The island of Polynesia offers the ‘wealth’ of a variety of life forms

The island of Polynesia provides the 'wealth' of living things

Researchers at UC Berkeley conducted the first major study of macrofungi on the Polynesian island of Moorea, with the discovery of 500 different specimens. These inkcap haloes were seen growing on the decaying tree. Found: Todd Osmundson

The islands of the South Pacific are hotspots for a wide variety of organisms, however, their peaks, hot and humid conditions, and distances limit the ability of scientists to write. the beautiful ways of life there.

In a new study published this week on Journal of Biogeography, researchers from the University of California, Berkeley, will provide the first detailed description of the amazing group of teenagers living in their home on the Polynesian island of Moorea. The collection contains more than 200 species of macrofungi – that is, fungi that make up known fruit bodies – which may be new to science.

“It’s like a treasure trove,” says research lead author Matteo Garbelotto, a corporate development specialist and doctor of environmental science, policy and management at UC Berkeley. “It is a country unknown to the evolutionary biology and biodiversity of the fungal kingdom, and it was one of the first attempts to publish basic knowledge about fungal diversity, not only for Korea, but for the United States. The whole country and much of Insular Oceania. “

As part of the Moorea Biocode Project, the research team spent months traveling around the island to explore different types of biocodes, after collecting a total of 553 samples. fungal features and DNA sequencing of 433 of them. Due to the small number of models that have been set up that compare well with other known materials, it may be included in the models. little Mo’orea is the latest.

By comparing the DNA sequences of these sports with those of other species around the world, the team was able to trace the origin of the fungal species on the remote island. Evidence suggests that most species, or their ancestors, were taken by the east wind from Australia or other South Pacific islands, although a small number were taken to Moorea by people from as far away as East Asia. Europe and South America.

“We’re very interested in the biodiversity of the island,” said former author Todd Osmundson, who ended up working as a postdoctoral researcher at UC Berkeley. “Mo’orea is an island in the middle of the ocean, a young volcanic island. It hasn’t touched any other piece of land.

The island of Polynesia provides the 'wealth' of living things

Researchers at UC Berkeley conducted the first major study of macrofungi on the Polynesian island of Moorea, with the discovery of 500 different specimens. This Mycena sp. The gourd was seen growing on the decaying tree. Found: Todd Osmundson

Understanding the diversity of sports on the island and how different species travel around the world to get to this far can be helpful during times of conflict. Science the effects of global travel and trade in biodiversity.

“The Moorea BioCode project is the first all-tax-survey of a hot island to include DNA certificates and other related information. It includes all organisms from the ocean and the habitat and with everything that is more important than bacteria, ”said George Roderick, William Muriece Hoskins Professor of environmental science, policy and management at UC Berkeley. “Since then, data has proved invaluable in looking at the effects of climate change on Moorea but on other islands in the Pacific.”

‘Every day we have another problem’

The Moorea Biocode Project, led by Neil Davies, director of UC Berkeley’s Gump South Pacific Research Station, ran from 2007 to 2010. One of the main motivations for the project was to work. a model ecosystem that can be used to answer the problem. questions about how ecosystems work.

“Fungi are important parts of ecosystems,” said Osmundson, who is a professor of biology at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse. “They act as a primary solvent, and in some cases pathogens break down the decomposition of organisms and restore the nutrients in ways that other organisms can. use. organism to modify other organisms. For example, some organisms attach to the roots of plants and exchange nutrients with them. “

To collect the specimens, the research team spent months in Moorea, starting before dawn each day to collect samples of the animals from all corners of the ecosystem, including soil, roots and leaves of plants, and air.

The island of Polynesia provides the 'wealth' of living things

Researchers at UC Berkeley conducted the first major study of macrofungi on the Polynesian island of Moorea, with the discovery of 500 different specimens. The bird’s nest was seen growing on the rotten tree. Found: Todd Osmundson

As the heat and humidity rose throughout the day, the outdoors became more and more popular with scientists and the rich fruit bodies of the grains they collected. Early in the morning, they take their samples to the lab and begin the process of documenting and culturing the samples they find, often waking up at night to finish their work. .

“The land on the island is very high, and when it becomes muddy, and most places are not maintained.” There are some cliffs that you can really explore on the ropes. I remember tying a rope with my hands resting on the cliff, trying to collect a halo that grows on a small piece where you can’t walk. “

Each specimen was printed and dried for storage at the University Herbarium and compared with the data of the observed species. As part of the biocode project, the research team also acquired the DNA sequences of a specific gene that can be used as an independent “barcode” to distinguish one species from another.

“In many ways, Moorea isn’t a clean island, and that’s what interests me the most,” Garbelotto said. “The island is very clean and there are also places that have been inhabited and changed a lot by people, starting with the arrival of the Polynesians 3,000 years ago and continuing to the present day. with the arrival of the French, English and Americans. The cleanest places, Moorea is more interesting to me because it reflects the nature of the world. “

The new authors of the paper are Sarah E. Bergemann of Middle Tennessee State University and Rikke Rasmussen, who worked on DNA sequencing as a volunteer at UC Berkeley.


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More information:
Todd W. Osmundson et al, Using statistical data to evaluate biogeographical significance, endemicity and factors associated with macrofungal diversity in the data – poor Pacific Ocean archipelago, Journal of Biogeography (2022). DOI: 10.1111 / jbi.14354

Presented by the University of California – Berkeley

Directions: The island of Polynesia provides the ‘value’ of biodiversity (2022, March 31) Retrieved 31 March 2022 from https://phys.org/news/2022-03-polynesian-island -yields-treasure-trove.html

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