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Argentine ants harm nestlings of the blue tit

The consequences of ant invasions on ecosystems may only become apparent after long periods. In addition, predicting how sensitive native fauna will respond is only possible if the underlying proximate mechanisms of their impact are identified. The attraction of the native and invasive ant community to artificial bird nests was studied, together with reproduction of a wild native songbird over five consecutive breeding seasons in relation to the presence of an invasive ant species. Biometric, reproductive and individual blood parameters of great tits Parus major breeding in invaded as compared to uninvaded sites by Argentine ants Linepithema humile were analysed. Great tits bred preferably in uninvaded territories by the Argentine ant. Moreover, Argentine ants were more abundant at nests in invaded sites, than any native ant species were at uninvaded sites. Further, Argentine ants recruited at the artificial nests more intensively and responded to a larger variety of nest (intact eggs, cracked eggs, faeces, and cracked eggs plus faeces) contents than native species. Although breeding success and adult condition did not vary in relation to invasion status, offspring quality was negatively affected by the presence of Argentine ants. Nestlings reared in invaded sites were lighter, with lower wing/tarsus length ratio and had a reduced nutritional condition and altered oxidative stress balance as measured from several blood parameters. The interspersed distribution and small distance between invaded versus uninvaded territories suggest that ant presence affects nestling condition through direct interference at the nest. These results highlight the importance of evaluating the proximate effects like physiological parameters of the native fauna, when studying invasive ant-native bird interactions. informacion[at]ebd.csic.es: Álvarez et al (2020) Breeding consequences for a songbird nesting in Argentine ant' invaded land. Biol Invasions https://doi.org/10.1007/s10530-020-02297-3


https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10530-020-02297-3
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Epigenetics, human malaria, and mosquitoes

Epigenetics, human malaria, and mosquitoes

Plasmodium falciparum phenotypic plasticity is linked to the variant expression of clonal multigene families such as the var genes. This study examined changes in transcription and histones modifications that occur during sporogonic development of P. falciparum in the mosquito host. All var genes are silenced or transcribed at low levels in blood stages (gametocyte/rings) of the parasite in the human host. After infection of mosquitoes, a single var gene is selected for expression in the oocyst, and transcription of this gene increases dramatically in the sporozoite. The same PF3D7_1255200 var gene was activated in 4 different experimental infections. Transcription of this var gene during parasite development in the mosquito correlates with the presence of low levels of H3K9me3 at the binding site for the PF3D7_1466400 AP2 transcription factor. This chromatin state in the sporozoite also correlates with the expression of an antisense long non-coding RNA (lncRNA) that has previously been shown to promote var gene transcription during the intraerythrocytic cycle in vitro. Expression of both the sense protein coding transcript and the antisense lncRNA increase dramatically in sporozoites. The findings suggest a complex process for the activation of a single particular var gene that involves AP2 transcription factors and lncRNAs. informacion[at]ebd.csic.es: Gómez-Díaz et al (2017) Epigenetic regulation of Plasmodium falciparum clonally variant gene expression during development in Anopheles gambiae. Sci Rep doi:10.1038/srep40655


http://www.nature.com/articles/srep40655