The genus Capsicum is New World in origin and represents a complex of a wide variety of both wild and domesticated taxa. Peppers or fruits of Capsicum species rarely have been identified in the paleoethnobotanical record in either Meso- or South America. We report here confirmation of Capsicum sp. residues from pottery samples excavated at Chiapa de Corzo in southern Mexico dated from Middle to Late Preclassic periods (400 BCE to 300 CE). Residues from 13 different pottery types were collected and extracted using standard techniques. Presence of Capsicum was confirmed by ultra-performance liquid chromatography (UPLC)/MS-MS Analysis. Five pottery types exhibited chemical peaks for Capsicum when compared to the standard (dihydrocapsaicin). No peaks were observed in the remaining eight samples. Results of the chemical extractions provide conclusive evidence for Capsicum use at Chiapas de Corzo during a 700 year period (400 BCE-300 CE). Presence of Capsicum in different types of culinary-associated pottery raises questions how chili pepper could have been used during this early time period. As Pre-Columbian cacao products sometimes were flavored using Capsicum, the same pottery sample set was tested for evidence of cacao using a theobromine marker: these results were negative. As each vessel that tested positive for Capsicum had a culinary use we suggest here the possibility that chili residues from the Chiapas de Corzo pottery samples reflect either paste or beverage preparations for religious, festival, or every day culinary use. Alternatively, some vessels that tested positive merely could have been used to store peppers. Most interesting from an archaeological context was the presence of Capsicum residue obtained from a spouted jar, a pottery type previously thought only to be used for pouring liquids.
- Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
- Published over 2 years ago
During the Deepwater Horizon oil well blowout in the Gulf of Mexico, the application of 7 million liters of chemical dispersants aimed to stimulate microbial crude oil degradation by increasing the bioavailability of oil compounds. However, the effects of dispersants on oil biodegradation rates are debated. In laboratory experiments, we simulated environmental conditions comparable to the hydrocarbon-rich, 1,100 m deep plume that formed during the Deepwater Horizon discharge. The presence of dispersant significantly altered the microbial community composition through selection for potential dispersant-degrading Colwellia, which also bloomed in situ in Gulf deep waters during the discharge. In contrast, oil addition to deepwater samples in the absence of dispersant stimulated growth of natural hydrocarbon-degrading Marinobacter. In these deepwater microcosm experiments, dispersants did not enhance heterotrophic microbial activity or hydrocarbon oxidation rates. An experiment with surface seawater from an anthropogenically derived oil slick corroborated the deepwater microcosm results as inhibition of hydrocarbon turnover was observed in the presence of dispersants, suggesting that the microcosm findings are broadly applicable across marine habitats. Extrapolating this comprehensive dataset to real world scenarios questions whether dispersants stimulate microbial oil degradation in deep ocean waters and instead highlights that dispersants can exert a negative effect on microbial hydrocarbon degradation rates.
The increasing burdens of obesity and diabetes are two of the most prominent threats to the health of populations of developed and developing countries alike. The Central America Diabetes Initiative (CAMDI) is the first study to examine the prevalence of diabetes in Central America.
In recent decades, fresh and minimally processed produce items have been associated with an increasing proportion of foodborne illnesses. Most pathogens associated with fresh produce are enteric (fecal) in origin, and contamination can occur anywhere along the farm-to-fork chain. Microbial source tracking (MST) is a tool developed in the environmental microbiology field to identify and quantify the dominant source(s) of fecal contamination. This study investigated the utility of an MST method based on Bacteroidales 16S rDNA sequences as a means of identifying potential fecal contamination, and its source, in the fresh produce production environment. The method was applied to rinses of fresh produce, source and irrigation waters, and harvester hand rinses collected over the course of one year from nine farms (growing tomatoes, jalapeño peppers, and cantaloupe) in Northern Mexico. Of 174 samples, 39% were positive for a universal Bacteroidales marker (AllBac), including 66% of samples from cantaloupe farms (3.6 log10 genome equivalence copies [GEC]/100 ml), 31% of samples from tomato farms (1.7 log10 GEC/100 ml), and 18% of samples from jalapeño farms (1.5 log10 GEC/100 ml). Of 68 AllBac-positive samples, 46% were positive for one of 3 human-specific markers (BFD, HF183, BVulg), and none were positive for a bovine-specific marker (BoBac). There was no statistically significant correlation between Bacteroidales and generic E. coli across all samples. This study provides evidence that Bacteroidales markers may serve as alternative indicators for fecal contamination in fresh produce production, allowing for determination of both general contamination and that derived from the human host.
The Eastern, migratory population of monarch butterflies (Danaus plexippus), an iconic North American insect, has declined by ~80% over the last decade. The monarch’s multi-generational migration between overwintering grounds in central Mexico and the summer breeding grounds in the northern U.S. and southern Canada is celebrated in all three countries and creates shared management responsibilities across North America. Here we present a novel Bayesian multivariate auto-regressive state-space model to assess quasi-extinction risk and aid in the establishment of a target population size for monarch conservation planning. We find that, given a range of plausible quasi-extinction thresholds, the population has a substantial probability of quasi-extinction, from 11-57% over 20 years, although uncertainty in these estimates is large. Exceptionally high population stochasticity, declining numbers, and a small current population size act in concert to drive this risk. An approximately 5-fold increase of the monarch population size (relative to the winter of 2014-15) is necessary to halve the current risk of quasi-extinction across all thresholds considered. Conserving the monarch migration thus requires active management to reverse population declines, and the establishment of an ambitious target population size goal to buffer against future environmentally driven variability.
Preceramic human skeletal remains preserved in submerged caves near Tulum in the Mexican state of Quintana Roo, Mexico, reveal conflicting results regarding 14C dating. Here we use U-series techniques for dating a stalagmite overgrowing the pelvis of a human skeleton discovered in the submerged Chan Hol cave. The oldest closed system U/Th age comes from around 21 mm above the pelvis defining the terminus ante quem for the pelvis to 11311±370 y BP. However, the skeleton might be considerable older, probably as old as 13 ky BP as indicated by the speleothem stable isotope data. The Chan Hol individual confirms a late Pleistocene settling of Mesoamerica and represents one of the oldest human osteological remains in America.
Human-animal interactions have played crucial roles in the development of complex societies across the globe. This study examines the human-leporid (cottontail and jackrabbit) relationship at the pre-Hispanic (AD 1-550) city of Teotihuacan in the Basin of Mexico and tests the hypothesis that leporids were managed or bred for food and secondary products within the urban core. We use stable isotope analysis (δ13Capatite and δ18Oapatite) of 134 leporid specimens from five archaeological contexts within the city and 13 modern specimens from across central Mexico to quantify aspects of leporid diet and ecology. The results demonstrate that leporids from Oztoyahualco, a residential complex associated with a unique rabbit sculpture and archaeological traces of animal butchering, exhibit the highest δ13Capatite values of the sample. These results imply greater consumption of human-cultivated foods, such as maize (Zea mays), by cottontails and jackrabbits at this complex and suggest practices of human provisioning. A lack of significant differences in δ18Oapatite values between ancient and modern leporids and between Oztoyahualco and other locations within Teotihuacan indicates generally similar relative humidity from sampled contexts. Results of this study support the notion that residents provisioned, managed, or bred leporids during the height of the city, and provide new evidence for mammalian animal husbandry in the ancient New World.
Violent death is a serious problem in the US. Previous research showing US rates of violent death compared with other high-income countries used data that are more than a decade old.
Simple pebble tools, ephemeral cultural features, and the remains of maritime and terrestrial foods are present in undisturbed Late Pleistocene and Early Holocene deposits underneath a large human-made mound at Huaca Prieta and nearby sites on the Pacific coast of northern Peru. Radiocarbon ages indicate an intermittent human presence dated between ~15,000 and 8000 calendar years ago before the mound was built. The absence of fishhooks, harpoons, and bifacial stone tools suggests that technologies of gathering, trapping, clubbing, and exchange were used primarily to procure food resources along the shoreline and in estuarine wetlands and distant mountains. The stone artifacts are minimally worked unifacial stone tools characteristic of several areas of South America. Remains of avocado, bean, and possibly cultivated squash and chile pepper are also present, suggesting human transport and consumption. Our new findings emphasize an early coastal lifeway of diverse food procurement strategies that suggest detailed observation of resource availability in multiple environments and a knowledgeable economic organization, although technologies were simple and campsites were seemingly ephemeral and discontinuous. These findings raise questions about the pace of early human movement along some areas of the Pacific coast and the level of knowledge and technology required to exploit maritime and inland resources.
Eight whale sharks tagged with pop-up satellite archival tags off the Gulf of California, Mexico, were tracked for periods of 14-134 days. Five of these sharks were adults, with four females visually assessed to be pregnant. At least for the periods they were tracked, juveniles remained in the Gulf of California while adults moved offshore into the eastern Pacific Ocean. We propose that parturition occurs in these offshore waters. Excluding two juveniles that remained in the shallow tagging area for the duration of tracking, all sharks spent 65 ± 20.7% (SD) of their time near the surface, even over deep water, often in association with frontal zones characterized by cool-water upwelling. While these six sharks all made dives into the meso- or bathypelagic zones, with two sharks reaching the maximum depth recordable by the tags (1285.8 m), time spent at these depths represented a small proportion of the overall tracks. Most deep dives (72.7%) took place during the day, particularly during the early morning and late afternoon. Pronounced habitat differences by ontogenetic stage suggest that adult whale sharks are less likely to frequent coastal waters after the onset of maturity.