Effect of ethanol extracts of three Chinese medicinal plants with anti-diarrheal properties on ion transport of the rat intestinal epithelia. (1/35)

Effects of ethanol extracts of three Chinese medicinal plants, namely, Qinpi (Fraxini cortex), Kushen (Sophora flavescens, AITON), and Huanglian (Coptis teeta, WALLICH), on ion transport of the rat intestinal epithelia were determined in this study. Rat intestinal epithelia mounted in an Ussing chamber attached to a voltage/current clamp were used for measuring changes in the short circuit current across the epithelia. Activation of the intestinal epithelia by serosal administration of 5 microM forskolin resulted in an increase in basal short circuit current. The ethanol extracts of each of the three plants partially reduced the current stimulated by forskolin. In the following experiments, ouabain and bumetanide were added prior to adding the ethanol extract of these plants for revealing their effect on Na(+) and Cl(-) movement. The results suggest that the ethanol extract of the Qinpi would affect Cl(-) transport. On the contrary, the ethanol extract of Kushen would affect Na(+) transport rather than Cl(-) movement. This study provides evidences that reveal the pharmacological mechanism of the Chinese plants with anti-diarrheal properties.  (+info)

Evidence of hominin control of fire at Gesher Benot Ya'aqov, Israel. (2/35)

The presence of burned seeds, wood, and flint at the Acheulian site of Gesher Benot Ya'aqov in Israel is suggestive of the control of fire by humans nearly 790,000 years ago. The distribution of the site's small burned flint fragments suggests that burning occurred in specific spots, possibly indicating hearth locations. Wood of six taxa was burned at the site, at least three of which are edible--live, wild barley, and wild grape.  (+info)

Changes in pit membrane porosity due to deflection and stretching: the role of vestured pits. (3/35)

The effect of increasing pressure difference (DeltaP) on intervessel pit membrane porosity was studied in two angiosperm tree species with differing pit architecture. Fraxinus americana L. possesses typical angiosperm bordered pit structure while Sophora japonica L. exhibits well-developed vestures in intervessel pit chambers. It was hypothesized (a) that large DeltaP across intervessel pits would cause the deflection of pit membranes in the stems of F. americana resulting in significant increases in porosity and thus lower cavitation thresholds, and (b) that the presence of vestures would prevent the deflection of pit membranes in S. japonica. To determine if the porosity of pit membranes increased under mechanical stress, suspensions of colloidal gold, 5 nm and 20 nm in diameter, were perfused across intervessel pit membranes at DeltaP ranging from 0.25 MPa to 6.0 MPa. The effect of increasing DeltaP on membrane porosity was also tested by comparing air seeding thresholds (Pa) in stems perfused with water or a solution with lower surface tension. Air seeding and colloidal gold experiments indicated that pit membrane porosity increased significantly with DeltaP in F. americana. In S. japonica, increases in permeability to colloidal gold with DeltaP were small and maximum pore diameters predicted from Pa were independent of DeltaP, suggesting that vestures limited the degree to which the membrane can be deflected from the centre of the pit cavity. This provides the first experimental evidence that vestures reduce the probability of air seeding through pit membranes.  (+info)

Paternal effects on functional gender account for cryptic dioecy in a perennial plant. (4/35)

Natural selection operates on the mating strategies of hermaphrodites through their functional gender, i.e. their relative success as male versus female parents. Because functional gender will tend to be strongly influenced by sex allocation, it is often estimated in plants by counting seeds and pollen grains. However, a plant's functional gender must also depend on the fate of the seeds and pollen grains it produces. We provide clear evidence of a paternal effect on the functional gender of a plant that is independent of the resources invested in pollen. In the Mediterranean tree Fraxinus ornus, males coexist with hermaphrodites that disperse viable pollen and that sire seeds; the population would thus appear to be functionally androdioecious. However, we found that seedlings sired by hermaphrodites grew significantly less well than those sired by males, suggesting that hermaphrodites may be functionally less male than they seem. The observed 1 : 1 sex ratios in F. ornus, which have hitherto been difficult to explain in the light of the seed-siring ability of hermaphrodites, support our interpretation that this species is cryptically dioecious. Our results underscore the importance of considering progeny quality when estimating gender, and caution against inferring androdioecy on the basis of a siring ability of hermaphrodites alone.  (+info)

Effective seed dispersal across a fragmented landscape. (5/35)

The role of seed dispersal in maintaining genetic connectivity among forest fragments has largely been ignored because gene flow by pollen is expected to predominate. By using genealogical reconstruction, we investigated gene flow after establishment of seeds in a wind-pollinated, wind-dispersed tree. Our data show that seed dispersal is the main vector of gene flow among remnants and that long-distance dispersal is common across a chronically fragmented landscape. The relative importance of seed-mediated gene flow may have been underemphasized in other fragmented systems, and diagnosing the response of forest trees to current anthropogenic disturbances requires the assessment of phenomena after establishment.  (+info)

Similar gender dimorphism in the costs of reproduction across the geographic range of Fraxinus ornus. (6/35)

BACKGROUND AND AIMS: The reproductive costs for individuals with the female function have been hypothesized to be greater than for those with the male function because the allocation unit per female flower is very high due to the necessity to nurture the embryos until seed dispersal occurs, while the male reproductive allocation per flower is lower because it finishes once pollen is shed. Consequently, males may invest more resources in growth than females. This prediction was tested across a wide geographical range in a tree with a dimorphic breeding system (Fraxinus ornus) consisting of males and hermaphrodites functioning as females. The contrasting ecological conditions found across the geographical range allowed the evaluation of the hypothesis that the reproductive costs of sexual dimorphism varies with environmental stressors. METHODS: By using random-effects meta-analysis, the differences in the reproductive and vegetative investment of male and hermaphrodite trees of F. ornus were analysed in 10 populations from the northern (Slovakia), south-eastern (Greece) and south-western (Spain) limits of its European distribution. The variation in gender-dimorphism with environmental stress was analysed by running a meta-regression between these effect sizes and the two environmental stress indicators: one related to temperature (the frost-free period) and another related to water availability (moisture deficit). KEY RESULTS: Most of the effect sizes showed that males produced more flowers and grew more quickly than hermaphrodites. Gender differences in reproduction and growth were not minimized or maximized under adverse climatic conditions such as short frost-free periods or severe aridity. CONCLUSIONS: The lower costs of reproduction for F. ornus males allow them to grow more quickly than hermaphrodites, although such differences in sex-specific reproductive costs are not magnified under stressful conditions.  (+info)

Assortative mating and differential male mating success in an ash hybrid zone population. (7/35)

BACKGROUND: The structure and evolution of hybrid zones depend mainly on the relative importance of dispersal and local adaptation, and on the strength of assortative mating. Here, we study the influence of dispersal, temporal isolation, variability in phenotypic traits and parasite attacks on the male mating success of two parental species and hybrids by real-time pollen flow analysis. We focus on a hybrid zone population between the two closely related ash species Fraxinus excelsior L. (common ash) and F. angustifolia Vahl (narrow-leaved ash), which is composed of individuals of the two species and several hybrid types. This population is structured by flowering time: the F. excelsior individuals flower later than the F. angustifolia individuals, and the hybrid types flower in-between. Hybrids are scattered throughout the population, suggesting favorable conditions for their local adaptation. We estimate jointly the best-fitting dispersal kernel, the differences in male fecundity due to variation in phenotypic traits and level of parasite attack, and the strength of assortative mating due to differences in flowering phenology. In addition, we assess the effect of accounting for genotyping error on these estimations. RESULTS: We detected a very high pollen immigration rate and a fat-tailed dispersal kernel, counter-balanced by slight phenological assortative mating and short-distance pollen dispersal. Early intermediate flowering hybrids, which had the highest male mating success, showed optimal sex allocation and increased selfing rates. We detected asymmetry of gene flow, with early flowering trees participating more as pollen donors than late flowering trees. CONCLUSION: This study provides striking evidence that long-distance gene flow alone is not sufficient to counter-act the effects of assortative mating and selfing. Phenological assortative mating and short-distance dispersal can create temporal and spatial structuring that appears to maintain this hybrid population. The asymmetry of gene flow, with higher fertility and increased selfing, can potentially confer a selective advantage to early flowering hybrids in the zone. In the event of climate change, hybridization may provide a means for F. angustifolia to further extend its range at the expense of F. excelsior.  (+info)

Effects of carbon dioxide and oxygen on sapwood respiration in five temperate tree species. (8/35)

The gaseous environment surrounding parenchyma in woody tissue is low in O2 and high in CO2, but it is not known to what extent this affects respiration or might play a role in cell death during heartwood formation. Sapwood respiration was measured in two conifers and three angiosperms following equilibration to levels of O2 and CO2 common within stems, using both inner and outer sapwood to test for an effect of age. Across all species and tissue ages, lowering the O2 level from 10% to 5% (v/v) resulted in about a 25% decrease in respiration in the absence of CO2, but a non-significant decrease at 10% CO2. The inhibitory effect of 10% CO2 was smaller and only significant at 10% O2, where it reduced respiration by about 14%. Equilibration to a wider range of gas combinations in Pinus strobus L. showed the same effect: 10% CO2 inhibited respiration by about 15% at both 20% and 10% O2, but had no net effect at 5% O2. In an extreme treatment, 1% O2+20% CO2 increased respiration by over 30% relative to 1% O2 alone, suggesting a shift in metabolic response to high CO2 as O2 decreases. Although an increase in respiration would be detrimental under limiting O2, this extreme gas combination is unlikely to exist within most stems. Instead, moderate reductions in respiration under realistic O2 and CO2 levels suggest that within-stem gas composition does not severely limit respiration and is unlikely to cause the death of xylem parenchyma during heartwood formation.  (+info)