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News Article | May 25, 2017
Site: www.eurekalert.org

Mountain-dwelling East African honey bees have distinct genetic variations compared to their savannah relatives that likely help them to survive at high altitudes, report Martin Hasselmann of the University of Hohenheim, Germany, Matthew Webster of Uppsala University, Sweden, and colleagues May 25th, 2017, in PLOS Genetics. Honey bees living in the mountain forests of East Africa look and behave differently from bees inhabiting the surrounding lowland savannahs. Mountain bees are larger, darker and less aggressive than savannah bees, and can fly at lower temperatures and conserve honey when flowers aren't blooming. To understand the genetic basis for these high-altitude adaptations, researchers sequenced the genomes of 39 bees from two highland and two lowland populations in Kenya. The genomes of all the populations are highly similar, but two regions located on chromosome 7 and 9 show consistent differences between bees living in high and low-altitude environments. The segment on chromosome 7 contains e.g. receptor genes for a neurotransmitter called octopamine, which plays a role in learning and foraging. The clear divergence of these two genetic variations suggests that they have an ancient origin and likely existed in bee populations before the groups spread their mountain and savannah habitats. This comprehensive study of the genomes of high-altitude honey bees in Kenya reveals novel insights into their evolutionary history and the genetic basis of local adaptation. Scientists had thought that mountain and savannah populations were each distinct sub-species. The high degree of similarity in their genomes, as revealed in the current study, shows that they constantly interbreed. The highly diverged segments likely represent structural rearrangements, such as inversions, in which the exchange of genetic material is suppressed. Previous studies have identified octopamine as an important signaling molecule in other insects living in low temperature and low oxygen conditions. Martin Hasselmann adds: "Our findings complement several other landmark studies (for example in Heliconius butterflies and Solenopsis ants) where adaptations have been similarly tied to structural variants or supergenes. However, this phenomenon has never been documented in honey bees before. Our results should therefore spur further research into the role of supergenes in environmental adaptation. We are planning now to measure the distribution of these divergent segments in other geographic locations and to elucidate the functional link of these genes with behavior." In your coverage please use this URL to provide access to the freely available article in PLOS Genetics: http://journals. Citation: Wallberg A, Schöning C, Webster MT, Hasselmann M (2017) Two extended haplotype blocks are associated with adaptation to high altitude habitats in East African honey bees. PLoS Genet 13(5): e1006792. https:/ Funding: This work was supported by the Swedish Research Council (2014-5096), the Swedish Research Council Formas (2013-722), the SciLifeLab Biodiversity Program (2014/R2-49) to MTW. MH was supported by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (HA 5499/3-2). AW and CS did not have independent funding. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript. Competing Interests: The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.


How A Wild Berry Is Helping To Protect China's Giant Pandas And Its Countryside In the cool mountains of the Upper Yangtze region, Chinese villagers clamber up dogwood and maple trees to gather what Dr. Oz has called a "miracle anti-aging pill." The small, red schisandra berry has a peculiar taste — five tastes, in fact, because it's considered to be at once sweet, sour, salty, bitter and pungent. Chinese restaurants serve it macerated in alcohol from tall glass containers, like the office water cooler, where customers can fill a cup. Long before it became a "superfood" in the U.S., schisandra was made into bright-colored juices, jams and savory soups. It has always been a medicinal plant, prized for its ability to calm chronic coughs, night sweats, incontinence and insomnia. But now the berry is at the center of a dramatic new approach to conservation, helping to save both the forest where it grows — one of the most biodiverse places on the planet — and the villagers who harvest it. Across China, families are allotted farm plots by the government. For years, people in the Upper Yangtze pooled resources to supplement what they could grow on their own with communal fields of corn and other staples on the high slopes surrounding their homes — crops they sold for extra cash. But as the hills were stripped to make way for farms and logging, the mountains started to break with mudslides and rockslides. That destroyed forests where the vast majority of the country's commercially harvested medicinal plants, like magnolia bulbs and angelica roots, are found, as well as crucial habitat for the endangered giant panda. In the late 1990s, the government banned timber operations on the hillsides. Later, in a program called "Grain for Green," it barred agriculture on the tall slopes, too. It was salvation for the forests, but the farmers had to scramble to replace the lost income. Families started gathering more wild plants than ever, ripping entire schisandra vines from trees to get as many berries as possible. This not only killed the plants, but also spread the foragers' human scent, scaring panda mothers who then abandoned their babies. It was a lose-lose in terms of biodiversity, and the obvious response seemed to be to end the schisandra harvest, even if the villagers suffered as a result. But that's where this conservation story takes an unusual turn. In 2008, Josef Brinckmann, an ethnobotanist and research fellow in medicinal plants at Traditional Medicinals tea company, traveled to the Upper Yangtze. He believed that the solution, both for schisandra and the people collecting it, wasn't to ban wild harvests, but to improve and encourage them. "Rural villagers understand the environments where they live better than anyone," he says. Two years later, Brinckmann was part of a team, along with members of the World Wildlife Federation, the Swiss and German governments, and other groups, that created the FairWild standard — the first verification system to focus on both environmental conditions and labor practices in the wild-plant industry. Under FairWild, indigenous and rural groups around the world are trained in sustainable harvesting methods, allowing them to secure contracts to sell their products for higher prices. Under the program, villagers are rewarded for protecting their landscapes and seen as keepers of often ancient botanical knowledge. Around the world, 19 plant species in 10 countries are now certified under FairWild, and at least 1,000 households in Central Europe and Asia are involved. That amounts to about 300 tons of plant material each year, with Roma collectors in Hungary and Bosnia filling sacks with rose hips and nettles, while families in Kazakhstan dig for licorice roots. Many of the collectors around the world are elderly or women and children, who otherwise depend on subsistence farming. But many are also completely landless. "Wild harvesters are often some of the poorest people, because they don't have access to land to farm," says Natsya Timoshyna, the medicinal plants program leader at TRAFFIC, an anti-wildlife-trafficking organization that helped create FairWild. Instead, these gatherers, like the villagers in China's Upper Yangtze, are quietly responsible for maintaining the world's supply of wild plants, a supply that provides medicine — as well as food — for up to 80 percent of the developing world. "The biggest threat to biodiversity is farming and development, not over-harvesting wild plants," says Brinckmann. In fact, a fifth of wild plant species today face extinction, and a third are threatened, because agriculture — more than any other factor — is consuming their habitat, according to the Kew Garden's "State of the World's Plants" report. "If you don't assign a value to a forest or a meadow, local people will switch to farming or grazing," says Brinckmann. Of course, neither was an option for the villagers of the Upper Yangtze, whose situation looked even more difficult after a massive earthquake hit in 2008, killing 69,000 people and leaving nearly 5 million homeless. Before the earthquake, collecting medicinal plants made up as much as 40 percent of an average household's cash income. After the earth stopped shaking, restoring the wild-plant economy became a national priority. With help from the EU-China Biodiversity Program, World Wildlife Fund-China, and the United Nations Development Program, the Chinese government put the FairWild standard in place. Researchers like Brinckmann trained local schisandra pickers to gather berries only from the lower two-thirds of the vine, leaving the rest for birds and wildlife that would spread the seeds through the forest. Collectors also avoided giant panda breeding areas, one of a number of protection efforts that seem to be working. Last year, the giant panda's status improved from "endangered" to "threatened," after a 17-percent rise in population from 1994. Today, the schisandra project has helped families set up a 23-village cooperative and establish contracts with buyers, including Traditional Medicinals, that pay a set price that is at least 30 percent more than the market rate. Once the Chinese government finishes training inspectors to carry out FairWild certifications (hopefully later this year), the schisandra harvesters will be officially certified under the label, though they currently abide by all of its requirements. Convinced by the results, the villagers in the co-op already want to expand their offerings. Each time the foragers add a new plant to the FairWild list, they have to design a management plan not just for that bush or berry, but for the entire micro-ecosystem where it grows. Keeping one species healthy means keeping hundreds of others safer, too. This story comes to us from the Food & Environment Reporting Network, an independent, nonprofit investigative news organization where Kristina Johnson is associate editor.


How A Wild Berry Is Helping To Protect China's Giant Pandas And Its Countryside In the cool mountains of the Upper Yangtze region, Chinese villagers clamber up dogwood and maple trees to gather what Dr. Oz has called a "miracle anti-aging pill." The small, red schisandra berry has a peculiar taste — five tastes, in fact, because it's considered to be at once sweet, sour, salty, bitter and pungent. Chinese restaurants serve it macerated in alcohol from tall glass containers, like the office water cooler, where customers can fill a cup. Long before it became a "superfood" in the U.S., schisandra was made into bright-colored juices, jams and savory soups. It has always been a medicinal plant, prized for its ability to calm chronic coughs, night sweats, incontinence and insomnia. But now the berry is at the center of a dramatic new approach to conservation, helping to save both the forest where it grows — one of the most biodiverse places on the planet — and the villagers who harvest it. Across China, families are allotted farm plots by the government. For years, people in the Upper Yangtze pooled resources to supplement what they could grow on their own with communal fields of corn and other staples on the high slopes surrounding their homes — crops they sold for extra cash. But as the hills were stripped to make way for farms and logging, the mountains started to break with mudslides and rockslides. That destroyed forests where the vast majority of the country's commercially harvested medicinal plants, like magnolia bulbs and angelica roots, are found, as well as crucial habitat for the endangered giant panda. In the late 1990s, the government banned timber operations on the hillsides. Later, in a program called "Grain for Green," it barred agriculture on the tall slopes, too. It was salvation for the forests, but the farmers had to scramble to replace the lost income. Families started gathering more wild plants than ever, ripping entire schisandra vines from trees to get as many berries as possible. This not only killed the plants, but also spread the foragers' human scent, scaring panda mothers who then abandoned their babies. It was a lose-lose in terms of biodiversity, and the obvious response seemed to be to end the schisandra harvest, even if the villagers suffered as a result. But that's where this conservation story takes an unusual turn. In 2008, Josef Brinckmann, an ethnobotanist and research fellow in medicinal plants at Traditional Medicinals tea company, traveled to the Upper Yangtze. He believed that the solution, both for schisandra and the people collecting it, wasn't to ban wild harvests, but to improve and encourage them. "Rural villagers understand the environments where they live better than anyone," he says. Two years later, Brinckmann was part of a team, along with members of the World Wildlife Federation, the Swiss and German governments, and other groups, that created the FairWild standard — the first verification system to focus on both environmental conditions and labor practices in the wild-plant industry. Under FairWild, indigenous and rural groups around the world are trained in sustainable harvesting methods, allowing them to secure contracts to sell their products for higher prices. Under the program, villagers are rewarded for protecting their landscapes and seen as keepers of often ancient botanical knowledge. Around the world, 19 plant species in 10 countries are now certified under FairWild, and at least 1,000 households in Central Europe and Asia are involved. That amounts to about 300 tons of plant material each year, with Roma collectors in Hungary and Bosnia filling sacks with rose hips and nettles, while families in Kazakhstan dig for licorice roots. Many of the collectors around the world are elderly or women and children, who otherwise depend on subsistence farming. But many are also completely landless. "Wild harvesters are often some of the poorest people, because they don't have access to land to farm," says Natsya Timoshyna, the medicinal plants program leader at TRAFFIC, an anti-wildlife-trafficking organization that helped create FairWild. Instead, these gatherers, like the villagers in China's Upper Yangtze, are quietly responsible for maintaining the world's supply of wild plants, a supply that provides medicine — as well as food — for up to 80 percent of the developing world. "The biggest threat to biodiversity is farming and development, not over-harvesting wild plants," says Brinckmann. In fact, a fifth of wild plant species today face extinction, and a third are threatened, because agriculture — more than any other factor — is consuming their habitat, according to the Kew Garden's "State of the World's Plants" report. "If you don't assign a value to a forest or a meadow, local people will switch to farming or grazing," says Brinckmann. Of course, neither was an option for the villagers of the Upper Yangtze, whose situation looked even more difficult after a massive earthquake hit in 2008, killing 69,000 people and leaving nearly 5 million homeless. Before the earthquake, collecting medicinal plants made up as much as 40 percent of an average household's cash income. After the earth stopped shaking, restoring the wild-plant economy became a national priority. With help from the EU-China Biodiversity Program, World Wildlife Fund-China, and the United Nations Development Program, the Chinese government put the FairWild standard in place. Researchers like Brinckmann trained local schisandra pickers to gather berries only from the lower two-thirds of the vine, leaving the rest for birds and wildlife that would spread the seeds through the forest. Collectors also avoided giant panda breeding areas, one of a number of protection efforts that seem to be working. Last year, the giant panda's status improved from "endangered" to "threatened," after a 17-percent rise in population from 1994. Today, the schisandra project has helped families set up a 23-village cooperative and establish contracts with buyers, including Traditional Medicinals, that pay a set price that is at least 30 percent more than the market rate. Once the Chinese government finishes training inspectors to carry out FairWild certifications (hopefully later this year), the schisandra harvesters will be officially certified under the label, though they currently abide by all of its requirements. Convinced by the results, the villagers in the co-op already want to expand their offerings. Each time the foragers add a new plant to the FairWild list, they have to design a management plan not just for that bush or berry, but for the entire micro-ecosystem where it grows. Keeping one species healthy means keeping hundreds of others safer, too. This story comes to us from the Food & Environment Reporting Network, an independent, nonprofit investigative news organization where Kristina Johnson is associate editor.


News Article | November 8, 2016
Site: www.prweb.com

Oakland Zoo has raised over $104,000 this past year through ‘Quarters for Conservation,’ an ongoing program where 25¢ of every ticket sold is designated for helping animals in the wild through the Zoo’s conservation partners worldwide. “The future of wild animals is in the hands of each and every one of us and it is our job as a conservation-focused zoo to engage our community in real wildlife conservation actions. With Quarters for Conservation, our visitors are taking action every time they visit the zoo. We thank our community for their role in offering vital support to these inspirational projects,” said Amy Gotliffe, Director of Conservation at Oakland Zoo. Fifty percent of the funds will go directly to three featured conservation programs in the field that help save wolves, chimpanzees, and Bay Area birds. The three recipients of the funds this past year are The California Wolf Center, the Budongo Snare Removal Project in Uganda, and the Golden Gate Audubon Society. "California Wolf Center is incredibly grateful to have been involved in Oakland Zoo's Quarters for Conservation program this year. We are honored to be supported by an organization that so highly values preservation of wild species and their habitat. Wild wolves thank the Oakland Zoo!," Christina Souto, Associate Director of California Wolf Recovery, California Wolf Center. Twenty-five percent of the funds raised will be used towards Oakland Zoo’s onsite conservation programs such as veterinary care for wild California condors and the Western Pond Turtle head-start program. The remaining twenty-five percent of the monies helps support the Zoo’s conservation field partners around the world, including: ARCAS, the Bay Area Puma Project, Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Center, the Kibale Fuel Wood Project, the Reticulated Giraffe Project, the Marine Mammal Center, the Mountain Lion Foundation, EWASO Lions, Ventana Wildlife Society, and the Uganda Carnivore Program. Oakland Zoo’s Quarters for Conservation Program has raised more than $500,000 since it launched in 2012. Now, a new year of Quarters for Conservation (Q4C) begins again with featured beneficiaries including Proyecto Tití for cotton-top tamarins, the Iinnii Initiative for bison, and Oakland Zoo’s Biodiversity Program for amphibians. See below descriptions for additional information about the 2017 partners: Proyecto Tití (South America) Cotton-top tamarins are tiny monkeys that only exist in the tropical forests of northern Colombia in South America. They are losing their home to deforestation, and are also victims of the illegal pet trade. Proyecto Tití (Project Tamarin) is working to guarantee a future for this charismatic little monkey, by protecting their habitat and working with local communities, providing conservation education and income alternatives to reduce the unsustainable use of forest resources. "We are so happy Cotton-top tamarins and Proyecto Tití were chosen as one of the Quarters for Conservation projects; it's exciting to know that many more people will be able to learn about the 'cutest' monkey on earth, and about our hard work to secure a long-term future for this amazing and charismatic primate, which is in the brink of extinction." – Rosamira Guillen, Executive Director, Fundación Proyecto Tití Iinnii Initiative (Montana, USA) Bison, North America’s largest land mammal, once roamed the continent and played an important role in the prairie landscape. But today, wild bison are absent from most of their historic range, and their genetic diversity is threatened by isolated herds. Native Americans have long had an important spiritual and cultural relationship with bison. Oakland Zoo has partnered with the Blackfeet Nation and Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) through the Iinnii Initiative, which will return bison to tribal lands in Montana, provide educational programs, and promote bison conservation and cultural preservation. “We are excited to have Oakland Zoo’s partnership in the Iinnii Initiative, which has and will continue to push forward the cultural and ecological significance of bison on the restoration of the Glacier-Waterton landscape,” Keith Aune, Director, Bison Conservation Program, WCS North America Oakland Zoo’s Biodiversity Program Frogs and toads may be small, but they are important species that show how healthy their environment is. All around the world, amphibians are struggling with the threats of habitat loss, climate change, non-native predators, and disease. Oakland Zoo’s Biodiversity Program is working to save these special animals through intensive onsite conservation efforts for Puerto Rican Crested Toads and Mountain Yellow-Legged Frogs. “Amphibian populations are declining at a much faster rate than either birds or mammals. In fact, more than 30% of the world’s amphibian species are currently threatened with extinction, including the two species in Oakland Zoo’s Biodiversity Program. Quarters for Conservation funds will allow us to breed and/or treat the critically endangered Puerto Rican Crested Toads and Mountain Yellow-Legged Frogs so they can re-populate in the wild,” said Margaret Rousser, Zoological Manager, Oakland Zoo. For more information on the above programs, visit: http://www.oaklandzoo.org//Quarters_4Conservation.php ABOUT OAKLAND ZOO The Bay Area's award-winning Oakland Zoo is home to more than 660 native and exotic animals. The Zoo offers many educational programs and kid's activities perfect for science field trips, family day trips and exciting birthday parties. Oakland Zoo is dedicated to the humane treatment of animals and wildlife conservation onsite and worldwide; with 25¢ from each ticket donated to support conservation partners and programs around the world. The California Trail, a transformational project that more than doubles our size, opens in 2018, and will further our commitment to animal care, education, and conservation with a focus on this state’s remarkable native wildlife. Nestled in the Oakland Hills, in 500-acre Knowland Park, the Zoo is located at 9777 Golf Links Road, off Highway 580. The East Bay Zoological Society (Oakland Zoo) is a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization supported in part by members, contributions, the City of Oakland and the East Bay Regional Parks. For more information, go to: http://www.oaklandzoo.org


Miller T.L.,Biodiversity Program | Bray R.A.,Natural History Museum in London | Cribb T.H.,University of Queensland
Parasitology | Year: 2011

The taxonomy of trematodes of Great Barrier Reef (GBR) fishes has been studied in some detail for over 20 years. Understanding of the fauna has been informed iteratively by approaches to sampling, understanding of morphology, the advent of molecular methodology and a feed-back loop from the emergent understanding of host specificity. Here we analyse 658 host-parasite combinations for 290 trematode species, 152 genera and 28 families from GBR fishes. These are reported from 8 orders, 38 families, 117 genera and 243 species of fishes. Of the 290 species, only 4 (14%) have been reported from more than one order of fishes and just 23 (79%) infect more than one family; 779% of species are known from only one genus, and 60% from only one species of fish. Molecular studies have revealed several complexes of cryptic species and others are suspected; we conclude that no euryxenous host distribution should be accepted on the basis of morphology only. The occurrence of individual trematode species in potential hosts is patchy and difficult to predict reliably a priori or explain convincingly a posteriori. These observations point to the need for a vigorous iterative interaction between the accretion of host specificity data and its interpretation. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2011.


Brenneis G.,Humboldt University of Berlin | Arango C.P.,Biodiversity Program | Scholtz G.,Humboldt University of Berlin
Development Genes and Evolution | Year: 2011

Embryonic development of Pycnogonida (sea spiders) is poorly understood in comparison to other euarthropod lineages with well-established model organisms. However, given that pycnogonids potentially represent the sister group to chelicerates or even to all other euarthropods, their development might yield important data for the reconstruction of arthropod evolution. Using scanning electron microscopy, fluorescent nucleic staining and immunohistochemistry, the general course of embryonic morphogenesis in Pseudopallene sp. (Callipallenidae), a pycnogonid with prolonged embryonic development, is described. A staging system comprising ten stages is presented, which can be used in future studies addressing specific developmental processes. The initially slit-like stomodeum anlage forms at the anterior end of an eight-shaped germ band and predates proboscis outgrowth. The latter process is characterized by the protrusion of three cell populations that are subsequently involved in pharynx formation. In later stages, the proboscis assumes distally a horseshoe-like shape. At no time, a structure corresponding to the euarthropod labrum is detectable. Based on the complete lack of palpal and ovigeral embryonic limbs and the early differentiation of walking leg segments 1 and 2, the existence of an embryonized protonymphon stage during callipallenid development is rejected. The evolution of pycnogonid hatching stages, especially within Callipallenidae and Nymphonidae, is re-evaluated in the light of recent phylogenetic analyses. Specifically, the re-emergence of the ancestral protonymphon larva (including re-development of palpal and ovigeral larval limbs) and a possible re-appearance of adult palps in the nymphonid lineage are discussed. This challenges the perception of pycnogonid head appendage evolution as being driven by reduction events alone. © 2011 Springer-Verlag.


A survey of the myxosporean fauna of Australian marine fishes revealed the presence of a number of putative species of Kudoidae (Multivalvulida) forming pseudocysts between the outer meningeal layer and the outer surface of the brains of the lutjanids Caesio cuning, Lutjanus carponotatus, Lutjanus ehrenbergii and Lutjanus fulviflamma and the mugilid Liza vaigiensis from Lizard Island on the Great Barrier Reef, Australia and Lutjanus lemniscatus off Ningaloo Reef, Western Australia. Morphometric data combined with Bayesian inference and maximum likelihood analyses of small subunit (SSU) and large subunit (LSU) ribosomal DNA (rDNA) was used for species identification and to explore relationships among these taxa. The brain-infecting taxa examined here formed a well-supported clade to the exclusion of non-brain infecting species in the phylogenetic analyses. The combined diagnostic approach identified an undescribed taxon, Kudoa lemniscati n. sp., from the brain of L. lemniscatus (Perciformes: Lutjanidae) off Ningaloo Reef, Western Australia, which we describe and characterise here. K. lemniscati n. sp. can be distinguished from all other species of Kudoa based on the combination of the distinct tropism for forming pseudocysts in the brain tissue, spores with 7 or 8 equal shell valves and 7 or 8 polar capsules, spore size and the differences in the SSU and LSU rDNA sequence data relative to other kudoids. Kudoa chaetodoni was found in the lutjanids C. cuning and L. carponotatus, expanding the known host range for this species to include chaetodontids and lutjanids. L. ehrenbergii and L. fulviflamma were infected with Kudoa lethrini off Lizard Island, a parasite previously known only from lethrinids. Specimens putatively identified as Kudoa yasunagai from Liza vaigiensis and Lutjanus ehrenbergii were morphologically similar and genetically identical over the SSU rDNA dataset to previously reported specimens, but differed by 4 to 11 nucleotides over the LSU dataset from the remaining isolates examined here. While these data are not definitive, they suggest the presence of a K. yasunagai complex. © 2012.


Polyrhachis (Myrmothrinax) nepenthicola, a new species of the thrinax species-group, is described from Sarawak, Borneo. The characters distinguishing it from similar species of the thrinax-group are provided and the species is illustrated. A preliminary note on its unusual nesting habit is included.


Adlard R.D.,Biodiversity Program | Nolan M.J.,Biodiversity Program | Nolan M.J.,Royal Veterinary College University of London
International Journal for Parasitology | Year: 2015

Marteilia sydneyi (Phylum Paramyxea, Class Marteiliidea, Order Marteiliida) (the causative agent of QX disease) is recognised as the most severe parasite to infect Saccostrea glomerata, the Sydney rock oyster, on the east coast of Australia. Despite its potential impact on industry (>95% mortality), research towards lessening these effects has been hindered by the lack of an experimental laboratory model of infection as a consequence of our incomplete understanding of the life cycle of this parasite. Here, we explored the presence of this parasite in hosts other than a bivalve mollusc from two study sites on the Hawkesbury River, New South Wales, Australia. We employed PCR-based in situ hybridisation and sequence analysis of a portion of the first internal transcribed spacer of rDNA in an attempt to detect M. sydneyi DNA in 21 species of polychaete worm. Marteilia DNA was detected in 6% of 1247 samples examined by PCR; the analysis of all amplicons defined one distinct sequence type for first internal transcribed spacer, representing M. sydneyi. Of the polychaete operational taxonomic units test-positive in PCR, we examined 116 samples via in situ hybridisation DNA probe staining and identified M. sydneyi DNA in the epithelium of the intestine of two specimens of Nephtys australiensis. Two differing morphological forms were identified: a 'primordial' cell that contained a well-defined nucleus but had little differentiation in the cytoplasm, and a 'plasmodial' cell that showed an apparent syncytial structure. This finding represents the first known record of the identification of M. sydneyi being parasitic in an organism other than an oyster, and only the third record of any species of Marteilia identified from non-molluscan hosts. Future work aims at determining if N. australiensis and S. glomerata are the only hosts in the life cycle of this paramyxean, and the development of experimental models to aid the production of QX disease-resistant oysters. © 2015 Australian Society for Parasitology Inc.


Sixteen species of the Polyrhachis continua species-group of the subgenus Myrma Billberg are presently recognised, including eight previously described: Polyrhachis conops Forel, P. continua Emery, P. inusitata Kohout, P. procera Emery, P. sericeopubescens Donishorpe, P. simpla Santschi, P. spinifera Stitz and P. stitzi Santschi; and eight species described as new: P. gazelle sp. n., P. manusensis sp. n., P. neuguinensis sp. n., P. planoculata sp. n, P. pulleni sp. n., P. robusta sp. n., P. sinuata sp. n. and P. tapini sp. n. Polyrhachis stitzi Santschi, originally described by Karavaiev as P. conops bismarckensis, is raised to specific status and redescribed. The former subspecies and junior primary homonym P. conops cuspidata Stitz is considered a synonym of P. sericeopubescens Donisthorpe. A key to the species of the group is provided and all species are illustrated.

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