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Fitting different visual models to behavioral patterns of parasitic egg rejection along a natural egg color gradient in a cavity-nesting host species.

Avian brood parasites lay their eggs in other birds' nests, and hosts can mitigate the fitness cost of raising unrelated offspring by rejecting parasitic eggs. A visually-based cognitive mechanism often thought to be used by hosts to discriminate the foreign egg is to compare it against the hosts' own eggshell by size, shape, maculation, and/or ground coloration (i.e., absolute chromatic contrast). However, hosts may instead discriminate eggs based on their colors along a scale of natural avian eggshell coloration (i.e., directional chromatic contrast). In support of this latter visual process, recent research has found that directional chromatic contrasts can explain some host species' rejection behavior better than absolute chromatic or achromatic contrasts. Here, for the first time, we conducted an experiment in a cavity-nesting host species to test the predictions of these different visual mechanisms. We experimentally parasitized nests of the Common Redstart Phoenicurus phoenicurus, a regular host of a mimetic-egg laying Common Cuckoo Cuculus canorus host-race, using painted, immaculate 3D-printed model eggs in two geographically distant areas (Finland and Czech Republic). We found that directional chromatic contrasts better explained rejection behaviors in both parasitized (Finland) and non-parasitized (Czech Republic) host populations, as hosts rejected eggs that were noticeably browner, but not eggs that were noticeably bluer, than redstart eggs. These results support the paradigm of a single rejection threshold predicted by the directional chromatic contrast model and contribute to a growing generality of these patterns across diverse avian host-brood parasite systems.

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Adaptive divergence in shell morphology in an ongoing gastropod radiation from Lake Malawi.

Ecological speciation is a prominent mechanism of diversification but in many evolutionary radiations, particularly in invertebrates, it remains unclear whether supposedly critical ecological traits drove or facilitated diversification. As a result, we lack accurate knowledge on the drivers of diversification for most evolutionary radiations along the tree of life. Freshwater mollusks present an enigmatic example: Putatively adaptive radiations are being described in various families, typically from long-lived lakes, whereas other taxa represent celebrated model systems in the study of ecophenotypic plasticity. Here we examine determinants of shell-shape variation in three nominal species of an ongoing ampullariid radiation in the Malawi Basin (Lanistes nyassanus, L. solidus and Lanistes sp. (ovum-like)) with a common garden experiment and semi-landmark morphometrics.

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A Mechanistic View of Collective Filament Motion in Active Nematic Networks.

Protein filament networks are structures crucial for force generation and cell shape. A central open question is how collective filament dynamics emerges from interactions between individual network constituents. To address this question, we study a minimal but generic model for a nematic network in which filament sliding is driven by the action of motor proteins. Our theoretical analysis shows how the interplay between viscous drag on filaments and motor-induced forces governs force propagation through such interconnected filament networks. We find that the ratio between these antagonistic forces establishes the range of filament interaction, which determines how the local filament velocity depends on the polarity of the surrounding network. This force-propagation mechanism implies that the polarity-independent sliding observed in Xenopus egg extracts and in vitro experiments with purified components is a consequence of a large force-propagation length. We suggest how our predictions can be tested by tangible in vitro experiments whose feasibility is assessed with the help of simulations and an accompanying theoretical analysis.

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The morphology of the immature stages of (Kirby, 1808) (Coleoptera, Brentidae) and notes on its life cycle.

The immature stages (egg, mature larva and pupa) of (Kirby, 1808), as well as its development cycle and the phenology of its developmental stages, are described for the first time. The larva and pupa of have typical morphological features of the subfamily Apioninae. Morphological data on the immature stages were compared with the only fully described species, (Germar, 1817). The larvae of the two species differ in body size and shape, head shape, setae length, the chaetotaxy of the mouthparts, and individual types of setae on the pronotum and thorax. In the case of the pupa, there are also differences in body size and in the type of setae and chaetotaxy of the head, pronotum, metanotum and abdomen.

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Time of sexual maturity and early egg quality of Japanese quails affected by in ovo injection of medicinal plants.

The aim of this study was to evaluate the time to sexual maturity and quality of initial eggs of Japanese quail affected by in ovo injection of plant extracts: ginger (GR), garlic (GC), oregano (O) and cinnamon (C). In total, 2400 eggs of Japanese quails were divided into six groups on the fifth day of incubation. Group I was the control group (NC), which was not injected. Other eggs were injected with 0.1 mL of liquid: group II - the positive control (PC) - with distilled water, group III with 1 % solution of GR, group IV with GC, group V with O and group VI with C. After hatching, the birds were reared in a cage system and fed with balanced mixtures, and 24 h lighting was used. The time at which birds reached sexual maturity was registered, while in the seventh week of rearing, 120 eggs were subject to quality evaluation. The traits of a whole egg (shape index as the ratio of egg width to egg length, weight, specific gravity), shell (strength, weight, thickness and density), albumen (weight, height), yolk (color, weight, index) were evaluated. At the earliest, on 36th day of life, eggs were laid by birds from the GC group, followed by C (37th day), O and NC (38th day), GR (39th day), and PC (41st day). During the first 2 weeks significantly more eggs were collected from the GC than from the other groups. The heaviest eggs derived from GC and GR groups, whereas the lightest came from the C group. Eggs from the GC group had the best shell strength and the greatest proportion of yolk. The use of medicinal herbs by injection in ovo may considerably modify both time of sexual maturity and quality of the initial eggs of Japanese quail.

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Lipid shape determination of detergent solubilization in mixed-lipid liposomes.

The effects of lipid charge and head group size on liposome partitioning by detergents is an important consideration for applications such as liposomal drug delivery or proteoliposome formation. Yet, the solubilization of mixed-lipid liposomes, those containing multiple types of lipids, by detergents has received insufficient attention. This study examines the incorporation into and subsequent dissolution of mixed-lipid liposomes comprised of both egg phosphatidylcholine (ePC) and egg phosphatidic acid (ePA) by the detergent Triton-X100 (TX). Liposomes were prepared with mixtures of the two lipids, ePC and ePA, at molar ratios from 0 to 1, then step-wise solubilized with TX. Changes in turbidity, size distribution, and molar heat power at constant temperature throughout the solubilization process were assessed. The data suggest that the difference in lipid shapes (shape factors = 0.74 and 1.4 [1,2]) affects packing in membranes, and hence influences how much TX can be incorporated before disruption. As such, liposomes containing the observed ratios of ePA incorporated higher concentrations of TX before initiating dissolution into detergent and lipid mixed-micelles. The cause was concluded to be increased mismatching in the bilayer from the conical shape of ePA compared to the cylindrical shape of ePC. Additionally, the degree to which ePA is approximated as conical versus cylindrical was modulated with pH. It was confirmed that less conical ePA behaved more similarly to ePC than more conical ePA. The understanding gained here on lipid shape in liposome incorporation of TX enables research to use in vitro liposomes that more closely mimic native membranes.

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Phytochemical management of root knot nematode (Meloidogyne incognita) kofoid and white chitwood by Artemisia spp. in tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum L.).

In vitro and screen house experiments were conducted to investigate the effectiveness of thirteen phytochemicals from Artemisia elegantissimia and A. incisa on root knot nematode, Meloidogyne incognita in tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum L.) cv. Rio Grande. A positive control (Carbofuran) and negative control (H2O) were also used for comparison. Effectiveness of phytochemicals against juveniles (J2s) mortality and egg hatch inhibition were evaluated after 24, 48 and 72 hours of incubation at three concentrations viz; 0.1, 0.2 and 0.3 mg/mL in vitro conditions. Amongst thirteen phytochemicals, Isoscopletin (Coumarin), Carbofuran and Apigenin (Flavonoid) showed the highest mortality and egg hatch inhibition of M. incognita at all intervals. Inhibition of eggs and J2s mortality were the greatest (90.0%) and (96.0%) at 0.3 mg/mL concentration. Application of phytochemicals caused reduction in number of galls, galling index, and egg masses on tomato plant and enhanced plant growth parameters under screen house conditions. Gall numbers (1.50), galling index (1.00), number of juveniles (4.83) and egg masses (4.00) were greatly reduced and plant growth parameters such as; plant height (28.48 cm), fresh (72.13 g) and dry shoot weights (35.99 g), and root fresh (6.58 g) and dry weights (1.43 g) were increased significantly by using Isoscopletin. In structure activity relationship, juveniles of M. incognita, exhibited variations in their shape and postures upon death when exposed to different concentrations of phytochemicals of Artemisia spp. The present study suggests that Artemisia based phytochemicals possess strong nematicidal effects and can be used effectively in an integrated disease management program against root knot nematodes.

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A species-level taxonomic review and host associations of (Hymenoptera, Braconidae, Microgastrinae) with an emphasis on 136 new reared species from Costa Rica and Ecuador.

The descriptive taxonomic study reported here is focused on , a species-rich genus of hymenopteran parasitoid wasps. The species were found within the framework of two independent long-term Neotropical caterpillar rearing projects: northwestern Costa Rica (Área de Conservación Guanacaste, ACG) and eastern Andes, Ecuador (centered on Yanayacu Biological Station, YBS). One hundred thirty-six new species of Ashmead are described and all of them are authored by Arias-Penna. None of them was recorded in both countries; thus, 78 are from Costa Rica and the remaining 58 from Ecuador. Before this revision, the number of Neotropical described did not reach double digits. Reasonable boundaries among species were generated by integrating three datasets: Cytochrome Oxidase I (COI) gene sequencing data, natural history (host records), and external morphological characters. Each species description is accompanied by images and known geographical distribution. Characteristics such as shape, ornamentation, and location of spun cocoons were imaged as well. Host-parasitoid associations and food plants are also here published for the first time. A total of 88 species within 84 genera in 15 Lepidoptera families was encountered as hosts in the field. With respect to food plants, these wild-caught parasitized caterpillars were reared on leaves of 147 species within 118 genera in 60 families. The majority of species appeared to be relatively specialized on one family of Lepidoptera or even on some much lower level of taxonomic refinement. Those herbivores in turn are highly food-plant specialized, and once caterpillars were collected, early instars (1-3) yielded more parasitoids than later instars. Arias-Penna, is the first egg-larval parasitoid recorded within the genus, though there may be many more since such natural history requires a more focused collection of eggs. The rate of hyperparasitoidism within the genus was approximately 4% and was represented by spp. (Ichneumonidae). A single case of multiparasitoidism was reported, Ashmead (Encyrtidae) and Arias-Penna, both parasitoid species emerged from the caterpillar of Noctuidae: (Cramer). Bodyguard behavior was observed in two species: Arias-Penna, and Arias-Penna, A dichotomous key for all the new species is provided. The numerous species described here, and an equal number already reared but not formally described, signal a far greater species richness in the Neotropics than suggested by the few described previously.

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Seasonal changes in yolk hormone concentrations carry-over to offspring traits.

Yolk hormones are substances which transmit non-genetic factors from the mother to the next generation. The systematic changes of yolk hormone concentrations within asynchronously hatching clutches have been interpreted as a means to adaptively shape the offspring's phenotype. However, in synchronously hatching clutches the role of yolk hormones is less understood. We investigated whether seasonal changes between eggs in the yolk hormones testosterone (Testo), progesterone (Prog) and corticosterone (Cort) also occur in the grey partridge, a synchronously hatching precocial species without direct food competition between siblings. Specifically we asked whether yolk hormone concentrations systematically vary with season and whether they affect the offspring's hatching mass, mass gain, circulating baseline and stress-induced Cort. Additionally, we investigated the effect of genetic background and food availability on yolk hormone concentrations by subjecting grey partridge hens of two strains (wild and domesticated) to two different feeding regimes (predictable vs. unpredictable feeding) during egg laying. We hypothesized that egg hormone concentrations change over the season, but breeding in captivity over many generations and ad libitum food access could have resulted in domestication effects which abolished potential seasonal effects. Results showed that progressing season had a strong positive effect on yolk Prog and yolk Testo, but not on yolk Cort. Feeding regimes and strain had no effect on yolk hormones. Offspring mass and mass gain increased and baseline Cort decreased with progressing season. In addition, yolk Testo correlated positively with offspring mass gain and negatively with baseline Cort, while yolk Prog had a positive correlation with baseline Cort. Strain and feeding regimes of the mother had no effect on offspring traits. In conclusion, grey partridge chicks hatching late in the season might benefit from the increased concentrations of the growth-stimulating yolk Testo and by this catch-up in development. Hence, yolk hormone concentration could adaptively shape the offspring phenotype in a precocial species.

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Mammalian spermatozoa and cumulus cells bind to a 3D model generated by recombinant zona pellucida protein-coated beads.

The egg is a spherical cell encapsulated by the zona pellucida (ZP) which forms a filamentous matrix composed of several glycoproteins that mediate gamete recognition at fertilization. Studies on molecular mechanisms of sperm-egg binding are limited in many mammalian species by the scarcity of eggs, by ethical concerns in harvesting eggs, and by the high cost of producing genetically modified animals. To address these limitations, we have reproduced a three-dimensional (3D) model mimicking the oocyte's shape, by means of magnetic sepharose beads coated with recombinant ZP glycoproteins (B) and cumulus cells. Three preparations composed of either ZP2 (C and N-termini; B), ZP3 (B) or ZP4 (B) were obtained and characterized by protein SDS-PAGE, immunoblot and imaging with confocal and electron microscopy. The functionality of the model was validated by adhesion of cumulus cells, the ability of the glycoprotein-beads to support spermatozoa binding and induce acrosome exocytosis. Thus, our findings document that ZP-beads provide a novel 3D tool to investigate the role of specific proteins on egg-sperm interactions becoming a relevant tool as a diagnostic predictor of mammalian sperm function once transferred to the industry.

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