Aim To examine whether the tree flora of the Atlantic forest of northeastern Brazil has experienced detectable taxonomic homogenization via the proliferation of native pioneer species in response to habitat loss and fragmentation.
Location Biotic homogenization (BH) was examined across the Atlantic forest of northeast Brazil, i.e. a 56,000 km2 piece of tropical forest and a distinct centre of species endemism in South America.
Methods We assessed a dataset consisting of 5122 tree records and compared the similarity of tree floras from 12 semi‐natural sub‐regions of the Atlantic forest between two time periods: pre‐1980 (plant records between 1902 and 1980), and post‐1980 (between 1981 and 2006). To understand the mechanisms leading to BH (1) tree floras were ordered (via non‐metric multidimensional scaling – NMDS) by date (pre/post 1980) based on species occurrence and frequency, (2) NMDS axes were regressed against the proportion of those species that increased their occurrence post‐1980 (i.e. the winner species), and (3) patterns of geographic distribution and frequency of particular life‐history traits were examined across winner species and a control group.
Results Tree floras across the Atlantic forest became c. 20–40% more similar to each other post‐1980, but patterns of species similarity were also influenced by between‐plot geographical distance. NMDS ordination clearly segregated pre‐ and post‐1980 floras with a clear signal of floristic convergence. Furthermore, winner tree species were largely composed of short‐lived and small‐seeded pioneer species that exhibit wide geographic distributions.
Main conclusions Our results suggest that tropical forest biotas are susceptible to taxonomic homogenization (i.e. increasing levels of similarity) in the context of severe human‐disturbance via the proliferation of particular groups of native species comprised mainly by ecologically‐plastic, generalist species. We are thus extending the concept of homogenization to address and highlight a pervasive biological shift in the structure of tropical forest communities currently taking place across hyper‐fragmented landscapes.
Microbial sulfate reduction has governed Earth's biogeochemical sulfur cycle for at least 2.5 billion years. However, the enzymatic mechanisms behind this pathway are incompletely understood, particularly for the reduction of sulfite-a key intermediate in the pathway. This critical reaction is performed by DsrAB, a widespread enzyme also involved in other dissimilatory sulfur metabolisms. Using in vitro assays with an archaeal DsrAB, supported with genetic experiments in a bacterial system, we show that the product of sulfite reduction by DsrAB is a protein-based trisulfide, in which a sulfite-derived sulfur is bridging two conserved cysteines of DsrC. Physiological studies also reveal that sulfate reduction rates are determined by cellular levels of DsrC. Dissimilatory sulfate reduction couples the four-electron reduction of the DsrC trisulfide to energy conservation.
Aim To use parsimony analysis of endemicity and cladistic analysis of distributions and endemism to evaluate two hypotheses addressing biogeographical relationships among Amazonia, the Caatinga forest enclaves, Pernambuco Centre and the southern Atlantic Forest.Location North-eastern Brazil, South America.Methods To find the most parsimonious areagram we analysed a matrix composed of the presence (1) or absence (0) of 745 taxa (i.e. 293 genera and 452 species of woody plants) within 16 localities belonging to the four large regions addressed in this study.Results One most parsimonious areagram was found and it shows a basal separation between the southern Atlantic Forest and all other regions. This break is followed by a separation between all Caatinga forest enclaves (except Baturité) from a cluster composed of Baturité, the Pernambuco Centre and Amazonia. In this cluster, the most basal separation isolates Baturité from the cluster formed by localities from Amazonia and the Pernambuco Centre. The biogeographical relationships among sites could not be explained by either a random distribution of species among sites or by the geographical distance between sites.Main conclusions We found strong cladistic signal within the raw distribution and phylogenetic data used in our analysis, indicating structured species assemblages in the surveyed localities. They have resulted from the fragmentation of an ancestral biota that was once widely distributed in the region. Our results also support the hypothesis that Atlantic Forest is not a biogeographically natural area, because the Pernambuco Centre is more closely related to Amazonia than to the southern Atlantic Forest. Finally, our data do not support the notion that Caatinga forest enclaves comprise a single biogeographical region, because one Caatinga forest enclave (Baturité) is much more closely related to the cluster formed by Amazonia and the Pernambuco Centre than to other sites. These relationships suggest the occurrence of forest connections between Amazonia and the Atlantic Forests across Caatinga during several periods of the Tertiary and Quaternary. However, palaeoecological data currently available for the Caatinga region are still scarce and do not have either the spatial or temporal resolution required to reconstruct the history of connections among the forests in north-eastern Brazil.
Fonsecaea pedrosoi is the principal etiologic agent of chromoblastomycosis, a fungal disease whose pathogenic events are poorly understood. Treatment of the disease presents poor effectiveness and serious side effects. The disease is epidemiologically important in several regions, which has stimulated studies focused on the biology and pathogenic potential of its major causative agent. In this review, we summarize the current knowledge on the biological aspects of F. pedrosoi, including cell differentiation and pathogenic mechanisms during the interaction of fungi with different hosts' elements.
Foamy viruses naturally infect a wide range of mammals, including Old World (OWP) and New World primates (NWP), which are collectively called simian foamy viruses (SFV). While NWP species in Central and South America are highly diverse, only SFV from captive marmoset, spider monkey, and squirrel monkey have been genetically characterized and the molecular epidemiology of SFV infection in NWPs remains unknown. We tested a large collection of genomic DNA (n = 332) comprising 14 genera of NWP species for the presence of SFV polymerase (pol) sequences using generic PCR primers. Further molecular characterization of positive samples was carried out by LTR-gag and larger pol sequence analysis. We identified novel SFVs infecting nine NWP genera. Prevalence rates varied between 14–30% in different species for which at least 10 specimens were tested. High SFV genetic diversity among NWP up to 50% in LTR-gag and 40% in pol was revealed by intragenus and intrafamilial comparisons. Two different SFV strains infecting two captive yellow-breasted capuchins did not group in species-specific lineages but rather clustered with SFVs from marmoset and spider monkeys, indicating independent cross-species transmission events. We describe the first SFV epidemiology study of NWP, and the first evidence of SFV infection in wild NWPs. We also document a wide distribution of distinct SFVs in 14 NWP genera, including two novel co-speciating SFVs in capuchins and howler monkeys, suggestive of an ancient evolutionary history in NWPs for at least 28 million years. A high SFV genetic diversity was seen among NWP, yet these viruses seem able to jump between NWP species and even genera. Our results raise concerns for the risk of zoonotic transmission of NWP SFV to humans as these primates are regularly hunted for food or kept as pets in forest regions of South America.
Introduction and Objective: Dengue virus is a serious global health problem with an estimated 3.97 billion people at risk for infection worldwide. In December 2015, the first vaccine (CYD-TDV) for dengue prevention was approved in Brazil, developed by Sanofi Pasteur. However, given that the vaccine will potentially be paid via the public health system, information is need regarding consumers’ willingness to pay for the dengue vaccine in the country as well as discussions related to the possible inclusion of this vaccine into the public health system. This was the objective of this research.Methods: We conducted a cross-sectional study with residents of Greater Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais, about their willingness to pay for the CYD-TDV vaccine.Results: 507 individuals were interviewed. These were mostly female (62.4%) had completed high school (62.17%), were working (74.4%), had private health insurance (64.5%) and did not have dengue (67.4%). The maximum median value of consumers’ willingness to pay for CYD-TDV vaccine is US$33.61 (120.00BRL) for the complete schedule and US$11.20 (40.00BRL) per dose. At the price determined by the Brazil’s regulatory chamber of pharmaceutical products market for the commercialization of Dengvaxia® for three doses, only 17% of the population expressed willingness to pay for this vaccine.Conclusion: Brazil is currently one of the largest markets for dengue vaccine and the price established is a key issue. We believe the manufacturer should asses the possibility of lower prices to reach a larger audience among the Brazilian population.
In this paper, we shed light on the debate about the financial performance of socially responsible investment (SRI) mutual funds by separately analyzing the contributions of before-fee performance and fees to SRI funds' performance and by investigating the role played by fund management companies in the determination of those variables. We apply the matching estimator methodology to obtain our results and find that in the period 1997-2005, US SRI funds had significantly higher fees and better before-and after-fee performance than conventional funds with similar characteristics. Differences, however, were driven exclusively by SRI funds run by management companies specialized in socially responsible investment.
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