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Phytoplankton -- the discovery of a missing link

( Biologists have identified a family of algae as a living missing link in the microscopic domain.

Over the course of evolutionary time, marine microorganisms have undergone an immense range of diversification. This applies in particular to the group known as dinophytes. Also known as dinoflagellates, these unicellular algae can account for a significant fraction of the phytoplankton in the oceans, and their ecological and economic significance is correspondingly high. A team of researchers led by Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitaet (LMU) in Munich biologist Professor Marc Gottschling now reports the identification of a missing link between the two major phylogenetic groups of dinophytes, which sheds new light on the evolution of these organisms.

Many dinophytes are characterized by a bipartite protective structure called a theca, which consists of cellulosic plates synthesized in specialized vesicles that lie immediately below the plasma membrane. The patterning of the plates is often species- and group specific. In the new study, Gottschling and his colleagues focused on a monoclonal dinophyte strain that had been assigned to the Cladopyxidaceae. Using a combination of morphological analysis by electron microscopy and genetic characterization (by ribosomal RNA sequencing), they discovered - much to their surprise - that its phylogenetic position reveals it to be a 'missing link' between the two major groups of thecate dinophytes - the Gonyaulacales and the Peridiniales. In addition, the study showed that this dinophyte represents a new genus and species, which they named Fensomea setacea in honor of the micropaleontologist Robert A. Fensome.

"Missing links have made many important contributions to the understanding of evolution," Gottschling points out. "Among the best known examples among macrofauna are the Urvogel Archaeopteryx and the coelacanth (Latimeria). But the recognition and documentation of a living missing link in the microscopic domain is also highly significant." Up to now, the Cladopyxidaceae have been classified within the Gonyaulacales, while other Dinophyceae with a comparable hyposome were assigned to the Peridiniales." Thanks to the recognition of this missing link, we have now shown that these are misaassignments," says Gottschling. Based on our work the two large groups can now be morphologically defined in a more coherent manner, which clarifies their evolutionary history. The modern Cladopyxidaceae are most probably quite similar to the last common ancestor of all dinophytes, which originated about 200 million years ago. They are the last suvivors of a group that was much more abundant during the times of the dinosaurs."



Irritable bowel syndrome endoscopically identifiable from mucosal biofilms

One in six women and one in twelve men in Austria suffers from some form of IBS - therefore around one million people in all. Using currently available techniques, it is only possible to diagnose IBS by a process of elimination. Most people suffering from irritable bowel syndrome only go to their doctor when they have severe symptoms such as constipation, diarrhoea, abdominal pain, or a change in bowel motion. Researchers from the Department of Medicine III of the Medical University of Vienna and the University of Vienna have now shown that, in most cases, IBS is associated with bacterial biofilms ...

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Climate warming can influence fungal communities on oak leaves across the growing season

Climate warming can influence fungal communities on oak leaves across the growing season
Climate warming plays a larger role than plant genes in influencing the number and identity of fungal species on oak leaves, especially in autumn. Recently published in the journal New Phytologist, this research by ecologists sheds light on how warming and tree genes affect the dynamics of fungal communities across the season. "One of our major findings was that elevated temperature decreased the number of fungal species and changed their community composition, especially in the late season" says Maria Faticov, a researcher at the Department of Ecology, Environment and Plant Sciences (DEEP) at Stockholm University. Plants host thousands of microscopic organisms and leaves are no exception. ...

First trial of faecal microbiota transplantation for people with active peripheral psoriatic arthritis shows no advantage

In this proof-of-concept study, Maja Skov Kragsnaes and colleagues evaluated efficacy and safety of FMT in people with psoriatic arthritis (PsA). PsA is an inflammatory arthritis that causes a person's joints to become stiff and painful. It is often found people with the skin condition psoriasis, and there is also a link between PsA and inflammatory bowel disease or gastrointestinal symptoms. This double-blind, parallel-group, sham-controlled, superiority trial randomly allocated31adults with active peripheral PsAd espite ongoing treatment with methotrexate to one gastroscopic-guided FMT procedure, or sham transplantation into the duodenum. The transplants (50 g faeces) came from one of four healthy, anonymous stool ...

Wind and waves: A step toward better control of heavy-lift crane vessels

Massive heavy-lift crane vessels, capable of hauling thousands of tons, navigate the rough waves and strong winds offshore to construct wind turbines and oil fields in the ocean. An international team of researchers has developed a new modeling system to help improve the control, and ultimately the safety, of such vessels. They published their approach in the April issue in IEEE/CAA Journal of Automatica Sinica. "Dynamic positioning allows the ship to stay fixed in a certain location, by acting on the thruster," said paper author Simone Baldi, professor in the School of Mathematics and School of Cyber Science and Engineering, Southeast University in China, and guest with the Delft Center for System and Control, Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands. This positioning operation ...

Sweet sorghum: Sweet promise for the environment

Sweet sorghum: Sweet promise for the environment
Sweet sorghum can be used to produce biogas, biofuels, and novel polymers. In addition, it can help replace phosphate fertilizers. A new sweet sorghum variety developed at Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) accumulates particularly high amounts of sugar and thrives under local conditions. As the scientists reported in the Industrial Crops & Products journal, sugar transport and sugar accumulation are related to the structure of the plants' vessels. This was the result of a comparison between sweet and grain sorghums. (DOI: 10.1016/j.indcrop.2021.113550) As the world's population grows, the demand for food, raw materials, and energy is also on the rise. This increases the burden on the environment and the climate. One strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is to grow so-called ...

Imaging at the tip of a needle

Imaging at the tip of a needle
Scientists have developed a new technique that could revolutionise medical imaging procedures using light. A team of physicists, led by Dr David Phillips from the University of Exeter, have pioneered a new way in which to control light that has been scrambled by passage through a single hair-thin strand of optical fibre. These ultra-thin fibres hold much promise for the next generation of medical endoscopes - enabling high-resolution imaging deep inside the body at the tip of a needle. Conventional endoscopes are millimetres wide and have limited resolution - so cannot be used to inspect individual cells. Single optical fibres are approximately 10x narrower and can enable much higher-resolution imaging - enough to examine the features of individual ...

Proliferation of electric vehicles based on high-performance, low-cost sodium-ion battery

Proliferation of electric vehicles based on high-performance, low-cost sodium-ion battery
Various automobile companies are preparing to shift from internal combustion (IC) engine vehicles to electric vehicles (EVs). However, due to higher cost, EVs are not as easily accessible to consumers; hence, several governments are subsidizing EVs to promote sales. For EV costs to compete with those of IC engine vehicles, their batteries, which account for about 30% of their cost, must be more economical than that of IC-based vehicles. The Korea Institute of Science and Technology (KIST) has announced that Dr. Sang-Ok Kim's team at the Center for Energy Storage Research had developed a novel, high-performance, economical anode material for use in sodium-ion secondary batteries, which are ...

Elderly patients are not at increased risk of serious infections with new disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs compared to conventional synthetic treatments

New classes of drugs are biologic disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (bDMARDs) and Januskinase inhibitors (JAKi). At the 2021 EULAR congress, Strangfeld and colleagues shared new data assessing the effects of these medications on the risk of serious infections in elderly people with RA. RA is an inflammatory autoimmune disease that causes pain, swelling, and stiffness in the joints, but it also affects other organ systems through underlying systemic inflammation, causing for example cardiovascular diseases or fatigue. RABBIT is a prospective, observational cohort study in Germany. ...

Orphaned chimpanzees do not suffer from chronic stress

Orphaned chimpanzees do not suffer from chronic stress
The loss of a loved one can be a defining moment, even in the animal world. In chimpanzees, for example, individuals whose mothers die when they are young are smaller than their counterparts, reproduce less and are also more likely to die at a young age. But why? To find out, an international research team* led by a CNRS researcher** studied the short- and long-term effects of maternal loss on the stress levels of orphaned chimpanzees over a 19-year period. By comparing the levels of a stress hormone marker, cortisol, between young and adult orphans and non-orphans, the scientists found that young ...


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[] Phytoplankton -- the discovery of a missing link