In Amazonian tropical forests, recent studies have reported increases in aboveground biomass and in primary productivity, as well as shifts in plant species composition favouring fast-growing species over slow-growing ones. This pervasive alteration of mature tropical forests was attributed to global environmental change, such as an increase in atmospheric CO2 concentration, nutrient deposition, temperature, drought frequency, and/or irradiance. We used standardized, repeated measurements of over 2 million trees in ten large (16-52 ha each) forest plots on three continents to evaluate the generality of these findings across tropical forests. Aboveground biomass increased at seven of our ten plots, significantly so at four plots, and showed a large decrease at a single plot. Carbon accumulation pooled across sites was significant (+0.24 MgC ha(-1) y(-1), 95% confidence intervals [0.07, 0.39] MgC ha(-1) y(-1)), but lower than reported previously for Amazonia. At three sites for which we had data for multiple census intervals, we found no concerted increase in biomass gain, in conflict with the increased productivity hypothesis. Over all ten plots, the fastest-growing quartile of species gained biomass (+0.33 [0.09, 0.55] % y(-1)) compared with the tree community as a whole (+0.15 % y(-1)); however, this significant trend was due to a single plot. Biomass of slow-growing species increased significantly when calculated over all plots (+0.21 [0.02, 0.37] % y(-1)), and in half of our plots when calculated individually. Our results do not support the hypothesis that fast-growing species are consistently increasing in dominance in tropical tree communities. Instead, they suggest that our plots may be simultaneously recovering from past disturbances and affected by changes in resource availability. More long-term studies are necessary to clarify the contribution of global change to the functioning of tropical forests.
Coptotermes gestroi, the Asian subterranean termite (AST), is an economically important structural and agricultural pest that has become established in many areas of the world. For the first time, phylogeography was used to illuminate the origins of new found C. gestroi in the US Commonwealth of Puerto Rico; Ohio, USA; Florida, USA; and Brisbane, Australia. Phylogenetic relationships of C. gestroi collected in indigenous locations within Malaysia, Thailand, and Singapore as well as from the four areas of introduction were investigated using three genes (16S rRNA, COII, and ITS) under three optimality criteria encompassing phenetic and cladistic assumptions (maximum parsimony, maximum likelihood, and neighbor-joining). All three genes showed consistent support for a close genetic relationship between C. gestroi samples from Singapore and Ohio, whereas termite samples from Australia, Puerto Rico, and Key West, FL were more closely related to those from Malaysia. Shipping records further substantiated that Singapore and Malaysia were the likely origin of the Ohio and Australia C. gestroi, respectively. These data provide support for using phylogeography to understand the dispersal history of exotic termites. Serendipitously, we also gained insights into concerted evolution in an ITS cluster from rhinotermitid species in two genera.
Zika virus (ZIKV) causes no-to-mild symptoms or severe neurological disorders. To investigate the importance of viral and host genetic variations in determining ZIKV infection outcomes, we created three full-length infectious cDNA clones as bacterial artificial chromosomes for each of three spatiotemporally distinct and genetically divergent ZIKVs: MR-766 (Uganda, 1947), P6-740 (Malaysia, 1966), and PRVABC-59 (Puerto Rico, 2015). Using the three molecularly cloned ZIKVs, together with 13 ZIKV region-specific polyclonal antibodies covering nearly the entire viral protein-coding region, we made three conceptual advances: (i) We created a comprehensive genome-wide portrait of ZIKV gene products and their related species, with several previously undescribed gene products identified in the case of all three molecularly cloned ZIKVs. (ii) We found that ZIKV has a broad cell tropism in vitro, being capable of establishing productive infection in 16 of 17 animal cell lines from 12 different species, although its growth kinetics varied depending on both the specific virus strain and host cell line. More importantly, we identified one ZIKV-non-susceptible bovine cell line that has a block in viral entry but fully supports the subsequent post-entry steps. (iii) We showed that in mice, the three molecularly cloned ZIKVs differ in their neuropathogenicity, depending on the particular combination of viral and host genetic backgrounds, as well as in the presence or absence of type I/II interferon signaling. Overall, our findings demonstrate the impact of viral and host genetic variations on the replication kinetics and neuropathogenicity of ZIKV and provide multiple avenues for developing and testing medical countermeasures against ZIKV.
"A tentative approximation of the expectation of life at 60-65 years, for populations with defective demographic statistics, is explored and expounded on the basis of a recent Horiuchi and [Coale] paper." The method is applied to data for El Salvador, Mexico, Puerto Rico, and Peninsular Malaysia, and it is shown that the method can be used on actual data, although it requires some drastic rounding off. (summary in ENG, FRE)