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Topic review
Updated time: 18 May 2021
Submitted by: Hui Min Neoh
Definition: The 16S rRNA gene is highly conserved in all bacteria (and also archaea). Nonetheless, it contains nine hypervariable regions (V1 - V9), where sequences of these regions can be used to identify and discriminate bacterial genus, sometimes until the species level. This makes the gene a useful tool for phylogenetic studies. With the introduction of next-generation sequencing technologies, 16S rRNA next-generation sequencing (16SNGS) has allowed profiling of bacterial communities found in organisms and the environment, and lead to the discovery of many previously unculturable members of the bacteria kingdom.
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Topic review
Updated time: 12 May 2021
Submitted by: GOMATHY SETHURAMAN
Definition: Transformative agroecology has been recognized as a stepping stone to achieving several Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), due to its great potential to build climate change-resilient farming systems while enhancing ecosystem services and reducing biodiversity loss. Understanding the agroecological elements that underlie the sustainability of an agroecosystem is an urgent matter, serving as the foundation for designing a truly transformative agroecosystem.
Entry Collection : Environmental Sciences
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Topic review
Updated time: 07 Apr 2021
Submitted by: Monica Mazorra
Definition: Microbial symbionts are nowadays considered of pivotal importance for animal life. Among the many processes where microorganisms are involved, an emerging research avenue focuses on their major role in driving the evolution of chemical communication in their hosts. Volatiles of bacterial origin may underlie chemical communication and the transfer of social information through signals, as well as inadvertent social information.
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Topic review
Updated time: 01 Jun 2021
Submitted by: Stefano Varrella
Definition: Despite the harsh conditions, fungi are ubiquitously present in Antarctic ecosystems. The key to fungal success can be due to the vast array of specialized molecules, which allowed their colonization in almost every habitat of our Planet. In Antarctic marine environments, the fungal specific adaptions to low temperatures lead to the production of structurally novel enzymes and secondary metabolites that provide competitive advantages over other microorganisms. The bioprospecting of Antarctic fungi for new bioactive compounds and enzymes is important not only for elucidating their ecological role but also useful for developing blue biotechnologies.
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Topic review
Updated time: 10 Aug 2020
Submitted by: Eduardo Arellano
Definition: Cultural landscapes emerge from the artificialization of nature and the opening of the land, resulting in a landscape that conforms to the culture and the availability of technologies, thus creating a whole system with either higher or lower levels of life quality and sustainability. Three central elements operate interactively in the construction of cultural landscapes: the territory, the social actors who act in the territory, and the articulators (e.g., technology and regulations). The construction of cultural landscapes gives rise to a gradient of territorial typologies, including wildland, rural and urban, which have different requirements and consumption of resources and energy.
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Topic review
Updated time: 02 Nov 2020
Submitted by: Maryse Vanderplanck
Definition: Excessive pollen harvesting by bees can compromise the reproductive success of plants. Plants have therefore evolved different morphological structures and floral cues to narrow the spectrum of pollen feeding visitors. Among “filtering” mechanisms, the chemical and mechanical protection of pollen might shape bee-flower interactions and restrict pollen exploitation to a specific suite of visitors such as observed in Asteraceae. Asteraceae pollen is indeed only occasionally exploited by generalist bee species but plentifully foraged by specialist ones (i.e., Asteraceae paradox). During our bioassays, we observed that micro-colonies of generalist bumblebee (Bombus terrestris L.) feeding on Taraxacum pollen (Asteraceae) reduced their pollen collection and offspring production. Bees also experienced physiological effects of possible defenses in the form of digestive damage. Overall, our results suggest the existence of an effective chemical defense in Asteraceae pollen, while the hypothesis of a mechanical defense appeared more unlikely. Pre- and post-ingestive effects of such chemical defenses (i.e., nutrient deficit or presence of toxic compounds), as well as their role in the shaping of bee-flower interactions, are discussed. Our results strongly suggest that pollen chemical traits may act as drivers of plant selection by bees and partly explain why Asteraceae pollen is rare in generalist bee diets.
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Topic review
Updated time: 25 May 2021
Submitted by: Andreas Masouras
Definition: The European Water Framework Directive 2000/60/EC (WFD) has been implemented over the past 20 years, using physicochemical, biological and hydromorphological elements to assess the ecological status of surface waters. Benthic diatoms (i.e., phytobenthos) are one of the most common biological quality elements (BQEs) used in surface water monitoring and are particularly successful in detecting eutrophication, organic pollution and acidification. Herein, we reviewed their implementation in river biomonitoring for the purposes of the WFD, highlighting their advantages and disadvantages over other BQEs, and we discuss recent advances that could be applied in future biomonitoring. Until now, phytobenthos have been intercalibrated by the vast majority (26 out of 28) of EU Member States (MS) in 54% of the total water bodies assessed and was the most commonly used BQE after benthic invertebrates (85% of water bodies), followed by fish (53%), macrophytes (27%) and phytoplankton (4%). To meet the WFD demands, numerous taxonomy-based quality indices have been developed among MS, presenting, however, uncertainties possibly related to species biogeography. Recent development of different types of quality indices (trait-based, DNA sequencing and predictive modeling) could provide more accurate results in biomonitoring, but should be validated and intercalibrated among MS before their wide application in water quality assessments.
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Topic review
Updated time: 21 Sep 2020
Submitted by: Daniel Alongi
Definition: The carbon cycle in mangrove ecosystems is an important biogeochemical pathway in understanding the links between this forest ecosystem and both the atmosphere and the adjacent coastal ocean. Mangroves are a major habitat in the coastal zone for storing carbon in the soils of their deep forest floor, and for exporting to adjacent coastal seas significant quantities of dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC). The large export of DIC is sufficient to result in adjacent coastal waters becoming a source of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere in tropical and subtropical latitudes.
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Topic review
Updated time: 13 Jan 2021
Submitted by: Carlos Klink
Definition: The Cerrado is the richest savanna in the world and is undergoing one of the planet’s most rapid land transformations for pasture and agriculture; around 45% of the biome has been deforested. Agriculture is of strategic importance to Brazil, but it also modifies ecosystems and jeopardizes habitats and biodiversity. Well-managed agricultural lands can have a favorable impact on environmental conservation.
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Topic review
Updated time: 12 Apr 2021
Submitted by: Maurizio Rossetto
Definition: Refugia play an important role in contributing to the conservation of species and communities by buffering environmental conditions over time.
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