• Aims This botanical briefing examines how molecular systematics has contributed to progress in understanding the history of Tertiary relict genera, i.e. those that that now occur disjunctly in parts of Eurasia and N America, and how progress in understanding Southern Hemisphere biogeography paradoxically makes unravelling Northern Hemisphere biogeography more complex.
• Scope Tertiary relict floras comprise genera of warm wet climates that were once circumboreal in distribution but are now confined to E Asia, south-eastern and western N America, and SW Eurasia. The intercontinental disjunctions among these genera have long been believed to result from land connections between Eurasia and N America, across Beringia and the N Atlantic. This view is reassessed in the light of new evidence for long dispersal of propagules across oceans being responsible for many plant disjunctions involving southern continents. The impact of molecular dating, which has been very different in Southern and Northern Hemisphere biogeography, is discussed.
• Conclusions For N America–Eurasia disjunctions involving Tertiary relict floras, land connections remain the more likely cause of disjunctions but data from fossils or infraspecific variation will be required to exclude long-dispersal explanations for disjunctions in any individual genus. Molecular dating of divergence between disjunctly distributed Tertiary relict floras can tell us which palaeoclimatic or palaeogeographic events impacted on them, and how, but only if migration over land and vicariance can be proved and molecular dating is sufficiently accurate.
Tertiary relict floras; plant disjunctions; biogeography; Bering land bridge; dispersal; vicariance; molecular dating; Northern Hemisphere; paleoclimate
Herbivores have been hypothesized to adapt locally to variation in plant defences and such adaptation could facilitate novel associations in the context of biological invasions. Here, we show that in the native range of the viburnum leaf beetle (VLB, Pyrrhalta viburni), two populations of geographically isolated hosts—Viburnum opulus and Viburnum tinus—have divergent defences against VLB oviposition: negative versus positive density-dependent egg-crushing wound responses, respectively. Populations of beetles coexisting with each host show an adaptive behavioural response: aggregative versus non-aggregative oviposition on V. opulus and V. tinus, respectively. In parallel, we show that in North America, where VLB is invasive, defences of three novel hosts are negatively density-dependent, and beetles' oviposition behaviour is aggregative. Thus, local adaptation to plant defences has the potential to facilitate the invasion of herbivores onto novel hosts.
insect oviposition strategy; invasion ecology; adaptive deme hypothesis; Chrysomelidae; plant–insect interactions; plant defence theory
Cortinarius species in section Calochroi display local, clinal and circumboreal patterns of distribution across the Northern Hemisphere where these ectomycorrhizal fungi occur with host trees throughout their geographical range within a continent, or have disjunct intercontinental distributions, the origins of which are not understood. We inferred evolutionary histories of four species, 1) C. arcuatorum, 2) C. aureofulvus, 3) C. elegantior and 4) C. napus, from populations distributed throughout the Old World, and portions of the New World (Central- and North America) based on genetic variation of 154 haplotype internal transcribed spacer (ITS) sequences from 83 population samples. By describing the population structure of these species across their geographical distribution, we attempt to identify their historical migration and patterns of diversification.
Models of population structure from nested clade, demographic and coalescent-based analyses revealed genetically differentiated and geographically structured haplotypes in C. arcuatorum and C. elegantior, while C. aureofulvus showed considerably less population structure and C. napus lacked sufficient genetic differentiation to resolve any population structure. Disjunct populations within C. arcuatorum, C. aureofulvus and C. elegantior show little or no morphological differentiation, whereas in C. napus there is a high level of homoplasy and phenotypic plasticity for veil and lamellae colour. The ITS sequences of the type specimens of C. albobrunnoides and C. albobrunnoides var. violaceovelatus were identical to one another and are treated as one species with a wider range of geographic distribution under C. napus.
Our results indicate that each of the Calochroi species has undergone a relatively independent evolutionary history, hypothesised as follows: 1) a widely distributed ancestral population of C. arcuatorum diverged into distinctive sympatric populations in the New World; 2) two divergent lineages in C. elegantior gave rise to the New World and Old World haplotypes, respectively; and 3) the low levels of genetic divergence within C. aureofulvus and C. napus may be the result of more recent demographic population expansions. The scenario of migration via the Bering Land Bridge provides the most probable explanation for contemporaneous disjunct geographic distributions of these species, but it does not offer an explanation for the low degree of genetic divergence between populations of C. aureofulvus and C. napus. Our findings are mostly consistent with the designation of New World allopatric populations as separate species from the European counterpart species C. arcuatorum and C. elegantior. We propose the synonymy of C. albobrunnoides, C. albobrunnoides var. violaceovelatus and C. subpurpureophyllus var. sulphureovelatus with C. napus. The results also reinforce previous observations that linked C. arcuatorum and C. aureofulvus displaying distributions in parts of North America and Europe. Interpretations of the population structure of these fungi suggest that host tree history has heavily influenced their modern distributions; however, the complex issues related to co-migration of these fungi with their tree hosts remain unclear at this time.
Understanding how past climate changes affected biodiversity is a key issue in contemporary ecology and conservation biology. These diversity changes are, however, difficult to reconstruct from paleoecological sources alone, because macrofossil and pollen records do not provide complete information about species assemblages. Ecologists therefore use information from modern analogues of past communities in order to get a better understanding of past diversity changes. Here we compare plant diversity, species traits and environment between late-glacial Abies, early-Holocene Quercus, and mid-Holocene warm-temperate Carpinus forest refugia on Jeju Island, Korea in order to provide insights into postglacial changes associated with their replacement. Based on detailed study of relict communities, we propose that the late-glacial open-canopy conifer forests in southern part of Korean Peninsula were rich in vascular plants, in particular of heliophilous herbs, whose dramatic decline was caused by the early Holocene invasion of dwarf bamboo into the understory of Quercus forests, followed by mid-Holocene expansion of strongly shading trees such as maple and hornbeam. This diversity loss was partly compensated in the Carpinus forests by an increase in shade-tolerant evergreen trees, shrubs and lianas. However, the pool of these species is much smaller than that of light-demanding herbs, and hence the total species richness is lower, both locally and in the whole area of the Carpinus and Quercus forests. The strongly shading tree species dominating in the hornbeam forests have higher leaf tissue N and P concentrations and smaller leaf dry matter content, which enhances litter decomposition and nutrient cycling and in turn favored the selection of highly competitive species in the shrub layer. This further reduced available light and caused almost complete disappearance of understory herbs, including dwarf bamboo.
Macroecology was developed as a big picture statistical approach to the study of ecology and evolution. By focusing on broadly occurring patterns and processes operating at large spatial and temporal scales rather than on localized and/or fine-scaled details, macroecology aims to uncover general mechanisms operating at organism, population, and ecosystem levels of organization. Macroecological studies typically involve the statistical analysis of fundamental species-level traits, such as body size, area of geographical range, and average density and/or abundance. Here, we briefly review the history of macroecology and use the body size of mammals as a case study to highlight current developments in the field, including the increasing linkage with biogeography and other disciplines. Characterizing the factors underlying the spatial and temporal patterns of body size variation in mammals is a daunting task and moreover, one not readily amenable to traditional statistical analyses. Our results clearly illustrate remarkable regularities in the distribution and variation of mammalian body size across both geographical space and evolutionary time that are related to ecology and trophic dynamics and that would not be apparent without a broader perspective.
macroecology; temporal scales; spatial scales; mammalian body mass; biogeography; the comparative method
The struggle for existence occurs through the vital rates of population growth. This basic fact demonstrates the tight connection between ecology and evolution that defines the emerging field of eco-evolutionary dynamics. An effective synthesis of the interdependencies between ecology and evolution is grounded in six principles. The mechanics of evolution specifies the origin and rules governing traits and evolutionary strategies. Traits and evolutionary strategies achieve their selective value through their functional relationships with fitness. Function depends on the underlying structure of variation and the temporal, spatial and organizational scales of evolution. An understanding of how changes in traits and strategies occur requires conjoining ecological and evolutionary dynamics. Adaptation merges these five pillars to achieve a comprehensive understanding of ecological and evolutionary change. I demonstrate the value of this world-view with reference to the theory and practice of habitat selection. The theory allows us to assess evolutionarily stable strategies and states of habitat selection, and to draw the adaptive landscapes for habitat-selecting species. The landscapes can then be used to forecast future evolution under a variety of climate change and other scenarios.
adaptation; ecology; evolution; habitat selection; mammals; natural selection
A series of growth experiments and observations on natural populations have been carried out on dipterocarp species of contrasting ecology growing in artificial gaps and the forest understorey. These studies have demonstrated that although differences exist between species in photosynthetic and growth responses to the high-light environment, competition for light in canopy gaps is highly asymmetrical and tends to reinforce any pre-existing dominance hierarchy. We propose that differences in seedling persistence in forest canopy shade are highly influenced by species-specific biotic and abiotic interactions. Our experiments suggest that as seedlings, dipterocarp species trade off traits which enhance persistence and growth in shade against those that enhance their ability to exploit gaps. Less competitive species survive for progressively longer periods of time after a gregarious fruiting event. This leads to significant shifts with time in the number of species present in the seedling bank and hence in the importance of interspecific competition in determining which species dominates regrowth in gaps. We propose that this special case of dispersal limitation is more likely to account for coexistence of dipterocarp species than differences in growth responses to gaps of different size, with stochastic and environmental variables interacting to determine species distribution and abundance.
► The ‘bloody heart lichen’ Mycoblastus sanguinarius consists of two, widespread, cryptic species. ► Mycoblastus sanguinarioides, previously thought confined to Tasmania, is widely distributed. ► Low level clades within both of the cryptic species are correlated with fatty acid profiles. ► Early chemical differentiation may play a role in incipient speciation events.
Lichens are a prominent feature of northern conifer forests and a large number of species are thought to be circumboreal. Whether or not circumboreal lichen species really constitute monophyletic groups has seldom been tested. We investigated molecular phylogenetic patterns in the mycobiont of Mycoblastus sanguinarius, a well known epiphytic lichen species of the boreal forest, based on material collected from across the high latitude northern hemisphere. A three-locus dataset of internal transcribed spacer rDNA, translation elongation factor 1-α and replication licensing factor Mcm7 DNA sequences revealed that material treated until now as belonging to M. sanguinarius does indeed form a monophyletic group within the genus and is distinct from a strongly supported Mycoblastus affinis. The M. sanguinarius complex appears closely related to the rare Mycoblastus glabrescens, which is currently known only from the Pacific Northwest and was rediscovered during the present study. However, within M. sanguinarius s.lat. in the northern hemisphere, two deeply divergent and morphologically coherent species can be recovered, one of which matches the southern hemisphere species Mycoblastus sanguinarioides and turns out to be widespread in North America and Asia, and one of which corresponds to M. sanguinarius s.str. Both M. sanguinarius and M. sanguinarioides exhibit additional low-level genetic differentiation into geographically structured clades, the most prominent of which are distributed in East Asia/eastern North America and western North America/Europe, respectively. Individuals from these lowest-level clades are morphologically indistinguishable but chemical analyses by thin layer chromatography revealed that each clade possesses its own fatty acid profile, suggesting that chemical differentiation precedes morphological differentiation and may be a precursor to speciation.
Aliphatic compound; Ascomycete; Chemotaxonomy; Cryptic species; Internal transcribed spacer region; Lichen chemistry; Replication licensing factor Mcm7 gene; Translation elongation factor 1-α gene
The conservation efficiency of Protected Areas (PA) is influenced by the health and characteristics of the surrounding landscape matrix. Fragmentation of adjacent lands interrupts ecological flows within PAs and will decrease the ability of species to shift their distribution as climate changes. For five periods across the 21st century, we assessed changes to the extent of primary land, secondary land, pasture and crop land projected to occur within 50 km buffers surrounding IUCN-designated PAs. Four scenarios of land-use were obtained from the Land-Use Harmonization Project, developed for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's Fifth Assessment Report (AR5). The scenarios project the continued decline of primary lands within buffers surrounding PAs. Substantial losses are projected to occur across buffer regions in the tropical forest biomes of Indo-Malayan and the Temperate Broadleaf forests of the Nearctic. A number of buffer regions are projected to have negligible primary land remaining by 2100, including those in the Afrotropic's Tropical/Subtropical Grassland/Savanna/Shrubland. From 2010–2050, secondary land is projected to increase within most buffer regions, although, as with pasture and crops within tropical and temperate forests, projections from the four land-use scenarios may diverge substantially in magnitude and direction of change. These scenarios demonstrate a range of alternate futures, and show that although effective mitigation strategies may reduce pressure on land surrounding PAs, these areas will contain an increasingly heterogeneous matrix of primary and human-modified landscapes. Successful management of buffer regions will be imperative to ensure effectiveness of PAs and to facilitate climate-induced shifts in species ranges.
South America is one of the most species diverse continents in the world. Within South America diversity is not distributed evenly at both local and continental scales and this has led to the recognition of various areas with unique species assemblages. Several schemes currently exist which divide the continental-level diversity into large species assemblages referred to as biomes. Here we review five currently available biome maps for South America, including the WWF Ecoregions, the Americas basemap, the Land Cover Map of South America, Morrone's Biogeographic regions of Latin America, and the Ecological Systems Map. The comparison is performed through a case study on the Seasonally Dry Tropical Forest (SDTF) biome using herbarium data of habitat specialist species.
Current biome maps of South America perform poorly in depicting SDTF distribution. The poor performance of the maps can be attributed to two main factors: (1) poor spatial resolution, and (2) poor biome delimitation. Poor spatial resolution strongly limits the use of some of the maps in GIS applications, especially for areas with heterogeneous landscape such as the Andes. Whilst the Land Cover Map did not suffer from poor spatial resolution, it showed poor delimitation of biomes. The results highlight that delimiting structurally heterogeneous vegetation is difficult based on remote sensed data alone. A new refined working map of South American SDTF biome is proposed, derived using the Biome Distribution Modelling (BDM) approach where georeferenced herbarium data is used in conjunction with bioclimatic data.
Georeferenced specimen data play potentially an important role in biome mapping. Our study shows that herbarium data could be used as a way of ground-truthing biome maps in silico. The results also illustrate that herbarium data can be used to model vegetation maps through predictive modelling. The BDM approach is a promising new method in biome mapping, and could be particularly useful for mapping poorly known, fragmented, or degraded vegetation. We wish to highlight that biome delimitation is not an exact science, and that transparency is needed on how biomes are used as study units in macroevolutionary and ecological research.
Invasive species can show substantial genetic variation in ecologically important traits, across ranges as well within the introduced range. If these traits affect competition with native species, then management may benefit from considering the genetic landscape of the invader. Across their introduced range, Alliaria petiolata populations vary in their investment in allelopathic traits according to invasion history, which could lead to gradients of impact on native species. Red oak (Quercus rubra) seedlings were transplanted into eight A. petiolata-invaded sites that varied in their invasion history and allelochemical concentrations. At each site, an invader removal treatment was crossed with experimental inoculations of native soil biota, to test whether the benefits of these restoration actions differed across invader populations. Q. rubra seedlings grew faster in invader populations with a longer invasion history and lower allelochemical concentrations. Invader removal and soil inoculation interacted to determine seedling growth, with the benefits of soil inoculation increasing in younger and more highly allelopathic invader populations. A greenhouse experiment using soils collected from experimentally inoculated field plots found similar patterns. These results suggest that the impact of this invader varies across landscapes and that knowledge of this variation could improve the efficacy and efficiency of restoration activities.
Alliaria petiolata; glucosinolates; mycorrhizae; Quercus rubra; restoration
Sisyrinchium micranthum Cav. is a member of the family Iridaceae, which is distributed over the American continent. In Brazil, this species is found, not only in disturbed areas and coastal regions, but is also very common in urban centers, such as public parks, during the spring. Chromosome counts for North American specimens are 2n = 32 and 2n = 48, whereas in southern Brazil, there is a polyploidy series with three chromosome numbers, 2n = 16, 2n = 32, and 2n = 48. Population analyses using DNA molecular markers are inexistent for this species, in spite of its wide distribution and morphological variation. To study the genetic population structure of S. micranthum, five natural populations were accessed in a conservation park within the Atlantic Rain Forest Biome in southern Brazil. Here, the chromosome numbers 2n = 16 and 2n = 48 had already been described. Molecular analysis showed that the populations are highly structured with low gene flow among them. The population with 2n = 48 was genetically less variable than and distinct from the other populations. Population genetics in relation to cytogenetic data provided new insights regarding the genetic diversification and mating system of S. micranthum.
Iridaceae; ISSR-PCR; mating system; population genetics; Sisyrinchium micranthum
Promoting the seed regeneration potential of secondary forests undergoing gap disturbances is an important approach for achieving forest restoration and sustainable management. Seedling recruitment from seed banks strongly determines the seed regeneration potential, but the process is poorly understood in the gaps of secondary forests. The objectives of the present study were to evaluate the effects of gap size, seed availability, and environmental conditions on the seed regeneration potential in temperate secondary forests. It was found that gap formation could favor the invasion of more varieties of species in seed banks, but it also could speed up the turnover rate of seed banks leading to lower seed densities. Seeds of the dominant species, Fraxinus rhynchophylla, were transient in soil and there was a minor and discontinuous contribution of the seed bank to its seedling emergence. For Quercus mongolica, emerging seedling number was positively correlated with seed density in gaps (R = 0.32, P<0.01), especially in medium and small gaps (<500 m2). Furthermore, under canopies, there was a positive correlation between seedling number and seed density of Acer mono (R = 0.43, P<0.01). Gap formation could promote seedling emergence of two gap-dependent species (i.e., Q. mongolica and A. mono), but the contribution of seed banks to seedlings was below 10% after gap creation. Soil moisture and temperature were the restrictive factors controlling the seedling emergence from seeds in gaps and under canopies, respectively. Thus, the regeneration potential from seed banks is limited after gap formation.
The success of germination, growth and final yield of every crop depends to a large extent on the quality of the seeds used to grow the crop. Seed quality is defined as the viability and vigor attribute of a seed that enables the emergence and establishment of normal seedlings under a wide range of environments. We attempt to dissect the mechanisms involved in the acquisition of seed quality, through a combined approach of physiology and genetics. To achieve this goal we explored the genetic variation found in a RIL population of Solanum lycopersicum (cv. Moneymaker) x Solanum pimpinellifolium through extensive phenotyping of seed and seedling traits under both normal and nutrient stress conditions and root system architecture (RSA) traits under optimal conditions. We have identified 62 major QTLs on 21 different positions for seed, seedling and RSA traits in this population. We identified QTLs that were common across both conditions, as well as specific to stress conditions. Most of the QTLs identified for seedling traits co-located with seed size and seed weight QTLs and the positive alleles were mostly contributed by the S. lycopersicum parent. Co-location of QTLs for different traits might suggest that the same locus has pleiotropic effects on multiple traits due to a common mechanistic basis. We show that seed weight has a strong effect on seedling vigor and these results are of great importance for the isolation of the corresponding genes and elucidation of the underlying mechanisms.
Background and Aims
In seeds with deep simple epicotyl morphophysiological dormancy, warm and cold stratification are required to break dormancy of the radicle and shoot, respectively. Although the shoot remains inside the seed all winter, little is known about its growth and morphological development prior to emergence in spring. The aims of the present study were to determine the temperature requirements for radicle and shoot emergence in seeds of Viburnum betulifolium and V. parvifolium and to monitor growth of the epicotyl, plumule and cotyledons in root-emerged seeds.
Fresh and pre-treated seeds of V. betulifolium and V. parvifolium were incubated under various temperature regimes and monitored for radicle and shoot emergence. Growth of the epicotyl and cotyledons at different stages was observed with dissecting and scanning electron microscopes.
The optimum temperature for radicle emergence of seeds of both species, either kept continuously at a single regime or exposed to a sequence of regimes, was 20/10 °C. GA3 had no effect on radicle emergence. Cold stratification (5 °C) was required for shoot emergence. The shoot apical meristem in fresh seeds did not form a bulge until the embryo had grown to the critical length for radicle emergence. After radicle emergence, the epicotyl–plumule and cotyledons grew slowly at 5 and 20/10 °C, and the first pair of true leaves was initiated. However, the shoot emerged only from seeds that received cold stratification.
Seeds of V. betulifolium and V. parvifolium have deep simple epicotyl morphophysiological dormancy, C1bB (root)–C3 (epicotyl). Warm stratification was required to break the first part of physiological dormancy (PD), thereby allowing embryo growth and subsequently radicle emergence. Although cold stratification was not required for differentiation of the epicotyl–plumule, it was required to break the second part of PD, thereby allowing the shoot to emerge in spring.
Epicotyl morphophysiological dormancy; epicotyl–plumule growth; radicle emergence; seed germination; shoot growth; Viburnum
In temperate ecosystems, acidic forest soils are among the most nutrient-poor terrestrial environments. In this context, the long-term differentiation of the forest soils into horizons may impact the assembly and the functions of the soil microbial communities. To gain a more comprehensive understanding of the ecology and functional potentials of these microbial communities, a suite of analyses including comparative metagenomics was applied on independent soil samples from a spruce plantation (Breuil-Chenue, France). The objectives were to assess whether the decreasing nutrient bioavailability and pH variations that naturally occurs between the organic and mineral horizons affects the soil microbial functional biodiversity. The 14 Gbp of pyrosequencing and Illumina sequences generated in this study revealed complex microbial communities dominated by bacteria. Detailed analyses showed that the organic soil horizon was significantly enriched in sequences related to Bacteria, Chordata, Arthropoda and Ascomycota. On the contrary the mineral horizon was significantly enriched in sequences related to Archaea. Our analyses also highlighted that the microbial communities inhabiting the two soil horizons differed significantly in their functional potentials according to functional assays and MG-RAST analyses, suggesting a functional specialisation of these microbial communities. Consistent with this specialisation, our shotgun metagenomic approach revealed a significant increase in the relative abundance of sequences related glycoside hydrolases in the organic horizon compared to the mineral horizon that was significantly enriched in glycoside transferases. This functional stratification according to the soil horizon was also confirmed by a significant correlation between the functional assays performed in this study and the functional metagenomic analyses. Together, our results suggest that the soil stratification and particularly the soil resource availability impact the functional diversity and to a lesser extent the taxonomic diversity of the bacterial communities.
Climbing plants are a key component of rainforests, but mechanistic approaches to their distribution and abundance are scarce. In a southern temperate rainforest, we addressed whether the dominance of climbing plants across light environments is associated with the expression of ecophysiological traits. In mature forest and canopy gaps, we measured leaf size, specific leaf area, photosynthetic rate, and dark respiration in six of the most abundant woody vines. Mean values of traits and their phenotypic change (%) between mature forest and canopy gaps were predictor variables. Leaf size and specific leaf area were not significantly associated with climbing plant dominance. Variation in gas-exchange traits between mature forest and canopy gaps explained, at least partly, the dominance of climbers in this forest. A greater increase in photosynthetic rate and a lower increase in dark respiration rate when canopy openings occur were related to the success of climbing plant species. Dominant climbers showed a strategy of maximizing exploitation of resource availability but minimizing metabolic costs. Results may reflect phenotypic plasticity or genetic differentiation in ecophysiological traits between light environments. It is suggested that the dominant climbers in this temperate rainforest would be able to cope with forest clearings due to human activities.
With a ca. 300 million year-old evolutionary history, cycads are often perceived as “living fossils,” relicts of their previously widespread dominance. Patterns of genetic variation for a member of the most basal cycad genus, Cycas micronesica, support the notion that cycads are a dynamic group with ongoing diversification. Herein we hypothesize that cycad's hefty genomes enable rapid adaptive change and facilitate specific beneficial interactions with varying assemblages of symbionts. Characterizing population-level genomic patterns of cycads and their symbionts, pollinators in particular, will enlighten our understanding of these mechanisms and of adaptive variation that underlies cycad evolution. In light of rapid climate and landscape change, cycads are a beacon for understanding the ecological processes that ultimately enable species long-term survival.
next-generation sequencing; cycads; Cycas micronesica; adaptive variation; ecological genomics; wild populations
Recent decades have seen a major surge in the study of interspecific variation in functional traits in comparative plant ecology, as a tool to understanding and predicting ecosystem functions and their responses to environmental change. However, this research has been biased almost exclusively towards vascular plants. Very little is known about the role and applicability of functional traits of non-vascular cryptogams, particularly bryophytes and lichens, with respect to biogeochemical cycling. Yet these organisms are paramount determinants of biogeochemistry in several biomes, particularly cold biomes and tropical rainforests, where they: (1) contribute substantially to above-ground biomass (lichens, bryophytes); (2) host nitrogen-fixing bacteria, providing major soil N input (lichens, bryophytes); (3) control soil chemistry and nutrition through the accumulation of recalcitrant polyphenols (bryophytes) and through their control over soil and vegetation hydrology and temperatures; (4) both promote erosion (rock weathering by lichens) and prevent it (biological crusts in deserts); (5) provide a staple food to mammals such as reindeer (lichens) and arthropodes, with important feedbacks to soils and biota; and (6) both facilitate and compete with vascular plants.
Here we review current knowledge about interspecific variation in cryptogam traits with respect to biogeochemical cycling and discuss to what extent traits and measuring protocols needed for bryophytes and lichens correspond with those applied to vascular plants. We also propose and discuss several new or recently introduced traits that may help us understand and predict the control of cryptogams over several aspects of the biogeochemistry of ecosystems.
Whilst many methodological challenges lie ahead, comparative cryptogam ecology has the potential to meet some of the important challenges of understanding and predicting the biogeochemical and climate consequences of large-scale environmental changes driving shifts in the cryptogam components of vegetation composition.
Biogeochemical processes; carbon; cryptogam; decomposition; defence; functional trait; growth rate; interspecific variation; moss; lichen; liverwort; nutrients
Cliff sides are extreme habitats, often sheltering a rich and unique flora. One example is the dioecious herb Borderea chouardii (Dioscoreaceae), which is a Tertiary, tropical relict, occurring only on two adjacent vertical cliffs in the world. We studied its reproductive biology, which in some aspects is extreme, especially the unusual double mutualistic role of ants as both pollinators and dispersers. We made a 2-year pollination census and four years of seed-dispersal experiments, recording flower visitors and dispersal rates. Fruit and seed set, self-sowing of seeds, seedling recruitment, and fate of seedlings from seeds sowed by different agents were scored over a period of 17 years. The ants Lasius grandis and L. cinereus were the main pollinators, whereas another ant Pheidole pallidula dispersed seeds. Thus ants functioned as double mutualists. Two thirds of all new seedlings came from self-sown seeds, and 1/3 was dispersed by ants, which gathered the seeds with their oil-rich elaiosome. Gravity played a minor role to dispersal. Both ant dispersal and self-sowing resulted in the same survival rate of seedlings. A double mutualism is a risky reproductive strategy, but B. chouardii buffers that by an unusual long–term demographic stability (some individuals exceed 300 years in lifespan) and its presence in a climatically very stable habitat, inaccessible to large herbivores. Such a combination of traits and habitat properties may explain the persistence of this relict species.
Climate is the primary driver of the distribution of tree species worldwide, and the potential for adaptive evolution will be an important factor determining the response of forests to anthropogenic climate change. Although association mapping has the potential to improve our understanding of the genomic underpinnings of climatically relevant traits, the utility of adaptive polymorphisms uncovered by such studies would be greatly enhanced by the development of integrated models that account for the phenotypic effects of multiple single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) and their interactions simultaneously. We previously reported the results of association mapping in the widespread conifer Sitka spruce (Picea sitchensis). In the current study we used the recursive partitioning algorithm ‘Random Forest’ to identify optimized combinations of SNPs to predict adaptive phenotypes. After adjusting for population structure, we were able to explain 37% and 30% of the phenotypic variation, respectively, in two locally adaptive traits—autumn budset timing and cold hardiness. For each trait, the leading five SNPs captured much of the phenotypic variation. To determine the role of epistasis in shaping these phenotypes, we also used a novel approach to quantify the strength and direction of pairwise interactions between SNPs and found such interactions to be common. Our results demonstrate the power of Random Forest to identify subsets of markers that are most important to climatic adaptation, and suggest that interactions among these loci may be widespread.
Random Forest; adaptation; association mapping; epistasis; phenology; cold hardiness; GenPred; shared data resources
The ecological and adaptive significance of plant polyploidization is not well understood and no clear pattern of association between polyploid frequency and environment has emerged. Climatic factors are expected to predict cytotype distribution. However, the relationship between climate, cytotype distribution and variation of abiotic stress tolerance traits has rarely been examined.Here, we use flow cytometry and root-tip squashes to examine the cytotype distribution in the temperate annual grass Brachypodium distachyon in 57 natural populations distributed across an aridity gradient in the Iberian Peninsula. We further investigate the link between environmental aridity, ploidy, and variation of drought tolerance and drought avoidance (flowering time) traits.istribution of diploids (2n = 10) and allotetraploids (2n = 30) in this species is geographically structured throughout its range in the Iberian Peninsula, and is associated with aridity gradients. Importantly, after controlling for geographic and altitudinal effects, the link between aridity and polyploidization occurrence persisted. Water use efficiency varied between ploidy levels, with tetraploids being more efficient in the use of water than diploids under water-restricted growing conditions.Our results indicate that aridity is an important predictor of polyploid occurrence in B. distachyon, suggesting a possible adaptive origin of the cytotype segregation.
Brachypodium distachyon; carbon isotope discrimination; cytotype segregation; environmental aridity; flow cytometry; natural variation; ploidy; water use efficiency(WUE)
Natural populations of most organisms, especially unicellular microorganisms, are constantly exposed to harsh environmental factors which affect their growth. UV radiation is one of the most important physical parameters which influences yeast growth in nature. Here we used 46 natural strains of Saccharomyces cerevisiae isolated from several natural populations at the “Evolution Canyon” microsite (Nahal Oren, Mt. Carmel, Israel). The opposing slopes of this canyon share the same geology, soil, and macroclimate, but they differ in microclimatic conditions. The interslope differences in solar radiation (200%–800% more on the “African” slope) caused the development of two distinct biomes. The south-facing slope is sunnier and has xeric, savannoid “African” environment while the north-facing slope is represented by temperate, “European” forested environment. Here we studied the phenotypic response of the S. cerevisiae strains to UVA and UVC radiations and to methyl methanesulfonate (MMS) in order to evaluate the interslope effect on the strains' ability to withstand DNA-damaging agents.
We exposed our strains to the different DNA-damaging agents and measured survival by counting colony forming units. The strains from the “African” slope were more resilient to both UVA and MMS than the strains from the “European” slope. In contrast, we found that there was almost no difference between strains (with similar ploidy) from the opposite slopes, in their sensitivity to UVC radiation. These results suggest that the “African” strains are more adapted to higher solar radiation than the “European” strains. We also found that the tetraploids strains were more tolerant to all DNA-damaging agents than their neighboring diploid strains, which suggest that high ploidy level might be a mechanism of adaptation to high solar radiation.
Our results and the results of parallel studies with several other organisms, suggest that natural selection appears to select, at a microscale, for adaptive complexes that can tolerate the higher UV radiation on the “African” slope.
Variation of resource supply is one of the key factors that drive the evolution of life-history strategies, and hence the interactions between individuals. In the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae, two life-history strategies related to different resource utilization have been previously described in strains from different industrial origins. In this work, we analyzed metabolic traits and life-history strategies in a broader collection of yeast strains sampled in various ecological niches (forest, human body, fruits, laboratory and industrial environments).
By analysing the genetic and plastic variation of six life-history and three metabolic traits, we showed that S. cerevisiae populations harbour different strategies depending on their ecological niches. On one hand, the forest and laboratory strains, referred to as extreme "ants", reproduce quickly, reach a large carrying capacity and a small cell size in fermentation, but have a low reproduction rate in respiration. On the other hand, the industrial strains, referred to as extreme "grasshoppers", reproduce slowly, reach a small carrying capacity but have a big cell size in fermentation and a high reproduction rate in respiration. "Grasshoppers" have usually higher glucose consumption rate than "ants", while they produce lower quantities of ethanol, suggesting that they store cell resources rather than secreting secondary products to cross-feed or poison competitors. The clinical and fruit strains are intermediate between these two groups.
Altogether, these results are consistent with a niche-driven evolution of S. cerevisiae, with phenotypic convergence of populations living in similar habitat. They also revealed that competition between strains having contrasted life-history strategies ("ants" and "grasshoppers") seems to occur at low frequency or be unstable since opposite life-history strategies appeared to be maintained in distinct ecological niches.
Cliffs worldwide are known to be reservoirs of relict biodiversity. Despite the presence of harsh abiotic conditions, large endemic floras live in such environments. Primula palinuri Petagna is a rare endemic plant species, surviving on cliff sites along a few kilometres of the Tyrrhenian coast in southern Italy. This species is declared at risk of extinction due to human impact on the coastal areas in question. Population surveys have shown that most of the plants are old individuals, while seedlings and plants at early stages of development are rare. We followed the growth of P. palinuri plants from seed germination to the adult phase and analysed the morphoanatomical traits of plants at all stages of development. Our results showed that the pressure of cliff environmental factors has been selected for seasonal habitus and structural adaptive traits in this species. The main morphoanatomical modifications are suberized cell layers and accumulation of phenolic compounds in cell structures. These features are strictly related to regulation of water uptake and storage as well as defence from predation. However, we found them well established only in adult plants and not in juvenile individuals. These findings contribute to explain the rare recruitment of the present relict populations, identifying some of the biological traits which result in species vulnerability.