Publications by authors named "Maria Costantini"

81 Publications

Two Benthic Diatoms, and , Encapsulated in Alginate Beads, Influence the Reproductive Efficiency of by Modulating the Gene Expression.

Mar Drugs 2021 Apr 17;19(4). Epub 2021 Apr 17.

Department of Marine Biotechnology, Stazione Zoologica Anton Dohrn, Villa Comunale, 80121 Napoli, Italy.

Physiological effects of algal metabolites is a key step for the isolation of interesting bioactive compounds. Invertebrate grazers may be fed on live diatoms or dried, pelletized, and added to compound feeds. Any method may reveal some shortcomings, due to the leaking of wound-activated compounds in the water prior to ingestion. For this reason, encapsulation may represent an important step of bioassay-guided fractionation, because it may assure timely preservation of the active compounds. Here we test the effects of the inclusion in alginate (biocompatible and non-toxic delivery system) matrices to produce beads containing two benthic diatoms for sea urchin feeding. In particular, we compared the effects of a diatom whose influence on was known () and those of a diatom suspected to be harmful to marine invertebrates, because it is often present in blooms (). Dried and were offered for one month after encapsulation in alginate hydrogel beads and the larvae produced by sea urchins were checked for viability and malformations. The results indicated that , already known for its toxigenic effects on sea urchin larvae, fully conserved its activity after inclusion in alginate beads. On the whole, benthic diatoms affected the embryogenesis of , altering the expression of several genes involved in stress response, development, skeletogenesis and detoxification processes. Interactomic analysis suggested that both diatoms activated a similar stress response pathway, through the up-regulation of , , , and genes. This research also demonstrates that the inclusion in alginate beads may represent a feasible technique to isolate diatom-derived bioactive compounds.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/md19040230DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8074093PMC
April 2021

A Body of One's Own: From Self-Cutting to the Cuts of Separation in an Adolescent Suffering From Traumatic Early Abandonments.

J Am Psychoanal Assoc 2021 Feb;69(1):109-135

The treatment of adolescents suffering from early traumatic experiences inescapably involves the encounter with patients' concrete use of their bodies and actions. The clinical history of an adolescent girl reveals the relationship between traumatic transgenerational abandonments and self-cutting in the transference-countertransference relationship. Initially the patient's body and actions were the only way to communicate experiences that could not be conveyed in words and represented: the "skin for two" of the original psychosomatic envelope needed to be wounded, cut, broken concretely. The establishment of a boundary between internal and external, self and other, is the result of a complex process with roots in the quality of the encounter with the object. Gradually, in the encounter with the analyst, the young patient may construct a tenuous possibility of differentiation and begin to access the first outline of a representation of loss.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0003065121993231DOI Listing
February 2021

Biodegradable polymers: A real opportunity to solve marine plastic pollution?

J Hazard Mater 2021 Mar 26;416:125763. Epub 2021 Mar 26.

Institute for Polymers, Composites and Biomaterials, National Research Council of Italy, Via Campi Flegri, 34, 80078 Pozzuoli, NA, Italy.

Plastic is a ubiquitous material in our life, and its durability represents a great problem for the environment. Several studies reported the occurrence of plastic litter in different environmental compartments and, consequently, numerous efforts are currently focused on how improving its recycling process and produce environmentally friendly solutions. In recent years, biodegradable polymers/plastics (BPs) have been proposed to reduce environmental impacts in specific applications (e.g., when conventional plastics are difficult or expensive to remove from the environment). Their wide use in commercial products, especially in the packaging sector, is causing new pollution alarm. Research studies are ongoing to improve BPs manufacturing and characteristics, but few data are reported about their behavior and toxicity into the marine environment. This paper reviewed the current state of the art highlighting that, even though the degradation of BPs in simulated or real marine environments is quite investigated, only eleven papers reported their effects on marine organisms (e.g., behavioral and oxidative stress and potential cascading effects on marine ecosystems). Presently, the main benefits of BPs are linked to waste management (including collection and recycling of organic waste). Due to the existing knowledge gaps, BPs cannot be deemed yet as a solution to marine plastic pollution.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jhazmat.2021.125763DOI Listing
March 2021

A Metataxonomic Approach Reveals Diversified Bacterial Communities in Antarctic Sponges.

Mar Drugs 2021 Mar 22;19(3). Epub 2021 Mar 22.

Department of Marine Biotechnology, Stazione Zoologica Anton Dohrn, Villa Comunale, 80121 Napoli, Italy.

Marine sponges commonly host a repertoire of bacterial-associated organisms, which significantly contribute to their health and survival by producing several anti-predatory molecules. Many of these compounds are produced by sponge-associated bacteria and represent an incredible source of novel bioactive metabolites with biotechnological relevance. Although most investigations are focused on tropical and temperate species, to date, few studies have described the composition of microbiota hosted by Antarctic sponges and the secondary metabolites that they produce. The investigation was conducted on four sponges collected from two different sites in the framework of the XXXIV Italian National Antarctic Research Program (PNRA) in November-December 2018. Collected species were characterized as () , () and by morphological analysis of spicules and amplification of four molecular markers. Metataxonomic analysis of these four Antarctic sponges revealed a considerable abundance of Amplicon Sequence Variants (ASVs) belonging to the phyla Proteobacteria, Bacteroidetes, Actinobacteria and Verrucomicrobia. In particular, . () displayed several genera of great interest, such as , , , and . On the other hand, the sponges and () hosted bacteria belonging to the genera , and , whereas was the sole species showing some strains affiliated to the genus . Considering that most of the bacteria identified in the present study are known to produce valuable secondary metabolites, the four Antarctic sponges could be proposed as potential tools for the discovery of novel pharmacologically active compounds.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/md19030173DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8004616PMC
March 2021

Stable isotope ratios (δC and δN) and heavy metal levels in macroalgae, sediment, and benthos from the northern parts of Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman.

Mar Pollut Bull 2021 Feb 21;163:111909. Epub 2021 Jan 21.

Laboratory of Trophic Ecology, Department of Environmental Biology, Sapienza University of Rome, via dei Sardi 70, 00185 Rome, Italy.

In this investigation, δC and δN isotope ratios and heavy metal levels were assessed in macroalgae, sediment samples, and benthic species from northern parts of the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman. The highest δN values in algal samples (11±0.42), indicative of anthropogenic organic N inputs, were detected in the Sadaf region, whereas the lowest values (3.17 ± 0.12), indicative of anthropogenic inorganic inputs, were detected in the Parvaz region. In addition to sediment quality guidelines (SQGs), contamination factors (CF), enrichment factors (EF), contamination degree (CD), pollution load index (PLI), geo accumulation index (Igeo), and potential ecological risk index (RI) were employed to assess the anthropogenic influence on sediment quality and to describe the sensitivity of the biota to toxic heavy metals. The obtained results demonstrate that the analyzed elements (Mn, Cr, Ni, Pb, Zn, Cu, Co, and V) had no ecological risk in the sampling area.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.marpolbul.2020.111909DOI Listing
February 2021

Genome Mining and Synthetic Biology in Marine Natural Product Discovery.

Authors:
Maria Costantini

Mar Drugs 2020 12 3;18(12). Epub 2020 Dec 3.

Department of Marine Biotechnology, Stazione Zoologica Anton Dohrn, Villa Comunale, 80121 Napoli, Italy.

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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/md18120615DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7761693PMC
December 2020

Plant part and a steep environmental gradient predict plant microbial composition in a tropical watershed.

ISME J 2021 04 13;15(4):999-1009. Epub 2020 Nov 13.

Department of Botany, University of Hawai'i-Mānoa, 3190 Maile Way, Honolulu, HI, 96822, USA.

Plant microbiomes are shaped by forces working at different spatial scales. Environmental factors determine a pool of potential symbionts while host physiochemical factors influence how those microbes associate with distinct plant tissues. These scales are seldom considered simultaneously, despite their potential to interact. Here, we analyze epiphytic microbes from nine Hibiscus tiliaceus trees across a steep, but short, environmental gradient within a single Hawaiian watershed. At each location, we sampled eight microhabitats: leaves, petioles, axils, stems, roots, and litter from the plant, as well as surrounding air and soil. The composition of bacterial communities is better explained by microhabitat, while location better predicted compositional variance for fungi. Fungal community compositional dissimilarity increased more rapidly along the gradient than did bacterial composition. Additionally, the rates of fungal community compositional dissimilarity along the gradient differed among plant parts, and these differences influenced the distribution patterns and range size of individual taxa. Within plants, microbes were compositionally nested such that aboveground communities contained a subset of the diversity found belowground. Our findings indicate that both environmental context and microhabitat contribute to microbial compositional variance in our study, but that these contributions are influenced by the domain of microbe and the specific microhabitat in question, suggesting a complicated and potentially interacting dynamic.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41396-020-00826-5DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8115680PMC
April 2021

Nitrogen and metal pollution in the southern Caspian Sea: a multiple approach to bioassessment.

Environ Sci Pollut Res Int 2021 Feb 6;28(8):9898-9912. Epub 2020 Nov 6.

Department of Environmental Biology, Sapienza University of Rome, Via dei Sardi 70, 00185, Rome, Italy.

The Caspian Sea hosts areas of high ecological value as well as industrial, leisure, and agricultural activities that dump into the water body different kinds of pollutants. In this complex context, a proper description of the origin and potential sources of pollution is necessary to address management and mitigation actions aimed at preserving the quality of the water resource and the integrity of the ecosystems. Here, we aimed at detecting sources of both nitrogen inputs, by N stable isotope analysis of macroalgae, and metals in macroalgae and sediments in two highly anthropized coastal stretches at the Iranian side of the Caspian Sea. Sampling was done near the mouth of rivers and canals draining agricultural and urbanized areas. In the westernmost waters, facing a port city, low macroalgal δN signatures indicated industrial fertilizers as the principal source of pollution. By contrast, in the central coastal waters, facing touristic areas, the high macroalgal δN indicated N inputs from wastewaters. Here the lowest dissolved oxygen concentrations in waters were associated with excess dissolved inorganic nitrogen. Metal concentrations varied largely in the study areas and were lower in macroalgae than in sediments. Localized peaks of Pb and Zn in sediments were observed in the central coastal sites as probable byproducts of mining activity transported downstream. By contrast, Cr and Ni concentrations were high in all sampling sites, thus potentially representing hazardous elements for marine biota. Overall, macroalgal δN coupled with metal analysis in macroalgae and sediments was useful for identifying the main sources of pollution in these highly anthropized coastal areas. This double approach in comprehensive monitoring programs could thus effectively inform stakeholders on major environmental threats, allowing targeted management measures.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11356-020-11243-8DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7884576PMC
February 2021

Diatom-Derived Polyunsaturated Aldehydes Activate Similar Cell Death Genes in Two Different Systems: Sea Urchin Embryos and Human Cells.

Int J Mol Sci 2020 Jul 22;21(15). Epub 2020 Jul 22.

Department of Marine Biotechnology, Stazione Zoologica Anton Dohrn, 80121 Naples, Italy.

Programmed cell death, such as apoptosis and autophagy, are key processes that are activated early on during development, leading to remodelling in embryos and homeostasis in adult organisms. Genomic conservation of death factors has been largely investigated in the animal and plant kingdoms. In this study, we analysed, for the first time, the expression profile of 11 genes involved in apoptosis (extrinsic and intrinsic pathways) and autophagy in sea urchin embryos exposed to antiproliferative polyunsaturated aldehydes (PUAs), and we compared these results with those obtained on the human cell line A549 treated with the same molecules. We found that sea urchins and human cells activated, at the gene level, a similar cell death response to these compounds. Despite the evolutionary distance between sea urchins and humans, we observed that the activation of apoptotic and autophagic genes in response to cytotoxic compounds is a conserved process. These results give first insight on death mechanisms of death mechanisms, also providing additional information for the use of this marine organism as a useful in vitro model for the study of cell death signalling pathways activated in response to chemical compounds.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/ijms21155201DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7439121PMC
July 2020

Coupling feeding activity, growth rates and molecular data shows dietetic needs of Ciona robusta (Ascidiacea, Phlebobranchia) in automatic culture plants.

Sci Rep 2020 07 9;10(1):11295. Epub 2020 Jul 9.

Department of Marine Biotechnology, Stazione Zoologica Anton Dohrn, Villa Comunale, 80121, Naples, Italy.

The sea squirt Ciona robusta is a model organism characterized by a transparent body, exhibiting peculiar physiologic and evolutionary characters. In vitro fertilization and breeding of sea squirts is possible, in order to preserve consistent genetic pools. However, some aspects of its biology, as the feeding efficiency according to diet quantity and quality, are still scarcely known. Here we test the effects of three experimental diets on survival and growth, to detect physiological and molecular responses to various types of alimentary suspended particles and the effects of feed concentrations. We also aimed at determining rearing conditions able to limit handling operations, save artificial seawater and control water pollution. Molecular analyses of growth-related genes were performed to detect stressful effects due to feed quality and quantity. A strong effect of doses was highlighted, but water pollution may represent a major concern. A compound diet containing both live algae and non-live particles of a correct size is indispensable to assure development, low stress and high survival rates. Overall, our findings suggest protocols for an easier rearing of Ciona robusta in the laboratory, increasing the potentialities of these organisms as models for research.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41598-020-68031-0DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7347631PMC
July 2020

Ten-Year Research Update Review: Antiviral Activities from Marine Organisms.

Biomolecules 2020 07 7;10(7). Epub 2020 Jul 7.

Marine Biotechnology Department, Stazione Zoologica Anton Dohrn, CAP, 80121 Naples, Italy.

Oceans cover more than 70 percent of the surface of our planet and are characterized by huge taxonomic and chemical diversity of marine organisms. Several studies have shown that marine organisms produce a variety of compounds, derived from primary or secondary metabolism, which may have antiviral activities. In particular, certain marine metabolites are active towards a plethora of viruses. Multiple mechanisms of action have been found, as well as different targets. This review gives an overview of the marine-derived compounds discovered in the last 10 years. Even if marine organisms produce a wide variety of different compounds, there is only one compound available on the market, Ara-A, and only another one is in phase I clinical trials, named Griffithsin. The recent pandemic emergency caused by SARS-CoV-2, also known as COVID-19, highlights the need to further invest in this field, in order to shed light on marine compound potentiality and discover new drugs from the sea.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/biom10071007DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7407529PMC
July 2020

Multiple Roles of Diatom-Derived Oxylipins within Marine Environments and Their Potential Biotechnological Applications.

Mar Drugs 2020 Jun 30;18(7). Epub 2020 Jun 30.

Department of Marine Biotechnology, Stazione Zoologica Anton Dohrn, Villa Comunale, 80121 Napoli, Italy.

The chemical ecology of marine diatoms has been the subject of several studies in the last decades, due to the discovery of oxylipins with multiple simultaneous functions including roles in chemical defence (antipredator, allelopathic and antibacterial compounds) and/or cell-to-cell signalling. Diatoms represent a fundamental compartment of marine ecosystems because they contribute to about 45% of global primary production even if they represent only 1% of the Earth's photosynthetic biomass. The discovery that they produce several toxic metabolites deriving from the oxidation of polyunsaturated fatty acids, known as oxylipins, has changed our perspectives about secondary metabolites shaping plant-plant and plant-animal interactions in the oceans. More recently, their possible biotechnological potential has been evaluated, with promising results on their potential as anticancer compounds. Here, we focus on some recent findings in this field obtained in the last decade, investigating the role of diatom oxylipins in cell-to-cell communication and their negative impact on marine biota. Moreover, we also explore and discuss the possible biotechnological applications of diatom oxylipins.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/md18070342DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7401250PMC
June 2020

Genome Mining as New Challenge in Natural Products Discovery.

Mar Drugs 2020 Apr 9;18(4). Epub 2020 Apr 9.

Department of Marine Biotechnology, Stazione Zoologica Anton Dohrn, Villa Comunale, 80121 Napoli, Italy.

Drug discovery is based on bioactivity screening of natural sources, traditionally represented by bacteria fungi and plants. Bioactive natural products and their secondary metabolites have represented the main source for new therapeutic agents, used as drug leads for new antibiotics and anticancer agents. After the discovery of the first biosynthetic genes in the last decades, the researchers had in their hands the tool to understand the biosynthetic logic and genetic basis leading to the production of these compounds. Furthermore, in the genomic era, in which the number of available genomes is increasing, genome mining joined to synthetic biology are offering a significant help in drug discovery. In the present review we discuss the importance of genome mining and synthetic biology approaches to identify new natural products, also underlining considering the possible advantages and disadvantages of this technique. Moreover, we debate the associated techniques that can be applied following to genome mining for validation of data. Finally, we review on the literature describing all novel natural drugs isolated from bacteria, fungi, and other living organisms, not only from the marine environment, by a genome-mining approach, focusing on the literature available in the last ten years.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/md18040199DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7230286PMC
April 2020

Morphological and molecular responses of the sea urchin Paracentrotus lividus to highly contaminated marine sediments: The case study of Bagnoli-Coroglio brownfield (Mediterranean Sea).

Mar Environ Res 2020 Feb 17;154:104865. Epub 2019 Dec 17.

Department of Marine Biotechnology, Stazione Zoologica Anton Dohrn, Villa Comunale, 80121, Naples, Italy. Electronic address:

Marine sediments store complex mixtures of compounds, including heavy metals, organotins and a large array of other contaminants. Sediment quality monitoring, characterization and management are priorities, due to potential impacts of the above compounds on coastal waters and their biota, especially in cases of pollutants released during dredging activities. Harbours and marinas, as well as estuaries and bays, where limited exchanges of water occurr, the accumulation of toxic compounds poses major concerns for human and environmental health. Here we report the effects of highly contaminated sediments from the site of national interest Bagnoli-Coroglio (Tyrrhenian Sea, Western Mediterranean) on the sea urchin Paracentrotus lividus, considered a good model for ecotoxicological studies. Adult sea urchins were reared one month in aquaria in the presence of contaminated sediment that was experimentally subject to different patterns of re-suspension events (mimicking the effect of natural storms occurring in the field), crossed with O enrichment versus natural gas exchanges in the water. The development of embryos deriving from adult urchins exposed to such experimental conditions was followed until the pluteus stage, checking the power of contaminated sediment to induce morphological malformations and its eventual buffering by high oxygenation. Real-Time qPCR analysis revealed that the expression of several genes (among the fifty analyzed, involved in different functional processes) was targeted by contaminated sediments more than those exposed in oxygen-enriched condition. Our findings have biological and ecological relevance in terms of assessing the actual impact on local organisms of chronic environmental contamination by heavy metals and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons affecting the Bagnoli-Coroglio area, and of exploring enhanced sediment and water oxygenation as a promising tool to mitigate the effects of contamination in future environmental restoration actions.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.marenvres.2019.104865DOI Listing
February 2020

Combined Effects of Diatom-Derived Oxylipins on the Sea Urchin .

Int J Mol Sci 2020 Jan 22;21(3). Epub 2020 Jan 22.

Department of Marine Biotechnology, Stazione Zoologica Anton Dohrn, Villa Comunale, 80121 Napoli, Italy.

Oxylipins are diatom-derived secondary metabolites, deriving from the oxidation of polyunsatured fatty acids that are released from cell membranes after cell damage or senescence of these single-celled algae. Previous results revealed harmful toxic effects of polyunsaturated aldehydes (PUAs) and hydroxyacids (HEPEs) on sea urchin embryonic development by testing individual compounds and mixtures of the same chemical group. Here, we investigated the combined effects of these compounds on sea urchin development at the morphological and molecular level for the first time. Our results demonstrated that oxylipin mixtures had stronger effects on sea urchin embryos compared with individual compounds, confirming that PUAs induce malformations and HEPEs cause developmental delay. This harmful effect was also confirmed by molecular analysis. Twelve new genes, involved in stress response and embryonic developmental processes, were isolated from the sea urchin ; these genes were found to be functionally interconnected with 11 genes already identified as a stress response of embryos to single oxylipins. The expression levels of most of the analyzed genes targeted by oxylipin mixtures were involved in stress, skeletogenesis, development/differentiation, and detoxification processes. This work has important ecological implications, considering that PUAs and HEPEs represent the most abundant oxylipins in bloom-forming diatoms, opening new perspectives in understanding the molecular pathways activated by sea urchins exposed to diatom oxylipins.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/ijms21030719DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7036778PMC
January 2020

Lipoxygenase Pathways in Diatoms: Occurrence and Correlation with Grazer Toxicity in Four Benthic Species.

Mar Drugs 2020 Jan 19;18(1). Epub 2020 Jan 19.

Istituto di Chimica Biomolecolare, Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche, Via Campi Flegrei 34, 80078 Pozzuoli, Napoli, Italy.

Oxygenated derivatives of fatty acids, collectively called oxylipins, are a highly diverse family of lipoxygenase (LOX) products well described in planktonic diatoms. Here we report the first investigation of these molecules in four benthic diatoms, , , , and sp. isolated from the leaves of the seagrass from the Gulf of Naples. Analysis by hyphenated MS techniques revealed that , , and produce several polyunsaturated aldehydes (PUAs) and linear oxygenated fatty acids (LOFAs) related to the products of LOX pathways in planktonic species. sp. also produced other unidentified fatty acid derivatives that are not related to LOX metabolism. The levels and composition of oxylipins in the benthic species match their negative effects on the reproductive success in the sea urchin . In agreement with this correlation, the most toxic species revealed the same LOX pathways of and , two bloom-forming planktonic diatoms that affect copepod reproduction. Overall, our data highlight for the first time a major role of oxylipins, namely LOFAs, as info-chemicals for benthic diatoms, and open new perspectives in the study of the structuring of benthic communities.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/md18010066DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7024367PMC
January 2020

Species richness and vulnerability to disturbance propagation in real food webs.

Sci Rep 2019 12 18;9(1):19331. Epub 2019 Dec 18.

Department of Environmental Biology, Sapienza University of Rome, Via dei Sardi 70, 00185, Rome, Italy.

A central issue in ecology is understanding how complex and biodiverse food webs persist in the face of disturbance, and which structural properties affect disturbance propagation among species. However, our comprehension of assemblage mechanisms and disturbance propagation in food webs is limited by the multitude of stressors affecting ecosystems, impairing ecosystem management. By analysing directional food web components connecting species along food chains, we show that increasing species richness and constant feeding linkage density promote the establishment of predictable food web structures, in which the proportion of species co-present in one or more food chains is lower than what would be expected by chance. This reduces the intrinsic vulnerability of real food webs to disturbance propagation in comparison to random webs, and suggests that biodiversity conservation efforts should also increase the potential of ecological communities to buffer top-down and bottom-up disturbance in ecosystems. The food web patterns observed here have not been noticed before, and could also be explored in non-natural networks.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41598-019-55960-8DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6920442PMC
December 2019

Marine sediment toxicity: A focus on micro- and mesocosms towards remediation.

Sci Total Environ 2020 Mar 18;708:134837. Epub 2019 Nov 18.

Department of Marine Biotechnology, Stazione Zoologica Anton Dohrn, Villa Comunale, 80121 Napoli, Italy; Department of Biology, University of Naples Federico II, Complesso Universitario di Monte Sant'Angelo, Via Cinthia 21, 80126, Napoli, Italy.

Micro- and/or mesocosms are experimental tools bringing ecologically relevant components of the natural environment under controlled conditions closest to the real world, without losing the advantage of reliable reference conditions and replications, providing a link between laboratory studies and filed studies in natural environments. Here, for the first time, a formal comparison of different types of mesocosm applied to the study of marine contaminants is offered, considering that pollution of coastal areas represented a major concern in the last decades because of the abundance of discharged toxic substances. In particular, the structural characteristics of micro- and mesocosms (m-cosms) used to study marine contaminated sediments were reviewed, focusing on their advantages/disadvantages. Their potentiality to investigate sediment remediation have been discussed, offering new perspective on how the use of m-cosms can be useful for the development of practical application in the development of solutions for contaminated sediment management in the contaminated marine environment.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2019.134837DOI Listing
March 2020

Growth and toxicity of (Cyanoprokaryota, Cyanophyta) at different conditions of light, salinity and temperature.

Biol Open 2019 Oct 24;8(10). Epub 2019 Oct 24.

Marine Biotechnology Department, Stazione Zoologica Anton Dohrn, Villa Comunale, 80121, Napoli, Italy

Cyanobacteria may live in the water column and in the benthos of aquatic environments, or be symbionts of other organisms, as in the case of -like cyanobacteria, known to influence the ecology of freshwater and marine ecosystems. A strain of -like cyanobacteria has been recently isolated as a free-living epiphyte of leaves of (L.) Delile in the Mediterranean sea and its biology and ecology are herein investigated. It was identified as , previously known uniquely as a symbiont of marine sponges. We cultivated it in a range of light irradiances, temperatures and salinities, to establish the most suitable conditions for the production of allelopathic and toxic compounds. The bioactivity of its spent culture medium was measured by means of standard toxicity tests performed on two model organisms. Our results indicate that at least two bioactive compounds are produced, at low and high irradiance levels and at two temperatures. The main compounds influencing the survival of model organisms are produced at the highest temperature and high or intermediate irradiance levels. The present research contributes to the understanding of critical toxigenic relationships among cyanobacteria and invertebrates, possibly influencing the ecology of such a complex environment as Future isolation, identification and production of bioactive compounds will permit their exploitation for biotechnologies in the field of ecological conservation and medical applications.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1242/bio.043604DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6826285PMC
October 2019

Ozone effects on blood biomarkers of systemic inflammation, oxidative stress, endothelial function, and thrombosis: The Multicenter Ozone Study in oldEr Subjects (MOSES).

PLoS One 2019 25;14(9):e0222601. Epub 2019 Sep 25.

Department of Medicine, University of Rochester Medical Center, Rochester, NY, United States of America.

The evidence that exposure to ozone air pollution causes acute cardiovascular effects is mixed. We postulated that exposure to ambient levels of ozone would increase blood markers of systemic inflammation, prothrombotic state, oxidative stress, and vascular dysfunction in healthy older subjects, and that absence of the glutathione S-transferase Mu 1 (GSTM1) gene would confer increased susceptibility. This double-blind, randomized, crossover study of 87 healthy volunteers 55-70 years of age was conducted at three sites using a common protocol. Subjects were exposed for 3 h in random order to 0 parts per billion (ppb) (filtered air), 70 ppb, and 120 ppb ozone, alternating 15 min of moderate exercise and rest. Blood was obtained the day before, approximately 4 h after, and approximately 22 h after each exposure. Linear mixed effect and logistic regression models evaluated the impact of exposure to ozone on pre-specified primary and secondary outcomes. The definition of statistical significance was p<0.01. There were no effects of ozone on the three primary markers of systemic inflammation and a prothrombotic state: C-reactive protein, monocyte-platelet conjugates, and microparticle-associated tissue factor activity. However, among the secondary endpoints, endothelin-1, a potent vasoconstrictor, increased from pre- to post-exposure with ozone concentration (120 vs 0 ppb: 0.07 pg/mL, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.01, 0.14; 70 vs 0 ppb: -0.03 pg/mL, CI -0.09, 0.04; p = 0.008). Nitrotyrosine, a marker of oxidative and nitrosative stress, decreased with increasing ozone concentrations, with marginal significance (120 vs 0 ppb: -41.5, CI -70.1, -12.8; 70 vs 0 ppb: -14.2, CI -42.7, 14.2; p = 0.017). GSTM1 status did not modify the effect of ozone exposure on any of the outcomes. These findings from healthy older adults fail to identify any mechanistic basis for the epidemiologically described cardiovascular effects of exposure to ozone. The findings, however, may not be applicable to adults with cardiovascular disease.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0222601PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6760801PMC
March 2020

Antarctic food web architecture under varying dynamics of sea ice cover.

Sci Rep 2019 08 28;9(1):12454. Epub 2019 Aug 28.

CoNISMa-Consorzio Nazionale Interuniversitario per le Scienze del Mare, Piazzale Flaminio 9, Rome, Italy.

In the Ross Sea, biodiversity organisation is strongly influenced by sea-ice cover, which is characterised by marked spatio-temporal variations. Expected changes in seasonal sea-ice dynamics will be reflected in food web architecture, providing a unique opportunity to study effects of climate change. Based on individual stable isotope analyses and the high taxonomic resolution of sampled specimens, we described benthic food webs in contrasting conditions of seasonal sea-ice persistence (early vs. late sea-ice break up) in medium-depth waters in Terra Nova Bay (Ross Sea). The architecture of biodiversity was reshaped by the pulsed input of sympagic food sources following sea-ice break up, with food web simplification, decreased intraguild predation, potential disturbance propagation and increased vulnerability to biodiversity loss. Following our approach, it was possible to describe in unprecedented detail the complex structure of biodiverse communities, emphasising the role of sympagic inputs, regulated by sea-ice dynamics, in structuring Antarctic medium-depth benthic food webs.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41598-019-48245-7DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6713710PMC
August 2019

Noxious effects of the benthic diatoms Cocconeis scutellum and Diploneis sp. on sea urchin development: Morphological and de novo transcriptomic analysis.

Harmful Algae 2019 06 25;86:64-73. Epub 2019 May 25.

Department of Marine Biotechnology, Stazione Zoologica Anton Dohrn, Villa Comunale, 80121, Napoli, Italy. Electronic address:

Diatoms are often the dominating group of benthic microalgae living on different types of bottom substrates. Their effects on invertebrate consumers is not well-documented. We here investigate the effects of feeding on another two benthic diatoms, Cocconeis scutellum and Diploneis sp., isolated from leaves of the seagrass Posidonia oceanica, on the sea urchin Paracentrotus lividus. Our results indicate a noxious effect on sea urchin embryos spawned from adults fed on Diploneis sp., with an increasing number of malformed embryos with respect to those spawned from adults fed on Ulva rigida (used as a feeding control). In contrast C. scutellum did not induce any morphological effect on embryos, similar to control non-diatom diets. Moreover, de novo obtained transcriptome indicated that oxidation-reduction process, translation, proton and electron transmembrane transport, ATP/RNA/GTP/heme/calcium and metal ion binding, NADH dehydrogenase activity, cytochrome c oxidase were affected by feeding of sea urchins on Diploneis sp. Our findings have considerable ecological significance considering that diatom biomass ingested by the sea urchin in these experiments is within the range of cell densities characterizing P. oceanica leaves where sea urchins live and spawn.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.hal.2019.05.009DOI Listing
June 2019

First molecular evidence of the toxicogenetic effects of copper on sea urchin Paracentrotus lividus embryo development.

Water Res 2019 Sep 21;160:415-423. Epub 2019 May 21.

Institute for Environmental Protection and Research, ISPRA, Via del Cedro, 38, 57123, Livorno, Italy; Department of Integrative Marine Ecology, Stazione Zoologica Anton Dohrn, Villa Comunale, 80121, Napoli, Italy. Electronic address:

Bioassays with sea urchin embryos are widely used to define the environmental quality of marine waters. Anomalies during embryogenesis are generally considered as end-points, whereas a toxigenomic approach, despite it is wide use in other species, is yet in its infancy. In the present study we evaluated toxigenic effects induced by copper on the sea urchin Paracentrotus lividus embryo, combining morphological observations with gene expression analysis. Many anthropogenic activities release copper in the marine environment, with harmful effects on aquatic organisms. In the present study P. lidivus embryos were exposed to different concentrations of copper (24, 36, 48 μg/L) and the activation of fifty specific marker genes, involved in different biological processes (stress, skeletogenesis, development/differentiation, detoxification) was investigated at early blastula, late gastrula and pluteus stage. At blastula stage no morphological anomalies were found, with early down-regulation of genes involved in development/differentiation and a moderate up-regulation of some detoxification genes. At gastrula stage a slight increase in developmental anomalies (up to 19% of malformed embryos) was followed by an increased number of targeted genes belonging to the same two classes, relative to the blastula stage. At pluteus stage morphological anomalies increased in a dose dependent manner. All the analyzed genes were strongly up-regulated, stress and skeletogenic genes showing a "late response" and almost all genes were targeted by copper at all the concentrations tested. The present study represents the first molecular report on the potential negative effect of copper on P. lividus embryos in the environment. Gene expression analysis should be considered as a promising tool for future environmental biomonitoring programs.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.watres.2019.05.062DOI Listing
September 2019

Molecular and Morphological Toxicity of Diatom-Derived Hydroxyacid Mixtures to Sea Urchin Embryos.

Mar Drugs 2019 Mar 1;17(3). Epub 2019 Mar 1.

Department of Marine Biotechnology, Stazione Zoologica Anton Dohrn, Villa Comunale, 80121 Napoli, Italy.

Oxylipins such as polyunsaturated aldehydes (PUAs) and hydroxyacids (HEPEs) are signaling molecules derived from the oxidation of polyunsaturated fatty acids. They are common in diatoms that constitute a major group of microalgae in freshwater and oceanic ecosystems. Although HEPEs represent the most common oxylipins produced by diatoms, little information is available on their effects on marine invertebrates, and most of the information has been obtained by testing individual HEPEs. Our previous studies reported that four hydroxyacids, i.e., 5-, 9-, 11-, and 15-HEPE, were able to induce malformations and a marked developmental delay in sea urchin embryos, which had not been reported for other oxylipins. Here, we tested a mixture of 5-, 9-, 11-, and 15-HEPE at different concentrations for the first time. The results showed that mixtures of HEPEs have synergistic effects that are much more severe compared to those of individual HEPEs: The HEPE mixtures induced malformations in sea urchin embryos at lower concentrations. Increasing HEPE mixture concentrations induced a marked increase in the number of delayed embryos, until all embryos were delayed at the highest concentration tested. At the molecular level, the HEPE mixtures induced variations in the expression of 50 genes involved in different functional processes, mainly down-regulating these genes at the earliest stages of embryonic development. These findings are ecologically significant, considering that during diatom blooms, sea urchins could accumulate HEPEs in concentrations comparable to those tested in the present study.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/md17030144DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6470663PMC
March 2019

Distribution of Toxigenic Halomicronema spp. in Adjacent Environments on the Island of Ischia: Comparison of Strains from Thermal Waters and Free Living in Posidonia Oceanica Meadows.

Toxins (Basel) 2019 02 8;11(2). Epub 2019 Feb 8.

Department of Marine Biotechnology, Stazione Zoologica Anton Dohrn, 80121 Naples, Italy.

Organisms adaptable to extreme conditions share the ability to establish protective biofilms or secrete defence toxins. The extracellular substances that are secreted may contain monosaccharides and other toxic compounds, but environmental conditions influence biofilm characteristics. Microorganisms that are present in the same environment achieve similar compositions, regardless of their phylogenetic relationships. Alternatively, cyanobacteria phylogenetically related may live in different environments, but we ignore if their physiological answers may be similar. To test this hypothesis, two strains of cyanobacteria that were both ascribed to the genus Halomicronema were isolated. H. metazoicum was isolated in marine waters off the island of Ischia (Bay of Naples, Italy), free living on leaves of Posidonia oceanica. Halomicronema sp. was isolated in adjacent thermal waters. Thus, two congeneric species adapted to different environments but diffused in the same area were polyphasically characterized by microscopy, molecular, and toxicity analyses. A variable pattern of toxicity was exhibited, in accordance with the constraints imposed by the host environments. Cyanobacteria adapted to extreme environments of thermal waters face a few competitors and exhibit a low toxicity; in contrast, congeneric strains that have adapted to stable and complex environments as seagrass meadows compete with several organisms for space and resources, and they produce toxic compounds that are constitutively secreted in the surrounding waters.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/toxins11020099DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6409854PMC
February 2019

Toxicity of diatom-derived polyunsaturated aldehyde mixtures on sea urchin Paracentrotus lividus development.

Sci Rep 2019 01 24;9(1):517. Epub 2019 Jan 24.

Department of Marine Biotechnology, Stazione Zoologica Anton Dohrn, Villa Comunale, 80121, Napoli, Italy.

Diatom-derived polyunsaturated aldehydes (PUAs), decadienal, heptadienal and octadienal, derive from the oxidation of fatty acids and have cytotoxic and anticancer effects. PUAs, tested separately, induce malformations in sea urchin Paracentrotus lividus embryos. Decadienal induces the worst malformations and lowest survival rates. Interestingly, decadienal, heptadienal and octadienal place in motion several genes to counteract their negative effects. To date, no studies are available reporting on the effects of PUA mixtures on marine invertebrates. Here we test binary and ternary mixtures on embryonic development of P. lividus. Our findings demonstrate that mixtures of PUAs act (i) at morphological level in synergistic way, being much more severe compared to individual PUAs; (ii) at molecular level also reveal an additive effect, affecting almost all fifty genes, previously tested using individual PUAs. This study is relevant from an ecological point of view since diatoms are a major food source for both pelagic and benthic organisms. This work opens new perspectives for understanding the molecular mechanisms that marine organisms use in reacting to environmental natural toxin mixtures such as diatom PUAs.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41598-018-37546-yDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6345956PMC
January 2019

Horizontal and vertical food web structure drives trace element trophic transfer in Terra Nova Bay, Antarctica.

Environ Pollut 2019 Mar 26;246:772-781. Epub 2018 Dec 26.

Department of Earth and Marine Sciences, University of Palermo, Via Archirafi 18, 90123, Palermo, Italy; CoNISMa, Consorzio Nazionale Interuniversitario per le Scienze del Mare, Piazzale Flaminio 9, 00196, Rome, Italy.

Despite a vast amount of literature has focused on trace element (TE) contamination in Antarctica during the last decades, the assessment of the main pathways driving TE transfer to the biota is still an overlooked issue. This limits the ability to predict how variations in sea-ice dynamics and productivity due to climate change will affect TE allocation in the food web. Here, food web structure of Tethys Bay (Terra Nova Bay, Ross Sea, Antarctica) was first characterised by analysing carbon and nitrogen stable isotopes (δC, δN) in organic matter sources (sediment and planktonic, benthic and sympagic primary producers) and consumers (zooplankton, benthic invertebrates, fish and birds). Diet and trophic position were also characterised using Bayesian mixing models. Then, relationships between stable isotopes, diet and TEs (Cd, Cr, Co, Cu, Hg, Ni, Pb and V) were assessed in order to evaluate if and how horizontal (organic matter pathways) and vertical (trophic position) food web features influence TE transfer to the biota. Regressions between log[TE] and δC revealed that the sympagic pathway drives accumulation of V in primary consumers and Cd and Hg in secondary consumers, and that a coupled benthic/pelagic pathway drives Pb transfer to all consumers. Regressions between log[TE] and δN showed that only Hg biomagnifies across trophic levels, while all the others TEs showed a biodilution pattern, consistent with patterns observed in temperate food webs. Although the Cd behavior needs further investigations, the present findings provide new insights about the role of basal sources in the transfer of TEs in polar systems. This is especially important nowadays in light of the forecasted trophic changes potentially resulting from climate change-induced modification of sea-ice dynamics.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.envpol.2018.12.071DOI Listing
March 2019

UPLC⁻MS/MS Identification of Sterol Sulfates in Marine Diatoms.

Mar Drugs 2018 Dec 24;17(1). Epub 2018 Dec 24.

Bio-Organic Chemistry Unit, Institute of Biomolecular Chemistry CNR, Via Campi Flegrei 34, Pozzuoli, 80078 Naples, Italy.

Diatoms are unicellular eukaryotic organisms that play a key ecological and biogeochemical role in oceans as major primary producers. Recently, these microalgae have also attracted interest as a promising source of functional products with widespread relevance. Progress in the knowledge of cell and molecular biology of diatoms is envisaged as a key step to understanding regulation of their life cycle in marine environments as well as facilitating their full and profitable exploitation by biotechnological platforms. Recently, we identified sterol sulfates (StS) as regulatory molecules of cell death in the diatom . As these compounds may have a general role in diatom physiology and chemical signals in aquatic systems, we investigated a suitable tool for their analysis in laboratory and field samples. Herein, we describe a sensitive, fast, and efficient ultra performance liquid chromatography⁻mass spectrometry (UPLC⁻MS) method for qualitative and quantitative analysis of StS from crude extract of diatoms and other microalgae. The method was applied to 13 different strains of our collection of marine protists. This first study suggested a species-specific distribution of StS and identified the sulfated derivatives of 24-methylene cholesterol and 24-methyl cholesterol as the most common members in diatoms.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/md17010010DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6356472PMC
December 2018

First evidence of Halomicronema metazoicum (Cyanobacteria) free-living on Posidonia oceanica leaves.

PLoS One 2018 1;13(10):e0204954. Epub 2018 Oct 1.

Center of Villa Dohrn Ischia-Benthic Ecology, Department of Integrative Marine Ecology, Stazione Zoologica Anton Dohrn, P.ta S. Pietro, Ischia, Naples, Italy.

Cyanobacteria contribute to the ecology of various marine environments, also for their symbioses, since some of them are common hosts of sponges and ascidians. They are also emerging as an important source of novel bioactive secondary metabolites in pharmacological (as anticancer drugs) and biotechnological applications. In the present work we isolated a cyanobacteria in a free-living state from leaves of the seagrass Posidonia oceanica leaves. This newly collected strain was then cultivated under two laboratory conditions, and then characterized by combining morphological observation and molecular studies based on 16S rRNA gene sequences analysis. The strain showed 99% pairwise sequence identity with Halomicronema metazoicum ITAC101, never isolated before as a free-living organisms, but firstly described as an endosymbiont of the Mediterranean marine spongae Petrosia ficiformis, under the form of a filamentous strain. Further studies will investigate the actual role of this cyanobacterium in the leaf stratum of P. oceanica leaves, given its demonstrated ability to influence the vitality and the life cycle of other organisms. In fact, its newly demonstrated free-living stage, described in this study, indicate that Phormidium-like cyanobacteria could play important roles in the ecology of benthic and planktonic communities.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0204954PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6166977PMC
March 2019

Biotechnological Applications of Bioactive Peptides From Marine Sources.

Adv Microb Physiol 2018 20;73:171-220. Epub 2018 Jun 20.

Institute of Biosciences and BioResources (IBBR), CNR, Napoli, Italy; Department of Biology and Evolution of Marine Organisms, Stazione Zoologica Anton Dohrn, Napoli, Italy; Dipartimento di Biologia, Università Roma 3, Roma, Italy. Electronic address:

This review is an overview on marine bioactive peptides with promising activities for the development of alternative drugs to fight human pathologies. In particular, we focus on potentially prolific producers of peptides in microorganisms, including sponge-associated bacteria and marine photoautotrophs such as microalgae and cyanobacteria. Microorganisms are still poorly explored for drug discovery, even if they are highly metabolically plastic and potentially amenable to culturing. This offers the possibility of obtaining a continuous source of bioactive compounds to satisfy the challenging demands of pharmaceutical industries. This review targets peptides because of the variety of potent biological activities demonstrated by these molecules, including antiviral, antimicrobial, antifungal, antioxidant, anticoagulant, antihypertensive, anticancer, antidiabetic, antiobesity, and calcium-binding bioactivities. Several of these peptides have already gained recognition as effective drug agents in recent years. We also focus on cutting-edge omic approaches for the discovery of novel compounds for pharmacological applications. With rapid depletion of natural resources, omic technologies may be the solution to efficiently produce a vast variety of novel peptides with unique pharmacological potential.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/bs.ampbs.2018.05.002DOI Listing
August 2019