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BMC Evol Biol [journal]
- Amblyomma cajennense (Fabricius, 1787) (Acari: Ixodidae), the Cayenne tick: phylogeography and evidence for allopatric speciation. [JOURNAL ARTICLE]
- BMC Evol Biol 2013 Dec 9; 13(1):267.
Amblyomma cajennense F. is one of the best known and studied ticks in the New World because of its very wide distribution, its economical importance as pest of domestic ungulates, and its association with a variety of animal and human pathogens. Recent observations, however, have challenged the taxonomic status of this tick and indicated that intraspecific cryptic speciation might be occurring. In the present study, we investigate the evolutionary and demographic history of this tick and examine its genetic structure based on the analyses of three mitochondrial (12SrDNA, d-loop, and COII) and one nuclear (ITS2) genes. Because A. cajennense is characterized by a typical trans-Amazonian distribution, lineage divergence dating is also performed to establish whether genetic diversity can be linked to dated vicariant events which shaped the topology of the Neotropics.Total evidence analyses of the concatenated mtDNA and nuclear + mtDNA datasets resulted in well-resolved and fully congruent reconstructions of the relationships within A. cajennense. The phylogenetic analyses consistently found A. cajennense to be monophyletic and to be separated into six genetic units defined by mutually exclusive haplotype compositions and habitat associations. Also, genetic divergence values showed that these lineages are as distinct from each other as recognized separate species of the same genus. The six clades are deeply split and node dating indicates that they started diverging in the middle-late Miocene.Behavioral differences and the results of laboratory cross-breeding experiments had already indicated that A. cajennense might be a complex of distinct taxonomic units. The combined and congruent mitochondrial and nuclear genetic evidence from this study reveals that A. cajennense is an assembly of six distinct species which have evolved separately from each other since at least 13.2 million years ago (Mya) in the earliest and 3.3 Mya in the latest lineages. The temporal and spatial diversification modes of the six lineages overlap the phylogeographical history of other organisms with similar extant trans-Amazonian distributions and are consistent with the present prevailing hypothesis that Neotropical diversity often finds its origins in the Miocene, after the Andean uplift changed the topology and consequently the climate and ecology of the Neotropics.
- The girdles of the oldest fossil turtle, Proterochersis robusta, and the age of the turtle crown. [JOURNAL ARTICLE]
- BMC Evol Biol 2013 Dec 6; 13(1):266.
Proterochersis robusta from the Late Triassic (Middle Norian) of Germany is the oldest known fossil turtle (i.e. amniote with a fully formed turtle shell), but little is known about its anatomy. A newly prepared, historic specimen provides novel insights into the morphology of the girdles and vertebral column of this taxon and the opportunity to reassess its phylogenetic position.The anatomy of the pectoral girdle of P. robusta is similar to that of other primitive turtles, including the Late Triassic (Carnian) Proganochelys quenstedti, in having a vertically oriented scapula, a large coracoid foramen, a short acromion process, and bony ridges that connect the acromion process with the dorsal process, glenoid, and coracoid, and by being able to rotate along a vertical axis. The pelvic elements are expanded distally and suturally attached to the shell, but in contrast to modern pleurodiran turtles the pelvis is associated with the sacral ribs.The primary homology of the character "sutured pelvis" is unproblematic between P. robusta and extant pleurodires. However, integration of all new observations into the most complete phylogenetic analysis that support the pleurodiran nature of P. robusta reveals that this taxon is more parsimoniously placed along the phylogenetic stem of crown Testudines. All current phylogenetic hypotheses therefore support the basal placement of this taxon, imply that the sutured pelvis of this taxon developed independently from that of pleurodires, and conclude that the age of the turtle crown is Middle Jurassic.
- Regionalization of the axial skeleton in the 'ambush predator' guild -- are there developmental rules underlying body shape evolution in ray-finned fishes? [JOURNAL ARTICLE]
- BMC Evol Biol 2013 Dec 5; 13(1):265.
A long, slender body plan characterized by an elongate antorbital region and posterior displacement of the unpaired fins has evolved multiple times within ray-finned fishes, and is associated with ambush predation. The axial skeleton of ray-finned fishes is divided into abdominal and caudal regions, considered to be evolutionary modules. In this study, we test whether the convergent evolution of the ambush predator body plan is associated with predictable, regional changes in the axial skeleton, specifically whether the abdominal region is preferentially lengthened relative to the caudal region through the addition of vertebrae. We test this hypothesis in seven clades showing convergent evolution of this body plan, examining abdominal and caudal vertebral counts in over 300 living and fossil species. In four of these clades, we also examined the relationship between the fineness ratio and vertebral regionalization using phylogenetic independent contrasts.We report that in five of the clades surveyed, Lepisosteidae, Esocidae, Belonidae, Sphyraenidae and Fistulariidae, vertebrae are added preferentially to the abdominal region. In Lepisosteidae, Esocidae, and Belonidae, increasing abdominal vertebral count was also significantly related to increasing fineness ratio, a measure of elongation. Two clades did not preferentially add abdominal vertebrae: Saurichthyidae and Aulostomidae. Both of these groups show the development of a novel caudal region anterior to the insertion of the anal fin, morphologically differentiated from more posterior caudal vertebrae.The preferential addition of abdominal vertebrae in fishes with an elongate body shape is consistent with the existence of a conservative positioning module formed by the boundary between the abdominal and caudal vertebral regions and the anterior insertion of the anal fin. Dissociation of this module is possible, although less probable than changes in the independently evolving abdominal region. Dissociation of the axial skeleton-median fin module leads to increased regionalization within the caudal vertebral column, something that has evolved several times in bony fishes, and may be homologous with the sacral region of tetrapods. These results suggest that modularity of the axial skeleton may result in somewhat predictable evolutionary outcomes in bony fishes.
- Strategic ejaculation in simultaneously hermaphroditic land snails: more sperm into virgin mates. [Journal Article]
- BMC Evol Biol 2013; 13(1):264.
It has been theorised that sperm competition promotes the strategic usage of costly sperm. Although sperm competition is thought to be an important driving force of reproductive traits in simultaneous hermaphrodites as well as in species with separate sexes, empirical studies on strategic ejaculation in simultaneous hermaphrodites are scarce.In the present study, we tested whether the simultaneously hermaphroditic land snail Euhadra quaesita adjusts the number of sperm donated according to the condition of the mate and whether the pattern of strategic ejaculation is in line with previously suggested theories. We found that individuals donated much more sperm when they copulated with a virgin mate than when they copulated with a non-virgin.The virgin-biased pattern of ejaculation matches the theoretical prediction and suggests that sperm competition significantly influence the reproductive traits of simultaneously hermaphroditic land snails.
- Scent of a break-up: phylogeography and reproductive trait divergences in the red-tailed bumblebee (Bombus lapidarius). [JOURNAL ARTICLE]
- BMC Evol Biol 2013 Dec 2; 13(1):263.
The Pleistocene climatic oscillations are considered as a major driving force of intraspecific divergence and speciation. During Ice Ages, populations isolated in allopatric glacial refugia can experience differentiation in reproductive traits through divergence in selection regimes. This phenomenon may lead to reproductive isolation and dramatically accentuates the consequences of the climatic oscillations on species. Alternatively, when reproductive isolation is incomplete and populations are expanding again, further mating between the formerly isolated populations can result in the formation of a hybrid zone, genetic introgression or reinforcement speciation through reproductive trait displacements. Therefore changes in reproductive traits driven by population movements during climatic oscillations can act as an important force in promoting pre-zygotic isolation. Notwithstanding, divergence of reproductive traits has not been approached in the context of climatic oscillations. Here we investigate the impact of population movements driven by climatic oscillations on a reproductive trait of a bumblebee species (Bombus lapidarius). We characterise the pattern of variation and differentiation across the species distribution (i) with five genes (nuclear and mitochondrial), and (ii) in the chemical composition of male marking secretions (MMS), a key trait for mate attraction in bumblebees.Our results provide evidence that populations have experienced a genetic allopatric differentiation, in at least three main refugia (the Balkans, Centre-Eastern Europe, and Southern Italy) during Quaternary glaciations. The comparative chemical analyses show that populations from the Southern Italian refugium have experienced MMS differentiation and an incipient speciation process from another refugium. The meeting of Southern Italian populations with other populations as a result of range expansion at a secondary contact zone seems to have led to a reinforcement process on local MMS patterns.This study suggests that population movement during Quaternary climatic oscillations can lead to divergence in reproductive traits by allopatric differentiation during Ice Ages and by reinforcement during post-glacial recolonization.
- Evolution and dynamics of megaplasmids with genome sizes larger than 100 kb in the Bacillus cereus group. [Journal Article]
- BMC Evol Biol 2013.:262.
Plasmids play a crucial role in the evolution of bacterial genomes by mediating horizontal gene transfer. However, the origin and evolution of most plasmids remains unclear, especially for megaplasmids. Strains of the Bacillus cereus group contain up to 13 plasmids with genome sizes ranging from 2 kb to 600 kb, and thus can be used to study plasmid dynamics and evolution.This work studied the origin and evolution of 31 B. cereus group megaplasmids (>100 kb) focusing on the most conserved regions on plasmids, minireplicons. Sixty-five putative minireplicons were identified and classified to six types on the basis of proteins that are essential for replication. Twenty-nine of the 31 megaplasmids contained two or more minireplicons. Phylogenetic analysis of the protein sequences showed that different minireplicons on the same megaplasmid have different evolutionary histories. Therefore, we speculated that these megaplasmids are the results of fusion of smaller plasmids. All plasmids of a bacterial strain must be compatible. In megaplasmids of the B. cereus group, individual minireplicons of different megaplasmids in the same strain belong to different types or subtypes. Thus, the subtypes of each minireplicon they contain may determine the incompatibilities of megaplasmids. A broader analysis of all 1285 bacterial plasmids with putative known minireplicons whose complete genome sequences were available from GenBank revealed that 34% (443 plasmids) of the plasmids have two or more minireplicons. This indicates that plasmid fusion events are general among bacterial plasmids.Megaplasmids of B. cereus group are fusion of smaller plasmids, and the fusion of plasmids likely occurs frequently in the B. cereus group and in other bacterial taxa. Plasmid fusion may be one of the major mechanisms for formation of novel megaplasmids in the evolution of bacteria.
- Contrasting evolutionary patterns of spore coat proteins in two Bacillus species groups are linked to a difference in cellular structure. [JOURNAL ARTICLE]
- BMC Evol Biol 2013 Nov 27; 13(1):261.
The Bacillus subtilis-group and the Bacillus cereus-group are two well-studied groups of species in the genus Bacillus. Bacteria in this genus can produce a highly resistant cell type, the spore, which is encased in a complex protective protein shell called the coat. Spores in the B. cereus-group contain an additional outer layer, the exosporium, which encircles the coat. The coat in B. subtilis spores possesses inner and outer layers. The aim of this study is to investigate whether differences in the spore structures influenced the divergence of the coat protein genes during the evolution of these two Bacillus species groups.We designed and implemented a computational framework to compare the evolutionary histories of coat proteins. We curated a list of B. subtilis coat proteins and identified their orthologs in 11 Bacillus species based on phylogenetic congruence. Phylogenetic profiles of these coat proteins show that they can be divided into conserved and labile ones. Coat proteins comprising the B. subtilis inner coat are significantly more conserved than those comprising the outer coat. We then performed genome-wide comparisons of the nonsynonymous/synonymous substitution rate ratio, dN/dS, and found contrasting patterns: Coat proteins have significantly higher dN/dS in the B. subtilis-group genomes, but not in the B. cereus-group genomes. We further corroborated this contrast by examining changes of dN/dS within gene trees, and found that some coat protein gene trees have significantly different dN/dS between the B subtilis-clade and the B. cereus-clade.Coat proteins in the B. subtilis- and B. cereus-group species are under contrasting selective pressures. We speculate that the absence of the exosporium in the B. subtilis spore coat effectively lifted a structural constraint that has led to relaxed negative selection pressure on the outer coat.
- A phylogenetic framework for evolutionary study of the nightshades (Solanaceae): a dated 1000-tip tree. [Journal Article]
- BMC Evol Biol 2013; 13(1):214.
The Solanaceae is a plant family of great economic importance. Despite a wealth of phylogenetic work on individual clades and a deep knowledge of particular cultivated species such as tomato and potato, a robust evolutionary framework with a dated molecular phylogeny for the family is still lacking. Here we investigate molecular divergence times for Solanaceae using a densely-sampled species-level phylogeny. We also review the fossil record of the family to derive robust calibration points, and estimate a chronogram using an uncorrelated relaxed molecular clock.Our densely-sampled phylogeny shows strong support for all previously identified clades of Solanaceae and strongly supported relationships between the major clades, particularly within Solanum. The Tomato clade is shown to be sister to section Petota, and the Regmandra clade is the first branching member of the Potato clade. The minimum age estimates for major splits within the family provided here correspond well with results from previous studies, indicating splits between tomato and potato around 8 Million years ago (Ma) with a 95% highest posterior density (HPD) 7-10 Ma, Solanum and Capsicum c. 19 Ma (95% HPD 17-21), and Solanum and Nicotiana c. 24 Ma (95% HPD 23-26).Our large time-calibrated phylogeny provides a significant step towards completing a fully sampled species-level phylogeny for Solanaceae, and provides age estimates for the whole family. The chronogram now includes 40% of known species and all but two monotypic genera, and is one of the best sampled angiosperm family phylogenies both in terms of taxon sampling and resolution published thus far. The increased resolution in the chronogram combined with the large increase in species sampling will provide much needed data for the examination of many biological questions using Solanaceae as a model system.
- Comprehensive analysis of MHC class II genes in teleost fish genomes reveals dispensability of the peptide-loading DM system in a large part of vertebrates. [Journal Article]
- BMC Evol Biol 2013.:260.
Classical major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class II molecules play an essential role in presenting peptide antigens to CD4+ T lymphocytes in the acquired immune system. The non-classical class II DM molecule, HLA-DM in the case of humans, possesses critical function in assisting the classical MHC class II molecules for proper peptide loading and is highly conserved in tetrapod species. Although the absence of DM-like genes in teleost fish has been speculated based on the results of homology searches, it has not been definitively clear whether the DM system is truly specific for tetrapods or not. To obtain a clear answer, we comprehensively searched class II genes in representative teleost fish genomes and analyzed those genes regarding the critical functional features required for the DM system.We discovered a novel ancient class II group (DE) in teleost fish and classified teleost fish class II genes into three major groups (DA, DB and DE). Based on several criteria, we investigated the classical/non-classical nature of various class II genes and showed that only one of three groups (DA) exhibits classical-type characteristics. Analyses of predicted class II molecules revealed that the critical tryptophan residue required for a classical class II molecule in the DM system could be found only in some non-classical but not in classical-type class II molecules of teleost fish.Teleost fish, a major group of vertebrates, do not possess the DM system for the classical class II peptide-loading and this sophisticated system has specially evolved in the tetrapod lineage.
- Analyses of mitochondrial amino acid sequence datasets support the proposal that specimens of Hypodontus macropi from three species of macropodid hosts represent distinct species. [Journal Article]
- BMC Evol Biol 2013.:259.
Hypodontus macropi is a common intestinal nematode of a range of kangaroos and wallabies (macropodid marsupials). Based on previous multilocus enzyme electrophoresis (MEE) and nuclear ribosomal DNA sequence data sets, H. macropi has been proposed to be complex of species. To test this proposal using independent molecular data, we sequenced the whole mitochondrial (mt) genomes of individuals of H. macropi from three different species of hosts (Macropus robustus robustus, Thylogale billardierii and Macropus [Wallabia] bicolor) as well as that of Macropicola ocydromi (a related nematode), and undertook a comparative analysis of the amino acid sequence datasets derived from these genomes.The mt genomes sequenced by next-generation (454) technology from H. macropi from the three host species varied from 13,634 bp to 13,699 bp in size. Pairwise comparisons of the amino acid sequences predicted from these three mt genomes revealed differences of 5.8% to 18%. Phylogenetic analysis of the amino acid sequence data sets using Bayesian Inference (BI) showed that H. macropi from the three different host species formed distinct, well-supported clades. In addition, sliding window analysis of the mt genomes defined variable regions for future population genetic studies of H. macropi in different macropodid hosts and geographical regions around Australia.The present analyses of inferred mt protein sequence datasets clearly supported the hypothesis that H. macropi from M. robustus robustus, M. bicolor and T. billardierii represent distinct species.