234 research outputs found

    Assessing the conservation value of waterbodies: the example of the Loire floodplain (France)

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    In recent decades, two of the main management tools used to stem biodiversity erosion have been biodiversity monitoring and the conservation of natural areas. However, socio-economic pressure means that it is not usually possible to preserve the entire landscape, and so the rational prioritisation of sites has become a crucial issue. In this context, and because floodplains are one of the most threatened ecosystems, we propose a statistical strategy for evaluating conservation value, and used it to prioritise 46 waterbodies in the Loire floodplain (France). We began by determining a synthetic conservation index of fish communities (Q) for each waterbody. This synthetic index includes a conservation status index, an origin index, a rarity index and a richness index. We divided the waterbodies into 6 clusters with distinct structures of the basic indices. One of these clusters, with high Q median value, indicated that 4 waterbodies are important for fish biodiversity conservation. Conversely, two clusters with low Q median values included 11 waterbodies where restoration is called for. The results picked out high connectivity levels and low abundance of aquatic vegetation as the two main environmental characteristics of waterbodies with high conservation value. In addition, assessing the biodiversity and conservation value of territories using our multi-index approach plus an a posteriori hierarchical classification methodology reveals two major interests: (i) a possible geographical extension and (ii) a multi-taxa adaptation

    Scientists’ warning on affluence

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    For over half a century, worldwide growth in affluence has continuously increased resource use and pollutant emissions far more rapidly than these have been reduced through better technology. The affluent citizens of the world are responsible for most environmental impacts and are central to any future prospect of retreating to safer environmental conditions. We summarise the evidence and present possible solution approaches. Any transition towards sustainability can only be effective if far-reaching lifestyle changes complement technological advancements. However, existing societies, economies and cultures incite consumption expansion and the structural imperative for growth in competitive market economies inhibits necessary societal change

    Production of Infectious Genotype 1b Virus Particles in Cell Culture and Impairment by Replication Enhancing Mutations

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    With the advent of subgenomic hepatitis C virus (HCV) replicons, studies of the intracellular steps of the viral replication cycle became possible. These RNAs are capable of self-amplification in cultured human hepatoma cells, but save for the genotype 2a isolate JFH-1, efficient replication of these HCV RNAs requires replication enhancing mutations (REMs), previously also called cell culture adaptive mutations. These mutations cluster primarily in the central region of non-structural protein 5A (NS5A), but may also reside in the NS3 helicase domain or at a distinct position in NS4B. Most efficient replication has been achieved by combining REMs residing in NS3 with distinct REMs located in NS4B or NS5A. However, in spite of efficient replication of HCV genomes containing such mutations, they do not support production of infectious virus particles. By using the genotype 1b isolate Con1, in this study we show that REMs interfere with HCV assembly. Strongest impairment of virus formation was found with REMs located in the NS3 helicase (E1202G and T1280I) as well as NS5A (S2204R), whereas a highly adaptive REM in NS4B still allowed virus production although relative levels of core release were also reduced. We also show that cells transfected with the Con1 wild type genome or the genome containing the REM in NS4B release HCV particles that are infectious both in cell culture and in vivo. Our data provide an explanation for the in vitro and in vivo attenuation of cell culture adapted HCV genomes and may open new avenues for the development of fully competent culture systems covering the therapeutically most relevant HCV genotypes