Slovenian National Institute of Biology

Ljubljana, Slovenia

Slovenian National Institute of Biology

Ljubljana, Slovenia
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Mehle N.,Slovenian National Institute of Biology | Trdan S.,University of Ljubljana
Journal of Pest Science | Year: 2012

Many thrips are pests of commercial crops due to the damage they cause by feeding on developing flowers or vegetables. Thrips may also serve as vectors for plant diseases, such as tospoviruses. Their small size and predisposition towards enclosed places makes them difficult to detect by phytosanitary inspection. In this review, several methods available for identifying thrips, including their advantages and disadvantages, are discussed. A combination of different methods gives the most reliable identification. Relatively new morphometric, molecular and biochemical methods for identifying thrips species represent valuable alternatives for situations in which correct identification with classical morphological methods is very difficult, time consuming or virtually impossible. However, traditional morphological methods should not be neglected, especially because adequate identification using morphological keys is usually an indispensable first step in the development and validation of these new modern methods. In addition, modern systems may still require specimen identification to the genus level via morphological keys, or such keys may be recommended to confirm the results of modern identification methods. © 2012 Springer-Verlag.


Straser A.,Slovenian National Institute of Biology | Filipic M.,Slovenian National Institute of Biology | Novak M.,Slovenian National Institute of Biology | Zegura B.,Slovenian National Institute of Biology
Marine Drugs | Year: 2013

The newly emerging cyanobacterial cytotoxin cylindrospermopsin (CYN) is increasingly found in surface freshwaters, worldwide. It poses a potential threat to humans after chronic exposure as it was shown to be genotoxic in a range of test systems and is potentially carcinogenic. However, the mechanisms of CYN toxicity and genotoxicity are not well understood. In the present study CYN induced formation of DNA double strand breaks (DSBs), after prolonged exposure (72 h), in human hepatoma cells, HepG2. CYN (0.1-0.5 μg/mL, 24-96 h) induced morphological changes and reduced cell viability in a dose and time dependent manner. No significant increase in lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) leakage could be observed after CYN exposure, indicating that the reduction in cell number was due to decreased cell proliferation and not due to cytotoxicity. This was confirmed by imunocytochemical analysis of the cell-proliferation marker Ki67. Analysis of the cell-cycle using flow-cytometry showed that CYN has an impact on the cell cycle, indicating G0/G1 arrest after 24 h and S-phase arrest after longer exposure (72 and 96 h). Our results provide new evidence that CYN is a direct acting genotoxin, causing DSBs, and these facts need to be considered in the human health risk assessment. © 2013 by the authors.


Straser A.,Slovenian National Institute of Biology | Filipic M.,Slovenian National Institute of Biology | Zegura B.,Slovenian National Institute of Biology
Toxicology in Vitro | Year: 2013

The newly emerging cyanotoxin cylindrospermopsin (CYN) is showing genotoxic effects in a range of test systems. However, the knowledge on the mechanisms involved is limited. To get insight into the cellular responses to CYN a toxicogenomic analysis of selected genes commonly affected by genotoxic stress was performed on HepG2 cells exposed to a non-cytotoxic but genotoxic concentration of CYN (0.5. μg/ml for 12 and 24. h). CYN increased expression of the immediate-early response genes from the FOS and JUN gene families and there was strong evidence for the involvement of P53 and NF-κB signaling. Strong up-regulation of the growth arrest and DNA damage inducible genes (GADD45A and GADD45B), cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitors (CDKN1A and CDKN2B), checkpoint kinase 1 (CHEK1), and genes involved in DNA damage repair (XPC, ERCC4 and others) indicated cell-cycle arrest and induction of nucleotide excision and double strand break repair. Up-regulation of metabolic enzyme genes provided evidence for the involvement of phase I (CYP1A1, CYP1B1, ALDH1A2 and CES2) and phase II (UGT1A6, UGT1A1, NAT1 and GSTM3) enzymes in the detoxification response and potential activation of CYN. The obtained transcriptional patterns after exposure of HepG2 cells to CYN provide valuable new information on the cellular response to CYN. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd.


Zegura B.,Slovenian National Institute of Biology | Straser A.,Slovenian National Institute of Biology | Filipic M.,Slovenian National Institute of Biology
Mutation Research - Reviews in Mutation Research | Year: 2011

The occurrence of cyanobacterial blooms has increased significantly in many regions of the world in the last century due to water eutrophication. These blooms are hazardous to humans, animals, and plants due to the production of cyanotoxins, which can be classified in five different groups: hepatotoxins, neurotoxins, cytotoxins, dermatotoxins, and irritant toxins (lipopolysaccharides). There is evidence that certain cyanobacterial toxins are genotoxic and carcinogenic; however, the mechanisms of their potential carcinogenicity are not well understood. The most frequently occurring and widespread cyanotoxins in brackish and freshwater blooms are the cyclic heptapeptides, i.e., microcystins (MCs), and the pentapeptides, i.e., nodularins (NODs). The main mechanism associated with potential carcinogenic activity of MCs and NOD is the inhibition of protein phosphatases, which leads to the hyperphosphorylation of cellular proteins, which is considered to be associated with their tumor-promoting activity. Apart from this, MCs and NOD induce increased formation of reactive oxygen species and, consequently, oxidative DNA damage. There is also evidence that MCs and NOD induce micronuclei, and NOD was shown to have aneugenic activity. Both cyanotoxins interfere with DNA damage repair pathways, which, along with DNA damage, is an important factor involved in the carcinogenicity of these agents. Furthermore, these toxins increase the expression of TNF-α and early-response genes, including proto-oncogenes, genes involved in the response to DNA damage, cell cycle arrest, and apoptosis. Rodent studies indicate that MCs and NOD are tumor promotors, whereas NOD is thought to have also tumor-initiating activity. Another cyanobacterial toxin, cylindrospermopsin (CYN), which has been neglected for a long time, is lately being increasingly found in the freshwater environment. The principal mechanism of its toxicity is the irreversible inhibition of protein synthesis. It is pro-genotoxic, and metabolic activation by cytochrome P-450 enzymes is needed for its genotoxic activity. In metabolically competent cells, it induces DNA strand breaks and exerts clastogenic and aneugenic activity. In addition, CYN increased the expression of p53 regulated genes involved in cell cycle arrest, DNA damage repair, and apoptosis. It also has cell transforming potential, and limited preliminary rodent studies indicate that CYN could have tumor-initiating activity. In 2010, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classified MCLR as possible human carcinogen (Group 2B). Although there is not enough available information for the classification of other cyanobacterial toxins, the existing data from in vitro and in vivo studies indicate that NOD and especially CYN may be even more hazardous than MCLR to human and animal health. In addition in the environment, cyanobacterial toxins occur in complex mixtures as well as together with other anthropogenic contaminants, and numerous studies showed that the toxic/genotoxic potential of the extracts from cyanobacterial scums is higher than that of purified toxins. This means that the mixtures of toxins to which humans are exposed may pose higher health risks than estimated from the toxicological data of a single toxin. Future research efforts should focus on the elucidation of the carcinogenic potential of NOD, CYN, and the mixture of cyanobacterial extracts, as well as on the identification of possible novel toxins. © 2011 Elsevier B.V.


Koren A.,University Clinic Golnik | Motaln H.,Slovenian National Institute of Biology | Cufer T.,University Clinic Golnik
Cellular Oncology | Year: 2013

Introduction: Lung cancer is the most lethal form of cancer in the world and despite significant therapeutic improvements that have been made, its survival rate still remains low. The latter is mainly due to the acquisition of resistance to systemic treatment regimens which, in turn, may be due to the presence of cancer stem cells (CSCs) within the primary tumors. CSCs constitute a subpopulation of cells that are highly tumorigenic and that exhibit biological properties similar to those of normal tissue stem cells, including an unlimited self-renewal capacity, an extensive proliferative capacity and a capacity to generate differentiated progeny. A better understanding of the signaling pathways that regulate lung CSC maintenance, proliferation, and tumorigenicity could thus lead to the design of improved approaches to lung cancer treatment. Aim: In this review we will discuss the current knowledge on lung CSCs, their biological properties and their putative clinical relevance. By employing currently available data, we will evaluate the prognostic value of several lung CSC markers. In addition, we will discuss the release of CSCs from tumor tissue into the blood circulation via epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) as an important step towards acquiring a metastatic phenotype. Finally, we will provide an outlook into novel CSC-targeting approaches for achieving less invasive diagnostic procedures and improving long-term therapeutic options. Conclusion: Lung CSC research has gained considerable momentum to both basic and clinical applications, both aiming to identify a reliable panel of markers for lung CSCs and to clarify their function, with the final goal to develop a CSC-targeted therapy that will result in the complete elimination of CSCs for achieving significantly better long-time survival of lung cancer patients. © 2013 International Society for Cellular Oncology.


Bajt O.,Slovenian National Institute of Biology
Environmental Monitoring and Assessment | Year: 2012

The distribution and sources of aliphatic and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) were determined in sediments at seven sites around the Slovenian coastal area. The potential toxicological significance was also assessed using biological thresholds. The results of the analyses showed higher concentrations of hydrocarbons in the Port of Koper and in the Marina of Portoroz. The influence of pollution was also evident in rather higher concentrations of hydrocarbons in the surrounding area in the Bays of Koper and Piran. Concentrations of hydrocarbons decrease toward the central part of the Gulf of Trieste. The major component of the aliphatic fraction was the unresolved complex mixture. Concentrations of the total resolved aliphatic hydrocarbons were in a range from 689 to 3,164 ng g-1. Concentrations of the total PAHs were between 330 and 1,173 ng g-1. Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons are primarily of pyrolytic origin with some smaller contributions of the petrogenic, while the aliphatic are mostly of petrogenic origin with significant amounts of biogenic derived compounds of terrestrial and marine origin. Strong evidence of the diagenetic origin of perylene in the investigated area was also found. Quite a good linear relationship between PAH concentration and TOC and between aliphatic hydrocarbon concentrations and TOC was observed. The principal component analysis showed differences between the nearshore and offshore sites. In general, the investigated area is moderately contaminated by hydrocarbons. Concentrations of PAHs, hydrocarbons of high concern, are below the levels (effects range low and the effects range median) associated with adverse biological effects. © Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012.


During mating, males and females of N. viridula (Heteroptera: Pentatomidae) produce sex- and species-specific calling and courtship substrate-borne vibratory signals, grouped into songs. Recognition and localization of these signals are fundamental for successful mating. The recognition is mainly based on the temporal pattern, i.e. the amplitude modulation, while the frequency spectrum of the signals usually only plays a minor role. We examined the temporal selectivity for vibratory signals in four types of ascending vibratory interneurons in N. viridula. Using intracellular recording and labelling technique, we analyzed the neurons' responses to 30 pulse duration/interval duration (PD/ID) combinations. Two response arrays were created for each neuron type, showing the intensity of the responses either as time-averaged spike counts or as peak instantaneous spike rates. The mean spike rate response arrays showed preference of the neurons for short PDs (below 600 ms) and no selectivity towards interval duration; while the peak spike rate response arrays exhibited either short PD/long ID selectivity or no selectivity at all. The long PD/short ID combinations elicited the weakest responses in all neurons tested. No response arrays showed the receiver preference for either constant period or duty cycle. The vibratory song pattern selectivity matched the PD of N. viridula male vibratory signals, thus pointing to temporal filtering for the conspecific vibratory signals already at level of the ascending interneurons. In some neurons the responses elicited by the vibratory stimuli were followed by distinct, regular oscillations of the membrane potential. The distance between the oscillation peaks matched the temporal structure of the male calling song, indicating a possible resonance based mechanism for signal recognition. © 2011 Maja Zorović.


Brezovsek P.,Ecological Engineering Institute | Elersek T.,Slovenian National Institute of Biology | Filipic M.,Slovenian National Institute of Biology
Water Research | Year: 2014

The residues of anti-neoplastic drugs are new and emerging pollutants in aquatic environments. This is not only because of their increasing use, but also because due to their mechanisms of action, they belong to a group of particularly dangerous compounds. However, information on their ecotoxicological properties is very limited. We tested the toxicities of four anti-neoplastic drugs with different mechanisms of action (5-fluorouracil [5-FU], cisplatin [CDDP], etoposide [ET], and imatinib mesylate [IM]), and some of their binary mixtures, against two phytoplankton species: the alga Pseudokirchneriella subcapitata, and the cyanobacterium Synechococcus leopoliensis. These four drugs showed different toxic potential, and the two species examined also showed differences in their susceptibilities towards the tested drugs and their mixtures. With P. subcapitata, the most toxic of these drugs was 5-FU (EC50, 0.13mg/L), followed by CDDP (EC50, 1.52mg/L), IM (EC50, 2.29mg/L), and the least toxic, ET (EC50, 30.43mg/L). With S. leopoliensis, the most toxic was CDDP (EC50, 0.67mg/L), followed by 5-FU (EC50, 1.20mg/L) and IM (EC50, 5.36mg/L), while ET was not toxic up to 351mg/L. The toxicities of the binary mixtures tested (5-FU+CDDP, 5-FU+IM, CDDP+ET) were predicted by the concepts of 'concentration addition' and 'independent action', and are compared to the experimentally determined toxicities. The measured toxicity of 5-FU+CDDP with P. subcapitata and S. leopoliensis was higher than that predicted, while the measured toxicity of CDDP+ET with both species was lower than that predicted. The measured toxicity of 5-FU+IM with P. subcapitata was higher, and with S. leopoliensis was lower, than that predicted. These data show that these mixtures can have compound-specific and species-specific synergistic or antagonistic effects, and they suggest that single compound toxicity data are not sufficient for the prediction of the aquatic toxicities of such anticancer drug mixtures. © 2014 Elsevier Ltd.


Filipic M.,Slovenian National Institute of Biology
Mutation Research - Fundamental and Molecular Mechanisms of Mutagenesis | Year: 2012

Cadmium is an ubiquitous environmental contaminant that represents hazard to humans and wildlife. It is found in the air, soil and water and, due to its extremely long half-life, accumulates in plants and animals. The main source of cadmium exposure for non-smoking human population is food. Cadmium is primarily toxic to the kidney, but has been also classified as carcinogenic to humans by several regulatory agencies. Current evidence suggests that exposure to cadmium induces genomic instability through complex and multifactorial mechanisms. Cadmium dose not induce direct DNA damage, however it induces increase in reactive oxygen species (ROS) formation, which in turn induce DNA damage and can also interfere with cell signalling. More important seems to be cadmium interaction with DNA repair mechanisms, cell cycle checkpoints and apoptosis as well as with epigenetic mechanisms of gene expression control. Cadmium mediated inhibition of DNA repair mechanisms and apoptosis leads to accumulation of cells with unrepaired DNA damage, which in turn increases the mutation rate and thus genomic instability. This increases the probability of developing not only cancer but also other diseases associated with genomic instability. In the in vitro experiments cadmium induced effects leading to genomic instability have been observed at low concentrations that were comparable to those observed in target organs and tissues of humans that were non-occupationally exposed to cadmium. Therefore, further studies aiming to clarify the relevance of these observations for human health risks due to cadmium exposure are needed. © 2011 Elsevier B.V.


Kralj J.,Slovenian National Institute of Biology | Fuchs S.,Goethe University Frankfurt
Apidologie | Year: 2010

In this study we investigated whether the microsporidian Nosema sp. affects the flight behavior of forager bees. Bees released 6 and 10 m away from the colony took longer times to return. The proportion of bees that did not return was higher in the diseased bees compared to the healthy bees when released 30 m away from the colony. That diseased bees get lost from the colony was also supported by a considerably lower rate of infected bees among the returning foragers compared to departing foragers. In a hive entrance orientation test, diseased bees scored lower than healthy bees, indicating impaired orientation skills. These results are in line with previous results on foragers infested by the parasitic mite Varroa destructor. The similar influence of Nosema sp. and V. destructor on flight behavior, in that foragers might not return to the colony, can be interpreted as a general response of honey bees to diseases to decrease pathogen load within the colonies. © INRA/DIB-AGIB/EDP Sciences, 2009.

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