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Nest boxes have been used for many decades as tools for conservation and to study avian population dynamics. Plastic is increasingly used as a material for nest boxes, but no studies have investigated effects of this different material. Two consecutive studies were conducted to investigate effects of nest-box environment on nidicolous parasites, bacteria and fungi, as well as nest success, in blue tits Cyanistes caeruleus and great tits Parus major. The first compared microclimate and parasite and pathogen load in plastic and wooden nest boxes. The second tested the nest protection hypothesis – that birds naturally incorporate aromatic herbs into nests to decrease nest parasites and pathogens – by comparing parasite and pathogen load in plastic nest boxes to which aromatic or non-aromatic plant material was added. No significant difference in nest-box temperature or relative humidity was found between plastic and wooden boxes. Wooden boxes, however, contained 30-fold higher numbers of fleas and a higher total bacterial load on chicks. Fledging success for blue tit broods was significantly higher in wooden boxes. Parasites and bacteria did not decrease by the inclusion of aromatic herbs. The results increase the evidence base for nest-box design in support of plastic, which can provide an appropriate alternative nest-box material to wood, with apparently no difference in microclimate and no increase in the load of measured parasites and pathogens.
In order to assemble an ecological community it may be helpful to know not only how many parts there are, but what kinds of parts there are. Communities require at least two classification systems that provide simultaneous and somewhat contradictory lists of parts: phylogenetic and functional. These two classification systems can be arranged hierarchically so that many parts (species) are nested within a smaller number of groups (functional types). Even with objective classification techniques, it is difficult to know how many groups exist, and the number selected may be somewhat arbitrary. There does not seem to be a way to tell, a priori, how many functional types we can expect to find in a specified landscape or habitat. This raises difficult questions about the nature of fitness landscapes and the geometry of n-dimensional trait space.
There is mounting evidence for the potential for the natural dietary antioxidant and anti-inflammatory amino acid l-Ergothioneine (ERGO) to prevent or mitigate chronic diseases of aging. This has led to the suggestion that it could be considered a ‘longevity vitamin.’ ERGO is produced in nature only by certain fungi and a few other microbes. Mushrooms are, by far, the leading dietary source of ERGO, but it is found in small amounts throughout the food chain, most likely due to soil-borne fungi passing it on to plants. Because some common agricultural practices can disrupt beneficial fungus–plant root relationships, ERGO levels in foods grown under those conditions could be compromised. Thus, research is needed to further analyse the role agricultural practices play in the availability of ERGO in the human diet and its potential to improve our long-term health.
Changed spatial configurations at sowing have been investigated as a strategy to minimize interspecific competition and improve the establishment and persistence of multi-species plantings in pastures, but the impact of this practice on the soil microbiome has received almost no previous research attention. Differences in populations of bacteria and fungi in the surface 10 cm of soil in the third year following pasture establishment were quantified using quantitative polymerase chain reaction and terminal restriction fragment length polymorphism methods. Populations were compared on, and between, drill rows sown to either the perennial grass phalaris (Phalaris aquatica L.), perennial legume lucerne (alfalfa; Medicago sativa L.) or the annual legume subterranean clover (Trifolium subterraneum L.). Results showed that soil microbial abundance and diversity were related to plant distribution across the field at the time of sampling and to soil chemical parameters including total carbon (C), mineral nitrogen (N), pH, and available phosphorus (P), potassium (K) and sulfur (S). Despite the 27-month lag since sowing, pasture species remained concentrated around the original drill row with very little colonization of the inter-row area. The abundance and diversity of bacterial and fungal populations were consistently greater under drill rows associated with higher total C concentrations in the surface soil compared with the inter-row areas. Our results showed that the pH and available nutrients were similar between the subterranean clover drill row and the inter-row, suggesting that soil microbial populations were not impacted directly by these soil fertility parameters, but rather were related to the presence or absence of plants. The abundance of bacteria and fungi were numerically lower under phalaris rows compared to rows sown to legumes. The richness and diversity of fungal populations were lowest between rows where lucerne was planted. Possible explanations for this observation include a lower C:N ratio of lucerne roots and/or a lack of fibrous roots at the soil surface compared to the other species, illustrating the influence of contrasting plant types on the soil microflora community. This study highlights the enduring legacy of the drill row on the spatial distribution of plants well into the pasture phase of a cropping rotation and discusses the opportunity to enhance the microbiome of cropping soils on a large scale during the pasture phase by increasing plant distribution across the landscape.
Mycotoxins are present in almost all feedstuffs used in animal nutrition but are often ignored in beef cattle systems, even though they can affect animal performance. The objective of this study was to evaluate the effects of mycotoxins and a mycotoxin adsorbent (ADS) on performance of Nellore cattle finished in a feedlot. One hundred Nellore cattle (430 ± 13 kg) were used in a randomized complete block design with a 2 × 2 factorial arrangement of treatments. The factors consisted of two diets with either natural contamination (NC) or exogenous contamination (EC) and the presence (1 g/kg of DM; ADS) or absence of a mycotoxin adsorbent. The NC and EC diets had the following contaminations, respectively: 0.00 and 10.0 µg/kg aflatoxins, 5114 and 5754 µg/kg fumonisins, 0.00 and 42.1 µg/kg trichothecenes B, 0.00 and 22.1 µg/kg trichothecenes A and 42.9 and 42.9 µg/kg fusaric acid. At the beginning of the experiment, all animals were weighed, and four randomly selected animals were slaughtered to evaluate the initial carcass weight. After 97 days of treatment, all animals were weighed and slaughtered. There was no interaction among factors for the DM intake (DMI; P = 0.92); however, there was a tendency for the EC diets to decrease the DMI by 650 g/day compared to animals fed NC diets (P = 0.09). There was a trend for interaction among factors (P = 0.08) for the average daily gain (ADG), where the greatest ADG was observed for cattle fed the NC diet (1.77 kg), and the lowest was observed for those fed the EC diet (1.51 kg). The NC + ADS and EC + ADS treatments presented intermediate values for ADG. The animals fed the NC diet had a greater final BW (596 kg) than animals fed the EC treatment (582 kg; P = 0.04). There was a tendency for interaction among factors for carcass gain (P = 0.08). Similarly to ADG, the highest carcass gain was observed for animals fed the NC diet (1.20 kg), and the lowest was observed for those fed the EC diet (1.05 kg). The NC + ADS and EC + ADS treatments presented intermediate values. The natural contamination groups had greater carcass gain than that of the EC groups, and the use of the ADS recovered part of the weight gain in animals fed the EC diet. In conclusion, mycotoxins at the levels evaluated affected the performance of beef cattle, and adsorbents may mitigate their impact.
We analyzed the effects of growth of Penicillium commune, one of the most frequent fungal species associated with cheese, on the water diffusion and texture of hard and extra-hard cheeses. A total of 36 hard cheese blocks and 36 extra-hard cheese blocks were manufactured, salted at different levels (0.5, 1.25 and 2% w/w), and assigned to different treatments (control and inoculated). Cheese texture was analyzed using a penetration needle probe at 2 and 5 weeks after ripening. Firmness, defined as the maximum force detected in the penetration probe, was higher in both hard and extra-hard inoculated cheese blocks compared with the control. In addition, the presence of fungal growth on cheese rind increased the total work of penetration (a measure of resistance to probe penetration), but only in extra-hard cheeses, suggesting that the moisture of cheese might be affecting the growth capacities and performance of P. commune. The change in textural properties of cheeses was linked to desiccation of the upper 0.5-cm rind layer mediated by P. commune.
Reproduction is a fundamental feature of life, it is the way life persists across the ages. This book offers new, wider vistas on this fundamental biological phenomenon, exploring how it works through the whole tree of life. It explores facets such as asexual reproduction, parthenogenesis, sex determination and reproductive investment, with a taxonomic coverage extended over all the main groups - animals, plants including 'algae', fungi, protists and bacteria. It collates into one volume perspectives from varied disciplines - including zoology, botany, microbiology, genetics, cell biology, developmental biology, evolutionary biology, animal and plant physiology, and ethology - integrating information into a common language. Crucially, the book aims to identify the commonalties among reproductive phenomena, while demonstrating the diversity even amongst closely related taxa. Its integrated approach makes this a valuable reference book for students and researchers, as well as an effective entry point for deeper study on specific topics.
Investigation of parasites and diseases affecting molluscs of ecological and economic interest is critical for the management of native stocks and aquaculture. In recent years, much attention has been devoted to investigating the World Organisation for Animal Health listed infectious diseases, so that communities can be prepared to attend public health emergencies and avoid severe income losses. In this context, the health status of Mytilus galloprovincialis Lamarck, 1819 was analysed in two aquaculture sites (Strunjan Bay and Piran Bay, Slovenia), and in four natural mussel beds (Adriatic Croatia International Marinas Pula and Rovinj and St Catherine, Croatia; Marina Koper, Slovenia) along the coast of the northern Adriatic Sea. The mussels were sampled in February and April 2014, and processed for histological examination of several endosymbionts and pathogens that frequently occur in mytilid mussels. Endosymbionts and pathogens were not detected in farmed mussels. Prokaryotic inclusion bodies, the protozoan Nematopsis, Ancistrocoma-like ciliates, haplosporidian-like plasmodia, turbellarian Urastoma cyprinae, and basophilic inclusion bodies were observed in digestive gland cryosections of wild mussels from the coastal region of the northern Adriatic. Fungal spores of Psilocybe sp., Ulocladium sp. and Alternaria sp. were detected between the digestive tubules based on their morphology. Diagnostic PCR did not reveal infection with Marteilia refringens during the studied period, neither in wild nor farmed mussels. We confirmed the site effects on prevalence of infected mussels. Thus, we can conclude that wild areas are more exposed to endobionts and parasites than aquaculture sites.
We studied the occurrence, morphology and phenology of Dendroctonus micans in Lithuania and the fungi associated with the beetle at different developmental stages. The occurrence of D. micans was assessed in 19 seed orchards (at least 40 years old) of Picea abies (L. Karst.) situated in different parts of the country. Bark beetle phenology was studied in two sites: a seed orchard of P. abies and a plantation of Picea pungens (Engelm.). D. micans morphology was assessed under the dissection microscope using individuals at different developmental stages that were sampled during phenology observations. Communities of fungi associated with D. micans were studied using both fungal culturing methods and direct high-throughput sequencing from D. micans. Results showed that the incidence D. micans was relatively rare and D. micans was mainly detected in central and eastern Lithuania. The life cycle included the following stages: adult, egg, I–V developmental stage larvae and pupa. However, development of D. micans was quicker and its nests larger under the bark of P. pungens than of P. abies, indicating the effect of the host species. Fungal culturing and direct high-throughput sequencing revealed that D. micans associated fungi communities were species rich and dominated by yeasts from a class Saccharomycetes. In total, 319 fungal taxa were sequenced, among which Peterozyma toletana (37.5% of all fungal sequences), Yamadazyma scolyti (30.0%) and Kuraishia capsulate (17.7%) were the most common. Plant pathogens and blue stain fungi were also detected suggesting their potentially negative effects to both tree health and timber quality.
From the saprotrophs that decay plant material to the pathogens and mutualists that shape plant demography at local and regional scales, fungi are major drivers of tropical forest dynamics. Although endophytic fungi are abundant and diverse in many biomes, they reach their greatest diversity in tropical forests, where they can influence plant physiology, performance and survival. The number of quantitative studies regarding endophytes has increased dramatically in the past two decades, but general rules have not yet emerged regarding the biogeography, host affiliations, local or regional distributions, or phylogenetic diversity of endophytes in most tropical settings. Here, endophytic fungal communities associated with 18 species of eupolypod fern were compared among forest reserves in Panama, Costa Rica and Mexico. Molecular sequence data for >2000 isolates were used to determine the relationships of host taxonomy, forest (site), and environmental dissimilarity to endophyte community composition. Communities in related ferns differed significantly among forests, reflecting the interplay of geographic distance and environmental dissimilarity. Although the same phyla and classes of fungi were prevalent at each site, they differed in relative abundance. All sites were dominated by the same order (Xylariales), but sites differed in the phylogenetic clustering vs. evenness of their endophyte communities. By addressing the relationship of endophyte communities to host taxonomy, geographic distance and environmental factors, this study complements previous work on angiosperms and contributes to a growing perspective on the factors shaping communities of ecologically important fungi in tropical forests.
The Paramyxida, closely related to haplosporidians, paradinids, and mikrocytids, is an obscure order of parasitic protists within the class Ascetosporea. All characterized ascetosporeans are parasites of invertebrate hosts, including molluscs, crustaceans and polychaetes. Representatives of the genus Marteilia are the best studied paramyxids, largely due to their impact on cultured oyster stocks, and their listing in international legislative frameworks. Although several examples of microsporidian hyperparasitism of paramyxids have been reported, phylogenetic data for these taxa are lacking. Recently, a microsporidian parasite was described infecting the paramyxid Marteilia cochillia, a serious pathogen of European cockles. In the current study, we investigated the phylogeny of the microsporidian hyperparasite infecting M. cochillia in cockles and, a further hyperparasite, Unikaryon legeri infecting the digenean Meiogymnophallus minutus, also in cockles. We show that rather than representing basally branching taxa in the increasingly replete Cryptomycota/Rozellomycota outgroup (containing taxa such as Mitosporidium and Paramicrosoridium), these hyperparasites instead group with other known microsporidian parasites infecting aquatic crustaceans. In doing so, we erect a new genus and species (Hyperspora aquatica n. gn., n.sp.) to contain the hyperparasite of M. cochillia and clarify the phylogenetic position of U. legeri. We propose that in both cases, hyperparasitism may provide a strategy for the vectoring of microsporidians between hosts of different trophic status (e.g. molluscs to crustaceans) within aquatic systems. In particular, we propose that the paramyxid hyperparasite H. aquatica may eventually be detected as a parasite of marine crustaceans. The potential route of transmission of the microsporidian between the paramyxid (in its host cockle) to crustaceans, and, the ‘hitch-hiking’ strategy employed by H. aquatica is discussed.
Two new species of Lichenothelia, both from Iran, are described. Lichenothelia iranica is characterized by a black thallus with often finely lobate, slightly effigurate, not areolate margins, eight non-amyloid spores per ascus and 1–3-septate ascospores with 1–2 longitudinal or oblique septa. Lichenothelia ilamensis is distinguished by a black areolate, fissured, slightly effigurate or rarely lobulate thallus. The areoles are confluent and aggregated in the centre, becoming dispersed towards the margin, and the asci contain (4–)6(–8) non-amyloid, 1-septate spores.
Fungal deterioration of frescoes was studied in situ on a selected Serbian church, and on a laboratory model, utilizing standard and newly implemented microscopy techniques. Scanning electron microscopy (SEM) with energy-dispersive X-ray confirmed the limestone components of the plaster. Pigments used were identified as carbon black, green earth, iron oxide, ocher, and an ocher/cinnabar mixture. In situ microscopy, applied via a portable microscope ShuttlePix P-400R, proved very useful for detection of invisible micro-impairments and hidden, symptomless, microbial growth. SEM and optical microscopy established that observed deterioration symptoms, predominantly discoloration and pulverization of painted layers, were due to bacterial filaments and fungal hyphal penetration, and formation of a wide range of fungal structures (i.e., melanized hyphae, chlamydospores, microcolonial clusters, Cladosporium-like conidia, and Chaetomium perithecia and ascospores). The all year-round monitoring of spontaneous and induced fungal colonization of a “mock painting” in controlled laboratory conditions confirmed the decisive role of humidity level (70.18±6.91% RH) in efficient colonization of painted surfaces, as well as demonstrated increased bioreceptivity of painted surfaces to fungal colonization when plant-based adhesives (ilinocopie, murdent), compared with organic adhesives of animal origin (bone glue, egg white), are used for pigment sizing.
Recent studies suggest that sand can serve as a vehicle for exposure of humans to pathogens at beach sites, resulting in increased health risks. Sampling for microorganisms in sand should therefore be considered for inclusion in regulatory programmes aimed at protecting recreational beach users from infectious disease. Here, we review the literature on pathogen levels in beach sand, and their potential for affecting human health. In an effort to provide specific recommendations for sand sampling programmes, we outline published guidelines for beach monitoring programmes, which are currently focused exclusively on measuring microbial levels in water. We also provide background on spatial distribution and temporal characteristics of microbes in sand, as these factors influence sampling programmes. First steps toward establishing a sand sampling programme include identifying appropriate beach sites and use of initial sanitary assessments to refine site selection. A tiered approach is recommended for monitoring. This approach would include the analysis of samples from many sites for faecal indicator organisms and other conventional analytes, while testing for specific pathogens and unconventional indicators is reserved for high-risk sites. Given the diversity of microbes found in sand, studies are urgently needed to identify the most significant aetiological agent of disease and to relate microbial measurements in sand to human health risk.
Calopadia saxicola is described as new to science. The species grows on rocky shores in southern Brazil and is characterized by the corticate thallus, pruinose apothecia with brownish to reddish brown disc, mainly 2–3-spored asci with muriform ascospores, and the absence of secondary metabolites. A description with ecological data, figures, comments and a key to all species in the genus known from Brazil are given.
Established middle-ear cleft cholesteatoma is associated with keratinous debris, which is likely to be an ideal medium for saprophytic fungal colonisation. This prospective case study aimed to explore the incidence and nature of fungal elements in cholesteatoma keratin samples obtained during primary mastoid surgery.
All cases of middle-ear cleft cholesteatoma treated with primary mastoid surgery at the El-Sahel Teaching Hospital over a seven-month period were included. Keratinous debris obtained from the mastoid antrum was subjected to mycological analysis at the Department of Medical Microbiology and Immunology, Faculty of Medicine, Cairo University. A literature search was performed to determine the clinical and pathological relevance of fungal colonisation in cholesteatoma.
Eighteen patients underwent primary mastoid surgery for cholesteatoma (nineteen ears in total) in a seven-month period starting 30 March 2013. Patients included 13 males and 5 females, with an age range of 9 to 45 years (mean 23 years). Fungal cultures were obtained from 17 keratin samples (89 per cent). Of these, five fungal isolates belonged to the dermatophyte group (21 per cent).
Fungal colonisation in middle-ear cleft cholesteatoma probably plays a significant role in disease progression. Moreover, saprophytic fungal colonisation in cholesteatoma keratin may be responsible for the fetor commonly associated with the ear discharge.
This work applies culture-independent methods for the characterization of fungal populations (yeasts and moulds) naturally occurring in Sardinian ewe's milk sampled in the Italian areas with the largest dairy production (Sardinia and Lazio regions). Sequences of the D1/D2 variable domains at the 5′ end of the 26S rRNA gene were obtained by amplification of DNA directly isolated from milk, and this allowed identification of a total of 6 genera and 15 species of fungi. Among the 6 identified genera Geotrichum spp., Candida spp., Phaeosphaeriopsis spp., Pestalotiopsis spp. and Cladosporium spp. belong to the phylum of Ascomycota, while Cryptococcus spp. is part of the phylum of Basidiomycota. In particular, two genera (Pestalotiopsis and Phaeosphaeriopsis) and two species (Plectosphaerella cucumerina and Pryceomyces carsonii) have never been reported in dairy ecosystems before. Results provide evidence that several moulds and yeasts, previously described only in ovine cheeses, are transferred directly from raw milk. The knowledge of fungal consortia inhabiting sheep raw milk is a particularly relevant issue because several species are directly involved in cheese making and ripening, determining the typical aroma. On the other hand, spoilage yeasts and moulds are involved in anomalous fermentation of cheese and may be responsible for considerable economic losses and serious risks for consumers' health.
We report a rare case of concurrent myeloid sarcoma and acute fulminant invasive fungal sinusitis in a patient with relapsed acute myeloid leukaemia.
A 73-year-old man was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia and developed relapse one year later. After two courses of azacytidine, he began suffering from a dull pain in the left temporal and orbital regions. Sinus computed tomography showed a localised lesion in the left ethmoid sinus, which rapidly progressed to an extensive intracranial mass within one month. Surgical debridement was performed, and histopathological analysis revealed the coexistence of myeloid sarcoma and acute fulminant invasive fungal sinusitis. The patient responded well to prompt surgical debridement, antifungal medication and radiotherapy.
Coexistence of sinonasal myeloid sarcoma and acute fulminant invasive fungal sinusitis poses an urgent diagnostic and management challenge to clinicians. Timely recognition of this rare comorbid condition is warranted as application of appropriate treatment can save lives.
Plants, algae, and fungi are essential for nearly all life on earth. Through
photosynthesis, plants and algae convert solar energy to chemical energy in the form of
organic compounds that sustains essentially all life on earth. In addition, plants and
algae convert the carbon dioxide produced by respiring organisms to oxygen that is needed
for respiration. Fungi decompose complex organic compounds produced by respiring organisms
so that molecules can be recycled in photosynthesis and respiration. Plants, algae, and
fungi have one important feature in common, their cells have walls. Expansive growth and
its regulation are central to the life and development of plant, algal, and fungal cells,
i.e. cells with walls. In recent decades there has been an explosion of information
relevant to expansive growth of cells with walls. Mathematical models have been
constructed in an attempt to organize and evaluate this information, to gain insight, to
evaluate hypotheses, and to assist in the selection and development of new experimental
studies. In this article some of the mathematical models constructed to study expansive
growth of cells with walls are reviewed. It is nearly impossible to review all relevant
research conducted in this area. Instead, the review focuses on the development of
mathematical equations that have been used to model expansive growth, morphogenesis, and
growth rate regulation of cells with walls. Also, relevant experimental findings are
reviewed, conceptual models are presented, and suggestions for future research are
proposed. The authors have attempted to provide an overview that is accessible to
researchers that are not working in this field.