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Newsletter - Annals of the Brazilian Academy of Sciences


AABC - Volume 91 (Suppl. 3) 2019



With great pleasure I introduce the volume Biodiversity: Brazil-France Bilateral Symposium edited by Dr. Adalberto Luis Val (Instituto de Pesquisas da Amazônia - INPA/MCTIC) and Dr. Vivaldo de Moura Neto (UFRJ). There are 21 fine contributions that resulted from a very important meeting on this topic that took place in Manaus in 2018. Entitled Brazil/France Bilateral Symposium on Biodiversity, this seminar gathered researchers, mainly from Brazil and France. The editors took a multi and interdisciplinary approach, with papers focusing on Chemical, Biological, Health and Biomedical Sciences. I am absolutely sure that this volume will be of great interest for all scientists working with biodiversity on a broader scale, as well as for others that would like to have an update on the current status of several issues concerning this important subject.

Please keep notice that previous editions of the Newsletter are available at the ABC website. All abstracts of the newsletters have been provided by the authors. Since 2000, all papers published by the AABC can be downloaded free of charge at the SciELO site.

We are now inviting you to scroll through the text and click on the title of the article that interests you!

Alexander W. A. Kellner








1- What is hidden in the biodiversity? The role of natural products and medicinal chemistry in the drug discovery process
Author:  Eliezer J. Barreiro

The manuscript describes the role of natural products in the process of drug discovery. In fact, several different natural compounds have been used as inspiration to develop new drugs, with some examples being presented in chronological order.

 Read here


2- Natural Products: Perspectives and Challenges for use of  Brazilian Plant Species in the Bioeconomy
Authors:  Marilia Valli and Vanderlan S. Bolzani

The development of our society has been based on the use of biodiversity, especially for medicines, beauty and nutrition. Brazil is the nation with one of the largest biodiversity in the world, with a rich chemical diversity, which is a potential source for bioeconomy based on natural products. Considering the chemical and biological diversity of the Brazilian territory, we would like to highlight the value of secondarymetabolites from Brazilian biodiversity with potential application for new products and technologies and the importance of new technologies and scientific programs to support the sustainable use of biodiversity, and bioeconomy.

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3- Biodiversity: the chasm between what we know and we need to know
Author:  William E. Magnusson

In this review I focus on what we need to know to make decisions relevant to land-use planning. I discuss four questions: What information about the distribution of biodiversity is available to decision makers? What sort of information is required at a local scale? Can we use species-distribution modeling to compensate for the lack of empirical information at larger scales? Can we use surrogates based on remote sensing for all our decisions?

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4- Fishes of the Amazon: diversity and beyond
Author:  Adalberto Luis Val

The Amazon basin houses a particular group of freshwater organisms, whose study tells the geological history of the region, how biological diversity was shaped, how it is maintained, and what it hides. The fish of the Amazon, represented by more than 3,000 known species, hides a diversity of adaptations that are dispersed at all levels of the biological organization. Adaptations to changes in dissolved oxygen and the abilities of the Rio Negro fish to face acidic and ion-poor waters of their habitats are presented. Also, the vulnerability of Amazonian fish to ongoing climate changes is discussed.

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5- The role of natural products in modern drug discovery
Author:  João B. Calixto

The global medicine market is about 1.1 trillion US dollars. About 35% of medicines have originated from natural products. Brazil presents the largest biodiversity in the world but few innovative products have been developed in Brazil from active constituents derived from the Brazilian biodiversity. Several issues contribute to the lack of innovative products from the Brazilian biodiversity, but in my opinion, the most challenging ones are the lack of specific regulations to allow access biodiversity for the purposes of scientific and technological innovation; and ii) the absence of a long-term government program to support research and innovation in this field.

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6- The insect reservoir of biodiversity for viruses and for antiviral mechanisms
Authors: Roenick P. Olmo, Nelson Eduardo Martins, Eric Roberto G.R. Aguiar, João T. Marques and Jean-Luc Imler

Insects are the most diverse group of animals. They can be infected by an extraordinary diversity of viruses. We have investigated the mechanisms that restrict viral infections in insects points to genetic innovations that may inspire novel antiviral strategies.

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7- Exploring biochemical diversity in bacteria
Author:  Jean Weissenbach

The various descriptors of biochemical diversity and an evaluation of its status of knowledge are briefly outlined. Using in house research projects, I illustrate strategies used to increase this knowledge. This mini-review focusses on bacteria because they represent an extremely diverse domain of life.

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8- Can insect assemblages tell us something about the urban environment health?
Author:  Vera Lúcia da Silva Valente-Gaiesky

Many research groups in Brazil and abroad have been showing that assemblages of flies of Drosophilidae can reflect environmental alteration levels caused by urbanization, and/or by other human disturbances. I present here a summary of our findings in this family assemblages reflecting different degrees of environmental perturbation. As a result of field studies, several biological invasions were detected and many new important biological problems arose prone to be investigated by genetic, molecular biology and other related approaches.

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9- Pre-Columbian human occupation of Amazonia and its influence on current landscapes and biodiversity
Author:  Doyle McKey

Pre-Columbian humans had many impacts on Amazonian ecosystems, altering landforms, transforming the properties of soils, and changing the composition of tree communities. Although most studies concern the effects of activities of agricultural peoples over the last four thousand years, human impact actually began much earlier, in the Pleistocene, when South America’s large mammals were hunted to extinction. These animals were the principal seed dispersers for many tree species, some of which became largely dependent on humans. Understanding the history of human/environment interactions in Amazonia is essential for analyzing the current state of these interactions and imagining scenarios for the future.

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10- Biodiversity studies through public-private partnership (PPP): The case of Fazenda São Nicolau in the northwest of Mato Grosso
Authors:  Domingos J. Rodrigues, Fernando Z. Vaz-de-Mello and Roberto M.L.  Silveira

Peugeot-ONF Forest Carbon Sink Project, is a public-private initiative supported by French and Brazilian institutions. The Project site comprises a high richness of species, many recently described (23 species of beetles and one species of fish). Some research with amphibian toxins as tools to treat cancer and malaria are also done with material collected at the Project´s site. Regarding termites richness after 10 years of reforestation, such places were more similar to native forest sites than pastures or abandoned pastures. Finally large mammals studies indicated that many large mammals use the site as a refuge.

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11- The globalized thought process in relation to natural resources
Author:  Kelly Swing

As the human population has soared over the last century, our vast numbers, in combination with increasingly materialistic behavior, have produced unsustainable abuse of resources globally. It is profoundly myopic to continue to ignore the urgency for action in light of the climate crisis, mass extinction, growing contamination of air and water, ocean acidification, destruction/conversion of ecosystems, desertification, over-exploitation of fisheries and forests, proliferation of plastics, and so forth. A rapid sea change in the mentality of the masses and of leaders across the planet can still avoid a devastating future, but the window of opportunity is closing quickly.

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12- Land use drives change in amazonian tree species
Author:  Ima Célia G. Vieira

The Amazonian rainforest has been subjected to exceptionally high rates of land use change (LUC), primarily for pasture. We present here an analysis of the impact of LUC on trees from studies made in Pará state. LUC results in drastic declines in native species richness, changes species composition and impacts community resilience and ecosystem services provided by the Amazonian rainforest.

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13- Diversity and evolution of Amazonian birds: implications for conservation and biogeography
Authors:  Camila C. Ribas and Alexandre Aleixo

Amazonia has been a focus of interest since the early days of biogeography as an intrinsically complex and extremely diverse region. Increased knowledge about the distribution of species in Amazonia has led to the recognition of complex biogeographic patterns. We will increasingly need more intense and coordinated interactions between researchers studying biotic diversification and the evolution of landscapes. From the interaction between these fields of knowledge that are in full development, an increasingly detailed understanding of the historical mechanisms related to the origin of the species will surely arise.

 Read here


14- An overview of the 2017 report of the French academy of Sciences on biodiversity
Authors:  Sandra Lavorel, Jean-Dominique Lebreton and Yvon Le Maho

In the present context of concerns for biodiversity, the French Academy of Sciences produced in 2017 a report entitled “Mechanisms of adaptation of biodiversity to climate change and their limits”. We briefly review here the production process and structure of the report, and summarize its conclusions and recommendations. The conclusions emphasize the role of habitat fragmentation in the expected impact of climate change on biodiversity, while the recommendations cover the organization of biodiversity research and monitoring, as well as critical domains such as Human, animal and plant health, agriculture and forestry policies, and management of the Environment.

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15- Genetic drift in mammals
Author:  Jean-François Bach

Genetic drift is the fortuitous occurrence of genetic events that when they become fixed modify the genome of populations. They can take the form of mutations of single nucleotides (SNPs), the insertion or deletion of short sequences (Indels) or the repetitions of short sequences (CNV i.e. copy number variants) or long insertions or deletion (structural modifications). It thus appears that genetic drift, which constitutes the initial element of evolution, has a very strong dynamics.

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16- The study of biotic interactions in the Brazilian Cerrado as a path to the conservation of biodiversity.
Authors:  Kleber Del-Claro and Helena Maura Torezan-Silingardi

Biodiversity has received increased attention in the last fifty years, however, we still now are searching for general patterns. Thus, we need to estimulate studie in: ecological communities, cladistics classifications, hierarchical compositions of different levels of organization, and groups of taxonomically related species. We propose that the study of the biodiversity of interactions (how many species indeed interact each other in a natural system) may present a new perspective in the efforts to conserve biodiversity, especially in endangered ecosystems like the tropical savannas cerrados.

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17- A hybrid swarm of manatees along the Guianas coastline, a peculiar environment under the influence of the Amazon River plume
Authors:  Camilla S. Lima, Rafael F. Magalhães, Miriam Marmontel, Ana Carolina Meirelles, Vitor Luiz Carvalho, Anne Lavergne, Benoit de Thoisy and  Fabrício  R. Santos

The West Indian (Trichechus manatus) and Amazonian (T. inunguis) manatees have a sympatric occurrence at the mouth of the Amazon River. A result of this interspecific encounter is the occurrence of hybrids, which are frequently found along the coasts of Amapá state in Brazil, French Guiana and Guyana. Here we present new genetic evidence indicating the occurrence of a hybrid swarm along the Guianas Shield coastline, which is an interspecific hybrid zone that also separates T. manatus populations located east (Brazil) and west (Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, Florida and Antilles).

 Read here


18- Are we close to knowing the plant diversity of the Amazon?
Author:  Michael J.G. Hopkins

Amazonia is often cited as having the most diverse flora on the planet. However, the total number of species of higher plants in the region has been largely a matter of guesswork. Some recent publications have estimated the total number of species present, which indicate a lower overall diversity than was estimated in the past. I believe that much more investment in extensive collecting of quality plant specimens is needed to encounter the very large number of rare and local species that might never have been collected.

 Read here


19- Engineering biodiversity as a model for the species conservation*
Author: Elibio L. Rech

Early humans have domesticated plant and animal species based on ancient empirical concepts. In 1886, Mendel established a new paradigm of hereditary laws based on genotypic and phenotypic traits of cross-compatible species, establishing a complex breeding technology that is currently utilized for development of most food and livestock-derived products. Recently, studies on deciphering the double-helical structure and how to restrict DNA have established the foundation of recombinant DNA technology. A new era is paving way for genetic manipulation of important traits among all the kingdom’s organisms, allowing for the development of innovative and widely utilized products for agricultural, industrial and pharmaceutical production sectors.

 Read here






20- Is the brazilian diverse environment is a crib for the emergence and maintenance of exotic arboviruses?
Authors:  Daniele B.A. Medeiros and Pedro Fernando C. Vasconcelos

We review the potential of Amazon forest as a source for circulation and maintenance of native arboviruses as well its capacity to host exotic arboviruses introduced in Brazil during their process of adapting to the Amazon environment. We also highlight the history of the last two exotic viruses introduced in Brazil - Chikungunya virus (CHIKV) and Zika virus (ZIKV) - and their consequences to the public health. Finally, we discuss and hypothesize what will happen with them after the outbreak.

 Read here






21- Dilemma in the Brazilian Tropical Medicine: ‘Is speed more important than direction?’
Authors:  Marcus V.G. Lacerda, Fernando F.A. Val and Wuelton M. Monteiro

Brazil suffers from a deep economic and political crisis. This has substantially impacted on health care, education and research funding. Recent changes in the epidemiology of infectious diseases challenge the already unstable health care system. Also, laboratories from universities and research institutes are closing their doors, which, altogether, increase the burden of disease to the affected neglected populations. The lack of a national integrated plan for research in the long term, scarce funding, and obsolete research institutions deeply impact what is desired in a country like Brazil. We need to consider biodiversity and poverty-related diseases, re-route and change this scenario.

 Read here

  All abstracts of the publications were provided by the respective authors.  


Annals of the Brazilian Academy of Sciences

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