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Concept: Tian Shan


A new genus and species of aplodontid rodent, Proansomys dureensis, from the late Oligocene of the northern Junggar Basin of China is described. The new genus is referred to as Ansomyinae because the ectoloph on the upper cheek teeth, although not fully crested, has attained the same characteristic bucket-handle-shaped configuration as other members of the subfamily. It represents the earliest record of the subfamily yet discovered in Asia and is more plesiomorphic than species of the genus Ansomys in having a partly crested ectoloph, a lower degree of lophodonty, and less complex tooth basins (lacking accessory lophules). Proansomys has transitional features between Prosciurus and Ansomys, suggesting that the Ansomyinae derived from a group of aplodontids related to Prosciurus, as did other advanced aplodontid rodents. This provides new light on the paleobiogeography of the Ansomyinae.

Concepts: Biology, Species, Mammal, Rodent, Euarchontoglires, Sciuromorpha, Rodents, Tian Shan


Fifty six Yersinia pestis strains, isolated over the period of more than 50 years in three high-mountain foci of Kyrgyzstan (Tien Shan, Alai, and Talas), have been characterized by means of PCR and single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) typing methods. Seven of these strains were also characterized by means of whole genome sequencing and genome-wide SNP phylogenetic analysis. It was found that forty two strains belong to 0.ANT2, 0.ANT3 and 0.ANT5 phylogenetic branches. From these, strains of 0.ANT2 and 0.ANT3 branches were earlier detected in China only, whereas 0.ANT5 phylogenetic branch was identified for Y. pestis phylogeny for the first time. According to the results of genome-wide SNP analysis, 0.ANT5 strains are ones of the most closely related to Y. pestis strain responsible for the Justinianic Plague. We have also found out that four of the studied strains belong to the phylogenetic branch 2.MED1, and ten strains from Talas high-mountain focus belong to the phylogenetic branch 0.PE4 (sub-branch 0.PE4t). Established diversity of Y. pestis strains and extensive dissemination of the strains pertaining to the 0.ANT branch confirm the antiquity of the mentioned above plague foci and suggest that strains of the 0.ANT branch, which serve as precursors for all highly virulent Y. pestis strains, had their origin in the Tien Shan mountains.

Concepts: DNA, Molecular biology, SNP array, Yersinia pestis, Bubonic plague, Black Death, Third Pandemic, Tian Shan


Based on the daily records from 16 cities around the eastern Tien Shan (Tianshan Mountains), central Asia from 2007 to 2013, the spatial pattern and seasonal/interannual variation of urban particulate matter up to 10 μm in size (PM10) concentrations and influencing factors were analyzed. Annual mean PM10 concentrations (±standard deviation) in most cities on the northern slope mainly range from 55 ± 28 μg/m(3) to 92 ± 75 μg/m(3), and those on the southern slope range between 96 ± 65 and 195 ± 144 μg/m(3). PM10 concentrations are maxima in winter on the northern slope, while they maximize in springtime on the southern slope. There is an increasing trend in annual mean concentrations during the period 2007-2013, which is not statistically significant at the 0.05 level. Urban PM10 concentration in the study region is jointly influenced by anthropogenic emission and regional natural processes, especially dust events and precipitation. The northern slope usually has heavy anthropogenic air pollution (mostly in winter) and relatively rich precipitation especially in summer, and the southern slope always suffers more frequent dust events (mostly in spring) and less precipitation. Modeled back-trajectory indicated that the Taklimakan desert source can greatly increase the PM10 concentration on the southern slope, and the mountain ranges may hinder the transport of dust to the northern slope.

Concepts: People's Republic of China, Particulate, Air pollution, Global warming, Central Asia, Xinjiang, Tian Shan, Taklamakan Desert


Snow meltwaters account for most of the yearly water budgets of many catchments in High Mountain Asia (HMA). We examine trends in snow water equivalent (SWE) using passive microwave data (1987 to 2009). We find an overall decrease in SWE in HMA, despite regions of increased SWE in the Pamir, Kunlun Shan, Eastern Himalaya, and Eastern Tien Shan. Although the average decline in annual SWE across HMA (contributing area, 2641 × 103 km2) is low (average, -0.3%), annual SWE losses conceal distinct seasonal and spatial heterogeneities across the study region. For example, the Tien Shan has seen both strong increases in winter SWE and sharp declines in spring and summer SWE. In the majority of catchments, the most negative SWE trends are found in mid-elevation zones, which often correspond to the regions of highest snow-water storage and are somewhat distinct from glaciated areas. Negative changes in SWE storage in these mid-elevation zones have strong implications for downstream water availability.

Concepts: Water, Snow, Spring, Winter, Tian Shan, Pamir Mountains, Kunlun Mountains, Mountain ranges of China


Using the latest sequencing and optical mapping technologies, we have produced a high-quality de novo assembly of the apple (Malus domestica Borkh.) genome. Repeat sequences, which represented over half of the assembly, provided an unprecedented opportunity to investigate the uncharacterized regions of a tree genome; we identified a new hyper-repetitive retrotransposon sequence that was over-represented in heterochromatic regions and estimated that a major burst of different transposable elements (TEs) occurred 21 million years ago. Notably, the timing of this TE burst coincided with the uplift of the Tian Shan mountains, which is thought to be the center of the location where the apple originated, suggesting that TEs and associated processes may have contributed to the diversification of the apple ancestor and possibly to its divergence from pear. Finally, genome-wide DNA methylation data suggest that epigenetic marks may contribute to agronomically relevant aspects, such as apple fruit development.

Concepts: DNA, RNA, DNA methylation, Fruit, Rosaceae, Apple, Maloideae, Tian Shan


The clade Triadophlebiomorpha represents a morphological ‘link’ between the Paleozoic griffenflies (Meganisoptera) and the modern taxa. Nevertheless they are relatively poorly known in the body structures and paleobiogeography. The Triassic dragonfly is extremely rare in China with only one previously recorded. A new family, Sinotriadophlebiidae Zheng, Nel et Zhang fam. nov., for the genus and species Sinotriadophlebia lini Zheng, Nel et Zhang gen. et sp. nov., is described from the Upper Triassic Baijiantan Formation of Xinjiang, northwestern China. It is the second Chinese Triassic odonatopteran and the second largest Mesozoic representative of this superorder in China. The discovery provides new information for the clade Triadophlebiomorpha during the Late Triassic and expands its distribution and diversity in Asia. The find reflects a close relationship between the two Triassic entomofaunas from Kyrgyzstan and the Junggar Basin, and provides a Carnian age constraint on the lowermost part of the Baijiantan Formation.

Concepts: Qing Dynasty, Gondwana, Central Asia, Triassic, Uyghur people, Xinjiang, Tian Shan, Karamay


The Tianshan Mountains play a significant role in the Central Asian flora and vegetation. Lagochilus has a distribution concentration in Tianshan Mountains and Central Asia. To investigate generic spatiotemporal evolution, we sampled most Lagochilus species and sequenced six cpDNA locations (rps16, psbA-trnH, matK, trnL-trnF, psbB-psbH, psbK-psbI). We employed BEAST Bayesian inference for dating, and S-DIVA, DEC, and BBM for ancestral area/biome reconstruction. Our results clearly show that the Tianshan Mountains, especially the western Ili-Kirghizia Tianshan, as well as Sunggar and Kaschgar, was the ancestral area. Ancestral biome was mainly in the montane steppe zone of valley and slope at altitudes of 1700-2700 m, and the montane desert zone of foothill and front-hill at 1000-1700 m. Here two sections Inermes and Lagochilus of the genus displayed “uphill” and “downhill” speciation process during middle and later Miocene. The origin and diversification of the genus were explained as coupled with the rapid uplift of the Tianshan Mountains starting in late Oligocene and early Miocene ca. 23.66~19.33 Ma, as well as with uplift of the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau (QTP) and Central Asian aridification.

Concepts: Middle East, Asia, Steppe, Central Asia, Kazakhstan, Tibetan Plateau, Xinjiang, Tian Shan


This study aims to analyze the clinical characteristics and treatment outcomes of 590 patients with brucellosis in Xinjiang, China.

Concepts: Han Chinese, People's Republic of China, Qing Dynasty, Central Asia, Uyghur people, Xinjiang, Tian Shan, Uyghur language


Phylogeography and historical demography of the cyprinid fish Diptychus maculatus (subfamily Schizothoracinae) are evaluated across three river systems in the Northern Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau (QTP) and Tien Shan range: the Indus River, Tarim River and Ili River.

Concepts: Cyprinidae, Xinjiang, Tarim River, Tian Shan, Sites along the Silk Road, Tarim Basin, Ili River, Diptychus


The Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever virus (CCHFV), a member of the genus Orthonairovirus and family Nairoviridae, is transmitted by ticks and causes severe hemorrhagic disease in humans. To study the epidemiology of CCHFV in different ecosystems in Xinjiang, China, a total of 58,932 ticks were collected from Tarim Basin, Junggar Basin, Tianshan Mountain, and Altai Mountain from 2014 to 2017. Hyalomma asiaticum asiaticum was the dominant tick species in Tarim and Junggar basins, whereas Dermacentor nuttalli and Hyalomma detritum were found in Tianshan Mountain and Altai Mountain, respectively. Reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction of the CCHFV small (S) genome segment was used for the molecular detection. The CCHFV-positive percentage was 5.26%, 6.85%, 1.94%, and 5.56% in Tarim Basin, Junggar Basin, Tianshan Mountain, and Altai Mountain, respectively. Sequences of the S segment were used for phylogenetic analysis and the results showed that the newly identified CCHFV strains belonged to two clades. Our study confirms that H. asiaticum asiaticum is the major vector of CCHFV in desert habitats which is consistent with previous studies, and also suggests that H. detritum and D. nuttalli are emerging vectors for CCHFV in Xinjiang. Moreover, this study reports the presence of CCHFV in the mountain habitat of Xinjiang for the first time, suggesting that future surveillance of CCHFV should also include mountainous areas.

Concepts: Viral hemorrhagic fever, Tarim mummies, Uyghur people, Xinjiang, Tian Shan, Ürümqi, Kashgar, Dzungaria