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Concept: Jordan River


The cereal grass barley was domesticated about 10,000 years before the present in the Fertile Crescent and became a founder crop of Neolithic agriculture. Here we report the genome sequences of five 6,000-year-old barley grains excavated at a cave in the Judean Desert close to the Dead Sea. Comparison to whole-exome sequence data from a diversity panel of present-day barley accessions showed the close affinity of ancient samples to extant landraces from the Southern Levant and Egypt, consistent with a proposed origin of domesticated barley in the Upper Jordan Valley. Our findings suggest that barley landraces grown in present-day Israel have not experienced major lineage turnover over the past six millennia, although there is evidence for gene flow between cultivated and sympatric wild populations. We demonstrate the usefulness of ancient genomes from desiccated archaeobotanical remains in informing research into the origin, early domestication and subsequent migration of crop species.

Concepts: Agriculture, Israel, Jericho, Jordan River, Barley, Neolithic, Fertile Crescent, Jordan


Cylindrical objects made usually of fired clay but sometimes of stone were found at the Yarmukian Pottery Neolithic sites of Sha'ar HaGolan and Munhata (first half of the 8(th) millennium BP) in the Jordan Valley. Similar objects have been reported from other Near Eastern Pottery Neolithic sites. Most scholars have interpreted them as cultic objects in the shape of phalli, while others have referred to them in more general terms as “clay pestles,” “clay rods,” and “cylindrical clay objects.” Re-examination of these artifacts leads us to present a new interpretation of their function and to suggest a reconstruction of their technology and mode of use. We suggest that these objects were components of fire drills and consider them the earliest evidence of a complex technology of fire ignition, which incorporates the cylindrical objects in the role of matches.

Concepts: Orkney, Technology, Jordan River, Clay, Jordan, Fertile Crescent, Jericho, Neolithic


The faunal assemblage from the 9(th)-8(th) millennium BP site at Sha'ar Hagolan, Israel, is used to study human interaction with wild suids and cattle in a time period just before the appearance of domesticated animals of these species in the Jordan Valley. Our results, based on demographic and osteometric data, indicate that full domestication of both cattle and suids occurred at the site during the 8(th) millennium. Importantly, domestication was preceded in both taxa by demographic and metric population parameters indicating severe overhunting. The possible role of overhunting in shaping the characteristics of domesticated animals and the social infrastructure to ownership of herds is then explored.

Concepts: Livestock, Jordan River, Yak, Jordan, Mammal, Domestic pig, Domestication, Cattle


Measurements of chemical and physical parameters made before and after sealing of culverts in the railroad causeway spanning Great Salt Lake in late 2013 documented dramatic alterations in the system in response to the elimination of flow between the Great Salt Lake’s north and south arms. The flow of denser, more saline water through the culverts from the north arm (Gunnison Bay) to the south arm (Gilbert Bay) previously drove the perennial stratification of the south arm and the existence of oxic shallow brine and anoxic deep brine layers. Closure of the causeway culverts occurred concurrently with a multiyear drought that resulted in a decrease in the lake elevation and a concomitant increase in top-down erosion of the upper surface of the deep brine layer by wind-forced mixing. The combination of these events resulted in replacement of the formerly stratified water column in the south arm with one that is vertically homogeneous and oxic. Total mercury concentrations in the deep waters of the south arm decreased by approximately 81%, and methylmercury concentrations in deep waters decreased by roughly 86%, due to destratification. Methylmercury concentrations decreased by 77% in underlying surficial sediment whereas there no change was observed in total mercury. The dramatic mercury loss from deep waters and methylmercury loss from underlying sediment in response to causeway sealing provides new understanding of the potential role of the deep brine layer in the accumulation and persistence of methylmercury in the Great Salt Lake. Additional mercury measurements in biota appear to contradict the previously implied connection between elevated methylmercury concentrations in the deep brine layer and elevated mercury in avian species reported prior to causeway sealing.

Concepts: Jordan River, Utah Lake, Salt Lake City, Lake, Utah, Water, Great Salt Lake


The overall aim of the this study, which was conducted within the framework of the multilateral IWRM project SUMAR, was to expand the scientific basement to quantify surface- and groundwater fluxes towards the hypersaline Dead Sea. The flux significance for the arid vicinity around the Dead Sea is decisive not only for a sustainable management in terms of water availability for future generations but also for the resilience of the unique ecosystems along its coast. Coping with different challenges interdisciplinary methods like (i) hydrogeochemical fingerprinting, (ii) satellite and airborne-based thermal remote sensing, (iii) direct measurement with gauging station in ephemeral wadis and a first multilateral gauging station at the river Jordan, (iv) hydro-bio-geochemical approach at submarine and shore springs along the Dead Sea and (v) hydro(geo)logical modelling contributed to the overall aim. As primary results, we deduce that the following: The results of this work show a promising enhancement of describing and modelling the Dead Sea basin as a whole.

Concepts: Jordan Rift Valley, West Bank, Water, Geography of Israel, Israel, Jordan River, Jordan, Dead Sea


In the age-old debate between technological optimists and pessimists, desalination has been hailed as a “game changer” that can fundamentally alter the dynamics of water management under conditions of scarcity. While water from desalination facilities can reduce uncertainties in municipal supply, they are unlikely to replace the missing flow required to rehabilitate rivers and streams. The Jordan River is an iconic, but highly degraded water body whose restoration has been the subject of extensive research as well as numerous proposals and strategies. A review of the present state of the River and prospects for successful rehabilitation efforts reveals that neither the increase in the riparian population nor the reduced water supply due to climate change in the Jordan basin has been considered sufficiently in restoration strategies. Demographic pressures produce acute water shortages which make the provision of future environmental flows highly unlikely. While much can and should be done to improve its environmental condition, the Jordan River offers a cautionary tale for water scarce regions about the challenge of stream restoration initiatives in the face of accelerated population growth, notwithstanding the potential benefits of desalination as a source of drinking water.

Concepts: Jordan River, Jordan, Rivers, River, Dead Sea, Water, Water supply, Stream


Cutaneous leishmaniasis (CL) is endemic in many foci of Jordan and the Jordanian Mid Jordan Valley (JMJV) is the most affected and the incidence is quite high. The situation in the northern part of the Jordanian side of the Jordan Valley (NJJV) was different; before 2008, CL has rarely been reported from this area. From April 2008 to May 2009, passive detection followed by active detection was used to trace cases of CL from the NJJV. DNA was extracted from seven clinical isolates of Leishmania promastigotes and lesion scrapings spotted on filter papers obtained from 51 suspected CL patients living in the NJJV. The identity of the causative species of CL in the NJJV was investigated using ITS1-PCR followed by RFLP. In 2008/2009, 183 cases were clinically diagnosed of having CL in the NJJV. The parasites in five of the isolates and in 48 PCR-positive scrapings were classified as Leishmania major. In two isolates and in one PCR-positive scraping Leishmania tropica was identified. Investigations on the origin of CL cases revealed that the L. tropica cases were residents of two towns outside the NJJV. Herein, we report the clinical features, parasitological diagnosis, etiology, and the geographical distribution of CL cases from NJJV with the aim of documenting, for the first time, an outbreak in this area.

Concepts: Jordan River, Leishmania tropica, Epidemiology, Leishmania major, Leishmaniasis, Jordan, Leishmania, Cutaneous leishmaniasis


Pseudomonas punonensis strain D1-6 was isolated from roots of the desert plant Erodium hirtum, near the Dead Sea in Jordan. The genome of strain D1-6 reveals several key plant growth-promoting and herbicide-resistance genes, indicating a possible specialized role for this endophyte.

Concepts: Geography of Israel, Jordan River, Virus, Earth, Sea, Israel, Jordan, Dead Sea


Thirteen new and eighteen known natural products were isolated from a bloom material of an assembly of various Microcystis spp. collected in November, 2008, from a commercial fishpond near Kibbutz Kfar Blum, the Jordan Valley, Israel. The new natural products included the prenylated aeruginosin KB676 (1), microphycin KB921 (2), anabaenopeptins KB906 (3) and KB899 (4) and micropeptins KB928 (5), KB956 (6), KB970A (7), KB970B (8), KB984 (9), KB970C (10), KB1048 (11), KB992 (12) and KB1046 (13). Their structures were elucidated primarily by interpretation of their 1D and 2D nuclear magnetic resonance spectra and high-resolution mass spectrometry. Marfey’s and chiral-phase high performance liquid chromatography methods were used to determine the absolute configurations of their chiral centers. Aeruginosin KB676 (1) contains the rare (2S,3aS,6S,7aS)-Choi and is the first prenylated aeruginosin derivative described in the literature. Compounds 1 and 5-11 inhibited trypsin with sub-μM IC50s, while Compounds 11-13 inhibited chymotrypsin with sub-μM IC50s. The structures and biological activities of the new natural products and our procedures of dereplication are described.

Concepts: Israel, Jordan River, Nuclear magnetic resonance, Chromatography, Kfar Blum, Jordan, High performance liquid chromatography, Mass spectrometry


Halophytes develop various morphological and physiological traits that enable them to grow successfully on saline substrates. Parasitic plants on halophytic hosts may also encounter salt stress. We investigated the mistletoe Plicosepalus acaciae (syn: Loranthus acacia; Loranthaceae), which occurs on five halophytic and at least ten non-halophytic hosts in the Southern Arava-Valley (Israel). P. acaciae is a common parasite north of Eilat to the Dead Sea area and in the Jordan Valley. Morphological and physiological responses of P. acaciae to salinity were investigated by comparison of plants on halophytic with those on non-halophytic hosts. Ion patterns of different host-parasite associations were determined as was the development of leaf succulence at different growth stages. The leaf water content of P. acaciae increased and leaves developed succulence when growing on halophytic hosts, especially on Tamarix species, where leaf water content was 3 times higher than on non-halophytic hosts and the leaf volume increased 4 - 5 times. The reason for increased succulence was a higher ion-concentration of, and osmotic adjustment with, Na(+) and Cl(-). P. acaciae showed a high morphological and ecophysiological plasticity enabling to cope with salt stress and can be classified as a facultative eu-halophyte, which increases its halo-succulence according to the host. Host-parasite-associations are a model system for investigation of halophytes under different salt stress conditions.

Concepts: West Bank, Water, Salinity, Jordan River, Israel, Parasitism, Dead Sea, Jordan