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Concept: Black Sea


We present the global phylogeography of the black sea urchin Arbacia lixula, an amphi-Atlantic echinoid with potential to strongly impact shallow rocky ecosystems. Sequences of the mitochondrial cytochrome c oxidase gene of 604 specimens from 24 localities were obtained, covering most of the distribution area of the species, including the Mediterranean and both shores of the Atlantic. Genetic diversity measures, phylogeographic patterns, demographic parameters and population differentiation were analysed. We found high haplotype diversity but relatively low nucleotide diversity, with 176 haplotypes grouped within three haplogroups: one is shared between Eastern Atlantic (including Mediterranean) and Brazilian populations, the second is found in Eastern Atlantic and the Mediterranean and the third is exclusively from Brazil. Significant genetic differentiation was found between Brazilian, Eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean regions, but no differentiation was found among Mediterranean sub-basins or among Eastern Atlantic sub-regions. The star-shaped topology of the haplotype network and the unimodal mismatch distributions of Mediterranean and Eastern Atlantic samples suggest that these populations have suffered very recent demographic expansions. These expansions could be dated 94-205 kya in the Mediterranean, and 31-67 kya in the Eastern Atlantic. In contrast, Brazilian populations did not show any signature of population expansion. Our results indicate that all populations of A. lixula constitute a single species. The Brazilian populations probably diverged from an Eastern Atlantic stock. The present-day genetic structure of the species in Eastern Atlantic and the Mediterranean is shaped by very recent demographic processes. Our results support the view (backed by the lack of fossil record) that A. lixula is a recent thermophilous colonizer which spread throughout the Mediterranean during a warm period of the Pleistocene, probably during the last interglacial. Implications for the possible future impact of A. lixula on shallow Mediterranean ecosystems in the context of global warming trends must be considered.

Concepts: DNA, Demography, Mediterranean Sea, Atlantic Ocean, Brazil, Sea urchin, Haplotype, Black Sea


Cave shrimps from the genera Typhlatya, Stygiocaris and Typhlopatsa (Atyidae) are restricted to specialised coastal subterranean habitats or nearby freshwaters and have a highly disconnected distribution (Eastern Pacific, Caribbean, Atlantic, Mediterranean, Madagascar, Australia). The combination of a wide distribution and a limited dispersal potential suggests a large-scale process has generated this geographic pattern. Tectonic plates that fragment ancestral ranges (vicariance) has often been assumed to cause this process, with the biota as passive passengers on continental blocks. The ancestors of these cave shrimps are believed to have inhabited the ancient Tethys Sea, with three particular geological events hypothesised to have led to their isolation and divergence; (1) the opening of the Atlantic Ocean, (2) the breakup of Gondwana, and (3) the closure of the Tethys Seaway. We test the relative contribution of vicariance and dispersal in the evolutionary history of this group using mitochondrial genomes to reconstruct phylogenetic and biogeographic scenarios with fossil-based calibrations. Given that the Australia/Madagascar shrimp divergence postdates the Gondwanan breakup, our results suggest both vicariance (the Atlantic opening) and dispersal. The Tethys closure appears not to have been influential, however we hypothesise that changing marine currents had an important early influence on their biogeography.

Concepts: Plate tectonics, Mediterranean Sea, Atlantic Ocean, Ocean, Gondwana, Biogeography, Black Sea, Pangaea


Farming and sedentism first appeared in southwestern Asia during the early Holocene and later spread to neighboring regions, including Europe, along multiple dispersal routes. Conspicuous uncertainties remain about the relative roles of migration, cultural diffusion, and admixture with local foragers in the early Neolithization of Europe. Here we present paleogenomic data for five Neolithic individuals from northern Greece and northwestern Turkey spanning the time and region of the earliest spread of farming into Europe. We use a novel approach to recalibrate raw reads and call genotypes from ancient DNA and observe striking genetic similarity both among Aegean early farmers and with those from across Europe. Our study demonstrates a direct genetic link between Mediterranean and Central European early farmers and those of Greece and Anatolia, extending the European Neolithic migratory chain all the way back to southwestern Asia.

Concepts: Mediterranean Sea, Europe, Asia, Turkey, Neolithic, Anatolia, Greece, Black Sea


The Golden Horn Estuary and Bosphorus Strait are two major marine environments of metropolitan Istanbul which have been exposed to intensive industrial discharges for more than 50 years. In the present study, concentrations of cadmium (Cd), chromium (Cr), copper (Cu), lead (Pb) and zinc (Zn) were measured in mussel tissue and sediment samples by using inductively coupled plasma-atomic emission spectroscopy to assess the current status of metal pollution in the Golden Horn and Bosphorus Strait. Ranges of Cd, Cr, Cu, Pb and Zn concentrations in soft parts of the mussels were BDL-2.59; BDL-7.35; 3.96-20.90; BDL-10.0; and 124.8-293.2 μg g(-1) dry weight (dw), respectively, while the ranges of Cd, Cr, Cu, Pb and Zn in <63 μm sediment fractions were BDL, 19.5-300.3, 16.9-724.7, 10.5-260.9, and 39.3-793.1 μg g(-1) dw, respectively. Ranges of Cd, Cr, Cu, Pb and Zn in >63 μm sediment fractions were BDL, 4.73-52.81, 3.45-481.87, 3.13-174.67 and 10.7-241.2 μg g(-1) dw, respectively. Trace metal concentrations found in sediment of the Golden Horn were 5-10 times higher than average literature values obtained in Mediterranean marine environment, whereas those of the Bosphorus Strait were consistent with or slightly higher than average literature values.

Concepts: Zinc, Copper, Istanbul, Black Sea, Sea of Marmara, Dardanelles, Bosphorus, Bosphorus Bridge


Objectives. The aim of this study was to determine the normal values of serum IGF-1 and IGFBP-3 in Turkish children and adults (1-79 years). Material and methods. The study included 571 healthy children and 625 healthy adults from the West Black Sea region of Turkey. Serum IGF-1 and IGFBP-3 concentrations were determined using a chemiluminescent immunometric assay on an Immulite 1000 analyzer. Results. IGF-1 and IGFBP-3 levels tended to be higher in girls compared to boys among the children. The differences were statistically significant in puberty from age 12-14 years for IGF-1 and prepubertally from age 9-10 years for IGFBP-3. Peaks of serum IGF-1 levels were observed 2 years earlier in girls (14 years) than boys (16 years). The general pattern of IGFBP-3 was similar to IGF-1 during puberty. In adults, IGF-1 and IGFBP-3 levels decreased by age. There was no significant difference in IGF-1 and IGFBP3 values between men and women in any age group. Conclusions. This study established age- and sex-specific reference values for serum IGF-1 and IGFBP-3 in healthy Turkish children and adults.

Concepts: Statistical significance, Insulin-like growth factor 1, Difference, Growth factors, Turkey, Insulin-like growth factor, IGFBP3, Black Sea


The Bosphorus Strait is a dynamic and complex system. Recent evidences showed nitrogen and heavy metal concentrations to follow opposite patterns across the Strait, suggesting a complex spatial organisation of the anthropogenic disturbance in this system. Here, we provide isotopic information on the origin and transportation of dissolved nitrogen along the Bosphorus. C and N isotopic and elemental analyses were performed on specimens of Ulva lactuca and associated epiphytes sampled in five locations across the Strait. Variations in C and N isotopic signatures were observed in U. lactuca, pointing to a decrease in the availability of anthropogenic organic dissolved nitrogen along a north-south direction. Conversely, epiphytes did not show isotopic or elemental patterns across the Strait. These results suggest that preliminary stable isotope surveys in extended costal systems basing on U. lactuca can represent a valuable tool to focus meaningful targets and hypotheses for pollution studies in the Mediterranean region.

Concepts: Mediterranean Sea, Turkey, Istanbul, Black Sea, History of the Mediterranean region, Sea of Marmara, Dardanelles, Bosphorus


During the Holocene, North American ice sheet collapse and rapid sea-level rise reconnected the Black Sea with the global ocean. Rapid meltwater releases into the North Atlantic and associated climate change arguably slowed the pace of Neolithisation across southeastern Europe, originally hypothesized as a catastrophic flooding that fueled culturally-widespread deluge myths. However, we currently lack an independent record linking the timing of meltwater events, sea-level rise and environmental change with the timing of Neolithisation in southeastern Europe. Here, we present a sea surface salinity record from the Northern Aegean Sea indicative of two meltwater events at ~8.4 and ~7.6 kiloyears that can be directly linked to rapid declines in the establishment of Neolithic sites in southeast Europe. The meltwater events point to an increased outflow of low salinity water from the Black Sea driven by rapid sea level rise >1.4 m following freshwater outbursts from Lake Agassiz and the final decay of the Laurentide ice sheet. Our results shed new light on the link between catastrophic sea-level rise and the Neolithisation of southeastern Europe, and present a historical example of how coastal populations could have been impacted by future rapid sea-level rise.

Concepts: Oceanography, Mediterranean Sea, Atlantic Ocean, Europe, Turkey, Ocean, Neolithic, Black Sea


This work was implemented to study the physicochemical and biological characteristics of the Sea of Marmara and the Turkish straits (TSS: Bosporus and Dardanelles straits) for the period 2010-2013 and to calculate winter and summer fluxes of nutrients (nitrates, phosphates) between the Aegean and Black Seas through the TSS. The brackish Black Sea waters reach the Dardanelles Strait with modified biochemical properties. The salinity and phosphates of the surface waters increased westwards. Biologically labile nutrients of Black Sea origin are utilized through biological processes in the Marmara Sea. On the other hand, increase of nutrients due to land based sources has led to eutrophication problems in the area. The sub surface water layer of Mediterranean origin is oxygen depleted (saturation<30%) and rich in nutrients. Higher oxygen values indicated water mixing of the Sea of Marmara during winter 2012. Ammonium was the predominant form of inorganic nitrogen. The study area has been classified from Moderate to Bad trophic status. İzmit Bay also faced serious eutrophication problems together with hypoxic conditions below the halocline. Nutrient fluxes through the TSS showed temporal variation in the upper and lower layers related to changes in both nutrient concentrations and the water mass volume fluxes. Surface nitrates and phosphates outflux from the Sea of Marmara to the Aegean Sea was higher than the influx from the Black Sea through Bosporus strait, indicating high enrichment of nutrients in the Sea of Marmara from anthropogenic sources.

Concepts: Mediterranean Sea, Turkey, Istanbul, Anatolia, Black Sea, Sea of Marmara, Dardanelles, Bosphorus


Previous studies on plastic pollution of aquatic ecosystems focused on the world’s oceans. Large rivers as major pathways for land-based plastic litter, has received less attention so far. Here we report on plastic quantities in the Austrian Danube. A two year survey (2010, 2012) using stationary driftnets detected mean plastic abundance (n = 17,349; mean ± S.D: 316.8 ± 4664.6 items per 1000 m(-3)) and mass (4.8 ± 24.2 g per 1000 m(-3)) in the river to be higher than those of drifting larval fish (n = 24,049; 275.3 ± 745.0 individuals. 1000 m(-3) and 3.2 ± 8.6 g 1000 m(-3)). Industrial raw material (pellets, flakes and spherules) accounted for substantial parts (79.4%) of the plastic debris. The plastic input via the Danube into the Black Sea was estimated to 4.2 t per day.

Concepts: Mediterranean Sea, Atlantic Ocean, River, Ocean, Bulgaria, Romania, Black Sea, Danube


Scythians were nomadic and semi-nomadic people that ruled the Eurasian steppe during much of the first millennium BCE. While having been extensively studied by archaeology, very little is known about their genetic identity. To fill this gap, we analyzed ancient mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) from Scythians of the North Pontic Region (NPR) and successfully retrieved 19 whole mtDNA genomes. We have identified three potential mtDNA lineage ancestries of the NPR Scythians tracing back to hunter-gatherer and nomadic populations of east and west Eurasia as well as the Neolithic farming expansion into Europe. One third of all mt lineages in our dataset belonged to subdivisions of mt haplogroup U5. A comparison of NPR Scythian mtDNA linages with other contemporaneous Scythian groups, the Saka and the Pazyryks, reveals a common mtDNA package comprised of haplogroups H/H5, U5a, A, D/D4, and F1/F2. Of these, west Eurasian lineages show a downward cline in the west-east direction while east Eurasian haplogroups display the opposite trajectory. An overall similarity in mtDNA lineages of the NPR Scythians was found with the late Bronze Age Srubnaya population of the Northern Black Sea region which supports the archaeological hypothesis suggesting Srubnaya people as ancestors of the NPR Scythians.

Concepts: DNA, Europe, Asia, Russia, Bronze Age, Central Asia, Black Sea, Eurasia