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Table of Content
    Volume 16 Issue 5
    20 September 2008

    Color polymorphisms in reef-building corals are mainly determined by their symbiotic dinoflagellates (Symbiodinium spp.). Symbiodinium spp. in scleractinian corals are important in understanding how coral reefs will respond to environmental changes. Dong et al. investigated the composition of Symbiodinium in 22 species of scleractinian corals from Luhuitou fringing reef of Sanya using PCR-RFLP analysis of the large subunit rDNA. For details see pages 498–502 of this issue. (Photographed by Zhijun Dong and Hui Huang)

    Current advances of DNA barcoding study in plants
    Ning Shuping, Yan Haifei, Hao Gang, Ge Xuejun
    Biodiv Sci. 2008, 16 (5):  417-425.  doi:10.3724/SP.J.1003.2008.08215
    Abstract ( 6283 )   HTML ( 16 )   PDF (326KB) ( 6151 )   Save
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    DNA barcoding has become one of hotspots of biodiversity research in the last five years. It is a method of rapid and accurate species identification and recognition using a short, standardized DNA region. DNA barcoding is now well established for animals, using a portion of the mitochondrial cytochrome coxidase subunit 1 (COI or cox1) as the standard universal barcode. However, in plants, progress has been hampered by slow substitution rates in mitochondrial DNA. A number of different chloroplast regions have been proposed. There has been considerable debate, but little consensus regarding region choice for DNA barcoding land plants. Direct comparative assessment of different barcoding regions is now a priority to enable a standard barcoding solution to be agreed in plants. The proposed chloroplast barcoding regions mainly include five coding (rpoB, rpoC1, matK, rbcL, UPA) and three non-coding (trnH-psbA, atpF-atpH, psbK-psbI) regions. In addition, nrITS is also suggested as a potential plant barcode. Limited by the universality and resolvability of single barcoding region, five combinations of these regions are proposed. In this review, the advance of these barcoding regions, both their universality of primers and resolving power are reviewed. The advantages, standards, workflow and existent dispute of DNA barcoding are summarized.

    Commercialization of transgenic rice in China: potential environmental biosafety issues
    Lu Bao-Rong, Fu Qiang, Shen Zhicheng
    Biodiv Sci. 2008, 16 (5):  426-436.  doi:10.3724/SP.J.1003.2008.08159
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    The development and commercialization of transgenic rice with novel traits in China may offer more opportunities for promoting rice productivity. Owing to the significance of rice as a major food crop in China, the enhancement of rice production is important for national food security. If left unaddressed, the potential biosafety concerns over the extensive release and commercial cultivation of transgenic rice may hamper the development and application of this technology in rice improvement. Biosafety issues include: (1) effects of toxic transgenes on non-target organisms; (2) transgene escape to crops or wild relatives through gene flow and its potential ecological consequences; (3) interactions and influences of transgenes and transgenic plants on biodiversity, ecosystem functions, and soil microbes; and (4) the development of resistance to insect- or disease-resistant transgenes in target organisms. In order to safely and sustainably utilize transgenic biotechnology in rice, it is very important to assess biosafety consequences, including environmental risks, from transgenic rice. This paper presents a rational analysis of potential environmental biosafety problems based on the principles of risk assessment, provided that transgenic rice will be released for commercialization. We hope these analyses will provide useful information for the decision-making on commercialization of transgenic rice and serve as a framework for the assessment of relevant environmental biosafety risks.

    Advances of species richness regulated by the metabolic rate
    Zhang Qiang, Ma Renyi, Ji Mingfei, Deng Jianming
    Biodiv Sci. 2008, 16 (5):  437-445.  doi:10.3724/SP.J.1003.2008.08119
    Abstract ( 3911 )   HTML ( 10 )   PDF (320KB) ( 3867 )   Save
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    A fascinating issue for ecologists is to develop a general theory exploring the mechanisms of formation and stabilization of biodiversity. Although diverse hypotheses have been proposed to account for the geographic distribution of biodiversity, many of them are not applicable to all species or under a variety of conditions. The metabolic rate hypothesis is a recently-developed hypothesis that can quantify relationships between the dynamic processes of individual and population evolution and patterns of biodiversity, and between species richness and environmental factors. This theory is based on the energetic-equivalence rule and fractal-like distribution network models, and can not only explain the origin of biodiversity but also the maintenance of biodiversity. Herein, we analyze and compare this new hypothesis to other related hypotheses of metabolism-biodiversity theory. We suggest that this hypothesis is more likely to become a unified theory explaining the formation of biological diversity than others we assessed. We also discuss important issues relevant to further advancing the area of metabolism-biodiversity theory.

    A brief review of phylogenetic reconstruction and co-evolution of fig-wasp mutualism
    Xu Lei, Yang Darong
    Biodiv Sci. 2008, 16 (5):  446-453.  doi:10.3724/SP.J.1003.2008.08149
    Abstract ( 4482 )   HTML ( 5 )   PDF (258KB) ( 3667 )   Save
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    Figs (Ficus, Moraceae) constitute one of the greatest genera of flowering plants with ca. 750 species worldwide. Figs and fig wasps form an obligate specific mutualism, which is treated as the model system to study comparative biology of mutualism and co-evolution. This extraordinary system has received increasing attention because of its specificity and the development of the molecular technologies, although the phylogenetic reconstruction of both partners began in the 1990’s. In this paper, we summarized the research on phylogenetic relationships and fig-fig wasp co-evolution. We also analyzed interrelated researches in China and the future developing trends in research on this mutualism.

    Original Papers
    Spatial distribution of species diversity indices in a monsoon evergreen broadleaved forest at Dinghushan Mountain
    Wang Zhigao, Ye Wanhui, Cao Honglin, Lian Juyu
    Biodiv Sci. 2008, 16 (5):  454-461.  doi:10.3724/SP.J.1003.2008.08126
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    Sampling scale is important in exploring the structure and dynamics of plant communities. Spatial patterns and formation mechanisms of species diversity are fundamental issues in community ecology. The effect of scale on species diversity patterns and their interpretation has attracted particular attention. In this paper, we studied spatial distribution patterns of Simpson, Shannon-Weiner, and Pielou’s evenness indices within a 20-ha plot as well as relationships of these indices with sampling size in a monsoon evergreen broadleaved forest at Dinghushan Mountain, Guangdong Province. The three indices all strongly depended on region of the study area, and such a regional pattern was scale dependent. Spatial distribution patterns also differed depending on which of two measures of diversity variation,viz. variance and coefficient of variation, we used. Variance of the three indices was unimodal with increasing scale, and was maximum at the 80 m×100 m scale, while the coefficient of variation decreased with increasing scale. For the Shannon-Weiner and Pielou’s evenness indices, coefficient of variation dramatically reduced when the scale size was less than 20 m × 25 m, and then followed by a more gentle change. Our results showed that sampling scale and region should be taken into account when studying species diversity in this 20 ha monsoon evergreen broadleaved forest.

    Variation and phenotypic plasticity in life history traits of Spartina alterniflora along the east coast of China
    Zhang Yimo, Wang Qing, Lu Meng, Jia Xin, Geng Yupeng, Li Bo
    Biodiv Sci. 2008, 16 (5):  462-469.  doi:10.3724/SP.J.1003.2008.08108
    Abstract ( 4118 )   HTML ( 5 )   PDF (421KB) ( 4062 )   Save
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    Spartina alterniflora, native to North America, is invasive in salt marshes worldwide. Its geographic distribution in China has expanded to include most eastern coastal areas since it was introduced in 1970s. Genetic differentiation and phenotypic plasticity are two major strategies in adaptation to varying environments. To investigate the mechanisms of the range expansion of S. alterniflora in China, we collected samples from ten populations on the east coast of China along a latitudinal gradient from Guangdong (22°N) to Tianjin (39°N). We grew plants singly in pots placed in an outdoor garden under either low or high water levels to explore plastic responses to varying elevation in the field. Twelve of 17 traits measured demonstrated considerable variation among populations. In particular, mean date of blossoms and the relative growth rate of height (RGRH) showed clinal variation with latitude. Our results suggested that Chinese populations of S. alterniflora might have experienced genetic differentiation. Furthermore, 9 of 17 traits showed remarkable plasticity in response to different water levels. S. alterniflora at high water level was more prolific and produced its first ramet earlier. Therefore, the successful invasion of S. alterniflora in China might have resulted from both genetic differentiation and phenotypic plasticity. The former might have facilitated its rapid range expansion on a regional scale, and the latter might have played an important role in local adaptations to habitats along an elevational gradient.

    Spatial patterns of species diversity of seed plants in China and their climatic explanation
    Feng Jianmeng
    Biodiv Sci. 2008, 16 (5):  470-476.  doi:10.3724/SP.J.1003.2008.08027
    Abstract ( 4394 )   HTML ( 8 )   PDF (262KB) ( 4641 )   Save
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    Understanding spatial patterns of species diversity is a hot topic in global ecology because of its significance to biodiversity conservation. We investigated spatial patterns of Chinese seed plant species diversity and analyzed the correlation between species richness and climatic factors at a large scale. Floral information was obtained from national and regional records of seed plants, and climatic data were taken from 642 observatory sites across China between 1970 and 2000. We detected large spatial variation in species richness and density. Species density decreased with latitude. The following did not affect the spatial patterns of species richness and species density: area, mean annual temperature, mean annual precipitation, and frost-free days. Spatial patterns of species richness were affected by annual variation in mean annual temperature, mean temperature during the coldest month, spatial variation of mean annual temperature and precipitation. Spatial patterns of species density were principally shaped by annual variation in mean annual temperature, mean temperature during the coldest month, spatial variation of mean annual temperature per unit area and spatial variation of mean annual precipitation per unit area. Linear step-wise regression models indicated that annual variation in mean annual temperature influenced spatial patterns of species richness, while spatial variation in mean annual temperature and the spatial variation in mean annual temperature per unit area fine-tuned them. Our results imply that spatial and seasonal variation in climatic factors can not be overlooked in research on spatial patterns of species diversity at large scales.

    Deceptive pollination of an autumn flowering orchid Eria coronaria (Orchidaceae)
    Shangguan Fazhi, Cheng Jin, Xiong Yuanxin, Luo Yibo
    Biodiv Sci. 2008, 16 (5):  477-483.  doi:10.3724/SP.J.1003.2008.08096
    Abstract ( 3897 )   HTML ( 3 )   PDF (382KB) ( 3301 )   Save
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    Appendages on orchid floral labellum that lack floral rewards for pollinators are considered attractive signals to potential pollinators. Eria coronaria, which has an unusual autumn flowering season in some locations, has a bright yellow spot on its labellum. This spot has been hypothesized to function as a visual attractant to potential pollinators because its color may be attractive to insects. We tested this hypothesis using field observations between October and November of 2006 in the Yachang Nature Reserve, Guangxi, southwestern China. Honeybee (Apis cerana cerana) was the only pollinator of this orchid. Generally, honeybees landed directly on the yellow spot on labellum, and then adjusted their position and entered the flower. When honeybees retreated from flowers, the pollinaria were adhered on their thorax, or the pollinaria carried by honeybee were stuck on the stigma. The anther cap, however, did not separate from the column when the pollinaria were carried away from the flower. This orchid did not provide any rewards to honeybees. The flowers of a co-blooming plant,Pittosporum glabratum, with abundant nectars and pollens, attracted numerous honeybee visitations during this period. The flower color and size of P. glabratum were similar to that of the spot on the labellum of E. coronaria. Based on the behaviors of honeybees on the flowers of bothP. glabratum and E. coronaria, we speculated that the bright yellow spot on labellum of this orchid functions as an attractant to honeybees. Hand-pollination experiments showed that E. coronaria was self-compatible, but that reproductive success depended on pollinators. Under natural conditions, the rate of fruit set of E. coronaria was 20.72%, which is very close to the average fruit set of other food deceptive orchids (20.7%).

    Morphological variations in natural populations ofAmygdalus ledebouriana
    Zeng Bin, Luo Shuping, Li Jiang, Nie Wenkui, Zhang Feng, Li Hailong
    Biodiv Sci. 2008, 16 (5):  484-491.  doi:10.3724/SP.J.1003.2008.07338
    Abstract ( 3961 )   HTML ( 3 )   PDF (265KB) ( 3463 )   Save
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    In order to investigate patterns of phenotypic trait variation in natural populations of Amygdalus ledebouriana, we measured eight morphological traits in five A. ledebouriana populations in Xinjiang. Rich phenotypic variation existed both among and within populations, and variation was greater within populations than among populations. Our UPGMA cluster analysis indicated that the five populations formed three distinct groups. We detected no relationship between geographic distance and Euclidean distance. Principal component analysis showed that shoot length/shoot width, leaf length/leaf width, mass per 1,000 seeds, seed length/seed width, and corolla diameter were the most important phenotypic traits that accounted for the morphological variation of A. ledebouriana.

    Genetic diversity and phylogenetic relationship of rabbit breeds based on microsatellite DNA markers
    Sun Hongmei, Xing Xiumei, Rong Min, Cong Bo
    Biodiv Sci. 2008, 16 (5):  492-497.  doi:10.3724/SP.J.1003.2008.08051
    Abstract ( 4030 )   HTML ( 3 )   PDF (275KB) ( 3439 )   Save
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    Genetic diversity of 22 rabbit breeds were investigated using 10 microsatellite DNA markers. The results showed that the average number of effective alleles ranged from 3.0 to 4.6, and the polymorphism information content (PIC) ranged from 0.4997 to 0.7009, showing highly polymorphic. The lowest genetic distance (0.0087) was observed between American rex rabbit and Germany rex rabbit, while the highest genetic distance (1.2712) was observed between Germany white rabbit and Changm. UPGMA cluster analysis based on genetic distance showed that the 22 breeds could be divided into three groups. The first group contained Jirong-Ⅰand Jirong-Ⅱ rabbit, Saibei rabbit and Habai rabbit comprised a second group, and the other populations in the third group. The results may provide theoretical basis for conservation and exploitation of rabbit breeds in China.

    PCR-RFLP analysis of large subunit rDNA of symbiotic dinoflagellates in scleractinian corals from Luhuitou fringing reef of Sanya, Hainan
    Dong Zhijun, Huang Hui, Huang Liangmin, Li Yuanchao, Li Xiubao
    Biodiv Sci. 2008, 16 (5):  498-502.  doi:10.3724/SP.J.1003.2008.08074
    Abstract ( 4027 )   HTML ( 4 )   PDF (384KB) ( 4010 )   Save
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    The taxonomy of symbiotic dinoflagellates in scleractinian corals is important in understanding how coral reefs will respond to global climate change. We investigated the composition of the dinoflagellate genus Symbiodinium in 22 species of scleractinian corals from 14 genera and eight families in Luhuitou fringing reef of Sanya, using polymerase chain reaction (PCR) of the large subunit rDNA and restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP). The results showed that the dinoflagellate genus Symbiodinium clade C was dominant in the study area. Pocillopora damicornis and Favia favusharbor Symbiodinium Clade D, while Galaxea fascicularis and Acropora horrida can harbor more than one type of symbiont (Symbiodinium Clade C and D). Polymorphic symbiosis suggested that the flexibility of the symbiosis between corals and Symbiodinium. The large subunit rDNA polymorphisms of symbiotic dinoflagellates was lower. Further study is needed to investigate zooxanthellae diversity using other molecular markers.

    Research Bulletins
    Genetic diversity of the Xuefeng black bone chicken based on microsatellite markers
    Wei Lin, Liu Shenggui, Shi Xianwei
    Biodiv Sci. 2008, 16 (5):  503-508.  doi:10.3724/SP.J.1003.2008.07320
    Abstract ( 4024 )   HTML ( 3 )   PDF (291KB) ( 3264 )   Save
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    We studied polymorphisms of 23 microsatellite loci from 23 chromosomes in an indigenous breed of Xuefeng black bone chicken from Hunan in order to elucidate its genetic diversity and structure and to propose reasonable measures for its conservation and utilization. Seventy-nine alleles were identified in 50 individuals and the mean number of alleles was 3.435 per locus. Average heterozygosity and polymorphic information content of 23 microsatellite loci were 0.6285 and 0.5496, respectively. These results indicate that this breed of Xuefeng black bone chicken has a high level of genetic diversity and may provide a scientific basis for future conservation and utilization of the Xuefeng black bone chicken.

    Fruiting characteristics and seed germination capacity of Abies fargesiiin Shennongjia Nature Reserve
    Zou Li, Li Qingmei, Xie Zongqiang
    Biodiv Sci. 2008, 16 (5):  509-515.  doi:10.3724/SP.J.1003.2008.07361
    Abstract ( 3708 )   HTML ( 2 )   PDF (279KB) ( 3483 )   Save
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    We investigated cone traits of Abies fargesii including length, width, fresh weight, seed numbers per cone, and seed traits including length, width, thickness, seed mass and seed germination capacity. The results showed that the average length and width of the cone were 5.37 ± 0.75 cm and 3.01 ± 0.32 cm, respectively, and its fresh weight was 18.93 ± 6.06 g, the seed number per cone was 59-567. The length, width and thickness of seeds were 1.08-8.68 mm, 1.16-6.42 mm and 0.66-3.48 mm, respectively, and the thousand-seed mass was 7.30 g. One-way ANOVA revealed that fruiting characteristics were significantly different both within and between populations. The distribution pattern of frequency of seed numbers per cone differed in different populations. The seed germination rate, seed germination energy and seed germination speed were different among mother trees. The proportion of empty seeds was high, accounting for 75.79% of the total amount due to seed abortion.

    Analysis and countermeasure on proposals for aquatic species in CITES
    Fan Xiangguo, Zhou Yujing, Liu Baoxiang, Feng Gengfei, Fan Enyuan
    Biodiv Sci. 2008, 16 (5):  516-524.  doi:10.3724/SP.J.1003.2008.08064
    Abstract ( 3797 )   HTML ( 4 )   PDF (236KB) ( 4381 )   Save
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    Environmental research, including the study of climate change, biodiversity, and biological resources are paying increasing attention to aquatic organisms. Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) is therefore increasingly emphasizing the management of aquatic species. Since the 9th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to CITES, aquatic species have occupied an important position in the discussion of species listing, and relevant trade management system has been completed and improved. As a party of CITES and a major consumer of aquatic species, China has been greatly influenced by these actions. By reviewing recent progress of CITES related to aquatic species in light of discussions from 14th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to CITES, we summarize the hot topics in aquatic species management, and discuss the trends in their development as well as their impact on Chinese fisheries. We find that the aquatic management scope of CITES is expanding, and that management measures are continuously improving. If CITES continues to include more commercially-exploited aquatic species under its protection, this trend will strongly affect Chinese fisheries management. We conclude that intensive research on usage and management of aquatic biotic resources should be encouraged in order to provide data for conservation, sustainable management, and CITES negotiations.

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