The phylum Ascomycota is by far the largest group in the fungal kingdom. Ecologically important mutualistic associations such as mycorrhizae and lichens have evolved in this group, which are regarded as key innovations that supported the evolution of land plants. Only a few attempts have been made to date the origin of Ascomycota lineages by using molecular clock methods, which is primarily due to the lack of satisfactory fossil calibration data. For this reason we have evaluated all of the oldest available ascomycete fossils from amber (Albian to Miocene) and chert (Devonian and Maastrichtian). The fossils represent five major ascomycete classes (Coniocybomycetes, Dothideomycetes, Eurotiomycetes, Laboulbeniomycetes, and Lecanoromycetes). We have assembled a multi-gene data set (18SrDNA, 28SrDNA, RPB1 and RPB2) from a total of 145 taxa representing most groups of the Ascomycota and utilized fossil calibration points solely from within the ascomycetes to estimate divergence times of Ascomycota lineages with a Bayesian approach. Our results suggest an initial diversification of the Pezizomycotina in the Ordovician, followed by repeated splits of lineages throughout the Phanerozoic, and indicate that this continuous diversification was unaffected by mass extinctions. We suggest that the ecological diversity within each lineage ensured that at least some taxa of each group were able to survive global crises and rapidly recovered.
Recent studies have provided evidence for pulses in the diversification of angiosperms, ferns, gymnosperms, and mosses as well as various groups of animals during the Cretaceous revolution of terrestrial ecosystems. However, evidence for such pulses has not been reported so far for liverworts. Here we provide new insight into liverwort evolution by integrating a comprehensive molecular dataset with a set of 20 fossil age constraints. We found evidence for a relative constant diversification rate of generalistic liverworts (Jungermanniales) since the Palaeozoic, whereas epiphytic liverworts (Porellales) show a sudden increase of lineage accumulation in the Cretaceous. This difference is likely caused by the pronounced response of Porellales to the ecological opportunities provided by humid, megathermal forests, which were increasingly available as a result of the rise of the angiosperms.
The Carnian Pluvial Episode (Late Triassic) was a time of global environmental changes and possibly substantial coeval volcanism. The extent of the biological turnover in marine and terrestrial ecosystems is not well understood. Here, we present a meta-analysis of fossil data that suggests a substantial reduction in generic and species richness and the disappearance of 33% of marine genera. This crisis triggered major radiations. In the sea, the rise of the first scleractinian reefs and rock-forming calcareous nannofossils points to substantial changes in ocean chemistry. On land, there were major diversifications and originations of conifers, insects, dinosaurs, crocodiles, lizards, turtles, and mammals. Although there is uncertainty on the precise age of some of the recorded biological changes, these observations indicate that the Carnian Pluvial Episode was linked to a major extinction event and might have been the trigger of the spectacular radiation of many key groups that dominate modern ecosystems.
Amber is fossilised plant resin. It can be used to provide insights into the terrestrial conditions at the time the original resin was exuded. Amber research thus can inform many aspects of palaeontology, from the recovery and description of enclosed fossil organisms (biological inclusions) to attempts at reconstruction of past climates and environments. Here we focus on the resin itself, the conditions under which it may have been exuded, and its potential path to fossilisation, rather than on enclosed fossils. It is noteworthy that not all plants produce resin, and that not all resins can (nor do) become amber. Given the recent upsurge in the number of amber deposits described, it is time to re-examine ambers from a botanical perspective. Here we summarise the state of knowledge about resin production in modern ecosystems, and review the biological and ecological aspects of resin production in plants. We also present new observations on conifer-derived resin exudation, with a particular focus on araucarian conifer trees. We suggest that besides disease, insect attacks and traumatic wounding from fires and storms, other factors such as tree architecture and local soil conditions are significant in creating and preserving resin outpourings. We also examine the transformation of resin into amber (maturation), focusing on geological aspects of amber deposit formation and preservation. We present new evidence that expands previous understanding of amber deposit formation. Specific geological conditions such as anoxic burial are essential in the creation of amber from resin deposits. We show that in the past, the production of large amounts of resin could have been linked to global climate changes and environmental disruption. We then highlight where the gaps in our knowledge still remain and potential future research directions.
BackgroundMammalian cells synthesize morphine and the respective biosynthetic pathway has been elucidated. Human neutrophils release this alkaloid into the media after exposure to morphine precursors. However, the exact role of endogenous morphine in inflammatory processes remains unclear. We postulate that morphine is released during infection and can be determined in the serum of patients with severe infection such as sepsis.MethodologyThe presence and subcellular immunolocalization of endogenous morphine was investigated by ELISA, mass spectrometry analysis and laser confocal microscopy. Neutrophils were activated with Interleukin-8 (IL-8) or lipopolysaccharide (LPS). Morphine secretion was determined by a morphine-specific ELISA. μ opioid receptor expression was assessed with flow cytometry. Serum morphine concentrations of septic patients were determined with a morphine-specific ELISA and morphine identity was confirmed in human neutrophils and serum of septic patients by mass spectrometry analysis. The effects of the concentration of morphine found in serum of septic patients on LPS-induced release of IL-8 by human neutrophils were tested.Principal FindingsWe confirmed the presence of morphine in human neutrophil extracts and showed its colocalisation with lactoferrin within the secondary granules of neutrophils. Morphine secretion was quantified in the supernatant of activated human polymorphonuclear neutrophils in the presence and absence of Ca2+. LPS and IL-8 were able to induce a significant release of morphine only in presence of Ca2+. LPS treatment increased μ opioid receptor expression on neutrophils. Low concentration of morphine (8 nM) significantly inhibited the release of IL-8 from neutrophils when coincubated with LPS. This effect was reversed by naloxone. Patients with sepsis, severe sepsis and septic shock had significant higher circulating morphine levels compared to patients with systemic inflammatory response syndrome and healthy controls. Mass spectrometry analysis showed that endogenous morphine from serum of patient with sepsis was identical to poppy-derived morphine.ConclusionsOur results indicate that morphine concentrations are increased significantly in the serum of patients with systemic infection and that morphine is, at least in part, secreted from neutrophils during sepsis. Morphine concentrations equivalent to those found in the serum of septic patients significantly inhibited LPS-induced IL-8 secretion in neutrophils.
Amber is of great paleontological importance because it preserves a diverse array of organisms and associated remains from different habitats in and close to the amber-producing forests. Therefore, the discovery of amber inclusions is important not only for tracing the evolutionary history of lineages with otherwise poor fossil records, but also for elucidating the composition, diversity, and ecology of terrestrial paleoecosystems. Here, we report a unique find of African amber with inclusions, from the Cretaceous of Ethiopia. Ancient arthropods belonging to the ants, wasps, thrips, zorapterans, and spiders are the earliest African records of these ecologically important groups and constitute significant discoveries providing insight into the temporal and geographical origins of these lineages. Together with diverse microscopic inclusions, these findings reveal the interactions of plants, fungi and arthropods during an epoch of major change in terrestrial ecosystems, which was caused by the initial radiation of the angiosperms. Because of its age, paleogeographic location and the exceptional preservation of the inclusions, this fossil resin broadens our understanding of the ecology of Cretaceous woodlands.Arachnida | Ethiopia | Hexapoda | microorganisms | paleoecology
The occurrence of arthropods in amber exclusively from the Cretaceous and Cenozoic is widely regarded to be a result of the production and preservation of large amounts of tree resin beginning ca. 130 million years (Ma) ago. Abundant 230 million-year-old amber from the Late Triassic (Carnian) of northeastern Italy has previously yielded myriad microorganisms, but we report here that it also preserves arthropods some 100 Ma older than the earliest prior records in amber. The Triassic specimens are a nematoceran fly (Diptera) and two disparate species of mites, Triasacarus fedelei gen. et sp. nov., and Ampezzoa triassica gen. et sp. nov. These mites are the oldest definitive fossils of a group, the Eriophyoidea, which includes the gall mites and comprises at least 3,500 Recent species, 97% of which feed on angiosperms and represents one of the most specialized lineages of phytophagous arthropods. Antiquity of the gall mites in much their extant form was unexpected, particularly with the Triassic species already having many of their present-day features (such as only two pairs of legs); further, it establishes conifer feeding as an ancestral trait. Feeding by the fossil mites may have contributed to the formation of the amber droplets, but we find that the abundance of amber during the Carnian ( ca. 230 Ma) is globally anomalous for the pre-Cretaceous and may, alternatively, be related to paleoclimate. Further recovery of arthropods in Carnian-aged amber is promising and will have profound implications for understanding the evolution of terrestrial members of the most diverse phylum of organisms.
Music performance anxiety (MPA) is one of the most common disorders among professional musicians, nevertheless, little is known about the disease. With this systematic review, prevalence, risk factors and treatment procedures for MPA were assessed, and for the first time, quality assessments were carried out for all studies using standardized assessment tools. A systematic literature search was conducted via search algorithms in the databases MEDLINE, EMBASE, CINAHL, PsycArticles, PsycInfo and ERIC. Included were case reports, case–control, cohort, cross-sectional and intervention studies examining professional musicians with MPA. For quality assessment, adapted tools of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute were used. A total of 43 studies were included (10 case reports, 21 intervention, 11 cross-sectional, one cohort study). Quality ratings ranged from −11 to 6 out of a maximum of 15/16 points for cross-sectional/cohort studies and −4 to 11 out of 18 points for intervention studies. The prevalence of MPA was between 16.5% and 60%. More women than men were affected and musicians older than 45–50 years reported less MPA than younger musicians. Regarding treatment cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and β-blockers were most often researched with beneficial results for CBT. However, studies with adequate control groups for CBT interventions are needed to clarify its efficacy. Studies showed methodological weaknesses, especially in the selection of participants, recording of influencing factors, blinding of interventions, randomization of participants and analysis of comorbidity. Recommendations for further research are made.
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