Ants are among the most damaging invasive species in the world, and several types have been spread by human activity around the world. Learning more about these ants and their original natural habitats could help scientists understand more about their evolution as well as how to better control them.That was the goal of Harvard researcher Waring Trible, whose research took him to Southeast Asia, vowing to turn over maybe not every rock, but a bunch of them (along with other assorted debris), in what would become a somewhat lengthy quest to unravel the origin story of the clonal raider ant, an invasive species found in various parts of the world.The findings of Trible, a distinguished science fellow in the FAS Center for Systems Biology, and a colleague were recently published in the journal Biology Letters. It represents just one of a handful of cases where the native range of an invasive ant species has been identified.The analysis involved some genetic detective work that may help scientists better understand the biological factors that allow a species to become invasive. This can one day aid in finding natural biological control agents that could help limit the spread of invasive species.To make that kind of lab work possible, researchers first had to get out in the field and down in the dirt.“We wanted to find the closest evolutionary relatives of the species we study in the lab in order to place it at a more precise position on the tree of life,” said Trible, who runs a lab studying the genetics and evolution of ants. “If you can find an invasive species in its native population before humans took it out to the rest of the world, then you might be able to learn what kinds of features of their biology make them particularly likely to become invasive.”The investigative odyssey began with the team narrowing its geographic search. Trible worked with Sean McKenzie, the study’s other lead author, whom he met when they were graduate students in the lab of Daniel J.C. Kronauer, a professor at The Rockefeller University. Kronauer discovered an ant in India that was closely related to the invasive clonal raider ant but appeared to be a different species. The group then took an educated guess based on genetic data that the source population of the ant should be within a vicinity of about 1,240 miles.The search area included countries like Pakistan, India, and Nepal, but the scientists settled on Bangladesh because of its huge seaports, which are major shipping routes. This would explain how the blind and subterranean ant could have traveled the world, carried in the soil that sailors used for the ballast of ships. The choice was a gamble, however, because no one had documented the existence of the clonal raider ant in the country before.Part of that, the researchers postulated, may be owing to the fact that the underground lifestyle of the ants make them easy to miss. People wouldn’t know they existed unless they were looking for them, Trible said.The species is also queenless and reproduces clonally when embryos from worker ants grow and develop without fertilization. They are only 2 millimeters long, stocky, and are known for being eyeless and heavily armored. They are called raiders because they dig tunnels into the colonies of other ants and pillage their eggs, larvae, and cocooned larvae, called pupae, and feed on them.,Trible and McKenzie traveled to Bangladesh in October 2014. They coordinated with a German NGO to arrange reliable transport and other small but crucial details like hiring a local master’s student named Tawhid Hossain as their translator.“By the end of the second day, we had a small backpack full of money, a car, a guide and a driver, and we were on the road out toward Western Bangladesh where our contacts knew of a professor out there who could get us started with some places to look for these ants, because we didn’t really have a great idea of even where we could find the ants in the first place,” McKenzie said.Their mission was complicated by the fact that Bangladesh has little protected land, forest, or completely uninhabited areas where ants like this flourish. Most of the places the pair looked were private yards, construction sites, or small fields like those on university campuses — all of which necessitated flipping not only rocks but bricks and assorted debris from razed buildings.“From the road, we’d see what looked like a good place, so we would stop the car and our translator, Tawhid, would go find someone and ask them, ‘Who owns this? We have these researchers from America who are looking for ants. Would you mind if we could come look around?’” Trible said.While the translator would chat with the property owners over tea, Trible and McKenzie would dig for clonal raider ant colonies for an hour or so before moving to the next site.They had no luck the first few days and the locals thought they were up to something strange.“A lot of them thought we were eating the ants because they weren’t really sure why a couple of Americans would be crawling around in the dirt trying to find ants if they weren’t good for something,” McKenzie said.Then they caught their break, turning over a brick and spotting a single clonal raider ant. They pounced, collected it, and started digging. The giant hole turned up only five more ants, but the researchers were ecstatic.“It was a big relief to know that we wouldn’t come home empty-handed,” Trible said.Working 16-hour days, they found 16 colonies. Once, they even flipped a rock and found a colony of about 500 ants.They kept the ants in humid petri dishes. Tragedy almost struck midway through the trip when a quarter of the ants they found died because they left the dishes in the sun too long during a lunch break. That slip made the 24-hour trip home even more nerve-wracking. If none of the ants survived, the trip could be ruined since the researchers hadn’t conducted their sequencing experiments.“The interesting thing about studying genetics is that we can’t see DNA with our eyes, so when you collect things in the field you don’t know what you have until you get home,” Trible said.Back in the lab, they got to work mapping the ants’ genetic sequence to see if the Bangladesh population was the source population for this invasive species. They describe the work in the report published in June.Their analysis showed there were seven different lineages present. Two were identical to two of the four strains already known throughout the world. The other five had never been seen in the hundreds of colonies the researchers and collaborators had studied before. This was a telltale sign that they’d found the source populations. In population genetics, genetic diversity will always be greater in populations where a species originates than in populations where they have been introduced by humans.The scientists further cemented their finding using a statistical method to build the genealogy, or family tree, of the different strains to see how they are related. That molecular phylogenetic analysis showed that the five new strains share a recent common ancestor with the four invasive strains found around the world — an ancestor that lived in Bangladesh.“The two findings together are basically a smoking gun,” said Trible.In short, mystery solved.
Tag: 龙凤论坛信息网台州 Students react to Pinstripe Bowl
The announcement that Notre Dame accepted a bid for the New Era Pinstripe Bowl in New York’s Yankee Stadium thrilled Irish fans from the Big Apple but left others comparing the bowl to last year’s BCS National Championship at the Orange Bowl in Miami. “From what I understand, the Pinstripe Bowl is a relatively new thing,” junior Chris Tricarico said. “Obviously, you want the BCS National Championship, but I feel like it’s a pretty prestigious bowl game.” Sophomore Heather Fredrickson said she had made plans to visit New York before the bowl announcement was made Saturday. She said she was “stoked” to have the opportunity to go to the game. “Compared to last year, it’s not the same, but it’s a bowl game and I think it’s definitely where we are,” Fredrickson said. “Definitely colder, but it will also be a good experience.” Sophomore Brian Miller said the bowl’s lack of prominence factored into his decision to stay home in Chicago for the game. He said he would have considered going to the bowl “if it were a more important game.” “I don’t think it’s a humongous deal for Notre Dame,” Miller said. “Probably for other schools, but for a school with expectations like we have, it’s not as big of a deal.” Tricarico, a Long Island native, said he plans to go to the game because he can travel to Yankee Stadium in a little more than an hour. “It’s super easy,” he said. “It’s so close to me that I couldn’t just not go. Honestly, if it were anywhere else, I probably wouldn’t have gone, but now this is giving me an opportunity to see it firsthand.” Sophomore Jack Szigety said he looks forward to incorporating his hometown of Ridgewood, N. J., into his game day experience and welcoming his Notre Dame friends into a part of his life they have never seen before. “The Pinstripe Bowl has provided the opportunity for myself and others from the New York metropolitan area the chance to be at home and close enough to a Notre Dame game, which is something that the students from Chicago get all the time,” Szigety said. “Another great thing is that I have a lot of New York pride and I love the city and the area that I’m from, and the Pinstripe Bowl has given me a chance to both attend and watch a football game as well as entertain my friends who are from different areas who are going to come,” he said. “So I get to show a piece of me off to people who normally wouldn’t have the opportunity to see where I’m from.” The president of the Notre Dame Club of Long Island, John Pennacchio, said the presidents of all the Notre Dame clubs in his region, which includes the tri-state area of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, found out during a previously scheduled regional meeting that Notre Dame accepted the bid. He said they began making plans during the meeting. “We want to show we’re very supportive of Notre Dame out here,” Pennacchio said. “We have a big alumni base out here so we’re very excited, and we want to do as much as we can to welcome Irish fans from across the country to this national game. We want to show the rest of the country that New York is a big Irish supporter.” Andrew Wilson, president of the Notre Dame Club of New York City, said his club was “happy” to welcome Notre Dame back to Yankee Stadium four years after their 2010 matchup with Army. “The Notre Dame Club of New York is excited to be the host Club for the 2013 Pinstripe Bowl,” Wilson said. “New York City is an amazing place, especially, I think, during the holidays. “Even if the temperature is not traditional bowl weather, thousands of alumni and subway alumni in the New York City area are ready to hear the greatest of all university fight songs in the city soon.” Tricarico said Yankee Stadium would add a special significance to the game. “I’ve been a Yankee fan my whole life, so just being in the stadium is going to be an awesome experience,” he said. Sophomore James Elliott said the bowl would be a departure from what he normally sees at Yankee Sstadium. “I’m pretty glad it’s at Yankee Stadium,” Elliott said. “I’ve been there a lot, and it’s kind of cool because I’ve never been there for anything but baseball before.” Students can purchase one or two tickets for $50 each through their student ticket accounts until Wednesday, John Breeden, ticketing associate director in the Athletics Department, said. He said the Athletics Department would not organize a ticket lottery this year. “We feel we have enough supply this year to meet demand,” Breeden said. “This is not always the case. We’re confident we can meet any student demands as long as [their tickets] are ordered by Wednesday.” Contact Lesley Stevenson at [email protected]
Sign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York Following yet another round of threats against Jewish Community Centers across the country, President Donald Trump Tuesday called anti-Semitic attacks “horrible” and “painful” during a speech at the National Museum of African American History and Culture.The president’s remarks came about halfway through his speech following a tour of the museum, which opened last year, and in the context of the continued struggles of African Americans. Trump’s visit to the museum coincides with Black History Month. “This tour was a meaningful reminder of why we have to fight bigotry, intolerance and hatred in all of its very ugly forms,” Trump said. “The anti-Semitic threats targeting our Jewish community and community centers are horrible and are painful, and a very sad reminder of the work that still must be done to root out hate and prejudice and evil.” Trump’s comments came amid a fourth wave of bomb threats directed at Jewish Community Centers across 27 states and one in Canada, which began in January. Among those affected was the Barry & Florence Friedberg JCC in Oceanside, according to reports. The latest rush of threats came Monday, when 11 JCCs received bomb threats. Authorities have not found any of the threats to be credible, though that’s done little to alleviate concerns among Jewish leaders. Also troubling was the desecration of more than 100 headstones at a Jewish cemetery near St. Louis over the weekend. In response, a crowdfunding effort spearheaded by Muslim Americans to help restore the damaged tombstones has raised more than $50,000. “While we are relieved that all such threats have proven to be hoaxes and that not a single person was harmed, we are concerned about the anti-Semitism behind these threats, and the repetition of threats intended to interfere with day-to-day life,” David Posner of JCC Association of North America said in a statement. “Local JCCs serve not just the Jewish community, but the entire community. Participants from all different backgrounds come to their local JCCs for activities, Jewish cultural and religious programming, and opportunities to come together as a community.” Criticisms that he hasn’t done enough to address threats targeting the Jewish community have plagued Trump since the presidential campaign. Most recently, when a Jewish reporter asked at a press conference how the Trump administration was addressing such incidents, the president became defensive and appeared to misunderstand the question. “I’m the least anti-Semitic person you have ever seen in your entire life,” Trump said, despite the reporter never hurling such an accusation. “Let me tell you something—I hate the charge,” Trump said. “I find it repulsive.” He never said whether his administration had a plan to respond to anti-Semitic attacks. Prior to that, Trump’s administration was criticized for failing to mention the plight of Jews in a statement recognizing Holocaust Remembrance Day. Going back further, Trump’s presidential campaign was accused of giving a voice to far-right hate groups that openly celebrated his victory. On the day after Trump’s election win, a writer for a popular far-right website characterized the election as a “referendum on the international Jewish agenda” and referred to Trump as “our Glorious Leader,” according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. The campaign also put reporters—specifically Jewish journalists—on the receiving end of attacks. The Anti-Defamation League tracked 2.6 million tweets containing “frequently found anti-Semitic speech” and anti-Jewish attacks on 800 journalists on Twitter. Organizations that track hate crimes have reported a string of anti-Semitic attacks in the United States since the election, including the spray-painting of swastikas on buildings. On Long Island, Nassau Community College student Jasskirat Saini, who allegedly told police he felt slighted by the Jewish community, was arrested for vandalizing college property with swastika drawings. Other incidents, including a “Make America White Again” drawing on a sidewalk in Mineola, remain unsolved and thus the suspects’ motives are unclear. Jewish leaders welcomed Trump’s condemnation on Tuesday but said more work still needs to be done to address hate speech. “I am glad that Mr. Trump has denounced anti-Semitism and racism in general, but I believe that his bullying campaign style, his themes of a return to American greatness if not dominance, has given license to those who think their anger and bigotry are precisely what this country needs,” Rabbi Rafi Rank of Midway Jewish Center said in an email. “The president is clearly not an anti-Semite. But he does seem oblivious to a host of racial, religious, and ethnic sensitivities. This may be owing to his inexperience as a public servant. For example, his omission of Jews as victims from his statement on International Holocaust Remembrance Day just points to a cluelessness that is scary for a person who occupies the highest office in the nation. He speaks as if he still works within the private sector, and of course, he does not.” The Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect issued a strongly worded statement of its own. “The President’s sudden acknowledgement is a Band-Aid on the cancer of Antisemitism that has infected his own Administration,” said Steven Goldstein, the center’s executive director. “His statement today is a pathetic asterisk of condescension after weeks in which he and his staff have committed grotesque acts and omissions reflecting Antisemitism, yet day after day have refused to apologize and correct the record. Make no mistake: The Antisemitism coming out of this Administration is the worst we have ever seen from any Administration.” In response, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said the president has made it a goal to unite the country. “I saw that statement,” he said. “I wish that they had praised the president for his leadership in this area. Hopefully as time continues to go by they recognize his commitment to civil rights, to voting rights, to equality for all Americans.” The Anne Frank Center took issue with Spicer’s comment and recommended a three-point plan to address intolerance, beginning with Trump firing chief strategist Steve Bannon, former executive chairman of Breitbart News.In response to the cemetery desecration, leaders from the Selden Mosque issued an open letter condemning the incident, saying they stand in solidarity with the Jewish community. “The Muslims stand with our Jewish brothers against all forms of oppression, hate, bigotry, and religious atrocities and intolerance,” the letter said.