procedures suggest that the extract is safe at the limit test dose (2000 mg/kg); thus, the oral lethal dose (LD50) exceeds 2000 mg/kg. The acceptable daily intake (ADI) was determined to be 700 mg/kg/day. In the acute antihyperglycaemic study, the n-butanol fraction (n-BF) was found to consistently lower glucose levels the most effectively, which was also demonstrated in the 14-day study. Not only did the n-BF show the highest dose-dependent glucose-lowering action (51.2% and 62.0% at 500 mg/kg and 1000 mg/kg, respectively), its effect was the closest to that of metformin (63.6%, p<0.05). The estimated amount of flavonoids in n-BF were 62.90% and 79.68% higher than the ethyl acetate fraction (EAF) and aqueous fraction (AF), respectively (p<0.05), with a corresponding value of 61.22% and 49.33% for phenolics (p<0.05). GP leaves have a no-observed-adverse-effect-level (NOAEL) and antihyperglycaemic activity corresponding to the high content of phenols and flavonoids. Therefore, GP leaves are a promising source of new antidiabetic natural products.
A field study was performed to describe the functional feeding groups (FFGs) of Ephemeroptera, Plecoptera and Trichoptera (EPT) in the Tupah, Batu Hampar and Teroi Rivers in the Gunung Jerai Forest Reserve (GJFR), Kedah, Malaysia. Twenty-nine genera belonging to 19 families were identified. The EPTs were classified into five FFGs: collector-gatherers (CG), collector-filterers (CF), shredders (SH), scrapers (SC) and predators (P). In this study, CG and CF were the dominant groups inhabiting all three rivers. Ephemeroptera dominated these rivers due to their high abundance, and they were also the CG (90.6%). SC were the lowest in abundance among all groups. Based on the FFGs, the Teroi River was suitable for CG, whereas the Tupah and Batu Hampar Rivers were suitable for CG and CF. The distribution of FFGs differed among the rivers (CG, χ(2) = 23.6, p = 0.00; SH, χ(2) = 10.02, p = 0.007; P, χ(2) = 25.54, p = 0.00; CF, χ(2) = 21.95, p = 0.00; SC, χ(2) = 9.31, p = 0.01). These findings indicated that the FFGs found in rivers of the GJFR represent high river quality.
We conducted a series of experiments to test the numerical competency of two species of birds, Corvus splendens (House Crow) and Acridotheres tristis (Common Myna). Both species were allowed to choose from seven different groups of mealworms with varying proportions. We considered the birds to have made a correct choice when it selected the food group with the highest number of mealworms. Our overall results indicated that the Common Myna is able to count numbers (161 successful choices out of 247 trials) better than House Crows (133 successful choices out of 241 trials). We suspect that House Crows do not rely on a numerical sense when selecting food. Although House Crows mostly chose the cup with more mealworms (from seven food item proportions), only one proportion was chosen at rate above random chance. The Common Myna, however, were slow performers at the beginning but became increasingly more capable of numerical sense during the remainder of the experiment (four out of seven food proportion groups were chosen at a rate above random chance).
The mass mortality of cobia (Rachycentron canadum) within 2-3 days was reported by 3 private farms in Bukit Tambun, Pulau Pinang, in February and March 2007. Only cobia with body weights of 3-4 kg were affected. Most diseased cobia swam on the surface and displayed flashing behaviour. All samples were positive for viral nervous necrosis (VNN) with low to medium levels of infection. Infestations by leeches (Zeylanicobdella arugamensis), body monogeneans (Benedenia sp.) and copepods (Caligus sp.) were also found, but no pathogenic bacteria were isolated. All water quality parameters monitored were within optimal ranges for culturing cobia. The main causes of high mortality in cobia remain unclear during the study. However, we believe that the mass mortality of cobia could be probably due to VNN infection and that the rate of mortality will increase further when cobia are subjected to aquaculture-related stresses (e.g., limited space). Traditional cages with a size of 2 (length) × 2 (width) × 1 m (depth) should only be used for rearing cobia below 1 kg in weight given the species' natural behaviours. In addition, cobia fingerlings should be screened for VNN prior to stocking them in cages.
Three Malaysian ginger cultivars (Bukit Tinggi, Tanjung Sepat and Sabah) were collected and examined for genetic polymorphisms using microsatellite DNA primers. The single microsatellite oligonucleotide primers (CATA)5, (GATA)5 and (GAC)6 were used in polymerase chain reactions (PCRs). These PCR reactions produced 7 polymorphic bands with an average of 2.334 polymorphic bands per primer, leading to an average polymorphism rate of 17.9%. Cluster analysis revealed 87.50% similarity between Bukit Tinggi and Tanjung Sepat, 64.27% similarity between Bukit Tinggi and Sabah and 56.25% similarity between Tanjung Sepat and Sabah. DNA sequencing of the polymorphic PCR products of Tanjung Sepat ginger revealed the characteristic features of a putative new gene: a core promoter sequence, an enhancer and a transcription start site. Cluster analysis using the unweighted pair group method with arithmetic average (UPGMA) was used to construct a phylogenetic tree, which indicated that Bukit Tinggi ginger is genetically more closely related to Tanjung Sepat ginger than to Sabah ginger. Based on the results of this study, we concluded that there is genotypic variation among ginger cultivars, and the microsatellite DNA primers described here are useful for detecting polymorphic DNA in Malaysian ginger cultivars. Additionally, these microsatellite DNA primers may be used as molecular markers for discriminating among select Malaysian ginger cultivars.
Taman Negara Pulau Pinang (Penang National Park) is the only site on Pulau Pinang that supports a large population of the White-bellied Sea-eagle (WBSE) Haliaeetus leucogaster; however, the nesting sites of WBSEs have not been widely studied. As information on the location of WBSE nesting sites is very important for conservation works by local authorities, the objective of this study was to determine the distribution of nesting WBSEs in the coastal dipterocarp forest of Penang National Park. Surveys were conducted from December 2007 to July 2008 and October 2008 to April 2009, covering the breeding season of the species (September-July). The nesting sites were observed by boat along the coastline of Penang National Park and by performing ground surveys along the seashore at accessible areas; the nest survey was conducted three days/month from 0900 to 1500. A total of 34 WBSE nesting sites was located. Most of the occupied nests (seven nests) were found at Muka Head and Pantai Kerachut areas, which exhibit the densest concentration of occupied WBSE habitat in Penang National Park. WBSEs preferred to build their nests around Muka Head, which could be due to the frequent occurrence of whirlpools in the water body around that area. Aquatic animals, such as sea snakes and fish, stunned by the whirlpools would emerge to the sea surface, facilitating the foraging and feeding of WBSEs. Our results indicate that it is important to maintain and improve areas of suitable nesting habitat for WBSEs. Management actions should include (1) the yearly monitoring of known breeding sites throughout Penang National Park during the breeding season to determine breeding success over time, (2) recognising the critical habitat or nest-site selection of WBSEs, (3) establishment of a buffer zone surrounding nesting sites and potential habitat from human disturbance, and (4) encouraging on-going research to further understand this species.
Nine soil samples from nine buildings infested with Coptotermes gestroi in Pulau Pinang, Malaysia, were tested for the type of soil texture. The soil texture analysis procedures used the hydrometer method. Four of nine buildings (44%) yielded loamy sand-type soil, whereas five of nine buildings (56%) contained sandy loam-type soil.
Fungal endophytes are found inside host plants but do not produce any noticeable disease symptoms in their host. In the present study, endophytic Fusarium species were isolated from roots of lawn grass (Axonopus compressus). A total of 51 isolates were recovered from 100 root segments. Two Fusarium species, F. oxysporum (53%) and F. solani (47%), were identified based on macroconidia and conidiogenous cell morphology. The detection of endophytic F. oxysporum and F. solani in the roots of lawn grass contributes to the knowledge of both the distribution of the two Fusarium species and the importance of roots as endophytic niches for Fusarium species.
Fruit phenotypes are often hypothesised to be affected by selection by frugivores. Here, we tested two hypotheses concerning frugivore-fruit interactions from the perspective of fruit colours. We measured the spectral properties of 26 fruits and the associated leaves of plants from 2 islands in New Zealand. Visual observations were also performed to record the birds that fed on the fruits. First, we tested the fruit-foliage hypothesis, where fruit colours are assumed to be evolutionarily constrained by their own leaf colour to maximise colour contrast and fruit conspicuousness. We ran a null model analysis comparing fruit colour contrast using an avian eye model. Second, we tested the frugivore specificity hypothesis, where specific fruit colours are thought to be connected with a specific bird frugivore. We performed a regression on the number of bird visits against the fruit colour in tetrahedral colour space based on an avian eye calculation using Mantel's test. The results show that fruit colours are not constrained by their own leaf colours. There is also no relationship or pattern suggesting a link between a specific fruit colour and specific bird visitors. We suggest that although fruit colour is one of the most highly discussed components, it is not the most important single deciding factor in frugivore fruit selection.
Staphylococcus kloosii, an orange pigment-producing bacterium, was isolated from the respiratory tree of Holothuria (Mertensiothuria) leucospilota (Brandt 1835) from Teluk Nipah, Pangkor Island, Perak, Malaysia. This report is the first documentation of this Gram-positive strain, referred to as Strain 68 in Malaysia. A partial 16S ribosomal RNA gene sequence of the mesophilic strain has been registered with GenBank (National Center for Biotechnology Information, US National Library of Medicine) with accession number JX102547. Phylogenetic analysis using the neighbour-joining method further supported the identification of Strain 68 as S. kloosii. The circular strain produced orange pigments on tryptone glucose yeast extract agar (TGYEA) and in nutrient broth (NB) at approximately pH 7. The visible spectra of ethanolic and methanolic pigment extracts of the bacterial strain were considered identical with λmax at 426, 447 and 475 nm and λmax at 426, 445 and 473 nm, respectively. Both visible spectra resemble the visible spectra of lutein, which is a commercial carotenoid; however, further analyses are required to confirm the identity of this pigment. The methanolic extracts of the intracellular pigments comprised at least three pigment compounds: an orange pigment compound (major compound), a yellow pigment compound (the least polar) and a pink pigment compound (the most polar). These findings are the first documentation of the pigment composition of S. kloosii as no such record could be found to date.
In this study, Centella asiatica and surface soils were collected from 12 sampling sites in Peninsular Malaysia, and the barium (Ba) concentrations were determined. The Ba concentration [μg/g dry weight (dw)] was 63.72 to 382.01 μg/g in soils while in C. asiatica, Ba concentrations ranged from 5.05 to 21.88 μg/g for roots, 3.31 to 11.22 μg/g for leaves and 2.37 to 6.14 μg/g for stems. In C. asiatica, Ba accumulation was found to be the highest in roots followed by leaves and stems. The correlation coefficients (r) of Ba between plants and soils were found to be significantly positively correlated, with the highest correlation being between roots-soils (r=0.922, p<005), followed by leaves-soils (r=0.890, p<005) and stems-soils (r=0.848, p<005). This indicates that these three parts of C. asiatica are good biomonitors of Ba pollution. For the transplantation study, four sites were selected as unpolluted [(Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM)], semi-polluted (Seri Kembangan and Balakong) and polluted sites (Juru). Based on the transplantation study under experimental field and laboratory conditions, Ba concentrations in C. asiatica were significantly (p<0.05) higher after three weeks of exposure at Seri Kembangan, Balakong and Juru. Thus, these experimental findings confirm that the leaves, stems and roots of C. asiatica can reflect the Ba levels in the soils where this plant is found. Three weeks after back transplantation to clean soils, the Ba levels in C. asiatica were still higher than the initial Ba level even though Ba elimination occurred. In conclusion, the leaves, stems and roots of C. asiatica are good biomonitors of Ba pollution.
The distribution of benthic Foraminifera throughout the coastal waters of Taman Negara Pulau Pinang (Penang National Park), Malaysia was studied to assess the impact of various anthropogenic activities, such as fishing, ecotourism and floating cage culture. Samples were obtained at 200 m intervals within the subtidal zone, extending up to 1200 m offshore at Teluk Bahang, Teluk Aling, Teluk Ketapang and Pantai Acheh. The depth within coastal waters ranged between 1.5 m and 10.0 m, with predominantly muddy substrate at most stations. Water quality analysis showed little variation in micronutrient (nitrite, NO2; nitrate, NO3; ammonia, NH4 and orthophosphate, PO4) concentrations between sampling stations. Temperature (29.6±0.48°C), salinity (29.4±0.28 ppt), dissolved oxygen content (5.4±0.95 mg/l) and pH (8.5± 0.13) also showed little fluctuation between stations. A total of nine genera of foraminifera were identified in the study (i.e., Ammonia, Elphidium, Ammobaculites, Bigenerina, Quinqueloculina, Reopax, Globigerina, Textularia and Nonion). The distribution of benthic foraminifera was dominated by opportunistic groups that have a high tolerance to anthropogenic stressors. Ammonia had the highest frequency of occurrence (84.7%), followed by Bigenerina (50%), Ammobaculites (44.2%) and Elphidium (38.9%). The Ammonia-Elphidium Index (AEI) was used to describe the hypoxic condition of benthic communities at all sites. Teluk Bahang had the highest AEI value. The foraminiferal assemblages and distribution in Teluk Bahang, Teluk Aling, Teluk Ketapang and Pantai Acheh showed no correlation with physical or chemical environmental parameters.
Heterologous prime-boost immunisation strategies can evoke powerful antibody responses and may be of value in developing an improved malaria vaccine. Herein, we show that an immunisation protocol that primes Balb/c mice with a recombinant Bacille Calmette-Guérin (rBCG) vaccine consisting of a plasmid encoding a synthetic fragment of the ESAT-6 epitope of Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the fragment 2 region II of erythrocyte-binding antigen (F2RIIEBA) and the three repeat sequences of the circumsporozoite protein (NANP)3 of Plasmodium falciparum before subsequently boosting the mice with either two doses of the rBCG clone or with a DNA vaccine expressing the native form of F2RIIEBA generating higher serum anti-F2RIIEBA antibody levels than an immunisation protocol that calls for a homologous prime-boost with two doses of rBCG. These results demonstrate the potential of DNA vaccination in boosting the antibody response to a recombinant vaccine expressing multiple epitopes.