Biodiversity is the variety of different forms of life on earth, including the different plants, animals, micro-organisms, the genes they contain and the ecosystem they form. It refers to genetic variation, ecosystem variation, species variation (number of species) within an area, biome or planet. Relative to the range of habitats, biotic communities and ecological processes in the biosphere, biodiversity is vital in a number of ways including promoting the aesthetic value of the natural environment, contribution to our material well-being through utilitarian values by providing food, fodder, fuel, timber and medicine. Biodiversity is the life support system. Organisms depend on it for the air to breathe, the food to eat, and the water to drink. Wetlands filter pollutants from water, trees and plants reduce global warming by absorbing carbon, and bacteria and fungi break down organic material and fertilize the soil. It has been empirically shown that native species richness is linked to the health of ecosystems, as is the quality of life for humans. The ecosystem services of biodiversity is maintained through formation and protection of soil, conservation and purification of water, maintaining hydrological cycles, regulation of biochemical cycles, absorption and breakdown of pollutants and waste materials through decomposition, determination and regulation of the natural world climate. Despite the benefits from biodiversity, today’s threats to species and ecosystems are increasing day by day with alarming rate and virtually all of them are caused by human mismanagement of biological resources often stimulated by imprudent economic policies, pollution and faulty institutions in-addition to climate change. To ensure intra and intergenerational equity, it is important to conserve biodiversity. Some of the existing measures of biodiversity conservation include; reforestation, zoological gardens, botanical gardens, national parks, biosphere reserves, germplasm banks and adoption of breeding techniques, tissue culture techniques, social forestry to minimize stress on the exploitation of forest resources.
In semi-arid regions, water stress during seed germination and early seedling growth is the highest cause of crop loss. In nature, some seeds (for example, chia and basil) produce a mucilage-based hydrogel that creates a germination-promoting microenvironment by retaining water, regulating nutrient entry and facilitating interactions with beneficial microorganisms. Inspired by this strategy, a two-layered biopolymer-based seed coating has been developed to increase germination and water-stress tolerance in semi-arid, sandy soils. Seeds are coated with a silk/trehalose inner layer containing rhizobacteria and a pectin/carboxymethylcellulose outer layer that reswells upon sowing and acts as a water jacket. Using Phaseolus vulgaris (common bean) cultured under water-stress conditions in an experimental farm in Ben Guerir, Morocco, the proposed seed coating effectively delivered rhizobacteria to form root nodules, resulted in plants with better health and mitigated water stress in drought-prone marginal lands. A programmable seed coating technology has the potential to increase seed germination and water-stress tolerance in semi-arid, sandy soils.
Intestinal epithelial wound healing, which is essential for health, is compromised and represents a therapeutic target in inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). While studies have elucidated important subpopulations of intestinal epithelial cells in repair, these have yet to translate to therapies. Here, in mouse models of acute colitis, we demonstrate a distinct and essential source of wound-healing cells that re-epithelialize the distal colon. Using 3-d imaging, lineage tracing, and single-cell transcriptomics, we show that neighboring skin-like (squamous) cells of the anus rapidly migrate into the injured colon and establish a permanent epithelium of crypt-like morphology. These squamous cells derive from a small unique transition zone, at the boundary of colonic and anal epithelium, that resists colitis. The cells of this zone have a pre-loaded program of colonic differentiation and further upregulate key aspects of colonic epithelium during repair. Thus, heterologous cell-types at tissue junctions represent unique reserve cells capable of repair and plasticity.
Interspecies chimera formation with human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs) represents a necessary alternative to evaluate hPSC pluripotency in vivo and might constitute a promising strategy for various regenerative medicine applications, including the generation of organs and tissues for transplantation. Studies using mouse and pig embryos suggest that hPSCs do not robustly contribute to chimera formation in species evolutionarily distant to humans. We studied the chimeric competency of human extended pluripotent stem cells (hEPSCs) in cynomolgus monkey (Macaca fascicularis) embryos cultured ex vivo. We demonstrate that hEPSCs survived, proliferated, and generated several peri- and early post-implantation cell lineages inside monkey embryos. We also uncovered signaling events underlying interspecific crosstalk that may help shape the unique developmental trajectories of human and monkey cells within chimeric embryos. These results may help to better understand early human development and primate evolution and develop strategies to improve human chimerism in evolutionarily distant species.
Can limb regeneration be induced? Few have pursued this question, and an evolutionarily conserved strategy has yet to emerge. This study reports a strategy for inducing regenerative response in appendages, which works across three species that span the animal phylogeny. In Cnidaria, the frequency of appendage regeneration in the moon jellyfish was increased by feeding with the amino acid L-leucine and the growth hormone insulin. In insects, the same strategy induced tibia regeneration in adult . Finally, in mammals, L-leucine and sucrose administration induced digit regeneration in adult mice, including dramatically from mid-phalangeal amputation. The conserved effect of L-leucine and insulin/sugar suggests a key role for energetic parameters in regeneration induction. The simplicity by which nutrient supplementation can induce appendage regeneration provides a testable hypothesis across animals.
Maternal immune activation (MIA) during pregnancy is recognized as an etiological risk factor for various psychiatric disorders, such as schizophrenia, major depressive disorder, and autism. Prenatal immune challenge may serve as a “disease primer” for alteration of the trajectory of fetal brain development that, in combination with other genetic and environmental factors, may ultimately result in the emergence of different psychiatric conditions. However, the association between MIA and an offspring’s chance of developing anxiety disorders is less clear. To evaluate the effect of MIA on offspring anxiety, a systematic review and meta-analysis of the preclinical literature was conducted. We performed a systematic search of the PubMed, Web of Science, PsycINFO, and Cochrane Library electronic databases using the PRISMA and World Health Organization (WHO) methodologies for systematic reviews. Studies that investigated whether MIA during pregnancy could cause anxiety symptoms in rodent offspring were included. Overall, the meta-analysis showed that MIA induced anxiety behavior in offspring. The studies provide strong evidence that prenatal immune activation impacts specific molecular targets and synapse formation and function and induces an imbalance in neurotransmission that could be related to the generation of anxiety in offspring. Future research should further explore the role of MIA in anxiety endophenotypes. According to this meta-analysis, MIA plays an important role in the pathophysiological mechanisms of anxiety disorders and is a promising therapeutic target.
The emergence of multicellularity is a key event in the evolution of life and is an attractive challenge among researchers, including those investigating the artificial design of cellular behavior . Multicellular organisms are widely distributed on Earth, and retracing the specific conditions conducive for the initial transition from unicellularity to multicellularity is difficult. However, by examining organisms that inhabit unique (e.g., isolated) environmental niches, we may be able to get a glimpse into primitive multicellularity in the context of a given environment. Here we report the discovery of a new bacterium that displayed multicellular-like characteristics and behavior. The bacterium, which was isolated adjacent to an underground stream in a limestone cave, is to be named sp. nov. HS-3. On a solid surface, HS-3 self-organizes its filamentous cells to form an appearance similar to the nematic phase of a liquid crystal . Mature colonies produce and accommodate clusters of coccobacillus progeny, and release them upon contact with water. HS-3 demonstrated novel, spatiotemporally regulated multicellularity that can resolve the so-called ‘competition-dispersal trade-off’ problem . This study illustrates a hypothetical missing link on the emergence of multicellularity.
Microbial pan-genomes are shaped by a complex combination of stochastic and deterministic forces. Even closely related genomes often exhibit extensive variation in their gene content. Understanding what drives this variation requires exploring the interactions of genes with each other and with their external environments. However, to date, conceptual models of pan-genome dynamics often represent genes as independent units and provide limited information about their mechanistic interactions. Here, we use pan-reactomes as proxies for pan-genomes since they can explicitly represent the interactions between the genes that code for metabolic reactions and simulate complex phenotypes that interact with the metabolic environment. We interpreted pan-reactomes as dynamic pools of metabolic reactions that are potentially gained or lost and simulated the routes along which different lineages lose reactions in alternative environments. We performed these simulations on the pan-reactomes of 46 bacterial and archaeal families covering a broad taxonomic range. These simulations allowed us to disentangle metabolic reactions whose presence does, and does not depend on the metabolite composition of the external environment, allowing us to identify reactions constrained “by nutrition” and “by nature”, respectively. By comparing the frequency of reactions from the first group with their observed frequencies in bacterial and archaeal families, we predicted the metabolic niches that shaped the genomic composition of these lineages in their evolutionary past. Moreover, we found that the lineages that were shaped by a more diverse metabolic niche also occur in more diverse biomes as assessed by global environmental sequencing datasets. Together, we introduce a computational framework for analyzing and interpreting pan-reactomes that provides new insights into the ecological and evolutionary drivers of pan-genome composition.
Network Component Analysis (NCA) has shown its effectiveness in discovering regulators and inferring transcription factor activities (TFAs) when both microarray data and ChIP-on-chip data are available. However, a NCA scheme is not applicable to many biological studies due to limited topology information available, such as lack of ChIP-on-chip data. We propose a new approach, motif-directed NCA (mNCA), to integrate motif information and gene expression data to infer regulatory networks.