Concept: Mediterranean Basin
Despite convincing evidence in the Mediterranean region, the cardiovascular benefit of the Mediterranean diet is not well established in non-Mediterranean countries and the optimal criteria for defining adherence are unclear. The population attributable fraction (PAF) of adherence to this diet is also unknown.
The Mediterranean olive tree (Olea europaea subsp. europaea) was one of the first trees to be domesticated and is currently of major agricultural importance in the Mediterranean region as the source of olive oil. The molecular bases underlying the phenotypic differences among domesticated cultivars, or between domesticated olive trees and their wild relatives, remain poorly understood. Both wild and cultivated olive trees have 46 chromosomes (2n).
SUMMARY Following the recent description of microfilariae of a Cercopithifilaria sp. in a dog from Sicily, Italy, (herein after referred to as Cercopithifilaria sp. I), numerous skin samples were collected from dogs in the Mediterranean region. In addition to Cercopithifilaria sp. I (185·7 ± 7·2 μm long), microfilariae of 2 other species were identified, namely Cercopithifilaria grassii (651·7 ± 23·6 μm long) and a yet undescribed microfilaria, Cercopithifilaria sp. II (264·4 ± 20·2 μm long, with evident lateral alae). The morphological differentiation among the 3 species of dermal microfilariae was confirmed by differences in cytochrome c oxidase subunit 1 and ribosomal 12S sequences examined (mean level of interspecific pairwise distance of 11·4%, and 17·7%, respectively). Phylogenetic analyses were concordant in clustering these with other sequences of Cercopithifilaria spp. to the exclusion of Dirofilaria spp., Onchocerca spp. and Acanthocheilonema spp. Dermal microfilariae collected (n = 132) were morphologically identified as Cercopithifilaria sp. I (n = 108, 81·8%), Cercopithifilaria sp. II (n = 17, 12·9%), whereas only 7 (5·3%) were identified as C. grassii. Mixed infestations were detected in all sites examined. The great diversity of these neglected filarioids in dogs is of biological interest, considering the complex interactions occurring among hosts, ticks and Cercopithifilaria spp. in different environments.
Olive (Olea europaea L.), long-living, ever-green fruit tree of the Old World, has been part of a traditional landscape in the Mediterranean area for centuries. Both the fruits consumed after processing and the oil extracted from the fruits are among the main components of the Mediterranean diet, widely used for salads and cooking, as well as for preserving other food. Documentations show that the ancient use of this beautiful tree also includes lamp fuel production, wool treatment, soap production, medicine, and cosmetics. However, unlike the majority of the fruit species, olive propagation is still a laborious practice. As regards traditional propagation, rooting of cuttings and grafting stem segments onto rootstocks are possible, former being achieved only when the cuttings are collected in specific periods (spring or beginning of autumn), and latter only when skilled grafters are available. In both the cases, performance of the cultivars varies considerably. The regeneration of whole plants from ovules, on the other hand, is used only occasionally. Micropropagation of olive is not easy mainly due to explant oxidation, difficulties in explant disinfection, and labor-oriented establishment of in vitro shoot cultures. However today, the progress in micropropagation technology has made available the complete protocols for several Mediterranean cultivars. This chapter describes a micropropagation protocol based on the segmentation of nodal segments obtained from elongated shoots.
The main characteristics of the heat accumulation period and the possible existence of different types of biological response to the environment in different populations of olive through the Mediterranean region have been evaluated. Chilling curves to determine the start date of the heat accumulation period were constructed and evaluated. The results allow us to conclude that the northern olive populations have the greatest heat requirements for the development of their floral buds, and they need a period of time longer than olives in others areas to completely satisfy their biothermic requirements. The olive trees located in the warmest winter areas have a faster transition from endogenous to exogenous inhibition once the peak of chilling is met, and they show more rapid floral development. The lower heat requirements are due to better adaptation to warmer regions. Both the threshold temperature and the peak of flowering date are closely related to latitude. Different types of biological responses of olives to the environment were found. The adaptive capacity shown by the olive tree should be considered as a useful tool with which to study the effects of global climatic change on agro-ecosystems.
The European protected-area network will cease to be efficient for biodiversity conservation, particularly in the Mediterranean region, if species are driven out of protected areas by climate warming. Yet, no empirical evidence of how climate change influences ecological communities in Mediterranean nature reserves really exists. Here, we examine long-term (1998-2011/2012) and short-term (2011-2012) changes in the butterfly fauna of Dadia National Park (Greece) by revisiting 21 and 18 transects in 2011 and 2012 respectively, that were initially surveyed in 1998. We evaluate the temperature trend for the study area for a 22-year-period (1990-2012) in which all three butterfly surveys are included. We also assess changes in community composition and species richness in butterfly communities using information on (a) species' elevational distributions in Greece and (b) Community Temperature Index (calculated from the average temperature of species' geographical ranges in Europe, weighted by species' abundance per transect and year). Despite the protected status of Dadia NP and the subsequent stability of land use regimes, we found a marked change in butterfly community composition over a 13 year period, concomitant with an increase of annual average temperature of 0.95°C. Our analysis gave no evidence of significant year-to-year (2011-2012) variability in butterfly community composition, suggesting that the community composition change we recorded is likely the consequence of long-term environmental change, such as climate warming. We observe an increased abundance of low-elevation species whereas species mainly occurring at higher elevations in the region declined. The Community Temperature Index was found to increase in all habitats except agricultural areas. If equivalent changes occur in other protected areas and taxonomic groups across Mediterranean Europe, new conservation options and approaches for increasing species' resilience may have to be devised.
In 2010, the Mediterranean basin experienced Portuguese Man-of-War (Physalia physalis) swarms that had dramatic consequences, including the region’s first recorded human fatality attributed to a jellyfish sting. Despite the impact of jellyfish on coastal economic activity and the importance of the tourism industry for the Mediterranean region (accounting for 15% of global tourism), no scientific consensus has been achieved regarding the causes of this episode. Here, we analyse the meteorological and oceanographic conditions of the North-East Atlantic Ocean during the months previous to the appearance of P. physalis in the Mediterranean. We simulate the probable drift of Atlantic populations into the Mediterranean basin with a numerical model and compare model results with available observations. We conclude that the summer 2010 P. Physalis swarm was the result of an unusual combination of meteorological and oceanographic conditions during the previous winter and not a permanent invasion favoured by climatic changes.
Fine-scale ecological and economic assessment of climate change on olive in the Mediterranean Basin reveals winners and losers
- Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
- Published almost 4 years ago
The Mediterranean Basin is a climate and biodiversity hot spot, and climate change threatens agro-ecosystems such as olive, an ancient drought-tolerant crop of considerable ecological and socioeconomic importance. Climate change will impact the interactions of olive and the obligate olive fruit fly (Bactrocera oleae), and alter the economics of olive culture across the Basin. We estimate the effects of climate change on the dynamics and interaction of olive and the fly using physiologically based demographic models in a geographic information system context as driven by daily climate change scenario weather. A regional climate model that includes fine-scale representation of the effects of topography and the influence of the Mediterranean Sea on regional climate was used to scale the global climate data. The system model for olive/olive fly was used as the production function in our economic analysis, replacing the commonly used production-damage control function. Climate warming will affect olive yield and fly infestation levels across the Basin, resulting in economic winners and losers at the local and regional scales. At the local scale, profitability of small olive farms in many marginal areas of Europe and elsewhere in the Basin will decrease, leading to increased abandonment. These marginal farms are critical to conserving soil, maintaining biodiversity, and reducing fire risk in these areas. Our fine-scale bioeconomic approach provides a realistic prototype for assessing climate change impacts in other Mediterranean agro-ecosystems facing extant and new invasive pests.
Regional asynchronicity in dairy production and processing in early farming communities of the northern Mediterranean
- Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
- Published over 1 year ago
In the absence of any direct evidence, the relative importance of meat and dairy productions to Neolithic prehistoric Mediterranean communities has been extensively debated. Here, we combine lipid residue analysis of ceramic vessels with osteo-archaeological age-at-death analysis from 82 northern Mediterranean and Near Eastern sites dating from the seventh to fifth millennia BC to address this question. The findings show variable intensities in dairy and nondairy activities in the Mediterranean region with the slaughter profiles of domesticated ruminants mirroring the results of the organic residue analyses. The finding of milk residues in very early Neolithic pottery (seventh millennium BC) from both the east and west of the region contrasts with much lower intensities in sites of northern Greece, where pig bones are present in higher frequencies compared with other locations. In this region, the slaughter profiles of all domesticated ruminants suggest meat production predominated. Overall, it appears that milk or the by-products of milk was an important foodstuff, which may have contributed significantly to the spread of these cultural groups by providing a nourishing and sustainable product for early farming communities.
Pathogens transmitted to humans by phlebotomine sand flies are neglected, as they cause infectious diseases that are not on the priority list of national and international public health systems. However, the infections caused by protozoa of the Leishmania genus and viruses belonging to the Phlebovirus genus (family Phenuiviridae)-the most significant group of viruses transmitted by sand flies-have a relevant role for human pathology. These infections are emerging in the Mediterranean region and will likely spread in forthcoming decades, posing a complex threat to human health. Four species and 2 hybrid strains of Leishmania are pathogenic for humans in the Mediterranean Basin, with an estimated annual incidence of 239,500-393,600 cases of cutaneous leishmaniasis and 1,200-2,000 cases of visceral leishmaniasis. Among the phleboviruses, Toscana virus can cause neuroinvasive infections, while other phleboviruses are responsible for a typical “3-day fever”; the actual incidence of Phlebovirus infections in the Mediterranean area is unknown, although at least 250 million people are exposed. Here, we reviewed the current literature on epidemiology of sand fly-borne infections in the Mediterranean Basin, with a focus on humans. Our analysis indicates the need for increased public health activities directed to determine the disease burden of these infections as well as to improve their surveillance. Among the emerging challenges concerning sand fly-borne pathogens, the relationships between sand fly-borne protozoa and viruses should be considered in future studies, including epidemiological links between Leishmania and phleboviruses as well as the conditional capacity for these pathogens to be involved in interactions that may evolve towards increased virulence.