The role of the brown bear Ursus arctos as a legitimate megafaunal seed disperser

Megafaunal frugivores can consume large amounts of fruits whose seeds may be dispersed over long distances, thus, affecting plant regeneration processes and ecosystem functioning. We investigated the role of brown bears (Ursus arctos) as legitimate megafaunal seed dispersers. We assessed the quantity component of seed dispersal by brown bears across its entire distribution based on information about both the relative frequency of occurrence and species composition of fleshy fruits in the diet of brown bears extracted from the literature. We assessed the quality component of seed dispersal based on germination experiments for 11 fleshy-fruited plant species common in temperate and boreal regions and frequently eaten by brown bears. Across its distribution, fleshy fruits, on average, represented 24% of the bear food items and 26% of the total volume consumed. Brown bears consumed seeds from at least 101 fleshy-fruited plant species belonging to 24 families and 42 genera, of which Rubus (Rosaceae) and Vaccinium (Ericaceae) were most commonly eaten. Brown bears inhabiting Mediterranean forests relied the most on fleshy fruits and consumed the largest number of species per study area. Seeds ingested by bears germinated at higher percentages than those from whole fruits, and at similar percentages than manually depulped seeds. We conclude that brown bears are legitimate seed dispersers as they consume large quantities of seeds that remain viable after gut passage. The decline of these megafaunal frugivores may compromise seed dispersal services and plant regeneration processes.

García-Rodríguez, Alberto; Albrecht; Jörg, Szczutkowska, Sylwia; Valido, Alfredo; Farwing, Nina; Selva, Nuria

Scientific Reports 11, 1282: 1-11 (2021)

Application of stimuli-responsive materials for extraction purposes

Stimuli-responsive materials, frequently designated as “smart/intelligent materials”, can modify their structure or properties by either a biological, physical, or chemical stimulus which, if properly controlled, could be used for specific applications. Such materials have been studied and exploited in several fields, like electronics, photonics, controlled drugs administration, imaging and medical diagnosis, among others, as well as in Analytical Chemistry where they have been used as chromatographic stationary phases, as part of sensors and for extraction purposes. This review article pretends to provide an overview of the most recent applications of these materials (mostly polymeric materials) in sample preparation for extraction purposes, as well as to provide a general vision of the current state-of-the-art of this field, their potential use and future applications.

González-Sálamo, Javier; Ortega-Zamora, Cecilia; Carrillo Fumero, Romen; Hernández-Borges, Javier

Journal of Chromatography - A 1636 (2021)

Polyoxygenated anti-inflammatory biscembranoids from the soft coral Sarcophyton tortuosum and their stereochemistry

Five novel biscembranoids, ximaolides H–L (1–5), along with four known related compounds (6–9) were isolated from the Hainan soft coral Sarcophyton tortuosum. The structures of the new compounds were determined by extensive spectroscopic analysis, quantum chemical calculations, and/or by comparing their CD spectra with those of the known compounds. Compounds 1 and 2 are the first examples of biscembranoids bearing a 1, 35-bridged lactone moiety, 4 is the first biscembranoid comprising an uncommon oxetane ring, and 5 represents the first 36-peroxyl biscembranoid. Ximaolides I (2), K (4) and F (9) exhibited interesting anti-inflammatory activity by the inhibition of LPS-induced TNF-α protein release in RAW264.7 macrophages.

Li, Yufen; Li, Songwei; Cuadrado, Cristina; Gao, Chenglong; Wu, Qihao; Li, Xiaolu; Pang, Tao; Hernández Daranas, Antonio; Guo, Yuewei; Li, Xuwen

Chinese Chemical Letters 32(1): 271-276 (2021)

First record of the carpenter bee Xylocopa pubescens (Hymenoptera, Apidae) in the Canary Islands confirmed by DNA barcoding

Island ecosystems are particularly vulnerable to the introduction of exotic species that can have an impact on local fauna and flora. Here, the carpenter bee Xylocopa pubescens is reported in Gran Canaria (Canary Islands, Spain) for the first time. This species is native to North Africa and the Near East and shows a rapid dispersion across the city of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, together with a single record in the southernmost tip of the island. Different hypotheses about its arrival to the island are discussed.

Ruiz, Carlos; Suárez, Daniel; Naranjo, Manuel; De la Rúa, Pilar

Journal of Hymenoptera Research 80: 169-175 (2020)

Structure and Computational Basis for Backbone Rearrangement in Marine Oxasqualenoids

Six novel oxasqualenoids (polyether triterpenes) were isolated from the red alga Laurencia viridis. Laurokanols A–E (1–5) comprise an unreported tricyclic core with a [6,6]-spiroketal system. Yucatecone (6) shows a biogenetically intriguing epimerization at C14. Quantum mechanical calculations were used to corroborate their structures and to explain key steps involved in the biogenetic mechanisms proposed for the formation of oxasqualenoids.

Cen-Pacheco, Francisco; Santiago-Benítez, Adrián J.; Tsui, Ka Yi; Tantillo, Dean J.; Fernández, José J.; Hernández Daranas, Antonio

Journal of Organic Chemistry (2020)

Pure Organic Active Compounds Against Abiotic Stress: A Biostimulant Overview

Biostimulants (BSs) are probably one of the most promising alternatives nowadays to cope with yield losses caused by plant stress, which are intensified by climatechange. Biostimulants comprise many different compounds with positive effects on plants, excluding pesticides and chemical fertilisers. Usually mixtures such as lixiviates from proteins or algal extracts have been used, but currently companies are interested in more specific compounds that are capable of increasing tolerance against abiotic stress. Individual application of a pure active compound offers researchers the opportunity to better standarise formulations, learn more about the plant defence process itself and assist the agrochemical industry in the development of new products. This review attempts to summarise the state of the art regarding various families of organic compounds and their mode/mechanism of action as BSs, and how they can help maximise agricultural yields under stress conditions aggravated by climate change.

García-García, Ana L.; García-Machado, Francisco J.; Borges, Andrés A.; Morales-Sierra, Sarai; Boto, Alicia; Jiménez-Arias, David

Frontiers in Plant Science 11, 575829: 1-17 (2020)

Assessing the Potential Replacement of Laurel Forest by a Novel Ecosystem in the Steep Terrain of an Oceanic Island

Biological invasions are a major global threat to biodiversity and often affect ecosystem services negatively. They are particularly problematic on oceanic islands where there are many narrow-ranged endemic species, and the biota may be very susceptible to invasion. Quantifying and mapping invasion processes are important steps for management and control but are challenging with the limited resources typically available and particularly difficult to implement on oceanic islands with very steep terrain. Remote sensing may provide an excellent solution in circumstances where the invading species can be reliably detected from imagery. We here develop a method to map the distribution of the alien chestnut (Castanea sativa Mill.) on the island of La Palma (Canary Islands, Spain), using freely available satellite images. On La Palma, the chestnut invasion threatens the iconic laurel forest, which has survived since the Tertiary period in the favourable climatic conditions of mountainous islands in the trade wind zone. We detect chestnut presence by taking advantage of the distinctive phenology of this alien tree, which retains its deciduousness while the native vegetation is evergreen. Using both Landsat 8 and Sentinel-2 (parallel analyses), we obtained images in two seasons (chestnuts leafless and in-leaf, respectively) and performed image regression to detect pixels changing from leafless to in-leaf chestnuts. We then applied supervised classification using Random Forest to map the present-day occurrence of the chestnut. Finally, we performed species distribution modelling to map the habitat suitability for chestnut on La Palma, to estimate which areas are prone to further invasion. Our results indicate that chestnuts occupy 1.2% of the total area of natural ecosystems on La Palma, with a further 12–17% representing suitable habitat that is not yet occupied. This enables targeted control measures with potential to successfully manage the invasion, given the relatively long generation time of the chestnut. Our method also enables research on the spread of the species since the earliest Landsat images

Devkota, Ram Sharan; Field, Richard; Hoffman, Samuel; Walentowitz, Anna; Medina, Félix M.; Vetaas, Ole Reidar; Chiarucci, Alessandro; Weiser, Frank; Jentsch, Anke; Beierkuhnlein, Carl

Remote Sensing 12(24), 4013: 1-28 (2020)

Chlorinated Guaiane-Type Sesquiterpene Lactones as Cytotoxic Agents against Human Tumor Cells

Guaiane-type sesquiterpene lactones are naturally occurring compounds which have attracted attention due to their array of biological activities. In this study, chlorinated guaianolides <b>1</b>–<b>8</b>, isolated from plants of the genus <i>Centaurea</i>, were evaluated against the human leukemia cell lines HL-60, U-937, a specific U-937 cell line that overexpresses the anti-apoptotic Bcl-2 protein and the human melanoma cell line SK-MEL-1. This established the relevant structure-growth inhibition relationships. Chlorohyssopifolins A (<b>1</b>), C (<b>3</b>) and D (<b>4</b>) and linichlorin A (<b>6</b>) were the most potent compounds in terms of inducing growth inhibition in the four cell lines. IC<sub>50</sub> values were below 10 μM in all cases. Chlorohyssopifolins A (<b>1</b>) and D (<b>4</b>) and linichlorin A (<b>6</b>) were potent apoptotic inducers in human U-937 leukemia cells, as determined by fluorescent microscopy and flow cytometry, and their mechanism of action was associated with cytochrome <i>c</i> release, caspase activation and poly(ADP-ribose)polymerase cleavage. Overall this study shows that guaianolides induce cytotoxicity against human tumor cells and provides important insights into the cell death pathways that are involved.

Estévez-Sarmiento, Francisco; Saavedra, Ester; Ruiz-Estévez, Mercedes; León, Francisco; Quintana, José; Brouard, Ignacio; Estévez Francisco

International Journal of Molecular Sciences 21(24): 9767 (2020)

Marine Anticancer Agents: An Overview with a Particular Focus on Their Chemical Classes

The marine environment is a rich source of biologically active molecules for the treatment of human diseases, especially cancer. The adaptation to unique environmental conditions led marine organisms to evolve di erent pathways than their terrestrial counterparts, thus producing unique chemicals with a broad diversity and complexity. So far, more than 36,000 compounds have been isolated from marine micro- and macro-organisms including but not limited to fungi, bacteria, microalgae, macroalgae, sponges, corals, mollusks and tunicates, with hundreds of new marine natural products (MNPs) being discovered every year.Marine-based pharmaceuticals have started to impactmodern pharmacology and different anti-cancer drugs derived frommarine compounds have been approved for clinical use, such as: cytarabine, vidarabine, nelarabine (prodrug of ara-G), fludarabine phosphate (pro-drug of ara-A), trabectedin, eribulin mesylate, brentuximab vedotin, polatuzumab vedotin, enfortumab vedotin, belantamab mafodotin, plitidepsin, and lurbinectedin. This review focuses on the bioactive molecules derived from the marine environment with anticancer activity, discussing their families, origin, structural features and therapeutic use.

Barrera, Marilia; Spanò, Virginia; Montalbano, Alessandra; Cueto, Mercedes; Díaz Marrero, Ana R.; Deniz, Irem; Erdogan, Aysegül; Lukic Bilela, Lada; Moulin, Corentin; Taffin-de-Givenchy, Elisabeth; Spriano, Filippo; Perale, Giuseppe; Mehiri, Mohamed; Rotter, Ana; Thomas, Olivier P.; Barraja, Paola; Gaudêncio, Susana P.; Bertoni, Francesco

Marine Drugs 18, 619: 1-28 (2020)

The social value of heritage: Balancing the promotion-preservation relationship in the Altamira World Heritage Site, Spain

The designation of World Heritage Sites (WHSs) by UNESCO strengthens the international and national image of heritage destinations in the growing market of cultural tourism. Understanding how different stakeholders interpret the value of cultural heritage is one of the most important assets for balancing the promotion and protection of WHSs. This study draws on the case of the Altamira Prehistoric Cave WHS (Spain), whose preservation is under threat and constant debate. It explores factors determining the social value of heritage, namely: existence, aesthetic, economic, and legacy value. In doing so, this paper contributes to emerging debates on heritage management and tourist destinations. Data were collected using two surveys, one focused on visitors, with a total of 1047 valid surveys, and another on the Spanish population as a WHS host community, with a total of 1000 valid surveys. The analysis of these surveys shows how the existence, aesthetic, economic and legacy value dimensions of cultural heritage can build up brands around WHSs. The social-value dimension of cultural heritage therefore affects the market potential of WHSs, whose market potential is closely related to the education levels of a given society. These findings provide valuable information and insights for academics, destination managers and policy-makers in the debate about the preservation and tourism branding of Altamira. This will allow different stakeholders to identify opportunities to develop synergies between tourism promotion and heritage preservation, to both strengthen the brand image of a WHS and preserve its heritage.

Parga-Dans, Eva; Alonso-González, Pablo; Otero Enríquez, Raimundo

Journal of Destination Marketing & Management 18, 100499 (2020)