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BMC Evol Biol [journal]
- Adaptive plasticity in the mouse mandible. [JOURNAL ARTICLE]
- BMC Evol Biol 2014 Apr 18; 14(1):85.
Plasticity, i.e. non-heritable morphological variation, enables organisms to modify the shape of their skeletal tissues in response to varying environmental stimuli. Plastic variation may also allow individuals to survive in the face of new environmental conditions, enabling the evolution of heritable adaptive traits. However, it is uncertain whether such a plastic response of morphology constitutes an evolutionary adaption itself. Here we investigate whether shape differences due to plastic bone remodelling have functionally advantageous biomechanical consequences in mouse mandibles. Shape characteristics of mandibles from two groups of inbred laboratory mice fed either rodent pellets or ground pellets mixed with jelly were assessed using geometric morphometrics and mechanical advantage measurements of jaw adductor musculature.Mandibles raised on diets with differing food consistency showed significant differences in shape, which in turn altered their biomechanical profile. Mice raised on a soft food diet show a reduction in mechanical advantage relative to mice of the same inbred strain raised on a typical hard food diet. Further, the soft food eaters showed lower levels of integration between jaw regions, particularly between the molar and angular region relative to hard food eaters.Bone remodelling in mouse mandibles allows for significant shifts in biomechanical ability. Food consistency significantly influences this process in an adaptive direction, as mice raised on hard food develop jaws better suited to handle hard foods. This remodelling also affects the organisation of the mandible, as mice raised on soft food appear to be released from developmental constraints showing less overall integration than those raised on hard foods, but with a shift of integration towards the most solicited regions of the mandible facing such a food, namely the incisors. Our results illustrate how environmentally driven plasticity can lead to adaptive functional changes that increase biomechanical efficiency of food processing in the face of an increased solicitation. In contrast, decreased demand in terms of food processing seems to release developmental interactions between jaw parts involved in mastication, and may generate new patterns of co-variation, possibly opening new directions to subsequent selection. Overall, our results emphasize that mandible shape and integration evolved as parts of a complex system including mechanical loading food resource utilization and possibly foraging behaviour.
- New transitional fossil snakeflies from China illuminate the early evolution of Raphidioptera. [JOURNAL ARTICLE]
- BMC Evol Biol 2014 Apr 18; 14(1):84.
Raphidioptera (snakeflies) is a holometabolous order of the superorder Neuropterida characterized by the narrowly elongate adult prothorax and the long female ovipositor. Mesozoic snakeflies were markedly more diverse than the modern ones are. However, the evolutionary history of Raphidioptera is largely unexplored, as a result of the poorly studied phylogeny among fossil and extant lineages within the order.In this paper, we report a new snakefly family, Juroraphidiidae fam. nov., based on exquisitely preserved fossils, attributed to a new species Juroraphidia longicollum gen. et sp. nov., from the Jiulongshan Formation (Middle Jurassic) in Inner Mongolia, China. The new family is characterized by an unexpected combination of plesiomorphic and apomorphic characters of Raphidioptera. Based on our phylogenetic analysis, Juroraphidiidae fam. nov. together with Raphidiomorpha form a monophyletic clade, which is the sister to Priscaenigmatomorpha. The snakefly affinity of Priscaenigmatomorpha is confirmed and another new family, Chrysoraphidiidae fam. nov., is erected in this suborder.Juroraphidiidae fam. nov. is determined to be a transitional lineage between Priscaenigmatomorpha and Raphidiomorpha. Diversification of higher snakefly taxa had occurred by the Early Jurassic, suggesting that these insects had already had a long but undocumented history by this time.
- Phylogeographic pattern of Rhizophora (Rhizophoraceae) reveals the importance of both vicariance and long-distance oceanic dispersal to modern mangrove distribution. [JOURNAL ARTICLE]
- BMC Evol Biol 2014 Apr 17; 14(1):83.
Mangroves are key components of coastal ecosystems in tropical and subtropical regions worldwide. However, the patterns and mechanisms of modern distribution of mangroves are still not well understood. Historical vicariance and dispersal are two hypothetic biogeographic processes in shaping the patterns of present-day species distributions. Here we investigate evolutionary biogeography of mangroves in the Indo-West Pacific (IWP) and western Atlantic-East Pacific (AEP) regions using a large sample of populations of Rhizophora (the most representative mangrove genus) and a combination of chloroplast and nuclear DNA sequences and genome-wide ISSR markers.Our comparative analyses of biogeographic patterns amongst Rhizophora taxa worldwide support the hypothesis that ancient dispersals along the Tethys Seaway and subsequent vicariant events that divided the IWP and AEP lineages resulted in the major disjunctions. We dated the deep split between the Old and New World lineages to early Eocene based on fossil calibration and geological and tectonic changes. Our data also provide evidence for other vicariant processes within the Indo-West Pacific region in separating conspecific lineages of SE Asia and Australia-Pacific at the Oligocene-Miocene boundary. Close genetic affinities exist between extant Fijian and American lineages; East African and Australian lineages; and Australian and Pacific lineages; indicating relatively more recent oceanic long-distance dispersal events.Our study demonstrates that neither vicariance nor dispersal alone could explain the observed global occurrences of Rhizophora, but a combination of vicariant events and oceanic long-distance dispersals can account for historical diversification and present-day biogeographic patterns of mangroves.
- Selecting optimal partitioning schemes for phylogenomic datasets. [JOURNAL ARTICLE]
- BMC Evol Biol 2014 Apr 17; 14(1):82.
Partitioning involves estimating independent models of molecular evolution for different subsets of sites in a sequence alignment, and has been shown to improve phylogenetic inference. Current methods for estimating best-fit partitioning schemes, however, are only computationally feasible with datasets of less than 100 loci. This is a problem because datasets with thousands of loci are increasingly common in phylogenetics.We develop two novel methods for estimating best-fit partitioning schemes on large phylogenomic datasets: strict and relaxed hierarchical clustering. These methods use information from the underlying data to cluster together similar subsets of sites in an alignment, and build on clustering approaches that have been proposed elsewhere.We compare the performance of our methods to each other, and to existing methods for selecting partitioning schemes. We demonstrate that while strict hierarchical clustering has the best computational efficiency on very large datasets, relaxed hierarchical clustering provides scalable efficiency and returns dramatically better partitioning schemes as assessed by common criteria such as AICc and BIC scores.These two methods provide the best current approaches to inferring partitioning schemes for very large datasets. We provide free open-source implementations of the methods in the PartitionFinder software. We hope that the use of these methods will help to improve the inferences made from large phylogenomic datasets.
- Density drives polyandry and relatedness influences paternal success in the Pacific gooseneck barnacle, Pollicipes elegans. [JOURNAL ARTICLE]
- BMC Evol Biol 2014 Apr 16; 14(1):81.
Polyandry is a common mating strategy in animals, increasing female fitness through direct (material) and indirect (genetic) benefits. Most theories about the benefits of polyandry come from studies of terrestrial animals, which have relatively complex mating systems and behaviors; less is known about the potential benefits of polyandry in sessile marine animals, for which potential mates may be scarce and females have less control over pre-copulatory mate choice. Here, we used microsatellite markers to examine multiple paternity in natural aggregations of the Pacific gooseneck barnacle Pollicipes elegans, testing the effect of density on paternity and mate relatedness on male reproductive success.We found that multiple paternity was very common (79% of broods), with up to five fathers contributing to a brood, though power was relatively low to detect more than four fathers. Density had a significant and positive linear effect on the number of fathers siring a brood, though this relationship leveled off at high numbers of fathers, which may reflect a lack of power and/or an upper limit to polyandry in this species. Significant skew in male reproductive contribution in multiply-sired broods was observed and we found a positive and significant relationship between the proportion of offspring sired and the genetic similarity between mates, suggesting that genetic compatibility may influence reproductive success in this species.To our knowledge, this is the first study to show high levels of multiple paternity in a barnacle, and overall, patterns of paternity in P. elegans appear to be driven primarily by mate availability. Evidence of paternity bias for males with higher relatedness suggests some form of post-copulatory sexual selection is taking place, but more work is needed to determine whether it operates during or post-fertilization. Overall, our results suggest that while polyandry in P. elegans is driven by mate availability, it may also provide a mechanism for females to ensure fertilization by compatible gametes and increase reproductive success in this sessile species.
- Hybridizing Daphnia communities from ten neighbouring lakes: spatio-temporal dynamics, local processes, gene flow and invasiveness. [JOURNAL ARTICLE]
- BMC Evol Biol 2014 Apr 12; 14(1):80.
In natural communities of cyclical parthenogens, rapid response to environmental change is enabled by switching between two reproduction modes. While long periods of asexual reproduction allow some clones to outcompete others, and may result in "clonal erosion", sexual reproduction restores genetic variation in such systems. Moreover, sexual reproduction may result in the formation of interspecific hybrids. These hybrids can then reach high abundances, through asexual clonal reproduction. In the present study, we explored genetic variation in water fleas of the genus Daphnia. The focus was on the short-term dynamics within several clonal assemblages from the hybridizing Daphnia longispina complex and the impact of gene flow at small spatial scales.Daphnia individuals belonged either to the parental species D. galeata and D. longispina, or to different hybrid classes, as identified by 15 microsatellite markers. The distribution and genotypic structure of parental species, but not hybrids, corresponded well with the geographical positions of the lakes. Within parental species, the genetic distance among populations of D. galeata was lower than among populations of D. longispina. Moreover, D. galeata dominance was associated with higher phosphorous load. Finally, there was no evidence for clonal erosion.Our results suggest that the contemporary structure of hybridizing Daphnia communities from ten nearby lakes is influenced by colonization events from neighbouring habitats as well as by environmental factors. Unlike the parental species, however, there was little evidence for successful dispersal of hybrids, which seem to be produced locally. Finally, in contrast to temporary Daphnia populations, in which a decrease in clonal diversity was sometimes detectable over a single growing season, the high clonal diversity and lack of clonal erosion observed here might result from repeated hatching of sexually produced offspring. Overall, our study provides insights into spatio-temporal dynamics in a hybridizing Daphnia species complex in a recently established lake system, and relates genetic similarities of populations to a scenario of secondary invasion enhanced by environmental factors.
- Do pre- and post-copulatory sexually selected traits covary in large herbivores? [JOURNAL ARTICLE]
- BMC Evol Biol 2014 Apr 10; 14(1):79.
In most species, males compete to gain both matings (via pre-copulatory competition) and fertilizations (via post-copulatory competition) to maximize their reproductive success. However, the quantity of resources devoted to sexual traits is finite, and so males are predicted to balance their investment between pre- and post-copulatory expenditure depending on the expected pay-offs that should vary according to mating tactics. In Artiodactyla species, males can invest in weapons such as horns or antlers to increase their mating gains or in testes mass/sperm dimensions to increase their fertilization efficiency. Moreover, it has been suggested that in these species, males with territory defence mating tactic might preferentially increase their investment in post-copulatory traits to increase their fertilization efficiency whereas males with female defence mating tactic might increase their investment in pre-copulatory sexually selected traits to prevent other males from copulating with females. In this study, we thus test the prediction that male's weapon length (pre-copulatory trait) covaries negatively with relative testes size and/or sperm dimensions (post-copulatory traits) across Artiodactyla using a phylogenetically controlled framework.Surprisingly no association between weapon length and testes mass is found but a negative association between weapon length and sperm length is evidenced. In addition, neither pre- nor post-copulatory traits were found to be affected by male mating tactics.We propose several hypotheses that could explain why male ungulates may not balance their reproductive investment between pre- and post-copulatory traits.
- A mechanistic stress model of protein evolution accounts for site-specific evolutionary rates and their relationship with packing density and flexibility. [Journal Article]
- BMC Evol Biol 2014.:78.
Protein sites evolve at different rates due to functional and biophysical constraints. It is usually considered that the main structural determinant of a site's rate of evolution is its Relative Solvent Accessibility (RSA). However, a recent comparative study has shown that the main structural determinant is the site's Local Packing Density (LPD). LPD is related with dynamical flexibility, which has also been shown to correlate with sequence variability. Our purpose is to investigate the mechanism that connects a site's LPD with its rate of evolution.We consider two models: an empirical Flexibility Model and a mechanistic Stress Model. The Flexibility Model postulates a linear increase of site-specific rate of evolution with dynamical flexibility. The Stress Model, introduced here, models mutations as random perturbations of the protein's potential energy landscape, for which we use simple Elastic Network Models (ENMs). To account for natural selection we assume a single active conformation and use basic statistical physics to derive a linear relationship between site-specific evolutionary rates and the local stress of the mutant's active conformation.We compare both models on a large and diverse dataset of enzymes. In a protein-by-protein study we found that the Stress Model outperforms the Flexibility Model for most proteins. Pooling all proteins together we show that the Stress Model is strongly supported by the total weight of evidence. Moreover, it accounts for the observed nonlinear dependence of sequence variability on flexibility. Finally, when mutational stress is controlled for, there is very little remaining correlation between sequence variability and dynamical flexibility.We developed a mechanistic Stress Model of evolution according to which the rate of evolution of a site is predicted to depend linearly on the local mutational stress of the active conformation. Such local stress is proportional to LPD, so that this model explains the relationship between LPD and evolutionary rate. Moreover, the model also accounts for the nonlinear dependence between evolutionary rate and dynamical flexibility.
- A new specimen of Manchurochelys manchoukuoensis from the Early Cretaceous Jehol Biota of Chifeng, Inner Mongolia, China and the phylogeny of Cretaceous basal eucryptodiran turtles. [JOURNAL ARTICLE]
- BMC Evol Biol 2014 Apr 5; 14(1):77.
Manchurochelys manchoukuoensis is an emblematic turtle from the Cretaceous Yixian Formation of Liaoning, China, a geological rock unit that is famous for yielding perfectly preserved skeletons of fossil vertebrates, including that of feathered dinosaurs. Manchurochelys manchoukuoensis was one of the first vertebrates described from this fauna, also known as the Jehol Biota. The holotype was lost during World War II and only one additional specimen has been described since. Manchurochelys manchoukuoensis is a critical taxon for unraveling the phylogenetic relationships of Cretaceous pancryptodires from Asia, a group that is considered to be of key importance for the origin of crown-group hidden-neck turtles (Cryptodira).A new specimen of Manchurochelys manchoukuoensis is described here from the Jiufotang Formation of Qilinshan, Chifeng, Inner Mongolia, China. This is the third specimen described and expands the range of this taxon from the Yixian Formation of the Fuxin-Yixian Basin in Liaoning to the Jiufotang Formation of the Chifeng-Yuanbaoshan Basin. A possible temporal extension of the range is less certain. The new finding adds to our understanding of the morphology of this taxon and invites a thorough revision of the phylogeny of Macrobaenidae, Sinemydidae, and closely allied forms.Our comprehensive phylogenetic analyses of Cretaceous Asian pancryptodires yielded two main competing hypotheses: in the first these taxa form a paraphyletic grade, whereas in the second they form a monophyletic clade. The inclusion of problematic tree changing taxa, such as Panpleurodires (stem + crown side-neck turtles) has a major influence on the phylogenetic relationships of Sinemydidae and closely allied forms. Manchurochelys manchoukuoensis nests within Sinemydidae together with Sinemys spp. and Dracochelys bicuspis in the majority of our analyses.
- Alkaloid defenses of co-mimics in a putative Müllerian mimetic radiation. [Journal Article, Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't]
- BMC Evol Biol 2014; 14(1):76.
Polytypism in aposematic species is unlikely according to theory, but commonly seen in nature. Ranitomeya imitator is a poison frog species exhibiting polytypic mimicry of three congeneric model species (R. fantastica, R. summersi, and two morphs of R. variabilis) across four allopatric populations (a "mimetic radiation"). In order to investigate chemical defenses in this system, a key prediction of Müllerian mimicry, we analyzed the alkaloids of both models and mimics from four allopatric populations.In this study we demonstrate distinct differences in alkaloid profiles between co-mimetic species within allopatric populations. We further demonstrate that R. imitator has a greater number of distinct alkaloid types than the model species and more total alkaloids in all but one population.Given that R. imitator is the more abundant species in these populations, R. imitator is likely driving the majority of predator-learned avoidance in these complexes. The success of Ranitomeya imitator as a putative advergent mimic may be a direct result of differences in alkaloid sequestration. Furthermore, we propose that automimicry within co-mimetic species is an important avenue of research.