Science Enabled by Specimen Data

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.

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.

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.

Zhang, H., W. Guo, and W. Wang. 2023. The dimensionality reductions of environmental variables have a significant effect on the performance of species distribution models. Ecology and Evolution 13.

How to effectively obtain species‐related low‐dimensional data from massive environmental variables has become an urgent problem for species distribution models (SDMs). In this study, we will explore whether dimensionality reduction on environmental variables can improve the predictive performance of SDMs. We first used two linear (i.e., principal component analysis (PCA) and independent components analysis) and two nonlinear (i.e., kernel principal component analysis (KPCA) and uniform manifold approximation and projection) dimensionality reduction techniques (DRTs) to reduce the dimensionality of high‐dimensional environmental data. Then, we established five SDMs based on the environmental variables of dimensionality reduction for 23 real plant species and nine virtual species, and compared the predictive performance of those with the SDMs based on the selected environmental variables through Pearson's correlation coefficient (PCC). In addition, we studied the effects of DRTs, model complexity, and sample size on the predictive performance of SDMs. The predictive performance of SDMs under DRTs other than KPCA is better than using PCC. And the predictive performance of SDMs using linear DRTs is better than using nonlinear DRTs. In addition, using DRTs to deal with environmental variables has no less impact on the predictive performance of SDMs than model complexity and sample size. When the model complexity is at the complex level, PCA can improve the predictive performance of SDMs the most by 2.55% compared with PCC. At the middle level of sample size, the PCA improved the predictive performance of SDMs by 2.68% compared with the PCC. Our study demonstrates that DRTs have a significant effect on the predictive performance of SDMs. Specifically, linear DRTs, especially PCA, are more effective at improving model predictive performance under relatively complex model complexity or large sample sizes.

Reichgelt, T., A. Baumgartner, R. Feng, and D. A. Willard. 2023. Poleward amplification, seasonal rainfall and forest heterogeneity in the Miocene of the eastern USA. Global and Planetary Change 222: 104073.

Paleoclimate reconstructions can provide a window into the environmental conditions in Earth history when atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations were higher than today. In the eastern USA, paleoclimate reconstructions are sparse, because terrestrial sedimentary deposits are rare. Despite this, the eastern USA has the largest population and population density in North America, and understanding the effects of current and future climate change is of vital importance. Here, we provide terrestrial paleoclimate reconstructions of the eastern USA from Miocene fossil floras. Additionally, we compare proxy paleoclimate reconstructions from the warmest period in the Miocene, the Miocene Climatic Optimum (MCO), to those of an MCO Earth System Model. Reconstructed Miocene temperatures and precipitation north of 35°N are higher than modern. In contrast, south of 35°N, temperatures and precipitation are similar to today, suggesting a poleward amplification effect in eastern North America. Reconstructed Miocene rainfall seasonality was predominantly higher than modern, regardless of latitude, indicating greater variability in intra-annual moisture transport. Reconstructed climates are almost uniformly in the temperate seasonal forest biome, but heterogeneity of specific forest types is evident. Reconstructed Miocene terrestrial temperatures from the eastern USA are lower than modeled temperatures and coeval Atlantic sea surface temperatures. However, reconstructed rainfall is consistent with modeled rainfall. Our results show that during the Miocene, climate was most different from modern in the northeastern states, and may suggest a drastic reduction in the meridional temperature gradient along the North American east coast compared to today.

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.

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.

Ramírez, F., V. Sbragaglia, K. Soacha, M. Coll, and J. Piera. 2022. Challenges for Marine Ecological Assessments: Completeness of Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, and Reusable Biodiversity Data in European Seas. Frontiers in Marine Science 8.

The ongoing contemporary biodiversity crisis may result in much of ocean’s biodiversity to be lost or deeply modified without even being known. As the climate and anthropogenic-related impacts on marine systems accelerate, biodiversity knowledge integration is urgently required to evaluate and monit…

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.

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…

TREVIÑO-ZEVALLOS, I., I. GARCÍA-CUNCHILLOS, and C. LADO. 2021. New records of Myxomycetes (Amoebozoa) from the tropical Andes. Phytotaxa 522: 231–239.

The Myxomycetes comprise a remarkably diverse group of organisms within Amoebozoa, with over 1000 species currently recognized. These organisms, at the end of their life cycles produce fruiting bodies which are the basis for their systematics. Despite being a biodiversity hotspot, the tropical Andes…

Allstädt, F. J., A. Koutsodendris, E. Appel, W. Rösler, T. Reichgelt, S. Kaboth-Bahr, A. A. Prokopenko, and J. Pross. 2021. Late Pliocene to early Pleistocene climate dynamics in western North America based on a new pollen record from paleo-Lake Idaho. Palaeobiodiversity and Palaeoenvironments 101: 177–195.

Marked by the expansion of ice sheets in the high latitudes, the intensification of Northern Hemisphere glaciation across the Plio/Pleistocene transition at ~ 2.7 Ma represents a critical interval of late Neogene climate evolution. To date, the characteristics of climate change in North America duri…

Deanna, R., P. Wilf, and M. A. Gandolfo. 2020. New physaloid fruit‐fossil species from early Eocene South America. American Journal of Botany 107: 1749–1762.

Premise: Solanaceae is a scientifically and economically important angiosperm family with a minimal fossil record and an intriguing early evolutionary history. Here, we report a newly discovered fossil lantern fruit with a suite of features characteristic of Physalideae within Solanaceae. The fossil…