Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences
Recent publications
Biological ocean science has a long history; it goes back millennia, whereas the related data services have emerged in the recent digital era of the past decades. To understand where we come from—and why data services are so important—we will start by taking you back to the rise in the study of marine biology—marine biodiversity—and its key players, before immersing ourselves in the data life cycle, past and present joint global initiatives, and systems that allow(ed) scientists to more easily access biological data, online services through some simple keyboard strokes, and the many challenges we still encounter on a daily basis when dealing with these types of data.
From 2022 onwards the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) of the Convention on Biological Diversity will guide biodiversity conservation actions worldwide, which includes mainstreaming biodiversity into a wide range of activities, sectors and policies. Biodiversity mainstreaming in development cooperation is particularly relevant given the direct dependence of many communities in the Global South on biodiversity and on the benefits it provides. We conducted a Delphi survey among development cooperation practitioners at the aid provider (donor) side, to gain insight into current and future (post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework) biodiversity mainstreaming and its monitoring. Our results demonstrate that despite efforts towards biodiversity mainstreaming and its monitoring, biodiversity mainstreaming indicators remain inconsistent and difficult to compare. The lack of biodiversity data, as well as their low accessibility and suboptimal use, and the inherent complexity of addressing biodiversity loss are considered key challenges. Respondents indicated that they strongly orient their own biodiversity mainstreaming and monitoring approaches towards international biodiversity governance dynamics. We conclude that, at least on paper, the indicator ambitions of the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework are in line with the expectations and challenges of aid providers with respect to biodiversity mainstreaming. However, future effective mainstreaming of biodiversity requires indicator-based monitoring, exchange of good practices among aid partners, and a continued focus on awareness-raising regarding the linkages between biodiversity conservation and poverty reduction.
The persistent increase in CO2 emissions and the continued depletion of fossil resources are two major challenges of the 21st century. These challenges can be tackled with Carbon Capture and Utilization (CCU), fby capturing and using CO2 as a valuable feedstock. Plasma presents a reactive environment to convert the CO2 molecule efficiently into higher-value chemicals and is a promising CCU technology in an early development stage. This study translates the technical performance of the plasma, as observed in the laboratory, into economic cashflows on a pilot plant level. In this techno-economic assessment, the influence of three features of the plasma is analyzed: the type of feed, the space time and the type of packing material. The economic feasibility of the different plasma configurations for the conversion of CO2 and CH4 into higher-value chemicals is assessed by calculating the Net Present Value (NPV). This allows the identification of the major cost items and the prioritization of future R&D steps. Negative NPVs are observed for all configurations, due to high electricity expenses, high capital investments and insufficient revenues. Based on the NPV, the most promising reactor configuration is the unpacked reactor, supplied with pure CO2 in a short space time. However, to target higher-value chemicals and raise revenues, the presence of packing materials and a mixed feed of CO2 and CH4 is crucial. Indeed, the highest revenues are observed for the reactor filled with packing, supplied with CO2 & CH4 and at longer space time. To move forward, the right type of packing material should be found, enabling the targeted production of higher-value chemicals with higher conversion rates in a shorter space time.
Hyperspectral remote sensing reflectance (Rrs) derived from PRISMA in the visible and infrared range was evaluated for two inland and coastal water sites using above-water in situ reflectance measurements from autonomous hyper- and multispectral radiometer systems. We compared the Level 2D (L2D) surface reflectance, a standard product distributed by the Italian Space Agency (ASI), as well as outputs from ACOLITE/DSF, now adapted for processing of PRISMA imagery. Near-coincident Sentinel-3 OLCI (S3/OLCI) observations were also compared as it is a frequent data source for inland and coastal water remote sensing applications, with a strong calibration and validation record. In situ measurements from two optically diverse sites in Italy, equipped with fixed autonomous hyperspectral radiometer systems, were used: the REmote Sensing for Trasimeno lake Observatory (RESTO), positioned in a shallow and turbid lake in Central Italy, and the Acqua Alta Oceanographic Tower (AAOT), located 15 km offshore from the lagoon of Venice in the Adriatic Sea, which is characterised by clear to moderately turbid waters. 20 PRISMA images were available for the match-up analysis across both sites. Good performance of L2D was found for RESTO, with the lowest relative (Mean Absolute Percentage Difference, MAPD < 25%) and absolute errors (Bias < 0.002) in the bands between 500 and 680 nm, with similar performance for ACOLITE. The lowest median and interquartile ranges of spectral angle (SA < 8°) denoted a more similar shape to the RESTO in situ data, indicating pigment absorption retrievals should be possible. ACOLITE showed better statistical performance at AAOT compared to L2D, providing R² > 0.5, Bias < 0.0015 and MAPD < 35%, in the range between 470 and 580 nm, i.e. in the spectral range with highest reflectances. The addition of a SWIR based sun-glint correction to the default atmospheric correction implemented in ACOLITE further improved performance at AAOT, with lower uncertainties and closer spectral similarity to the in situ measurements, suggesting that ACOLITE with glint correction was able to best reproduce the spectral shape of in situ data at AAOT. We found good results for PRISMA Rrs retrieval in our study sites, and hence demonstrated the use of PRISMA for aquatic ecosystem mapping. Further studies are needed to analyse performance in other water bodies, over a wider range of optical properties.
Along the southern North Sea coast, Roman salt production sites are characterised by extensive refuse zones containing large quantities of what has been described as ‘salt slags’. These ‘salt slags’ are in fact amorphous, heavily vitrified waste materials. This is rather surprising since large-scale vitrification has never been associated with the salt production process. In this paper, these materials are for the first time systematically studied macroscopically, mineralogically and geochemically to determine their composition, formation and relation to the salt production process. To achieve these objectives, 30 samples from 7 Roman salt production sites were analysed by combining several analytical methods (thin-section petrography using Polarised Light Microscopy, Scanning Electron Microscopy coupled with Energy Dispersive X-Ray Spectroscopy and X-Ray diffraction). This approach enabled a detailed characterisation of the vitrification process in the waste materials, as well as the identification of high temperature mineral transformations formed in specific (archaeological) conditions. Based on these results, the amorphous waste materials should be interpreted as vitrified hearth base fragments. This study shows that the current interpretations regarding the firing conditions on Roman salt production sites needs major adjustments. In addition, this paper demonstrates the value of geochemical and mineralogical research on discarded waste materials to study poorly understood aspects of not only the salt production process, but artisanal activities in general.
The modern walrus Odobenus rosmarus is characterized by marked sexual dimorphism, related to its polygynous behavior and the aggressive competition between males during the breeding season. Previous studies treated skeletal sexual dimorphism in walruses either qualitatively or with basic quantitative measurements. The present study combines a detailed qualitative comparison of male and female walrus mandibles with quantitative two-dimensional geometric morphometrics analysis (principal component analysis, Procrustes ANOVA and a linear discriminant analysis). In addition to identifying previously recognized sexually dimorphic features (e.g., convexity of the anterior margin of the mandible in adult males), our study finds new morphological differences between males and females, such as a relative dorsal expansion of the anterior part of the mandible and an accentuated concavity between the dorsal margin and the coronoid process in adult males. Both our qualitative comparisons and quantitative analyses demonstrate that sexual dimorphism as expressed in the mandible of extant walruses is statistically significant and that (variation in) mandibular morphology can be used as tool to attribute sex with a good degree of accuracy to isolated mandibles or skeletons lacking the cranium. Sexual dimorphism in walruses is directly related to their sexual behavior, characterized as aggressive in males and linked to a polygynous reproduction system. Indeed, the difference in size of the tusks between males and females but also the use of these during intraspecific fights, can reasonably account for this great mandibular morphological disparity between adult males and females, but also among different ontogenetic stages. Finally, the results obtained in the present study may serve as a starting point for assessing sexual dimorphism more in-depth and studying inter-and intraspecific variation in the mandibles of fossil walruses by identifying quantified size and shape mandibular features.
Background: Gastropod snails remain strongly understudied, despite their important role in transmitting parasitic diseases. Knowledge of their distribution and population dynamics increases our understanding of the processes driving disease transmission. We report the first study to use high-throughput sequencing (HTS) to elucidate the population genetic structure of the hermaphroditic snail Bulinus truncatus (Gastropoda, Heterobranchia) on a regional (17-150 km) and interregional (1000-5400 km) scale. This snail species acts as an intermediate host of Schistosoma haematobium and Schistosoma bovis, which cause human and animal schistosomiasis respectively. Methods: Bulinus truncatus snails were collected in Senegal, Cameroon, Egypt and France and identified through DNA barcoding. A single-end genotyping-by-sequencing (GBS) library, comprising 87 snail specimens from the respective countries, was built and sequenced on an Illumina HiSeq 2000 platform. Reads were mapped against S. bovis and S. haematobium reference genomes to identify schistosome infections, and single nucleotide polymor-phisms (SNPs) were scored using the Stacks pipeline. These SNPs were used to estimate genetic diversity, assess population structure and construct phylogenetic trees of B. truncatus. Results: A total of 10,750 SNPs were scored and used in downstream analyses. The phylogenetic analysis identified five clades, each consisting of snails from a single country but with two distinct clades within Senegal. Genetic diversity was low in all populations, reflecting high selfing rates, but varied between locations due to habitat variability. Significant genetic differentiation and isolation by distance patterns were observed at both spatial scales, indicating that gene flow is not strong enough to counteract the effects of population bottlenecks, high selfing rates and genetic drift. Remarkably, the population genetic differentiation on a regional scale (i.e. within Senegal) was as large as that between populations on an interregional scale. The blind GBS technique was able to pick up parasite DNA in snail tissue, demonstrating the potential of HTS techniques to further elucidate the role of snail species in parasite transmission. Conclusions: HTS techniques offer a valuable toolbox to further investigate the population genetic patterns of intermediate schistosome host snails and the role of snail species in parasite transmission.
Land use change caused by human activities is the main driver of biodiversity loss and changes in ecosystem functioning. However, less is known about how the conversion of a natural to pasture land favour the biological diversity of soil-litter arthropods to advance effective conservation plans and management systems. To fill the gap, this study focussed on soil-litter arthropod communities under a pasture land use in southern Rwanda. Data have been collected using pitfall traps and hand collection between April and June 2021. Sampled specimens of soil-litter arthropods have been identified to order and family levels by using dichotomous keys. Further, the species name was given when the identification key was available, while the morphological description was provided in absence of the identification keys. Results indicated a total of 3013 individuals of soil-litter arthropods grouped into 3 classes, 13 orders, 46 families and 87 morpho-species. Coleoptera showed a high number of families, while higher abundance and the number of morpho-species were found for ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Higher abundance of sampled soil-litter arthropods is a sign that the studied area offers suitable habitat for soil-litter arthropods. However, less abundance found for some groups of soil-litter arthropods might be influenced by the used sampling techniques which were not appropriate for them. We recommend surveys using multiple sampling techniques to maximize chances of capturing a wide range of soil-litter arthropods.
Amniotes have been a major component of marine trophic chains from the beginning of the Triassic to present day, with hundreds of species. However, inferences of their (palaeo)ecology have mostly been qualitative, making it difficult to track how dietary niches have changed through time and across clades. Here, we tackle this issue by applying a novel geometric morphometric protocol to three-dimensional models of tooth crowns across a wide range of raptorial marine amniotes. Our results highlight the phenomenon of dental simplification and widespread convergence in marine amniotes, limiting the range of tooth crown morphologies. Importantly, we quantitatively demonstrate that tooth crown shape and size are strongly associated with diet, whereas crown surface complexity is not. The maximal range of tooth shapes in both mammals and reptiles is seen in medium-sized taxa; large crowns are simple and restricted to a fraction of the morphospace. We recognize four principal raptorial guilds within toothed marine amniotes (durophages, generalists, flesh cutters and flesh piercers). Moreover, even though all these feeding guilds have been convergently colonized over the last 200 Myr, a series of dental morphologies are unique to the Mesozoic period, probably reflecting a distinct ecosystem structure.
The genus Cleotyche in the monotypic Australian planthopper tribe Cleotychini (Fulgoroidea: Dictyopharidae) is reviewed. The subgenus Griseotyche subgen. nov. is described to accommodate one species Cleotyche blanda Emeljanov, 2011 while the second species, C. mariae Emeljanov, 1997, is retained in the subgenus Cleotyche (Cleotyche) Emeljanov, 1997. Three new species of Cleotyche (Cleotyche) from Queensland, C. (Cleotyche) christinae sp. nov. from Cania Gorge National Park, C. (Cleotyche) francescoi sp. nov. from Eurimbula National Park and C. (Cleotyche) montana sp. nov. from Blackdown Tableland National Park are described and compared to the type species of the subgenus, C. (Cleotyche) mariae Emeljanov, 1997. Illustration of the type specimens, male and female whenever available, and a distribution map are provided for the five species of the genus. The male genitalia and habitat of the three new species are illustrated. The tribe Cleotychini now contains one genus, Cleotyche with two subgenera and five species. Biological, ecological and biogeographical information is provided where available for each species. The diversity of Australian Dictyopharidae and mimicry of jumping spiders (Araneae: Salticidae) in Cleotychini are discussed briefly.
Background Invasive non-typhoidal Salmonella (iNTS–mainly serotypes Enteritidis and Typhimurium) are major causes of bloodstream infections in children in sub-Saharan Africa, but their reservoir remains unknown. We assessed iNTS carriage in rats in an urban setting endemic for iNTS carriage and compared genetic profiles of iNTS from rats with those isolated from humans. Methodology/Principal findings From April 2016 to December 2018, rats were trapped in five marketplaces and a slaughterhouse in Kisangani, Democratic Republic of the Congo. After euthanasia, blood, liver, spleen, and rectal content were cultured for Salmonella . Genetic relatedness between iNTS from rats and humans—obtained from blood cultures at Kisangani University Hospital—was assessed with multilocus variable-number tandem repeat (VNTR) analysis (MLVA), multilocus sequence typing (MLST) and core-genome MLST (cgMLST). 1650 live-capture traps yielded 566 (34.3%) rats (95.6% Rattus norvegicus , 4.4% Rattus rattus ); 46 (8.1%) of them carried Salmonella , of which 13 had more than one serotype. The most common serotypes were II.42:r:- (n = 18 rats), Kapemba (n = 12), Weltevreden and Typhimurium (n = 10, each), and Dublin (n = 8). Salmonella Typhimurium belonged to MLST ST19 (n = 7 rats) and the invasive ST313 (n = 3, isolated from deep organs but not from rectal content). Sixteen human S . Typhimurium isolates (all ST313) were available for comparison: MLVA and cgMLST revealed two distinct rat-human clusters involving both six human isolates, respectively, i . e . in total 12/16 human ST313 isolates. All ST313 Typhimurium isolates from rats and humans clustered with the ST313 Lineage 2 isolates and most were multidrug resistant; the remaining isolates from rats including S . Typhimurium ST19 were pan-susceptible.s1 Conclusion The present study provides evidence of urban rats as potential reservoirs of S . Typhimurium ST313 in an iNTS endemic area in sub-Saharan Africa.
Les malformations du pied rapportées dans la littérature paléopathologique s’avèrent toutes être des pieds bot varus équin (PBVE) [1], [2]. Ce problème, bien que répandu en orthopédie pédiatrique contemporaine [3], est rarissime en archéologie [1], [2] et il est souvent impossible de faire la distinction entre une origine congénitale ou acquise (séquelle de poliomyélite) [2]. L’individu 36 de l’abbaye des Dunes de Coxyde (Belgique) est un homme de plus de 50 ans inhumé dans le cloître. D’après sa situation stratigraphique et sa zone d’inhumation il devait s’agir d’un individu au statut social élevé ayant vécu entre les XIIIe et XVe siècles [4]. Les tibias présentent une néosurface sur la face antérieure de leur malléole s’articulant à hauteur de l’interligne articulaire talo-naviculaire. Les mortaises tibio-fibulaires sont élargies et les fosses malléolaires anormalement ouvertes. Les cols et têtes des talus ainsi que les naviculaires montrent des profondes déformations. Les calcanéus présentent une insertion verticale du tendon d’Achille et sont épaissis, de même que les métatarses IV et V. Ces modifications squelettiques (pied en flexion dorsale, varus et inversion) ne démontrent pas un PBVE typique mais laissent supposer un pied calcanéus (talus) varus bilatéral [3]. Une reconstruction 3D par photogrammétrie permet de mieux visualiser l’arrière et le médio-pied. L’intense remodelage des surfaces articulaires ainsi qu’une sévère coxarthrose bilatérale confirment la persistance de la mobilité de l’individu en dépit de l’altération de son profil de marche [4]. La remarquable asymétrie de son membre supérieur droit illustre une profonde adaptation structurelle suggérant l’utilisation de béquilles [1], [4]. La robustesse générale du squelette malgré ses pathologies ainsi que le développement de ses enthèses d’insertions musculaires font de la poliomyélite un diagnostic différentiel improbable. L’exceptionnelle conservation de cet individu nous permet de suspecter un diagnostic encore jamais décrit en paléopathologie et nous éclaire sur le handicap et sa prise en charge au sein des sociétés du passé.
Primary production (PP) is highly sensitive to changes in the ecosystem and can be used as an early warning indicator for disturbance in the marine environment. Historic indicators of good environmental status of the north-east (NE) Atlantic and NW European Seas suggested that daily PP should not exceed 2–3 gC m⁻² d⁻¹ during phytoplankton blooms and that annual rates should be <300 gC m⁻² yr⁻¹. We use 21 years of Copernicus Marine Service (CMEMS) Ocean Colour data from September 1997 to December 2018 to assess areas in the NE Atlantic with similar peak, climatology, phenology and annual PP values. Daily and annual thresholds of the 90th percentile (P90) of PP are defined for these areas and PP values above these thresholds indicate disturbances, both natural and anthropogenic, in the marine environment. Two case studies are used to test the validity and accuracy of these thresholds. The first is the eruption of the volcano Eyjafjallajökull, which deposited large volumes of volcanic dust (and therefore iron) into the NE Atlantic during April and May 2010. A clear signature in both PP and chlorophyll-a (Chl a) was evident from 28th April to 6th May and from 18th to 27th May 2010, when PP exceeded the PP P90 threshold for the region, which was comparatively more sensitive than Chl a P90 as an indicator of this disturbance. The second case study was for the riverine input of total nitrogen and phosphorus, along the Wadden Sea coast in the North Sea. During years when total nitrogen and phosphorus were above the climatology maximum, there was a lag signature in both PP and Chl a when PP exceeded the PP P90 threshold defined for the study area which was similar to Chl a P90. This technique represents an accurate means of determining disturbances in the environment both in the coastal and offshore waters in the NE Atlantic using remotely sensed ocean colour data.
The majority of heating in Belgium and Europe originates from natural gas. Deep geothermal heating (DGH) can provide a low carbon alternative to fossil-fired heating. However, the site-specific geological conditions are determinant for DGH development, requiring in-depth assessments to fully understand the potential environmental impacts. This study presents a comprehensive environmental assessment of DGH in Northern Belgium, where growing interest in DGH is observed. Based on an already developed DGH plant, three scenarios are defined depicting current and future DGH developments in Northern Belgium. Twelve Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) impact indicators and the inter-connected geo-technical aspects are investigated. An LCA on the three scenarios is performed, followed by a detailed hotspot analysis. Also, the impact variability is estimated with global sensitivity analysis, followed by variance-based global sensitivity analysis to assess this variability. The global warming (GW) impact of the already developed DGH plant is relatively low (27 kg CO2-eq/MWhth) and is driven (>80%) by the electricity consumed to run the pumps and the well development. The GW impact is lower for the expected future DGH development (11 kg CO2-eq/MWhth) because of shallower reservoir conditions and better permeability that lead to lower pumping needs. A wide impact variability is found, governed (>80%) by the plant capacity, capacity factor and pumping needs. The GW impact ranges from 4 to 130 kg CO2-eq/MWhth. Utilization of DGH in Northern Belgium can lead to a decarbonized heating mix. The environmental impacts of DGH can be reduced by exploiting shallower reservoirs with better permeability to reduce the impacts of well development and the pumping needs of the plant and by supplying the plant with renewable energy sources.
The exponential increase of the human population in tandem with increased food demand has caused agriculture to be the global‐dominant form of land use. Afrotropical drylands are currently facing the loss of natural savannah habitats and agricultural intensification with largely unknown consequences for bees. Here we investigate the effects of agricultural intensification on bee assemblages in the Afrotropical drylands of northern Tanzania. We disentangled the direct effects of agricultural intensification and temperature on bee richness from indirect effects mediated by changes in floral resources. We collected data from 24 study sites representing three levels of management intensity (natural savannah, moderate intensive, and highly intensive agriculture) spanning an extensive gradient of mean annual temperature in northern Tanzania. We used ordinary linear models and path analysis to test the effects of agricultural intensity and mean annual temperature on bee species richness, bee species composition, and body‐size variation of bee communities. We found that bee species richness increased with agricultural intensity and with increasing temperature. The effects of agricultural intensity and temperature on bee species richness were mediated by the positive effects of agriculture and temperature on the richness of floral resources used by bees. During the off‐growing season, agricultural land was characterized by an extensive period of fallow land holding a very high density of flowering plants with unique bee species composition. The increase of bee diversity in agricultural habitats paralleled an increasing variation of bee body sizes with agricultural intensification that, however, diminished in environments with higher temperatures. Synthesis and applications. Our study reveals that bee assemblages in Afrotropical drylands benefit from agricultural intensification in the way it is currently practiced. However, further land use intensification, including year‐round irrigated crop monocultures and excessive use of agrochemicals is likely to exert a negative impact on bee diversity and pollination services, as reported in temperate regions. Moreover, several bee species were restricted to natural savannah habitats. To conserve bee communities and guarantee pollination services in the region, a mixture of savannah and agriculture, with long periods of fallow land should be maintained.
Al-Khiday, located on the bank of the White Nile in Sudan, offers an exceptionally preserved stratigraphic sequence, providing a unique opportunity to use organic residue analysis to investigate diet and subsistence during the Khartoum Mesolithic and the Early Neolithic, a period of nearly 3500 years (7000–4500 cal BC). While the vast and diverse Mesolithic fish assemblage indicates a strong reliance on products from aquatic habitats, floodplains, vegetated marshes, and open water, results from the lipid residue analysis suggest that the fish were not cooked in ceramic pots, but consumed in other ways. Rather, pots were more specialized in processing plants, including wild grasses, leafy plants, and sedges. These results, confirmed by experimental analysis, provide, for the first time, direct chemical evidence for plant exploitation in the Khartoum Mesolithic. Non-ruminant fauna (e.g., warthog) and low lipid-yielding reptiles (e.g., Adanson’s mud turtle and Nile monitor lizard), found in significant numbers at al-Khiday, were likely also cooked in pots. There is little evidence for the processing of wild ruminants in the Mesolithic pots, suggesting either that ruminant species were not routinely hunted or that large wild fauna may have been cooked in different ways, possibly grilled over fires. These data suggest sophisticated economic strategies by sedentary people exploiting their ecological niche to the fullest. Pottery use changed considerably in the Early Neolithic, with ruminant products being more routinely processed in pots, and while the exploitation of domesticates cannot be confirmed by a small faunal assemblage, some dairying took place. The results provide valuable information on Early and Middle Holocene lifeways in central Sudan.
The terrestrialization process by vertebrates occurred during the Devonian period, with fully land-dwelling tetrapods recorded in the Carboniferous. Thus, the Late Devonian is an important period for deciphering the ecological pressures that applied during the water-to-land transition. Higher predation pressures in the underwater environment have been suggested as an influential biotic evolutionary factor in this key habitat shift. Direct evidence of ancient predation on Palaeozoic vertebrates is seen in the form of rare traces preserved on fossils, and these range from trauma observed on the skeleton (such as attack marks) to ingested food remains (bromalites). The late Famennian freshwater ecosystem of Strud (Belgium) consists of a rich assemblage of many coeval gnathostomes or jawed fishes (placoderms, ‘acanthodians’, actinopterygians, and various sarcopterygian groups including tetrapods). Here we analyse the record of direct evidence for predation in the Strud vertebrate fossil assemblage. We recognize 12 regurgitalites and 13 bite traces, including a rare case of a tooth embedded in its original prey body target. Fossils from regurgitalites were imaged using scanning electron microscopy and chemically analysed to test for their possible ingestion signature by comparison with other isolated skeletal remains from the same locality. From this evidence, tristichopterid tetrapodomorphs are inferred to be the highest consumers of the trophic network, targeting small placoderms, and porolepiforms, and probably congeners. We observe two possible prey patterns in regurgitalites, for sarcopterygians and actinopterygians, both of which are associated with acanthodians. In Strud, no trophic position can be deduced for tetrapods from direct fossil evidence of predation.
While contemporary changes in feeding preferences have been documented in phytophagous insects, the mechanisms behind these processes remain to be fully clarified. In this context, the insect gut microbiome plays a central role in adaptation to novel host plants. The cucurbit frugivorous fruit fly Zeugodacus cucurbitae (Diptera, Tephritidae) has occasionally been reported on “unconventional” host plants from different families, including Solanaceae. In this study, we focus on wild parental (F0) adults and semiwild first filial (F1) larvae of Z. cucurbitae from multiple sites in La Réunion and explore how the gut microbiome composition changes when this fly is feeding on a noncucurbit host (Solanum melongena). Our analyses show nonobvious gut microbiome responses following the F0–F1 host shift and the importance of not just diet but also local effects, which heavily affected the diversity and composition of microbiomes. We identified the main bacterial genera responsible for differences between treatments. These data further stress the importance of a careful approach when drawing general conclusions based on laboratory populations or inadequately replicated field samples.
Despite their past importance as vectors of indigenous malaria, the species composition and spatial distribution of the members of the Anopheles maculipennis complex have been studied to a limited extent in the Netherlands. Therefore, this investigation focuses on the distribution of the members of this complex in the Netherlands, including Anopheles daciae, which has recently been found in countries bordering the Netherlands. In the framework of a national mosquito surveillance between 2010 and 2021, a total of 541 specimens of An. maculipennis s.l. were analyzed from 161 locations covering the entire territory. In addition, 89 specimens were analyzed from overwintering sites during the winter of 2020/2021. All individual mosquitoes were identified to species-level using Sanger sequencing of the ribosomal internal transcribed spacer 2. To characterize the habitat of An. maculipennis s.l. in the Netherlands, land cover use data was extracted in a 1 km buffer area around each finding location. For populations collected in summers between 2010 and 2021, the most frequent species was An. messeae, present in 88.19% of the locations, followed by An. maculipennis s.s. (11.80%), An. atroparvus (3.72%) and An. daciae (3.72%). Anopheles daciae was found in the southern inland areas of the country. Furthermore, An. messeae and An. daciae occurred in sympatry at overwintering sites. This study provides relevant information on the occurrence of species of the Anopheles maculipennis complex in the Netherlands, contributing to a better estimation of the risk of mosquito-borne disease in the country.
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Isa Schön
  • Operational Directorate Natural Environment
Wouter Dekoninck
  • Scientific Service Heritage, Department Entomology
Mietje Germonpré
  • OD Earth and History of Life
Vera Van Lancker
  • Direction of Natural Environment
Thierry Backeljau
  • Taxonomy and Phylogeny
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