BMC Evol Biol [journal]
- Transgenerational plasticity following a dual pathogen and stress challenge in fruit flies. [Journal Article]
- BMC Evol Biol 2016.:171.
Phenotypic plasticity operates across generations, when the parental environment affects phenotypic expression in the offspring. Recent studies in invertebrates have reported transgenerational plasticity in phenotypic responses of offspring when the mothers had been previously exposed to either live or heat-killed pathogens. Understanding whether this plasticity is adaptive requires a factorial design in which both mothers and their offspring are subjected to either the pathogen challenge or a control, in experimentally matched and mismatched combinations. Most prior studies exploring the capacity for pathogen-mediated transgenerational plasticity have, however, failed to adopt such a design. Furthermore, it is currently poorly understood whether the magnitude or direction of pathogen-mediated transgenerational responses will be sensitive to environmental heterogeneity. Here, we explored the transgenerational consequences of a dual pathogen and stress challenge administered in the maternal generation in the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster. Prospective mothers were assigned to a non-infectious pathogen treatment consisting of an injection with heat-killed bacteria or a procedural control, and a stress treatment consisting of sleep deprivation or control. Their daughters and sons were similarly assigned to the same pathogen treatment, prior to measurement of their reproductive success.We observed transgenerational interactions involving pathogen treatments of mothers and their offspring, on the reproductive success of daughters but not sons. These interactions were unaffected by sleep deprivation.The direction of the transgenerational effects was not consistent with that predicted under a scenario of adaptive transgenerational plasticity. Instead, they were indicative of expectations based on terminal investment.
- Socially cued developmental plasticity in web-building spiders. [Journal Article]
- BMC Evol Biol 2016.:170.
Socially cued anticipatory plasticity (SCAP) has been proposed as a widespread mechanism of adaptive life-history shifts in semelparous species with extreme male mating investment. Such mating systems evolved several times independently in spiders and male reproductive success should critically depend on timely maturation and rapid location of a receptive and, ideally, virgin female. We experimentally investigated socially cued anticipatory plasticity in two sympatric, closely related Nephila species that share many components of their mating systems, but differ in the degree to which male reproductive success depends on mating with virgin females. Juveniles of both species were reared either in the presence or absence of virgin female silk cues. We predicted strong selection on socially cued plasticity in N. fenestrata in which males follow a highly specialized terminal investment strategy, but expected a weaker plastic response in N. senegalensis in which males lost the ability to monopolize females.Contrary to our predictions, N. fenestrata males presented with virgin female silk cues did not mature earlier than siblings reared isolated from such cues. Males in N. senegalensis, however, showed a significant response to female cues and matured several days earlier than control males. Plastic adjustment of maturation had no effect on male size.Our results indicate that a strong benefit of mating with virgins due to first male sperm priority does not necessarily promote socially cued anticipatory plasticity. We emphasize the bidirectional mode of developmental responses and suggest that this form of plasticity may not only yield benefits through accelerated maturation, but also by avoiding costs of precipitate maturation in the absence of female cues.
- Structuring evolution: biochemical networks and metabolic diversification in birds. [Journal Article]
- BMC Evol Biol 2016.:168.
Recurrence and predictability of evolution are thought to reflect the correspondence between genomic and phenotypic dimensions of organisms, and the connectivity in deterministic networks within these dimensions. Direct examination of the correspondence between opportunities for diversification imbedded in such networks and realized diversity is illuminating, but is empirically challenging because both the deterministic networks and phenotypic diversity are modified in the course of evolution. Here we overcome this problem by directly comparing the structure of a "global" carotenoid network - comprising of all known enzymatic reactions among naturally occurring carotenoids - with the patterns of evolutionary diversification in carotenoid-producing metabolic networks utilized by birds.We found that phenotypic diversification in carotenoid networks across 250 species was closely associated with enzymatic connectivity of the underlying biochemical network - compounds with greater connectivity occurred the most frequently across species and were the hotspots of metabolic pathway diversification. In contrast, we found no evidence for diversification along the metabolic pathways, corroborating findings that the utilization of the global carotenoid network was not strongly influenced by history in avian evolution.The finding that the diversification in species-specific carotenoid networks is qualitatively predictable from the connectivity of the underlying enzymatic network points to significant structural determinism in phenotypic evolution.
- Erratum to: Life habits, hox genes, and affinities of a 311 million-year-old holometabolan larva. [PUBLISHED ERRATUM]
- BMC Evol Biol 2016; 16(1):169.
- Non-excitable fluorescent protein orthologs found in ctenophores. [Journal Article]
- BMC Evol Biol 2016; 16(1):167.
Fluorescent proteins are optically active proteins found across many clades in metazoans. A fluorescent protein was recently identified in a ctenophore, but this has been suggested to derive from a cnidarian, raising again the question of origins of this group of proteins.Through analysis of transcriptome data from 30 ctenophores, we identified a member of an orthologous group of proteins similar to fluorescent proteins in each of them, as well as in the genome of Mnemiopsis leidyi. These orthologs lack canonical residues involved in chromophore formation, suggesting another function.The phylogenetic position of the ctenophore protein family among fluorescent proteins suggests that this gene was present in the common ancestor of all ctenophores and that the fluorescent protein previously found in a ctenophore actually derives from a siphonophore.
- Skill learning and the evolution of social learning mechanisms. [Journal Article]
- BMC Evol Biol 2016; 16(1):166.
Social learning is potentially advantageous, but evolutionary theory predicts that (i) its benefits may be self-limiting because social learning can lead to information parasitism, and (ii) these limitations can be mitigated via forms of selective copying. However, these findings arise from a functional approach in which learning mechanisms are not specified, and which assumes that social learning avoids the costs of asocial learning but does not produce information about the environment. Whether these findings generalize to all kinds of social learning remains to be established. Using a detailed multi-scale evolutionary model, we investigate the payoffs and information production processes of specific social learning mechanisms (including local enhancement, stimulus enhancement and observational learning) and their evolutionary consequences in the context of skill learning in foraging groups.We find that local enhancement does not benefit foraging success, but could evolve as a side-effect of grouping. In contrast, stimulus enhancement and observational learning can be beneficial across a wide range of environmental conditions because they generate opportunities for new learning outcomes.In contrast to much existing theory, we find that the functional outcomes of social learning are mechanism specific. Social learning nearly always produces information about the environment, and does not always avoid the costs of asocial learning or support information parasitism. Our study supports work emphasizing the value of incorporating mechanistic detail in functional analyses.
- First insights into the nature and evolution of antisense transcription in nematodes. [Journal Article]
- BMC Evol Biol 2016; 16(1):165.
The development of multicellular organisms is coordinated by various gene regulatory mechanisms that ensure correct spatio-temporal patterns of gene expression. Recently, the role of antisense transcription in gene regulation has moved into focus of research. To characterize genome-wide patterns of antisense transcription and to study their evolutionary conservation, we sequenced a strand-specific RNA-seq library of the nematode Pristionchus pacificus.We identified 1112 antisense configurations of which the largest group represents 465 antisense transcripts (ASTs) that are fully embedded in introns of their host genes. We find that most ASTs show homology to protein-coding genes and are overrepresented in proteomic data. Together with the finding, that expression levels of ASTs and host genes are uncorrelated, this indicates that most ASTs in P. pacificus do not represent non-coding RNAs and do not exhibit regulatory functions on their host genes. We studied the evolution of antisense gene pairs across 20 nematode genomes, showing that the majority of pairs is lineage-specific and even the highly conserved vps-4, ddx-27, and sel-2 loci show abundant structural changes including duplications, deletions, intron gains and loss of antisense transcription. In contrast, host genes in general, are remarkably conserved and encode exceptionally long introns leading to unusually large blocks of conserved synteny.Our study has shown that in P. pacificus antisense transcription as such does not define non-coding RNAs but is rather a feature of highly conserved genes with long introns. We hypothesize that the presence of regulatory elements imposes evolutionary constraint on the intron length, but simultaneously, their large size makes them a likely target for translocation of genomic elements including protein-coding genes that eventually end up as ASTs.
- Positive selection on panpulmonate mitogenomes provide new clues on adaptations to terrestrial life. [Journal Article]
- BMC Evol Biol 2016; 16(1):164.
Transitions from marine to intertidal and terrestrial habitats resulted in a significant adaptive radiation within the Panpulmonata (Gastropoda: Heterobranchia). This clade comprises several groups that invaded the land realm independently and in different time periods, e.g., Ellobioidea, Systellomatophora, and Stylommatophora. Thus, mitochondrial genomes of panpulmonate gastropods are promising to screen for adaptive molecular signatures related to land invasions.We obtained three complete mitochondrial genomes of terrestrial panpulmonates, i.e., the ellobiid Carychium tridentatum, and the stylommatophorans Arion rufus and Helicella itala. Our dataset consisted of 50 mitogenomes comprising almost all major panpulmonate lineages. The phylogenetic tree based on mitochondrial genes supports the monophyly of the clade Panpulmonata. Terrestrial lineages were sampled from Ellobioidea (1 sp.) and Stylommatophora (9 spp.). The branch-site test of positive selection detected significant non-synonymous changes in the terrestrial branches leading to Carychium (Ellobiodea) and Stylommatophora. These convergent changes occurred in the cob and nad5 genes (OXPHOS complex III and I, respectively).The convergence of the non-synonymous changes in cob and nad5 suggest possible ancient episodes of positive selection related to adaptations to non-marine habitats. The positively selected sites in our data are in agreement with previous results in vertebrates suggesting a general pattern of adaptation to the new metabolic requirements. The demand for energy due to the colonization of land (for example, to move and sustain the body mass in the new habitat) and the necessity to tolerate new conditions of abiotic stress may have changed the physiological constraints in the early terrestrial panpulmonates and triggered adaptations at the mitochondrial level.
- Metabolic modelling in a dynamic evolutionary framework predicts adaptive diversification of bacteria in a long-term evolution experiment. [Journal Article]
- BMC Evol Biol 2016; 16(1):163.
Predicting adaptive trajectories is a major goal of evolutionary biology and useful for practical applications. Systems biology has enabled the development of genome-scale metabolic models. However, analysing these models via flux balance analysis (FBA) cannot predict many evolutionary outcomes including adaptive diversification, whereby an ancestral lineage diverges to fill multiple niches. Here we combine in silico evolution with FBA and apply this modelling framework, evoFBA, to a long-term evolution experiment with Escherichia coli.Simulations predicted the adaptive diversification that occurred in one experimental population and generated hypotheses about the mechanisms that promoted coexistence of the diverged lineages. We experimentally tested and, on balance, verified these mechanisms, showing that diversification involved niche construction and character displacement through differential nutrient uptake and altered metabolic regulation.The evoFBA framework represents a promising new way to model biochemical evolution, one that can generate testable predictions about evolutionary and ecosystem-level outcomes.
- Deep phylogenomics of a tandem-repeat galectin regulating appendicular skeletal pattern formation. [Journal Article]
- BMC Evol Biol 2016; 16(1):162.
A multiscale network of two galectins Galectin-1 (Gal-1) and Galectin-8 (Gal-8) patterns the avian limb skeleton. Among vertebrates with paired appendages, chondrichthyan fins typically have one or more cartilage plates and many repeating parallel endoskeletal elements, actinopterygian fins have more varied patterns of nodules, bars and plates, while tetrapod limbs exhibit tandem arrays of few, proximodistally increasing numbers of elements. We applied a comparative genomic and protein evolution approach to understand the origin of the galectin patterning network. Having previously observed a phylogenetic constraint on Gal-1 structure across vertebrates, we asked whether evolutionary changes of Gal-8 could have critically contributed to the origin of the tetrapod pattern.Translocations, duplications, and losses of Gal-8 genes in Actinopterygii established them in different genomic locations from those that the Sarcopterygii (including the tetrapods) share with chondrichthyans. The sarcopterygian Gal-8 genes acquired a potentially regulatory non-coding motif and underwent purifying selection. The actinopterygian Gal-8 genes, in contrast, did not acquire the non-coding motif and underwent positive selection.These observations interpreted through the lens of a reaction-diffusion-adhesion model based on avian experimental findings can account for the distinct endoskeletal patterns of cartilaginous, ray-finned, and lobe-finned fishes, and the stereotypical limb skeletons of tetrapods.