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Noori, S., A. Hofmann, D. Rödder, M. Husemann, and H. Rajaei. 2024. A window to the future: effects of climate change on the distribution patterns of Iranian Zygaenidae and their host plants. Biodiversity and Conservation. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10531-023-02760-2

Climate change has been suggested as an important human-induced driver for the ongoing sixth mass extinction. As a common response to climate change, and particularly global warming, species move toward higher latitudes or shift uphill. Furthermore, rapid climate change impacts the biotic interactions of species, particularly in the case of Zygaenid moths which exhibit high specialization in both habitat and host plant preferences. Iranian Zygaenidae are relatively well-known and represent a unique fauna with a high endemism rate (46%) in the whole Palearctic; as such they are a good model group to study the impact of climate change on future distributions. In this study, we used species distribution models (SDMs) and ensembles of small models (ESMs) to investigate the impact of climate change on the future distribution of endemic and non-endemic species of zygaenids, as well as their larval host plants. Three different climate scenarios were applied to forecast the probable responses of the species to different climate change intensities. Our results suggest that the central and southern parts of the country will be impacted profoundly by climate change compared to the northern regions. Beyond this, most endemic species will experience an altitudinal shift from their current range, while non-endemic species may move towards higher latitudes. Considering that the regions with higher diversity of zygaenids are limited to mountainous areas, mainly within the Irano-Anatolian biodiversity hotspot, the identification of their local high diversity regions for conservation practices has a high priority.

Qin, F., T. Xue, X. Zhang, X. Yang, J. Yu, S. R. Gadagkar, and S. Yu. 2023. Past climate cooling and orogenesis of the Hengduan Mountains have influenced the evolution of Impatiens sect. Impatiens (Balsaminaceae) in the Northern Hemisphere. BMC Plant Biology 23. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12870-023-04625-w

Background Impatiens sect. Impatiens is distributed across the Northern Hemisphere and has diversified considerably, particularly within the Hengduan Mountains (HDM) in southwest China. Yet, the infra-sectional phylogenetic relationships are not well resolved, largely due to limited taxon sampling and an insufficient number of molecular markers. The evolutionary history of its diversification is also poorly understood. In this study, plastome data and the most complete sampling to date were used to reconstruct a robust phylogenetic framework for this section. The phylogeny was then used to investigate its biogeographical history and diversification patterns, specifically with the aim of understanding the role played by the HDM and past climatic changes in its diversification. Results A stable phylogeny was reconstructed that strongly supported both the monophyly of the section and its division into seven major clades (Clades I-VII). Molecular dating and ancestral area reconstruction suggest that sect. Impatiens originated in the HDM and Southeast China around 11.76 Ma, after which different lineages dispersed to Northwest China, temperate Eurasia, and North America, mainly during the Pliocene and Pleistocene. An intercontinental dispersal event from East Asia to western North America may have occurred via the Bering Land Bridge or Aleutian Islands. The diversification rate was high during its early history, especially with the HDM, but gradually decreased over time both within and outside the HDM. Multiple linear regression analysis showed that the distribution pattern of species richness was strongly associated with elevation range, elevation, and mean annual temperature. Finally, ancestral niche analysis indicated that sect. Impatiens originated in a relatively cool, middle-elevation area. Conclusions We inferred the evolutionary history of sect. Impatiens based on a solid phylogenetic framework. The HDM was the primary source or pump of its diversity in the Northern Hemisphere. Orogeny and climate change may have also shaped its diversification rates, as a steady decrease in the diversification rate coincided with the uplift of the HDM and climate cooling. These findings provide insights into the distribution pattern of sect. Impatiens and other plants in the Northern Hemisphere.

Metreveli, V., H. Kreft, I. Akobia, Z. Janiashvili, Z. Nonashvili, L. Dzadzamia, Z. Javakhishvili, and A. Gavashelishvili. 2023. Potential Distribution and Suitable Habitat for Chestnut (Castanea sativa). Forests 14: 2076. https://doi.org/10.3390/f14102076

Chestnut, Castanea sativa Miller (Fagales: Fagaceae), is an ecologically and economically important tree species of the forest ecosystem in Southern Europe, North-Western Europe, Western Asia, North Africa, and the Caucasus. The distributional range of chestnut in Europe has been highly modified by humans since ancient times. Biotic and abiotic factors have dramatically changed its distribution. Historic anthropogenic range expansion makes it difficult to identify habitat requirements for natural stands of chestnut. In the Caucasus, natural stands of chestnut survived in glacial forest refugia and landscapes that have been difficult for humans to colonize. To identify the species reliable habitat requirements, we estimated the relationship between climatic variables and 620 occurrence locations of natural chestnut stands from the Caucasus and validated the model using GBIF data from outside the Caucasus. We found that our best model is reasonably accurate and the data from the Caucasus characterize chestnut stands throughout the species range well.

Rodríguez-Merino, A. 2023. Identifying and Managing Areas under Threat in the Iberian Peninsula: An Invasion Risk Atlas for Non-Native Aquatic Plant Species as a Potential Tool. Plants 12: 3069. https://doi.org/10.3390/plants12173069

Predicting the likelihood that non-native species will be introduced into new areas remains one of conservation’s greatest challenges and, consequently, it is necessary to adopt adequate management measures to mitigate the effects of future biological invasions. At present, not much information is available on the areas in which non-native aquatic plant species could establish themselves in the Iberian Peninsula. Species distribution models were used to predict the potential invasion risk of (1) non-native aquatic plant species already established in the peninsula (32 species) and (2) those with the potential to invade the peninsula (40 species). The results revealed that the Iberian Peninsula contains a number of areas capable of hosting non-native aquatic plant species. Areas under anthropogenic pressure are at the greatest risk of invasion, and the variable most related to invasion risk is temperature. The results of this work were used to create the Invasion Risk Atlas for Alien Aquatic Plants in the Iberian Peninsula, a novel online resource that provides information about the potential distribution of non-native aquatic plant species. The atlas and this article are intended to serve as reference tools for the development of public policies, management regimes, and control strategies aimed at the prevention, mitigation, and eradication of non-native aquatic plant species.

Borges, C. E., R. Von dos Santos Veloso, C. A. da Conceição, D. S. Mendes, N. Y. Ramirez-Cabral, F. Shabani, M. Shafapourtehrany, et al. 2023. Forecasting Brassica napus production under climate change with a mechanistic species distribution model. Scientific Reports 13. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-023-38910-3

Brassica napus , a versatile crop with significant socioeconomic importance, serves as a valuable source of nutrition for humans and animals while also being utilized in biodiesel production. The expansion potential of B. napus is profoundly influenced by climatic variations, yet there remains a scarcity of studies investigating the correlation between climatic factors and its distribution. This research employs CLIMEX to identify the current and future ecological niches of B. napus under the RCP 8.5 emission scenario, utilizing the Access 1.0 and CNRM-CM5 models for the time frame of 2040–2059. Additionally, a sensitivity analysis of parameters was conducted to determine the primary climatic factors affecting B. napus distribution and model responsiveness. The simulated outcomes demonstrate a satisfactory alignment with the known current distribution of B. napus , with 98% of occurrence records classified as having medium to high climatic suitability. However, the species displays high sensitivity to thermal parameters, thereby suggesting that temperature increases could trigger shifts in suitable and unsuitable areas for B. napus , impacting regions such as Canada, China, Brazil, and the United States.

Nikkel, E., D. R. Clements, D. Anderson, and J. L. Williams. 2023. Regional habitat suitability for aquatic and terrestrial invasive plant species may expand or contract with climate change. Biological Invasions. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10530-023-03139-8

The threat of invasive species to biodiversity and ecosystem structure is exacerbated by the increasingly concerning outlook of predicted climate change and other human influences. Developing preventative management strategies for invasive plant species before they establish is crucial for effective management. To examine how climate change may impact habitat suitability, we modeled the current and future habitat suitability of two terrestrial species, Geranium lucidum and Pilosella officinarum , and two aquatic species, Butomus umbellatus and Pontederia crassipes , that are relatively new invasive plant species regionally, and are currently spreading in the Pacific Northwest (PNW, North America), an area of unique natural areas, vibrant economic activity, and increasing human population. Using North American presence records, downscaled climate variables, and human influence data, we developed an ensemble model of six algorithms to predict the potential habitat suitability under current conditions and projected climate scenarios RCP 4.5, 7.0, and 8.5 for 2050 and 2080. One terrestrial species ( P. officinarum ) showed declining habitat suitability in future climate scenarios (contracted distribution), while the other terrestrial species ( G. lucidum ) showed increased suitability over much of the region (expanded distribution overall). The two aquatic species were predicted to have only moderately increased suitability, suggesting aquatic plant species may be less impacted by climate change. Our research provides a template for regional-scale modelling of invasive species of concern, thus assisting local land managers and practitioners to inform current and future management strategies and to prioritize limited available resources for species with expanding ranges.

Shen, F., S. Xu, Q. Shen, C. Bi, and M. A. Lysak. 2023. The allotetraploid horseradish genome provides insights into subgenome diversification and formation of critical traits. Nature Communications 14. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-023-39800-y

Polyploidization can provide a wealth of genetic variation for adaptive evolution and speciation, but understanding the mechanisms of subgenome evolution as well as its dynamics and ultimate consequences remains elusive. Here, we report the telomere-to-telomere (T2T) gap-free reference genome of allotetraploid horseradish ( Armoracia rusticana ) sequenced using a comprehensive strategy. The (epi)genomic architecture and 3D chromatin structure of the A and B subgenomes differ significantly, suggesting that both the dynamics of the dominant long terminal repeat retrotransposons and DNA methylation have played critical roles in subgenome diversification. Investigation of the genetic basis of biosynthesis of glucosinolates (GSLs) and horseradish peroxidases reveals both the important role of polyploidization and subgenome differentiation in shaping the key traits. Continuous duplication and divergence of essential genes of GSL biosynthesis (e.g., FMO GS-OX , IGMT , and GH1 gene family) contribute to the broad GSL profile in horseradish. Overall, the T2T assembly of the allotetraploid horseradish genome expands our understanding of polyploid genome evolution and provides a fundamental genetic resource for breeding and genetic improvement of horseradish. Horseradish is a spicy root vegetable and it also produces horseradish peroxidase, an enzyme widely used in biochemistry applications. Here, the authors report its telomere-to-telomere reference genome, reveal subgenome diversification and the effect on the biosynthesis of glucosinolates and horseradish peroxidases.

Benson, C. W., M. R. Sheltra, P. J. Maughan, E. N. Jellen, M. D. Robbins, B. S. Bushman, E. L. Patterson, et al. 2023. Homoeologous evolution of the allotetraploid genome of Poa annua L. BMC Genomics 24. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12864-023-09456-5

Background Poa annua (annual bluegrass) is an allotetraploid turfgrass, an agronomically significant weed, and one of the most widely dispersed plant species on earth. Here, we report the chromosome-scale genome assemblies of P. annua’s diploid progenitors, P. infirma and P. supina, and use multi-omic analyses spanning all three species to better understand P. annua’s evolutionary novelty. Results We find that the diploids diverged from their common ancestor 5.5 – 6.3 million years ago and hybridized to form P. annua  ≤ 50,000 years ago. The diploid genomes are similar in chromosome structure and most notably distinguished by the divergent evolutionary histories of their transposable elements, leading to a 1.7 × difference in genome size. In allotetraploid P. annua, we find biased movement of retrotransposons from the larger (A) subgenome to the smaller (B) subgenome. We show that P. annua’s B subgenome is preferentially accumulating genes and that its genes are more highly expressed. Whole-genome resequencing of several additional P. annua accessions revealed large-scale chromosomal rearrangements characterized by extensive TE-downsizing and evidence to support the Genome Balance Hypothesis. Conclusions The divergent evolutions of the diploid progenitors played a central role in conferring onto P. annua its remarkable phenotypic plasticity. We find that plant genes (guided by selection and drift) and transposable elements (mostly guided by host immunity) each respond to polyploidy in unique ways and that P. annua uses whole-genome duplication to purge highly parasitized heterochromatic sequences. The findings and genomic resources presented here will enable the development of homoeolog-specific markers for accelerated weed science and turfgrass breeding .

Cousins-Westerberg, R., N. Dakin, L. Schat, G. Kadereit, and A. M. Humphreys. 2023. Evolution of cold tolerance in the highly stress-tolerant samphires and relatives (Salicornieae: Amaranthaceae). Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society. https://doi.org/10.1093/botlinnean/boad009

Low temperature constitutes one of the main barriers to plant distributions, confining many clades to their ancestrally tropical biome. However, recent evidence suggests that transitions from tropical to temperate biomes may be more frequent than previously thought. Here, we study the evolution of cold and frost tolerance in the globally distributed and highly stress-tolerant Salicornieae (Salicornioideae, Amaranthaceae s.l.). We first generate a phylogenetic tree comprising almost all known species (85-90%), using newly generated (n = 106) and published nuclear-ribosomal and plastid sequences. Next, we use geographical occurrence data to document in which clades and geographical regions cold-tolerant species occur and reconstruct how cold tolerance evolved. Finally, we test for correlated evolution between frost tolerance and the annual life form. We find that frost tolerance has evolved independently in up to four Northern Hemisphere lineages but that annuals are no more likely to evolve frost tolerance than perennials, indicating the presence of different strategies for adapting to cold environments. Our findings add to mounting evidence for multiple independent out-of-the-tropics transitions among close relatives of flowering plants and raise new questions about the ecological and physiological mechanism(s) of adaptation to low temperatures in Salicornieae.

Medzihorský, V., J. Trombik, R. Mally, M. Turčáni, and A. M. Liebhold. 2023. Insect invasions track a tree invasion: Global distribution of black locust herbivores. Journal of Biogeography. https://doi.org/10.1111/jbi.14625

Aim Many invasive plant species benefit from enemy release resulting from the absence of insect herbivores in their invaded range. However, over time, specialized herbivores may ‘catch up’ with such invasive plants. Black locust is a tree species with a relatively limited native range in North America but has invaded large areas in virtually every temperate continent including North America. We hypothesize that both intra- and intercontinental spread of black locust leads to a parallel, though delayed pattern of intra- and intercontinental spread of insect herbivores. Location Global. Taxon Black locust, Robinia pseudoacacia, and its insect herbivores. Methods We compiled historical records of the occurrence of insect herbivore species associated with R. pseudoacacia from all world regions. Based on this list, we describe taxonomic patterns and investigate associations between environmental features and numbers of non-native specialist herbivores in the portion of North America invaded by R. pseudoacacia. Results A total of 454 herbivorous species are recorded feeding on R. pseudoacacia across the world, with 23 of these being specialized on Robinia. From this group, seven species have successfully expanded their range beyond North America. Within North America, the richness of specialists is explained by a combination of road density, R. pseudoacacia density, distance from the R. pseudoacacia native range, and climate. Main Conclusion Non-native herbivore species have accumulated on invasive R. pseudoacacia in both North America and in other continents. The steady build-up of invasions likely has diminished the enemy release that this invasive tree species has benefited from – a trend that will likely continue in the future. These findings support the hypothesis that invasive plants promote parallel though delayed invasions of specialist insect herbivores.