ecosystem importance (Introduction)

by David Turell @, Tuesday, December 07, 2021, 19:28 (44 days ago)

Another example:

https://mail.yahoo.com/d/folders/1/messages/ANx0W552sO2qYa-xkQ0jSJ1NDhU?.intl=us&.p...

"Part of what makes the Serengeti so special is the astonishing array of life it contains—a deeply interconnected web of thousands of animal and plant species. There are, of course, the safari favorites—elephant, lion, rhino, hippo, cheetah (pictured above), and giraffe. But there are multitudes of creatures that get little attention—the African fish eagle (a near doppelganger for the American bald eagle), the tree hyrax (a tiny distant relative of the elephant), and a hundred species of dung beetles (which navigate by the Milky Way).

***

"Since the 1970s, scientists have understood that the key bellwether for the health of the Serengeti is the wildebeest. The ecosystem relies disproportionately on the more than one million wildebeest moving steadily clockwise around the region, following the pattern of seasonal rains. This spectacular interactive map explains how the migration causes everything to flourish—trees and grasses, insects and birds, predators and prey.

"But the surge of human activity has squeezed the wildebeest migration routes, raising concerns about this crucial piece of the Serengeti puzzle. According to Joseph Ogutu, a Kenyan statistician whose specialty is counting wildlife populations and modeling how they will change, the number of wildebeests migrating from Tanzania into Kenya is declining, and those that do come are spending up to one and a half months fewer per year than they used to.

"In addition to the wildebeest, Kenyan conservationist and Nat Geo Explorer Paula Kahumbu points out other animals that serve as barometers to the Serengeti’s health. The greater kudu, common duiker, bushbuck, bushpig, giant forest hog, oribi, colobus monkey, sable antelope, roan antelope, and black rhino are all species that safari guides report have disappeared or nearly disappeared in recent years.

"To change course, Ogutu cites the need to reduce fencing in key areas and enact better policies regarding grazing, but he especially emphasizes the need to set aside land to protect the wildebeest migration route because, as Tanzanian ecologist Tony Sinclair has pointed out, “Without the wildebeest, there would be no Serengeti.”

Comment: as usual too many humans are getting in the way. This is a beautiful example of an important very complex system which is an answer to why dhw thinks God made too many animals on His way to producing humans. All those animals are necessary for the proper balance. Just imagine the chaos if all the lions disappeared, as the absent wolves in Yellowstone.

ecosystem importance: geckos special diet

by David Turell @, Wednesday, January 05, 2022, 20:23 (15 days ago) @ David Turell

Geckos in a very hot climate find food:

https://www.sciencenews.org/article/spider-gecko-earth-hottest-landscape

"Surface temperatures in the Lut Desert in Iran, home to the Misonne’s spider gecko (Rhinogecko misonnei), soar past 65° Celsius more frequently than anywhere else on the planet. The extreme heat makes it difficult for life to thrive, and for years, ecologists have regarded the desert as mostly barren.

"To find out how the geckos sustain themselves in this desolate oven, entomologist Hossein Rajaei of the State Museum of Natural History in Stuttgart, Germany and colleagues analyzed the stomach contents of six geckos using DNA metabarcoding (SN: 4/18/16). The technique compares chunks of DNA with a species identification database, like a bar code scanner in a grocery store. “It’s very accurate, very comprehensive and very trustable,” Rajaei says.

"Within the geckos’ digestive soup stewed DNA from 94 species, about 81 percent of which hail from outside the Lut Desert, the team reports November 18 in the Journal of Zoological Systematics and Evolutionary Research.

"The majority of these outsiders were winged insects such as flies, moths and wasps that migrate through the desert from bordering temperate landscapes. The remaining species — arachnids, arthropods and more moths — are endemic to the Lut, but are elusive in its heart, where the geckos were collected. The unexpected diversity highlights that there’s more living in this desert than meets the eye, Rajaei says.

"The findings underscore the importance of intertwined food webs for animals to survive in hostile habitats, says Robert Pringle, an ecologist at Princeton University who was not involved in the research. “The movement of insects from outside the immediate area subsidizes the geckos and helps them to persist in this extreme desert environment,” he says."

Comment: same old. All ecosystems are complex and required by all living organisms for food energy. This clearly explains the huge branched bush of life that evolution created, a point dhw disputes when he laughs at the theory that God wanted to create humans and their food. We are here. Of course He did.

ecosystem importance: antibiotic resistance

by David Turell @, Saturday, January 08, 2022, 18:45 (12 days ago) @ David Turell

All part of eat or be eaten:

https://www.sciencenews.org/article/drug-resistant-bacteria-hedgehog-mrsa

"Beneath the prickly spines of European hedgehogs, a microbial standoff may have bred a dangerous drug-resistant pathogen long before the era of antibiotic use in humans.

"It’s no question that antibiotic use accelerates drug-resistance in bacteria that colonize humans, says Jesper Larsen, a veterinarian at Statens Serum Institut in Copenhagen. But, he says, these microbes had to get the genes to give them resistance from somewhere, and scientists don’t know where most of these genes come from.

"Now, for one type of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA, Larsen and colleagues have tracked its evolution to hedgehogs hundreds of years ago. On the skin of these critters, a fungus that produces natural antibiotics may have created the environment for drug resistance to evolve in the bacteria, the researchers report January 5 in Nature.

***

“'There is no doubt that our usage of antibiotics is the main driver of resistance in human pathogens,” says Anders Larsen, a microbiologist at Statens Serum Institut who was also was part of the team. “This is a very special case where we can just track it back to an origin.”

"But that doesn’t explain how the hedgehogs’ S. aureus developed resistance. The team got a clue from a 1960s research study about Trichophyton erinacei, a fungus that causes “hedgehog ringworm” in humans. That study reported that T. erinacei on hedgehog skin killed some S. aureus but not others that were resistant to penicillin. Growing T. erinacei in the lab, the researchers identified two penicillin-like antibiotics pumped out by the fungi.

"This findings suggests that hedgehogs are a MRSA reservoir because “they’re living cheek by jowl with organisms that are producing penicillin,” says Gerry Wright, a biochemist at McMaster University in Hamilton, Canada, who was not involved with the study. (my bold)

***

"The history of antibiotics in the last century is a cycle of new drug discoveries shortly followed by microbial resistance cropping up to those drugs. That shouldn’t be a surprise, Wright says. “Because antibiotics have been on the planet for billions of years, and resistance is billions of years old,” he says." (my bold 2)

Comment: None of this is surprising information. The Earth is a giant restaurant. All life must have continuous energy supply to live. From the theodicy viewpoint it is impossible to create life not needing energy supplies. All organisms live in their own organized ecosystem, the complexities of which have been shown here. They have developed since the start of life and its diversification. The MRSA staph aureus happily live in their own ecosystem until they try to eat in the wrong places and then there is a battle. Stay in their system and nothing goes bad or wrong. In an eat or be eaten world it is only logical that all organisms have defense systems as this article shows, in case the wrong folks mix together. In dhw's imagined God's free-for-all world this outcome is ordained to happen. In the real God's reality, it is required by necessary diversification to form sustaining ecosystems for the food supply. So I view bad infectious diseases as unescapable bad luck, not my God's doing.

As an aside, in the theodicy arena of discussion, this does not enter the realm of metabolic errors, which have been discussed in the past

ecosystem importance: antibiotic resistance

by David Turell @, Monday, January 10, 2022, 18:43 (10 days ago) @ David Turell

I'm not sure I've seen a reasonable response to this comment:

The Earth is a giant restaurant. All life must have continuous energy supply to live. From the theodicy viewpoint it is impossible to create life not needing energy supplies. All organisms live in their own organized ecosystem, the complexities of which have been shown here. They have developed since the start of life and its diversification. The MRSA staph aureus happily live in their own ecosystem until they try to eat in the wrong places and then there is a battle. Stay in their system and nothing goes bad or wrong. In an eat or be eaten world it is only logical that all organisms have defense systems as this article shows, in case the wrong folks mix together. In dhw's imagined God's free-for-all world this outcome is ordained to happen. In the real God's reality, it is required by necessary diversification to form sustaining ecosystems for the food supply. So I view bad infectious diseases as unescapable bad luck, not my God's doing.

As an aside, in the theodicy arena of discussion, this does not enter the realm of metabolic errors, which have been discussed in the past

I've not copied the previous entry but the source article is there for review

ecosystem importance: example of pathogens fight hosts

by David Turell @, Friday, January 14, 2022, 19:06 (6 days ago) @ David Turell

Breaking up the mitochondrial membrane:

https://phys.org/news/2022-01-pathogens-mitochondrial-defense-mechanisms.html

"Mitochondria are known as energy suppliers for our cells, but they also play an important role in the defense against pathogens. They can initiate immune responses, and deprive pathogens of the nutrients they need to grow. A research team led by Lena Pernas of the Max Planck Institute for Biology of Ageing in Cologne, Germany, has now shown that pathogens can turn off mitochondrial defense mechanisms by hijacking a normal cellular response to stress.

"To survive, pathogens need to acquire nutrients from their host and counter host defenses. One such defense comes from host mitochondria, which can deprive them of nutrients they need and thus restrict their growth. "We wanted to know how else mitochondrial behavior changes when mitochondria and pathogens meet in cells. Because the outer membrane of these organelles is the first point of contact with the pathogens, we took a closer look at it," explains Lena Pernas, research group leader at the Max Planck Institute for Biology of Ageing.

"The researchers infected cells with the human parasite Toxoplasma gondii and observed live under the microscope what happens to the outer compartment of mitochondria. "We saw that mitochondria in contact with the parasite started shedding large structures from their outer membrane. This was so puzzling to us. Why would mitochondria shed what is essentially the gateway between them and the rest of the cell?" says Xianhe Li, first author of the study.

"But how does the parasite get the mitochondria to do it? The research team was able to show that the pathogen has a protein that functionally mimics a host mitochondrial protein. It binds to a receptor on the outer membrane of mitochondria, to gain access to the machinery that ensures proteins are transported inside the mitochondria. "In doing so, the parasite hijacks a normal host response to mitochondrial stress that, in the context of infection, effectively disarms the mitochondria" Pernas said. "Other researchers have shown that a SARS-CoV-2 virus protein also binds to this transport receptor. This suggests the receptor plays an important role in the host-pathogen interaction. But further investigation is needed to better understand its role during different infections.'"

Comment: its eat or die out there. This is another example of the war over food supply. It has been and will be continuous in every ecosystem. We humans are top predators, and must always recognize not to damage our food systems. Our advantage is that we can think, analyze, and correct mistakes.

ecosystem importance: example of pathogens fight hosts

by David Turell @, Tuesday, January 18, 2022, 19:04 (2 days ago) @ David Turell

Phages killing bacteria used in therapy:

https://www.newscientist.com/article/2304997-phage-therapies-for-superbug-infections-ar...

"The use of bacteria-killing viruses known as phages to treat antibiotic-resistant infections is starting to take off in Belgium. More than 100 people have now been given phage therapies there, thanks to a regulatory system that makes it easier for doctors to prescribe them.

***

"One of the doctors, Anaïs Eskenazi, decided to try phage therapy. A sample of the bacterium was sent to the Eliava Institute in Tbilisi, Georgia, to find a phage that could kill it. The Eliava Institute has been using phage therapy to treat infections since the 1920s.

"By February 2018, the woman was still not improving, and she was finally treated with the phage in combination with antibiotics. Within weeks, her condition improved, and her broken femur finally began to heal. She is now able to walk again, usually with crutches, and is taking part in sports such as cycling.

"Despite results such as this, there are several obstacles to using phage therapy more widely. Phages are specific to particular bacteria, and those bacteria can quickly evolve resistance, says Ben Temperton at the University of Exeter, UK. Evolving or “pre-adapting” phages, as the Eliava Institute did, reduces resistance but takes time.

“'Patients have typically been on a long journey of failed antibiotic regimens before phages are considered,” says Temperton.

***

“'When possible, doctors should prefer the use of pre-adapted phage with antibiotics to obtain the phage-antibiotic synergy, which makes the treatment very effective,” Eskenazi says.

"These issues make it hard to get regulatory approval. At the time the woman was treated, Eskenazi had to get special approval to try phage therapy. This remains the case in most countries, which is why phage therapies are rarely used."

Comment: This article is of interest at several levels. A new use for bacteriophages and looking at ecosystems to find enemies for specific organism-borne disease to find inventive
treatments.

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