Scielo RSS <![CDATA[Anais da Academia Brasileira de Ciências]]> vol. 91 num. lang. en <![CDATA[SciELO Logo]]> <![CDATA[Biodiversity: the chasm between what we know and we need to know.]]> Abstract: 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? To be effective, biodiversity information needs to be based on standardized sampling with data made available during the initial planning phases of infrastructure projects, which are now based only on engineering or social considerations and occur several decades before construction starts. The RAPELD method is now being used in many environmental-impact studies to generate standardized data, but there is presently no mechanism to include biodiversity information in the initial phases of decision making, and this has unfavorable consequences for economic development and the environment. <![CDATA[Fishes of the Amazon: diversity and beyond]]> Abstract: 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 is represented by more than 3,000 known species distributed from the basal groups up to the more specialized ones. This species richness hides a diversity of adaptations that are dispersed at all levels of the biological organization. In this summary of the conference delivered at the Brazil-France Bilateral Symposium, held in Manaus in 2018, we describe two aspects of the hidden world of adaptive diversity: adaptations to changes in dissolved oxygen and the abilities of the Rio Negro fish to face acidic and ion-poor waters of their habitats. Also, we present the vulnerability of Amazonian fish to ongoing climate changes. Then, very briefly, we call attention to the many hidden biological processes that allow these fish species to survive their environments, much of which is unknown. Indeed, however, they are intricately related to men, either by responding to environmental disturbances that we have caused, or by containing information that contributes to improving the quality of the environment in which we live. <![CDATA[The role of natural products in modern drug discovery.]]> Abstract: The global medicine market is about 1.1 trillion US dollars. About 35 percent of medicines have originated from natural products. Brazil presents the largest biodiversity in the world, with more than 50,000 species of higher plants. However, few innovative products have been developed in Brazil from active constituents derived from the Brazilian biodiversity. Scientific evidences on plants and venoms have been internationally published by Brazilian scientists over the last 4 decades; but few examples of innovative products are commercially available. Few examples include the anti-hypertensive drug captopril first identified in the venom of the Brazilian viper Bothrops jararaca by Professor Sergio Ferreira; and some phytotherapeutic agents such as Acheflan®, Syntocalmy® and Melagrião® produced by standardized plant extracts with scientific proof of safety, efficacy and quality. Still, only Acheflan® and Melagrião® are obtained from native Brazilian plants. Several issues contribute to the lack of innovative products from the Brazilian biodiversity, but in my opinion, the most challenging ones are i) the lack of specific regulations to allow researchers and companies to 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. <![CDATA[The insect reservoir of biodiversity for viruses and for antiviral mechanisms]]> Abstract: Insects are the most diverse group of animals. They can be infected by an extraordinary diversity of viruses. Among them, arthropod-borne viruses (arboviruses) can be transmitted to humans. High-throughput sequencing of small RNAs from insects provides insight into their virome, which may help understand the dynamics of vector borne infectious diseases. Furthermore, investigating the mechanisms that restrict viral infections in insects points to genetic innovations that may inspire novel antiviral strategies.