Three species of Nepenthes pitcher plants from Borneo engage in a mutualistic interaction with mountain tree shrews, the basis of which is the exchange of nutritional resources. The plants produce modified "toilet pitchers" that produce copious amounts of exudates, the latter serving as a food source for tree shrews. The exudates are only accessible to the tree shrews when they position their hindquarters over the pitcher orifice. Tree shrews mark valuable resources with faeces and regularly defecate into the pitchers when they visit them to feed. Faeces represent a valuable source of nitrogen for these Nepenthes species, but there are many facets of the mutualism that are yet to be investigated. These include, but are not limited to, seasonal variation in exudate production rates by the plants, behavioral ecology of visiting tree shrews, and the mechanism by which the plants signal to tree shrews that their pitchers represent a food source. Further research into this extraordinary animal-plant interaction is required to gain a better understanding of the benefits to the participating species.
Figs (Ficus spp.) and their species-specific pollinators, the fig wasps (Agaonidae), have coevolved one of the most intricate interactions found in nature, in which the fig wasps, in return for pollination services, raise their offspring in the fig inflorescence. Fig wasps, however, have very short adult lives and hence are dependent on the near-continuous production of inflorescences to maintain their populations. From January to March 1998 northern Borneo suffered a very severe drought linked to the El Niño-Southern Oscillation event of 1997-1998. This caused a substantial break in the production of inflorescences on dioecious figs and led to the local extinction of their pollinators at Lambir Hills National Park, Sarawak, Malaysia. Most pollinators had not recolonized six months after the drought and, given the high level of endemism and wide extent of the drought, some species may be totally extinct. Cascading effects on vertebrate seed dispersers, for which figs are often regarded as keystone resources, and the tree species dependent on their services are also likely. This has considerable implications for the maintenance of biodiversity under a scenario of climate change and greater climatic extremes.
Mycorrhiza, a mutualistic association between fungi and higher plants, has been documented extensively, but much less is known about the development of arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungi and their effects on the growth of peanuts (Arachis hypogea L.). Therefore, the mycorrhizal status of Glomus spp. was investigated in the following diverse substrate soil conditions: non-autoclaved soil, autoclaved soil and autoclaved soil plus soil microbiota. The results indicated that both the arbuscular mycorrhizae, Glomus mosseae (Nicol. & Gerd.) Gerd. & Trappe, and Glomus fasciculatum (Thaxter) Gerd. & Trappe emend. Walker & Koske were infective to peanut, but displayed a differential impact on peanut growth depending on the microbial biomass content of the substrate soils. G. mosseae proved to be the most effective at improving peanut growth.
The system of rice intensification (SRI) is an agroecological approach to rice cultivation that seeks to create optimal conditions for healthy plant growth by minimizing inter-plant competition, transplanting widely spaced young single seedlings, and optimizing favorable soil conditions with organic amendments, increased soil aeration by weeding, and controlled water management. These practices improve rice plant growth with yields up to three times more than with conventional cultivation methods, and increase crop resilience under biotic and abiotic stresses. This review discusses the roles of beneficial microbes in improving rice plant growth, yield, and resilience when SRI practices are used, and how these modifications in plant, soil, water, and nutrient management affect the populations and diversity of soil microorganisms. Mechanisms whereby symbiotic microbes support rice plants' growth and performance are also discussed.
A frequent observation in plant-animal mutualistic networks is that abundant species tend to be more generalised, interacting with a broader range of interaction partners than rare species. Uncovering the causal relationship between abundance and generalisation has been hindered by a chicken-and-egg dilemma: is generalisation a by-product of being abundant, or does high abundance result from generalisation? Here, we analyse a database of plant-pollinator and plant-seed disperser networks, and provide strong evidence that the causal link between abundance and generalisation is uni-directional. Specifically, species appear to be generalists because they are more abundant, but the converse, that is that species become more abundant because they are generalists, is not supported by our analysis. Furthermore, null model analyses suggest that abundant species interact with many other species simply because they are more likely to encounter potential interaction partners.
Some ants display rescue behaviour, which is performed by nearby nestmates and directed at individuals in danger. Here, using several ant species, we demonstrate that rescue behaviour expression matches predicted occurrences based on certain aspects of species' ecological niches. Rescue occurred in sand-dwelling ants exposed both to co-occurring antlion larvae, representing the threat of being captured by a predator, and to nest cave-ins, representing the threat of being trapped in a collapsed nest chamber. Rescue also occurred in forest groundcover ants exposed to certain entrapment situations. However, rescue never occurred in species associated with open plains, which nest in hardened soils and forage largely on herbaceous plants, or in ants living in close mutualistic relationships with their host plants. In addition, because we tested each species in two types of tests, antlion larva capture tests and artificial entrapment tests, we highlight the importance of accounting for test context in studying rescue behaviour expression.
Understanding how species assemble into communities is a key goal in ecology. However, assembly rules are rarely tested experimentally, and their ability to shape real communities is poorly known. We surveyed a diverse community of epiphyte-dwelling ants and found that similar-sized species co-occurred less often than expected. Laboratory experiments demonstrated that invasion was discouraged by the presence of similarly sized resident species. The size difference for which invasion was less likely was the same as that for which wild species exhibited reduced co-occurrence. Finally we explored whether our experimentally derived assembly rules could simulate realistic communities. Communities simulated using size-based species assembly exhibited diversities closer to wild communities than those simulated using size-independent assembly, with results being sensitive to the combination of rules employed. Hence, species segregation in the wild can be driven by competitive species assembly, and this process is sufficient to generate observed species abundance distributions for tropical epiphyte-dwelling ants.
Biology of Termites: A Modern Synthesis (Bignell DE, Roisin Y, Lo N, (Editors), Springer, Dordrecht, 576pp, ISBN 978-90-481-3976-7, e-ISBN 978-90-481-3977-4, DOI 10.1007/978-90-481-3977-4) was published in 2011. With the agreement of the publishers, we give a taxonomic index of the book comprising 494 termite entries, 103 entries of other multicellular animal species mentioned as associates or predators of termites, with 9 fungal, 60 protist, and 64 prokaryote identities, which are listed as termite symbionts (sensu stricto). In addition, we add descriptive authorities for living (and some fossil) termite genera and species. Higher taxonomic groupings for termites are indicated by 25 code numbers. Microorganisms (prokaryotes, protists, and fungi) are listed separately, using broad modern taxonomic affiliations from the contemporary literature of bacteriology, protozoology, and mycology.
Wolbachia is an alpha-proteobacterial symbiont widely distributed in arthropods. Since the identification of Wolbachia in certain animal-parasitic nematodes (the Onchocercidae or filariae), the relationship between arthropod and nematode Wolbachia has attracted great interest. The obligate symbiosis in filariae, which renders infected species susceptible to antibiotic chemotherapy, was held to be distinct from the Wolbachia-arthropod relationship, typified by reproductive parasitism. While co-evolutionary signatures in Wolbachia-arthropod symbioses are generally weak, reflecting horizontal transmission events, strict co-evolution between filariae and Wolbachia has been reported previously. However, the absence of close outgroups for phylogenetic studies prevented the determination of which host group originally acquired Wolbachia. Here, we present the largest co-phylogenetic analysis of Wolbachia in filariae performed to date including: (i) a screening and an updated phylogeny of Wolbachia; (ii) a co-phylogenetic analysis; and (iii) a hypothesis on the acquisition of Wolbachia infection. First, our results show a general overestimation of Wolbachia occurrence and support the hypothesis of an ancestral absence of infection in the nematode phylum. The accuracy of supergroup J is also underlined. Second, although a global pattern of coevolution remains, the signal is derived predominantly from filarial clades associated with Wolbachia in supergroups C and J. In other filarial clades, harbouring Wolbachia supergroups D and F, horizontal acquisitions and secondary losses are common. Finally, our results suggest that supergroup C is the basal Wolbachia clade within the Ecdysozoa. This hypothesis on the origin of Wolbachia would change drastically our understanding of Wolbachia evolution.
Industrial statistics is an important part of the management system in any industry that strives to continuously improve quality and increase productivity and efficiency. That system covers supply chain management, production design and prototyping, production process and marketing. Industrial statisticians, industrial engineers and industrial leaders should work together hand in hand, in the same language, to ensure that the process and products are as expected. The system itself is never complete. Thus, the usefulness, manageability and reliability of all statistical models used in the system are to be considered as first priority, but those skills are not sufficient. Industrial statisticians should also, of course, be able to come and go between the two poles: statistics and industry. This requirement needs a good understanding about the culture of these poles and how to conduct a mutual symbiosis. One of the principal bridges between these cultures is statistical process control (SPC). This paper is to show that modern industry cannot escape from SPC, especially in a multivariate setting. This setting, which characterizes modern industry, consists of two philosophical problems: how to order data and how to measure process variability. Our recent research results sponsored by the Government of Malaysia will be presented to illustrate the challenging statistical problems in modern industry.
How the composition of the arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungal community affects plant traits of different plant species in karst environments is poorly understood. Broussonetia papyrifera (a woody shrub) and Bidens pilosa (a herbaceous plant) growing in pots in limestone soil were inoculated with an AM fungus, either Funneliformis mosseae (FM), Diversispora versiformis (DV) or Glomus diaphanum (GD) or with an inoculum mixture of all three AM fungi (bn). B. papyrifera and B. pilosa seedlings inoculated with AM fungi showed a significant increase in biomass and nitrogen and phosphorus acquisition compared with the controls, which lacked mycorrhiza. Mixed fungal inoculations significantly enhanced biomass and nitrogen and phosphorus acquisition by B. papyrifera seedlings compared with single fungal inoculations. Nitrogen and phosphorus acquisition by B. papyrifera mycorrhizal seedlings was significantly greater than that of B. pilosa mycorrhizal seedlings. Fungal composition significantly influenced the mycorrhizal benefits of biomass and phosphorus acquisition and mixed fungal inoculations enhanced nitrogen acquisition. Plant species significantly affected nitrogen acquisition but did not have an effect on biomass and phosphorus benefits. We concluded that AM fungal associations increased plant growth and nutrient absorption and that in general a mixed inoculation of AM fungi enhanced biomass and nutrient acquisition more than a single AM fungal inoculation. In addition, a mycorrhizal association was more beneficial for B. papyrifera seedlings in terms of biomass and nutrient acquisition than for B. pilosa seedlings.
A study was carried out to determine the diversity and enumerate the fauna species related to five pitcher plant species at a selected area in Bukit Setiam Forest, Tatau, Bintulu, Sarawak, Malaysia. At the end of the study, six insect orders together with nematodes and Araneae were detected with different existence abundances and diversity. From the 901 total fauna trapped, 58.82% belonged to the order Hymenoptera, mainly of the ant species, followed by Nematodes (21.64%), Diptera (15.87%), Coleoptera (1.66%), Hemiptera (0.89%), Blattaria (0.44%) and finally, Lepidoptera (0.33%) and Araneae (0.33%). Significant differences (p<0.05) in the composition of insect trapped in pitcher plants were observed for the order Hymenoptera, Diptera, Lepidoptera, Hemiptera and even Nematodes. Meanwhile, no significant difference was observed for Coleoptera, Blattaria and Araneae. There is a strong relationship between fauna and Nepenthes pitcher either as a prey, predator, a mutualistic relationship or parasites or also for a habitat to live or to reproduce.
Endophytic fungi are part of microbial community found in various types of plant tissues including the leave, and display a range of symbiotic interactions with the plant host. In this study, endophytic fungi isolated from banana leaves were identified using ITS (Internal Transcribed Spacer region) sequences of which 10 genera comprising 17 species were molecularly identified. Endophytic fungal species identified were Nigrospora oryzae, Nigrospora sphaerica, Colletotrichum gloeosporioides, Colletotrichum siamense, Fusarium equiseti, Fusarium chlamydosporum, Phoma sorghina, Pestalotiopsis oxyanthi, Pestalotiopsis theae, Pestalotiopsis eugeniae, Penicillium steckii, Penicillium purpurogenum, Bipolaris papendorfii, Bipolaris sp., Lasidiodiplodia theobromae, Cochliobolus intermedius dan Aspergillus niger. The present study showed that several endophytic fungal genera/species are common plant pathogen and there is a possibility that these endophytes can become pathogenic. Some of the fungal endophyte might be mutualist or saprophyte.
Candida albicans is an opportunistic fungal pathogen, which causes a plethora of superficial, as well as invasive, infections in humans. The ability of this fungus in switching from commensalism to active infection is attributed to its many virulence traits. Biofilm formation is a key process, which allows the fungus to adhere to and proliferate on medically implanted devices as well as host tissue and cause serious life-threatening infections. Biofilms are complex communities of filamentous and yeast cells surrounded by an extracellular matrix that confers an enhanced degree of resistance to antifungal drugs. Moreover, the extensive plasticity of the C. albicans genome has given this versatile fungus the added advantage of microevolution and adaptation to thrive within the unique environmental niches within the host. To combat these challenges in dealing with C. albicans infections, it is imperative that we target specifically the molecular pathways involved in biofilm formation as well as drug resistance. With the advent of the -omics era and whole genome sequencing platforms, novel pathways and genes involved in the pathogenesis of the fungus have been unraveled. Researchers have used a myriad of strategies including transcriptome analysis for C. albicans cells grown in different environments, whole genome sequencing of different strains, functional genomics approaches to identify critical regulatory genes, as well as comparative genomics analysis between C. albicans and its closely related, much less virulent relative, C. dubliniensis, in the quest to increase our understanding of the mechanisms underlying the success of C. albicans as a major fungal pathogen. This review attempts to summarize the most recent advancements in the field of biofilm and antifungal resistance research and offers suggestions for future directions in therapeutics development.
A great variety of parasites and parasitoids exploit ant societies. Among them are the Mesostigmata mites, a particularly common and diverse group of ant-associated arthropods. While parasitism is ubiquitous in Mesostigmata, parasitoidism has only been described in the genus Macrodinychus. Yet information about the basic biology of most Macrodinychus species is lacking. Out of 24 formally described species, information about basic life-history traits is only available for three species. Here we formally describe two new Macrodinychus species, i.e. Macrodinychus hilpertae and Macrodinychus derbyensis. In both species, immature stages developed as ecto-parasitoids on ant pupae of the South-East Asian army ant Leptogenys distinguenda. By piercing the developing ant with their chelicera, the mites apparently suck ant hemolymph, ultimately killing host individuals. We compare infection rates among all studied Macrodinychus species and discuss possible host countermeasures against parasitoidism. The cryptic lifestyle of living inside ant nests has certainly hampered the scientific discovery of Macrodinychus mites and we expect that many more macrodinychid species await scientific discovery and description.
Fruit bats provide valuable pollination services to humans through a unique coevolutionary relationship with chiropterophilous plants. However, chiropterophily in the Old World and the pollination roles of large bats, such as flying foxes (Pteropus spp., Acerodon spp., Desmalopex spp.), are still poorly understood and require further elucidation. Efforts to protect these bats have been hampered by a lack of basic quantitative information on their role as ecosystem service providers. Here, we investigate the role of the locally endangered island flying fox Pteropus hypomelanus in the pollination ecology of durian (Durio zibethinus), an economically important crop in Southeast Asia. On Tioman Island, Peninsular Malaysia, we deployed 19 stations of paired infrared camera and video traps across varying heights at four individual flowering trees in a durian orchard. We detected at least nine species of animal visitors, but only bats had mutualistic interactions with durian flowers. There was a clear vertical stratification in the feeding niches of flying foxes and nectar bats, with flying foxes feeding at greater heights in the trees. Flying foxes had a positive effect on mature fruit set and therefore serve as important pollinators for durian trees. As such, semi-wild durian trees-particularly tall ones-may be dependent on flying foxes for enhancing reproductive success. Our study is the first to quantify the role of flying foxes in durian pollination, demonstrating that these giant fruit bats may have far more important ecological, evolutionary, and economic roles than previously thought. This has important implications and can aid efforts to promote flying fox conservation, especially in Southeast Asian countries.
Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) and ectomycorrhizal fungi (EMF) produce contrasting plant-soil feedbacks, but how these feedbacks are constrained by lithology is poorly understood. We investigated the hypothesis that lithological drivers of soil fertility filter plant resource economic strategies in ways that influence the relative fitness of trees with AMF or EMF symbioses in a Bornean rain forest containing species with both mycorrhizal strategies. Using forest inventory data on 1245 tree species, we found that although AMF-hosting trees had greater relative dominance on all soil types, with declining lithological soil fertility EMF-hosting trees became more dominant. Data on 13 leaf traits and wood density for a total of 150 species showed that variation was almost always associated with soil type, whereas for six leaf traits (structural properties; carbon, nitrogen, phosphorus ratios, nitrogen isotopes), variation was also associated with mycorrhizal strategy. EMF-hosting species had slower leaf economics than AMF-hosts, demonstrating the central role of mycorrhizal symbiosis in plant resource economies. At the global scale, climate has been shown to shape forest mycorrhizal composition, but here we show that in communities it depends on soil lithology, suggesting scale-dependent abiotic factors influence feedbacks underlying the relative fitness of different mycorrhizal strategies.
Kingella kingae had rarely been reported as a causative organism for corneal ulcer and had not been described before in vernal keratoconjunctivitis (VKC). Generally regarded as commensals of respiratory tract particularly in young children, it had however been isolated from the corneal ulcer scraping of both adult and children. We report a case of bacterial ulcer with isolation of Kingella kingae from the corneal scraping in a young child with underlying VKC.