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:2/4/2016)... 2016 The field of Human Microbiome ... most popular hubs of the biotechnology industry. While ... studies of human microbiota, have garnered a lot ... microbiome space has literally exploded in terms of ... report focuses on biomedical aspects of research, development, ...
(Date:2/3/2016)... India , February 3, 2016 ... the new market research report "Automated Fingerprint Identification System ... Search, Latent Search), Application (Banking & Finance, Government, Healthcare, ... published by MarketsandMarkets, the market is expected to be ... CAGR of 21.0% between 2015 and 2020. The transformation ...
(Date:2/3/2016)... http://www.researchandmarkets.com/research/d8zjcd/emotion_detection ) ... "Emotion Detection and Recognition Market by Technology ... Tools (Facial Expression, Voice Recognition and Others), ... Global forecast to 2020" report to ... ) has announced the addition of the ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:2/11/2016)... ... 11, 2016 , ... Global Stem Cells Group, ... Global Stem Cells Network (GSCN) to distribute exosome injection and other biological products ... Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Colombia, Argentina, Nicaragua, Panama, El Salvador, Venezuela, Peru, Ecuador, ...
(Date:2/10/2016)... NX Prenatal Inc., a US based ... for early warning of adverse pregnancy outcomes, announced ... by Dr. Thomas McElrath of Brigham ... Medicine,s (SMFM) annual meeting held in ... The presentation reported initial positive top-line results regarding ...
(Date:2/10/2016)... 2016  Matchbook, Inc., a company specializing in ... companies, announced today the appointment of Jim ... brings nearly 25 years of experience in supply ... nearly two decades in executive level roles as ... Genzyme and, most recently headed global logistics and ...
(Date:2/10/2016)... (PRWEB) , ... February 10, 2016 , ... ... Testing (PROMPT), a research registry built on the secure online PatientCrossroads platform, has ... More than 1,600 participants have joined the PROMPT study, which seeks to advance ...
Breaking Biology Technology: