Science Enabled by Specimen Data

Bürger, M., and J. Chory. 2024. A potential role of heat‐moisture couplings in the range expansion of Striga asiatica. Ecology and Evolution 14. https://doi.org/10.1002/ece3.11332

Parasitic weeds in the genera Orobanche, Phelipanche (broomrapes) and Striga (witchweeds) have a devastating impact on food security across much of Africa, Asia and the Mediterranean Basin. Yet, how climatic factors might affect the range expansion of these weeds in the context of global environmental change remains unexplored. We examined satellite‐based environmental variables such as surface temperature, root zone soil moisture, and elevation, in relation to parasitic weed distribution and environmental conditions over time, in combination with observational data from the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF). Our analysis reveals contrasting environmental and altitude preferences in the genera Striga and Orobanche. Asiatic witchweed (Striga asiatica), which infests corn, rice, sorghum, and sugar cane crops, appears to be expanding its range in high elevation habitats. It also shows a significant association with heat‐moisture coupling events, the frequency of which is rising in such environments. These results point to geographical shifts in distribution and abundance in parasitic weeds due to climate change.

Silva-Valderrama, I., J.-R. Úrbez-Torres, and T. J. Davies. 2024. From host to host: The taxonomic and geographic expansion of Botryosphaeriaceae. Fungal Biology Reviews 48: 100352. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.fbr.2023.100352

Fungal pathogens are responsible for 30% of emerging infectious diseases (EIDs) in plants. The risk of a pathogen emerging on a new host is strongly tied to its host breadth; however, the determinants of host range are still poorly understood. Here, we explore the factors that shape host breadth of plant pathogens within Botryosphaeriaceae, a fungal family associated with several devastating diseases in economically important crops. While most host plants are associated with just one or a few fungal species, some hosts appear to be susceptible to infection by multiple fungi. However, the variation in the number of fungal taxa recorded across hosts is not easily explained by heritable plant traits. Nevertheless, we reveal strong evolutionary conservatism in host breadth, with most fungi infecting closely related host plants, but with some notable exceptions that seem to have escaped phylogenetic constraints on host range. Recent anthropogenic movement of plants, including widespread planting of crops, has provided new opportunities for pathogen spillover. We suggest that constraints to pathogen distributions will likely be further disrupted by climate change, and we may see future emergence events in regions where hosts are present but current climate is unfavorable.

Schertler, A., B. Lenzner, S. Dullinger, D. Moser, J. L. Bufford, L. Ghelardini, A. Santini, et al. 2023. Biogeography and global flows of 100 major alien fungal and fungus‐like oomycete pathogens. Journal of Biogeography. https://doi.org/10.1111/jbi.14755

AbstractAimSpreading infectious diseases associated with introduced pathogens can have devastating effects on native biota and human livelihoods. We analyse the global distribution of 100 major alien fungal and oomycete pathogens with substantial socio‐economic and environmental impacts and examine their taxonomy, ecological characteristics, temporal accumulation trajectories, regional hot‐ and coldspots of taxon richness and taxon flows between continents.LocationGlobal.TaxonAlien/cryptogenic fungi and fungus‐like oomycetes, pathogenic to plants or animals.MethodsTo identify over/underrepresented classes and phyla, we performed Chi2 tests of independence. To describe spatial patterns, we calculated the region‐wise richness and identified hot‐ and coldspots, defined as residuals after correcting taxon richness for region area and sampling effort via a quasi‐Poisson regression. We examined the relationship with environmental and socio‐economic drivers with a multiple linear regression and evaluated a potential island effect. Regional first records were pooled over 20‐year periods, and for global flows the links between the native range to the alien regions were mapped.ResultsPeronosporomycetes (Oomycota) were overrepresented among taxa and regional taxon richness was positively correlated with area and sampling effort. While no island effect was found, likely due to host limitations, hotspots were correlated with human modification of terrestrial land, per capita gross domestic product, temperate and tropical forest biomes, and orobiomes. Regional first records have increased steeply in recent decades. While Europe and Northern America were major recipients, about half of the taxa originate from Asia.Main ConclusionsWe highlight the putative importance of anthropogenic drivers, such as land use providing a conducive environment, contact opportunities and susceptible hosts, as well as economic wealth likely increasing colonisation pressure. While most taxa were associated with socio‐economic impacts, possibly partly due to a bias in research focus, about a third show substantial impacts to both socio‐economy and the environment, underscoring the importance of maintaining a wholescale perspective across natural and managed systems.

Cohen, S. D. 2023. Estimating the Climate Niche of Sclerotinia sclerotiorum Using Maximum Entropy Modeling. Journal of Fungi 9: 892. https://doi.org/10.3390/jof9090892

Sclerotinia sclerotiorum, a fungal pathogen, causes world-wide crop losses and additional disease management strategies are needed. Modeling the climate niche of this fungus may offer a tool for the selection of biological control organisms and cultural methods of control. Maxent, a modeling technique, was used to characterize the climate niche for the fungus. The technique requires disease occurrence data, bioclimatic data layers, and geospatial analysis. A cross-correlation was performed with ArcGIS 10.8.1, to reduce nineteen bioclimatic variables (WorldClim) to nine variables. The model results were evaluated by AUC (area under the curve). A final model was created with the random seed procedure of Maxent and gave an average AUC of 0.935 with an AUC difference of −0.008. The most critical variables included annual precipitation (importance: 14.1%) with a range of 450 mm to 2500 mm and the mean temperature of the coldest quarter0 (importance: 55.6%) with a range of −16 °C to 24 °C, which contributed the most to the final model. A habitat suitability map was generated in ArcGIS 10.8.1 from the final Maxent model. The final model was validated by comparing results with another occurrence dataset. A Z-Score statistical test confirmed no significant differences between the two datasets for all suitability areas.

Alkhalifah, D. H. M., E. Damra, M. B. Melhem, and W. N. Hozzein. 2023. Fungus under a Changing Climate: Modeling the Current and Future Global Distribution of Fusarium oxysporum Using Geographical Information System Data. Microorganisms 11: 468. https://doi.org/10.3390/microorganisms11020468

The impact of climate change on biodiversity has been the subject of numerous research in recent years. The multiple elements of climate change are expected to affect all levels of biodiversity, including microorganisms. The common worldwide fungus Fusarium oxysporum colonizes plant roots as well as soil and several other substrates. It causes predominant vascular wilt disease in different strategic crops such as banana, tomato, palm, and even cotton, thereby leading to severe losses. So, a robust maximum entropy algorithm was implemented in the well-known modeling program Maxent to forecast the current and future global distribution of F. oxysporum under two representative concentration pathways (RCPs 2.6 and 8.5) for 2050 and 2070. The Maxent model was calibrated using 1885 occurrence points. The resulting models were fit with AUC and TSS values equal to 0.9 (±0.001) and 0.7, respectively. Increasing temperatures due to global warming caused differences in habitat suitability between the current and future distributions of F. oxysporum, especially in Europe. The most effective parameter of this fungus distribution was the annual mean temperature (Bio 1); the two-dimensional niche analysis indicated that the fungus has a wide precipitation range because it can live in both dry and rainy habitats as well as a range of temperatures in which it can live to certain limits. The predicted shifts should act as an alarm sign for decision makers, particularly in countries that depend on such staple crops harmed by the fungus.

Xue, T., S. R. Gadagkar, T. P. Albright, X. Yang, J. Li, C. Xia, J. Wu, and S. Yu. 2021. Prioritizing conservation of biodiversity in an alpine region: Distribution pattern and conservation status of seed plants in the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau. Global Ecology and Conservation 32: e01885. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.gecco.2021.e01885

The Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau (QTP) harbors abundant and diverse plant life owing to its high habitat heterogeneity. However, the distribution pattern of biodiversity hotspots and their conservation status remain unclear. Based on 148,283 high-resolution occurrence coordinates of 13,450 seed plants, w…

Schneider, K., D. Makowski, and W. van der Werf. 2021. Predicting hotspots for invasive species introduction in Europe. Environmental Research Letters 16: 114026. https://doi.org/10.1088/1748-9326/ac2f19

Plant pest invasions cost billions of Euros each year in Europe. Prediction of likely places of pest introduction could greatly help focus efforts on prevention and control and thus reduce societal costs of pest invasions. Here, we test whether generic data-driven risk maps of pest introduction, val…

Qu, J., Y. Xu, Y. Cui, S. Wu, L. Wang, X. Liu, Z. Xing, et al. 2021. MODB: a comprehensive mitochondrial genome database for Mollusca. Database 2021. https://doi.org/10.1093/database/baab056

Mollusca is the largest marine phylum, comprising about 23% of all named marine organisms, Mollusca systematics are still in flux, and an increase in human activities has affected Molluscan reproduction and development, strongly impacting diversity and classification. Therefore, it is necessary to e…

de Oliveira, M. H. V., B. M. Torke, and T. E. Almeida. 2021. An inventory of the ferns and lycophytes of the Lower Tapajós River Basin in the Brazilian Amazon reveals collecting biases, sampling gaps, and previously undocumented diversity. Brittonia 73: 459–480. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12228-021-09668-7

Ferns and lycophytes are an excellent group for conservation and species distribution studies because they are closely related to environmental changes. In this study, we analyzed collection gaps, sampling biases, richness distribution, and the species conservation effectiveness of protected areas i…

Brandt, A. J., P. J. Bellingham, R. P. Duncan, T. R. Etherington, J. D. Fridley, C. J. Howell, P. E. Hulme, et al. 2020. Naturalised plants transform the composition and function of the New Zealand flora. Biological Invasions 23: 351–366. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10530-020-02393-4

The New Zealand flora has a high proportion of endemic species but has been invaded by almost the same number of non-native plant species. To support management of invasive plant species, we provide an updated inventory of New Zealand’s naturalised flora and compare it with the native flora to ident…