Navigation Links
Natural 'keystone molecules' punch over their weight in ecosystems
Date:5/15/2013

Naturally occurring "keystone" molecules that have powerful behavioral effects on diverse organisms often play large but unrecognized roles in structuring ecosystems, according to a theory proposed in the June issue of BioScience. The authors of the theory, Ryan P. Ferrer of Seattle Pacific University and Richard K. Zimmer of the University of California at Los Angeles, liken such molecules to keystone species, animals or plants that may be uncommon but exert a controlling influence, through predation or in other ways. Keystone molecules function in chemical communication and defense, and likewise have dominant consequences in nature.

Ferrer and Zimmer give four examples of keystone molecules. DMSP is a simple chemical, synthesized by single-celled marine organisms, that has powerful effects on bacteria, and through its breakdown products, on the foraging of seabirds. Saxitoxin is a potent poison, also produced by marine microbes, that repels some grazing animals but can cause massive die-offs of fishes, seabirds, and marine mammals. Tetrodotoxin is another toxic keystone molecule, but produced in the skin of newts. It prompts newt larvae to hide to avoid being cannibalized and also deters some predators. Garter snakes that feed on newts, however, can accumulate the toxin in their own tissues, which in turn provides them with predator protection. Pyrrolizidine akaloids, which are synthesized by many plants, repel most plant-eaters, but are consumed by some moths, which recycle the alkaloids and convert them into a powerful volatile pheromone that attracts mates.

Because of their multifunctional effects and importance in the sea, in fresh water, and on land, keystone molecules deserve special attention from managers seeking to conserve species, Ferrer and Zimmer argue. The loss of a species that produces or captures a keystone molecule in an area could have far-reaching effects, as could the arrival of a non-native species that disrupts flows of the molecules. Future research, Ferrer and Zimmer suggest, is likely to reveal more keystone molecules and unseen webs of natural control.


'/>"/>

Contact: Tim Beardsley
tbeardsley@aibs.org
703-674-2500 x326
American Institute of Biological Sciences
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. 3D simulation shows how form of complex organs evolves by natural selection
2. University of Southern California scientists reveal natural process that blocks viruses
3. North Carolina Natural Heritage Program earns 2013 Award for Science and Technical Achievement
4. Methane emissions from natural gas local distribution focus of new study
5. New emissions standards would fuel shift from coal to natural gas
6. Men may have natural aversion to adultery with friends wives
7. The natural ecosystems in the Colombian Orinoco Basin are in danger
8. Walking in the footsteps of 19th and 20th century naturalists
9. Newly identified natural protein blocks HIV, other deadly viruses
10. Nitrogen from pollution, natural sources causes growth of toxic algae, study finds
11. Recreating natural complex gene regulation
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:2/11/2016)... , Feb. 11, 2016  According to new research ... mainstream. More than 200 fingerprint, iris, and eye-vein ... under 70 brand names. This includes market leaders ... ZTE. Acuity projects that 600 million biometric smartphones ... global installed base. Maxine Most , ...
(Date:2/11/2016)...  Vigilant Solutions announces today that its license plate recognition ... Lee,s Summit Police Department to improve ... of a homicide suspect. Kansas City ... square miles and is home to roughly 100,000 residents. ... mobile license plate reader system and also leverages Vigilant,s network ...
(Date:2/10/2016)... India , February 10, 2016 /PRNewswire/ ... --> According to 2016 iris recognition ... identification iris recognition is more widely accepted ... available with both fingerprint and iris recognition ... the user to avoid purchasing two individual ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:2/12/2016)... ... , ... Global Stem Cells Group has announced an inaugural conference ... Quito, Ecuador, Feb. 24-March 6, 2016. The new facility will provide advanced protocols and ... Stem Cells Group CEO Benito Novas will host the event, which will begin with ...
(Date:2/12/2016)... , Feb. 12, 2016 Biocom, the association representing ... took a group of San Diego ... of its 2016 Precision Medicine Advocacy Fly-In. Biocom Fly-In participants ... and Drug Administration (FDA), the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid ... as San Diego U.S. Representatives Susan Davis and ...
(Date:2/12/2016)... ... February 12, 2016 , ... The Pittcon 2016 Exposition, which ... will include 848 exhibitors (count as of February 9) of which 119 are ... used by the scientific community in industrial, academic, and government labs. The Exposition ...
(Date:2/12/2016)... , Feb. 12, 2016  BD (Becton, Dickinson and ... technology company, today announced the launch of the BD ... and Technology (AGBT) Meeting. --> ... genomic research by providing cost effective NGS library preparation ... a high-throughput, fully integrated, next generation sequencing (NGS) library ...
Breaking Biology Technology: