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Understanding the processes leading to fossilization

Modern death assemblages provide insights about the early stages of fossilization and useful ecological information about the species inhabiting the ecosystem. The results of taphonomic monitoring of modern vertebrate carcasses and bones from Doñana National Park, a Mediterranean coastal ecosystem in Andalusia, Spain, are presented. Ten different habitats were surveyed. Half of them occur in active depositional environments (marshland, lake margin, river margin, beach and dunes). Most of the skeletal remains belong to land mammals larger than 5 kg in body weight (mainly wild and feral ungulates). Overall, the Doñana bone assemblage shows good preservation with little damage to the bones, partly as a consequence of the low predator pressure on large vertebrates. Assemblages from active depositional habitats differ significantly from other habitats in terms of the higher incidence of breakage and chewing marks on bones in the latter, which result from scavenging, mainly by wild boar and red fox. The lake-margin and river-margin death assemblages have high concentrations of well preserved bones that are undergoing burial and offer the greatest potential to produce fossil assemblages. The spatial distribution of species in the Doñana death assemblage generally reflects the preferred habitats of the species in life. Meadows seem to be a preferred winter habitat for male deer, given the high number of shed antlers recorded there. This study is further proof that taphonomy can provide powerful insights to better understand the ecology of modern species and to infer past and future scenarios for the fossil record. informacion[at]ebd.csic.es: Domingo et al (2020) Taphonomic information from the modern vertebrate death assemblage of Doñana National Park, Spain. PLOS ONE 15(11): e0242082. DOI 10.1371/journal.pone.0242082


https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0242082
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Changes in melanocyte RNA and DNA methylation favor pheomelanin synthesis and may avoid systemic oxidative stress after dietary cysteine supplementation in birds

Changes in melanocyte RNA and DNA methylation favor pheomelanin synthesis and may avoid systemic oxidative stress after dietary cysteine supplementation in birds

Cysteine plays essential biological roles, but excessive amounts produce cellular oxidative stress. Cysteine metabolism is mainly mediated by the enzymes cysteine dioxygenase and ?-glutamylcysteine synthetase, respectively coded by the genes CDO1 and GCLC. Here a new hypothesis is tested posing that the synthesis of the pigment pheomelanin also contributes to cysteine homeostasis in melanocytes, where cysteine can enter the pheomelanogenesis pathway. An experiment was conducted in the Eurasian nuthatch Sitta europaea, a bird producing large amounts of pheomelanin for feather pigmentation, to investigate if melanocytes show epigenetic lability under exposure to excess cysteine. Systemic cysteine levels were increased in nuthatches by supplementing them with dietary cysteine during growth. This caused in feather melanocytes the downregulation of genes involved in intracellular cysteine metabolism (GCLC), cysteine transport to the cytosol from the extracellular medium (Slc7a11) and from melanosomes (CTNS), and regulation of tyrosinase activity (MC1R and ASIP). These changes were mediated by increases in DNA m5C in all genes excepting Slc7a11, which experienced RNA m6A depletion. Birds supplemented with cysteine synthesized more pheomelanin than controls, but did not suffer higher systemic oxidative stress. These results suggest that excess cysteine activates an epigenetic mechanism that favors pheomelanin synthesis and may protect from oxidative stress. informacion[at]ebd.csic.es: Rodríguez-Martínez et al (2019) Changes in melanocyte RNA and DNA methylation favor pheomelanin synthesis and may avoid systemic oxidative stress after dietary cysteine supplementation in birds


https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/mec.15024