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Concept: Common fig


Figs are keystone resources that sustain chimpanzees when preferred fruits are scarce. Many figs retain a green(ish) colour throughout development, a pattern that causes chimpanzees to evaluate edibility on the basis of achromatic accessory cues. Such behaviour is conspicuous because it entails a succession of discrete sensory assessments, including the deliberate palpation of individual figs, a task that requires advanced visuomotor control. These actions are strongly suggestive of domain-specific information processing and decision-making, and they call attention to a potential selective force on the origin of advanced manual prehension and digital dexterity during primate evolution. To explore this concept, we report on the foraging behaviours of chimpanzees and the spectral, chemical and mechanical properties of figs, with cutting tests revealing ease of fracture in the mouth. By integrating the ability of different sensory cues to predict fructose content in a Bayesian updating framework, we quantified the amount of information gained when a chimpanzee successively observes, palpates and bites the green figs of Ficus sansibarica. We found that the cue eliciting ingestion was not colour or size, but fig mechanics (including toughness estimates from wedge tests), which relays higher-quality information on fructose concentrations than colour vision. This result explains why chimpanzees evaluate green figs by palpation and dental incision, actions that could explain the adaptive origins of advanced manual prehension.

Concepts: Scientific method, Nutrition, Integral, Color, Fruit, Common fig, Ficus, Common Chimpanzee


Wolbachia-bacteriophage WO is a good model system for studying interactions between bacteria and viruses. Previous surveys of insect hosts have been conducted via sampling from open or semi-open communities; however, no studies have reported the infection patterns of phage WO of insects living in a closed community. Figs and fig wasps form a peculiar closed community in which the Ficus tree provides a compact syconium habitat for a variety of fig wasp. Therefore, in this study, we performed a thorough survey of Wolbachia and bacteriophage WO infection patterns in a total of 1406 individuals from 23 fig wasps species living on three different fig tree species. The infection rates of Wolbachia and phage WO were 82.6% (19/23) and 39.1% (9/23), respectively. Additionally, phage WO from fig wasps showed strong insect host specificity based on orf7 sequences from fig wasps and 21 other insect species. Probably due to the physical barrier of fig syconium, most phage WO from fig wasps form a specific clade. Phylogenetic analysis showed the absence of congruence between WO and host Wolbachia, WO and insect host, as well as Wolbachia and fig wasps, suggesting that both Wolbachia and phage WO exchanged frequently and independently within the closed syconium. Thus, the infection pattern of bacteriophage WO from fig wasps appeared quite different from that in other insects living outside, although the effect and the transfer routes of phage WO are unclear, which need to be investigated in the future.

Concepts: Bacteria, Virus, Genome, Insect, Common fig, Ficus, Wasp, Fig wasp


Wind-borne pollinating wasps (Agaonidae) can transport fig (Ficus sp., Moraceae) pollen over enormous distances (> 100 km). Because of their extensive breeding areas, Neotropical figs are expected to exhibit weak patterns of genetic structure at local and regional scales. We evaluated genetic structure at the regional to continental scale (Panama, Costa Rica, and Peru) for the free-standing fig species Ficus insipida. Genetic differentiation was detected only at distances > 300 km (Jost´s Dest = 0.68 ± 0.07 & FST = 0.30 ± 0.03 between Mesoamerican and Amazonian sites) and evidence for phylogeographic structure (RST>permuted RST) was only significant in comparisons between Central and South America. Further, we assessed local scale spatial genetic structure (SGS, d ≤ 8 km) in Panama and developed an agent-based model parameterized with data from F. insipida to estimate minimum pollination distances, which determine the contribution of pollen dispersal on SGS. The local scale data for F. insipida was compared to SGS data collected for an additional free-standing fig, F. yoponensis (subgenus Pharmacosycea), and two species of strangler figs, F. citrifolia and F. obtusifolia (subgenus Urostigma) sampled in Panama. All four species displayed significant SGS (mean Sp = 0.014 ± 0.012). Model simulations indicated that most pollination events likely occur at distances > > 1 km, largely ruling out spatially limited pollen dispersal as the determinant of SGS in F. insipida and, by extension, the other fig species. Our results are consistent with the view that Ficus develops fine-scale SGS primarily as a result of localized seed dispersal and/or clumped seedling establishment despite extensive long-distance pollen dispersal. We discuss several ecological and life history factors that could have species- or subgenus-specific impacts on the genetic structure of Neotropical figs.

Concepts: Kilometre, Fruit, Pollination, Common fig, Ficus, Plant morphology, Central America, Costa Rica


The interaction between pollinating wasps and figs is an obligate plant-insect mutualism, and the ca. 750 Ficus species are mainly tropical. Climatic constraints may limit species distributions through their phenology and this seems particularly likely for figs, where phenological mismatches can cause local extinction of the short-lived pollinators. We therefore compared the phenologies of Ficus altissima, F. racemosa and F. semicordata in tropical Xishuangbanna (21°55'N) and subtropical Liuku (25°50'N), SW China, to understand what factors limit fig distributions near their northern limits. All species produced synchronous crops of syconia in Xishuangbanna but production in Liuku was continuous, which may help maintain pollinator populations. However, in general, we found decreased fitness at the northern site: slower syconium development, so fewer crops each year; fewer seeds per syconium (two species); and fewer pollinators and more non-pollinators per syconium, so less pollen is dispersed. This is most easily explained by colder winters, although low humidities may also contribute, and suggests the northern limit is set by temperature constraints on reproductive phenology. If so, the warming predicted for future decades is expected to enhance the fitness of northern populations of figs and, in the longer term, allow them to shift their range limits northwards.

Concepts: Fruit, Pollination, Common fig, Ficus, Pollinator decline, Pollen, Pollinator, Accessory fruit


The original version of this Article contained an error in Fig. 3. The scale bars in Figs 3c and 3d were incorrectly labelled as 50 μA. In the correct version, the scale bars are labelled as 0.5 μA. This has now been corrected in both the PDF and HTML versions of the Article.

Concepts: Common fig, Version, HTML


Atopic dermatitis (AD) is a common, chronic, relapsing and inflammatory skin disease characterized by pruritus and xerosis (dry skin). Its prevalence is on the increase worldwide, particularly in children. As the pathogenesis of AD involves a complex interaction of genetic, environmental and immunological factors, its definitive treatment is difficult.

Concepts: Inflammation, Medicine, Epidemiology, Asthma, Medical terms, Allergy, Placebo, Common fig


Fig mosaic disease (FMD) is a viral disease that spreads in all Tunisian fig (Ficus carica L.) orchards. RT-PCR technique was applied to leaf samples of 29 fig accessions of 15 fig varieties from the fig germplasm collection of High Agronomic Institute (I.S.A) of Chatt-Mariem, to detect viruses associated to FMD. Analysis results show that 65.5% of the accessions (19/29) and 80.0% (12/15) of the fig varieties are infected by FMD-associated viruses. From all fig accessions, 41.4% of them are with single infection (one virus) and 24.1% are with multi-infections (2 virus and more). Viruses infecting fig leaf samples are Fig mosaic virus (FMV) (20.7%), Fig milde-mottle-associated virus (FMMaV) (17.25%), Fig fleck associated virus (FFkaV) (3.45%), and Fig cryptic virus (FCV) (55.17%). A reliable protocol for FCV and FMMaV elimination from 4 local fig varieties Zidi (ZDI), Soltani (SNI), Bither Abiadh (BA), and Assafri (ASF) via in vitro culture of 3 meristem sizes was established and optimized. With this protocol, global sanitation rates of 79.46%, 65.55%, 68.75%, and 70.83% respectively for ZDI, SNI, BA, and ASF are achieved. For all sanitized varieties, the effectiveness of meristem culture for the elimination of FCV and FMMaV viruses was related to meristem size. Meristem size 0.5 mm provides the highest sanitation rates ranging from 70% to 90%.

Concepts: Infectious disease, Virus, Infection, Transmission and infection of H5N1, Viruses, Common fig, Ficus, Tobacco mosaic virus


The leaves of fig (Ficus carica L.) have been used for traditional and Chinese medicine. We determined the composition of phenylpropanoids (polyphenols and furanocoumarins) as a functional agent in the leaves of 37 cultivars of fig. The most abundant polyphenol was caffeoylmalic acid (12.0-26.6 mg/g dry weight), followed by rutin (4.7-14.6 mg/g dry weight) and isoschaftoside (2.5-6.4 mg/g dry weight). Psoralen (3.8-23.0 mg/g dry weight) was dominant in the furanocoumarins. In molar amounts, psoralic acid glucoside (PAG), a precursor of psoralen, was equivalent to psoralen. Furanocoumarins and PAG were not detected in the leaves of only one cultivar, Grise de Tarascon. Fig leaves are potentially an excellent source of polyphenols such as caffeoylmalic acid and rutin. From the result of cluster analysis, some cultivars that contained large amount of polyphenols, and a small amount (e.g., Grise de Saint Jean) or no (Grise de Tarascon) furanocoumarins, were found. These cultivars are considered suitable for functional foods or medicinal products.

Concepts: Medicine, Cluster analysis, Flavonoid, Common fig, Ficus, Wine, Polyphenol, Cultivar


During an investigation of the chemical profile of Greek figs (Ficus carica L.), we prepared several aqueous ethanol extracts (liquors) from dried Smyrna fig varieties cultivated in the two major fig-producing geographical areas in Greece: Peloponnese and Evia Island. The distinctive aroma observed among the prepared fig liquors, led us to investigate the odor profile of the different fig cultivars, through HS-SPME coupled with GC-MS analysis and focus on the factors that affect it before and during the preparation of the respective liquors.

Concepts: Ethanol, Fruit, Perfume, Common fig, Ficus, Greece, Moraceae, Accessory fruit


Ficus carica Linn. (Fc), common fig, has been traditionally used for many metabolic, cardiovasculary, respiratory, gastrointestinal, and skin disorders. Several studies were performed showing its anti-inflammatory, anti-angiogenic, anticancerogenic, and tissue-protective effects. In all of those studies, the positive effects of Fc were concluded as the result of its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory features due to the polyphenols it contains.

Concepts: DNA, Gene, Cell nucleus, Gene expression, Bacteria, Nutrition, Organism, Common fig