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BMC Evol Biol [journal]
- Taming the wild: resolving the gene pools of non-model Arabidopsis lineages. [JOURNAL ARTICLE]
- BMC Evol Biol 2014 Oct 27; 14(1):224.
BackgroundWild relatives in the genus Arabidopsis are recognized as useful model systems to study traits and evolutionary processes in outcrossing species, which are often difficult or even impossible to investigate in the selfing and annual Arabidopsis thaliana. However, Arabidopsis as a genus is littered with sub-species and ecotypes which make realizing the potential of these non-model Arabidopsis lineages problematic. There are relatively few evolutionary studies which comprehensively characterize the gene pools across all of the Arabidopsis supra-groups and hypothesized evolutionary lineages and none include sampling at a world-wide scale. Here we explore the gene pools of these various taxa using various molecular markers and cytological analyses.ResultsBased on ITS, microsatellite, chloroplast and nuclear DNA content data we demonstrate the presence of three major evolutionary groups broadly characterized as A. lyrata group, A. halleri group and A. arenosa group. All are composed of further species and sub-species forming larger aggregates. Depending on the resolution of the marker, a few closely related taxa such as A. pedemontana, A. cebennensis and A. croatica are also clearly distinct evolutionary lineages. ITS sequences and a population-based screen based on microsatellites were highly concordant. The major gene pools identified by ITS sequences were also significantly differentiated by their homoploid nuclear DNA content estimated by flow cytometry. The chloroplast genome provided less resolution than the nuclear data, and it remains unclear whether the extensive haplotype sharing apparent between taxa results from gene flow or incomplete lineage sorting in this relatively young group of species with Pleistocene origins.ConclusionsOur study provides a comprehensive overview of the genetic variation within and among the various taxa of the genus Arabidopsis. The resolved gene pools and evolutionary lineages will set the framework for future comparative studies on genetic diversity. Extensive population-based phylogeographic studies will also be required, however, in particular for A. arenosa and their affiliated taxa and cytotypes.
- Geological events and Pliocene climate fluctuations explain the phylogeographical pattern of the cold water fish Rhynchocypris oxycephalus (Cypriniformes: Cyprinidae) in China. [JOURNAL ARTICLE]
- BMC Evol Biol 2014 Oct 25; 14(1):225.
Background Rhynchocypris oxycephalus is a cold water fish with a wide geographic distribution including the relatively warm temperate regions of southern China. It also occurs in second- and third-step geomorphic areas in China. Previous studies have postulated that high-altitude populations of R. oxycephalus in southern China are Quaternary glacial relics. In this study, we used the mitochondrial gene Cytb and the nuclear gene RAG2 to investigate the species phylogeographical patterns and to test two biogeographic hypotheses: (1) that divergence between lineages supports the three-step model and (2) climatic fluctuations during the Quaternary resulted in the present distribution in southern China.ResultsPhylogenetic analysis detected three major matrilines (A, B, and C); with matrilines B and C being further subdivided into two submatrilines. Based on genetic distances and morphological differences, matriline A potentially represents a cryptic subspecies. The geographic division between matrilines B and C coincided with the division of the second and third geomorphic steps in China, suggesting a historical vicariance event. Pliocene climatic fluctuations might have facilitated the southwards dispersal of R. oxycephalus in matriline C, with the subsequent warming resulting in its split into submatrilines C1 and C2, leaving submatriline C2 as a relic in southern China.ConclusionsOur study demonstrates that geological events (three steps orogenesis) and climate fluctuations during the Pliocene were important factors in shaping phylogeographical patterns in R. oxycephalus. Notably, no genetic diversity was detected in several populations, all of which possessed unique genotypes. This indicates the uniqueness of local populations and calls for a special conservation plan for the whole species at the population level.
- Dynamic evolution of the GnRH receptor gene family in vertebrates. [JOURNAL ARTICLE]
- BMC Evol Biol 2014 Oct 25; 14(1):215.
BackgroundElucidating the mechanisms underlying coevolution of ligands and receptors is an important challenge in molecular evolutionary biology. Peptide hormones and their receptors are excellent models for such efforts, given the relative ease of examining evolutionary changes in genes encoding for both molecules. Most vertebrates possess multiple genes for both the decapeptide gonadotropin releasing hormone (GnRH) and for the GnRH receptor. The evolutionary history of the receptor family, including ancestral copy number and timing of duplications and deletions, has been the subject of controversy.ResultsWe report here for the first time sequences of three distinct GnRH receptor genes in salamanders (axolotls, Ambystoma mexicanum), which are orthologous to three GnRH receptors from ranid frogs. To understand the origin of these genes within the larger evolutionary context of the gene family, we performed phylogenetic analyses and probabilistic protein homology searches of GnRH receptor genes in vertebrates and their near relatives. Our analyses revealed four points that alter previous views about the evolution of the GnRH receptor gene family. First, the ¿mammalian¿ pituitary type GnRH receptor, which is the sole GnRH receptor in humans and previously presumed to be highly derived because it lacks the cytoplasmic C-terminal domain typical of most G-protein coupled receptors, is actually an ancient gene that originated in the common ancestor of jawed vertebrates (Gnathostomata). Second, unlike previous studies, we classify vertebrate GnRH receptors into five subfamilies. Third, the order of subfamily origins is the inverse of previous proposed models. Fourth, the number of GnRH receptor genes has been dynamic in vertebrates and their ancestors, with multiple duplications and losses.ConclusionOur results provide a novel evolutionary framework for generating hypotheses concerning the functional importance of structural characteristics of vertebrate GnRH receptors. We show that five subfamilies of vertebrate GnRH receptors evolved early in the vertebrate phylogeny, followed by several independent instances of gene loss. Chief among cases of gene loss are humans, best described as degenerate with respect to GnRH receptors because we retain only a single, ancient gene.
- Range shift and introgression of the rear and leading populations in two ecologically distinct Rubus species. [JOURNAL ARTICLE]
- BMC Evol Biol 2014 Oct 25; 14(1):209.
BackgroundThe margins of a species¿ range might be located at the margins of a species¿ niche, and in such cases, can be highly vulnerable to climate changes. They, however, may also undergo significant evolutionary change due to drastic population dynamics; e.g., changes in population size and distribution, which may increase the chance of contact among species. Such species interactions induced by climate changes could then regulate or facilitate further responses to climatic changes. We hypothesized that climate change-induced species contacts and subsequent genetic exchanges due to differences in population dynamics take place at the species boundaries. We sampled two closely related Rubus species, one temperate (Rubus palmatus) and the other subtropical (R. grayanus) near their joint species boundaries in southern Japan. Coalescent analysis, based on molecular data and ecological niche modelling during the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM), were used to infer past population dynamics. At the contact zones on Yakushima (Yaku Island), where the two species are parapatrically distributed, we tested hybridization along altitudinal gradients.ResultsCoalescent analysis suggested that the southernmost populations of R. palmatus predated the LGM (~20,000 ya). Conversely, populations at the current northern limit of R. grayanus diverged relatively recently and likely represent young outposts of a northbound range shift. These population dynamics were partly supported by the ensemble forecasting of six different species distribution models. Both past and ongoing hybridizations were detected near and on Yakushima. Backcrosses and advanced-generation hybrids likely generated the clinal hybrid zones along altitudinal gradients on the island where the two species are currently parapatrically distributed.ConclusionsClimate oscillations during the Quaternary Period and the response of a species in range shifts likely led to repeated contacts with the gene pools of ecologically distinct relatives. Such species interactions, induced by climate changes, may bring new genetic material to the marginal populations where species tend to experience more extreme climatic conditions at the margins of the species distribution.
- Global distribution of Chelonid fibropapilloma-associated herpesvirus among clinically healthy sea turtles. [JOURNAL ARTICLE]
- BMC Evol Biol 2014 Oct 25; 14(1):206.
BackgroundFibropapillomatosis (FP) is a neoplastic disease characterized by cutaneous tumours that has been documented to infect all sea turtle species. Chelonid fibropapilloma-associated herpesvirus (CFPHV) is believed to be the aetiological agent of FP, based principally on consistent PCR-based detection of herpesvirus DNA sequences from FP tumours. We used a recently described PCR-based assay that targets 3 conserved CFPHV genes, to survey 208 green turtles (Chelonia mydas). This included both FP tumour exhibiting and clinically healthy individuals. An additional 129 globally distributed clinically healthy individual sea turtles; representing four other species were also screened.ResultsCFPHV DNA sequences were obtained from 37/37 (100%) FP exhibiting green turtles, and 45/300 (15%) clinically healthy animals spanning all five species. Although the frequency of infected individuals per turtle population varied considerably, most global populations contained at least one CFPHV positive individual, with the exception of various turtle species from the Arabian Gulf, Northern Indian Ocean and Puerto Rico.Haplotype analysis of the different gene markers clustered the CFPHV DNA sequences for two of the markers (UL18 and UL22) in turtles from Turks and Caicos separate to all others, regardless of host species or geographic origin.ConclusionPresence of CFPHV DNA within globally distributed samples for all five species of sea turtle was confirmed. While 100% of the FP exhibiting green turtles yielded CFPHV sequences, surprisingly, so did 15% of the clinically healthy turtles. We hypothesize that turtle populations with zero (0%) CFPHV frequency may be attributed to possible environmental differences, diet and/or genetic resistance in these individuals. Our results provide first data on the prevalence of CFPHV among seemingly healthy turtles; a factor that may not be directly correlated to the disease incidence, but may suggest of a long-term co-evolutionary latent infection interaction between CFPHV and its turtle-host across species. Finally, computational analysis of amino acid variants within the Turks and Caicos samples suggest potential functional importance in a substitution for marker UL18 that encodes the major capsid protein gene, which potentially could explain differences in pathogenicity. Nevertheless, such a theory remains to be validated by further research.
- Cretaceous environmental changes led to high extinction rates in a hyperdiverse beetle family. [JOURNAL ARTICLE]
- BMC Evol Biol 2014 Oct 21; 14(1):220.
BackgroundAs attested by the fossil record, Cretaceous environmental changes have significantly impacted the diversification dynamics of several groups of organisms. A major biome turnover that occurred during this period was the rise of angiosperms starting ca. 125 million years ago. Though there is evidence that the latter promoted the diversification of phytophagous insects, the response of other insect groups to Cretaceous environmental changes is still largely unknown. To gain novel insights on this issue, we assess the diversification dynamics of a hyperdiverse family of detritivorous beetles (Tenebrionidae) using molecular dating and diversification analyses.ResultsAge estimates reveal an origin after the Triassic-Jurassic mass extinction (older than previously thought), followed by the diversification of major lineages during Pangaean and Gondwanan breakups. Dating analyses indicate that arid-adapted species diversified early, while most of the lineages that are adapted to more humid conditions diversified much later. Contrary to other insect groups, we found no support for a positive shift in diversification rates during the Cretaceous; instead there is evidence for an 8.5-fold increase in extinction rates that was not compensated by a joint increase in speciation rates.ConclusionsWe hypothesize that this pattern is better explained by the concomitant reduction of arid environments starting in the mid-Cretaceous, which likely negatively impacted the diversification of arid-adapted species that were predominant at that time.
- Ingestion of radioactively contaminated diets for two generations in the pale grass blue butterfly. [JOURNAL ARTICLE]
- BMC Evol Biol 2014 Sep 23; 14(1):193.
The release of radioactive materials due to the Fukushima nuclear accident has raised concern regarding the biological impacts of ingesting radioactively contaminated diets on organisms. We previously performed an internal exposure experiment in which contaminated leaves collected from polluted areas were fed to larvae of the pale grass blue butterfly, Zizeeria maha, from Okinawa, which is one of the least polluted localities in Japan. Using the same experimental system, in the present study, we further examined the effects of low-level-contaminated diets on this butterfly. Leaves were collected from two localities in Tohoku (Motomiya (161 Bq/kg) and Koriyama (117 Bq/kg)); two in Kanto (Kashiwa (47.6 Bq/kg) and Musashino (6.4 Bq/kg)); one in Tokai (Atami (2.5 Bq/kg)); and from Okinawa (0.2 Bq/kg). In addition to the effects on the first generation, we examined the possible transgenerational effects of the diets on the next generation.In the first generation, the Tohoku groups showed higher rates of mortality and abnormalities and a smaller forewing size than the Okinawa group. The mortality rates were largely dependent on the ingested dose of caesium. The survival rates of the Kanto-Tokai groups were greater than 80%, but the rates in the Tohoku groups were much lower. In the next generation, the survival rates in the Tohoku groups were below 20%, whereas those of the Okinawa groups were above 70%. The survival rates in the second generation were independent of the locality of the leaves ingested by the first generation, indicating that the diet in the second generation was the determinant of their survival. Moreover, a smaller forewing size was observed in the Tohoku groups in the second generation. However, the forewing size was inversely correlated with the cumulative caesium dose ingested throughout the first and second generations, indicating that the diet in the first generation also influenced the forewing size of the second generation.Biological effects are detectable under a low ingested dose of radioactivity from a contaminated diet. The effects are transgenerational but can be overcome by ingesting a non-contaminated diet, suggesting that at least some of the observed effects are attributable to non-genetic physiological changes.
- Neofunctionalization of a duplicate hatching enzyme gene during the evolution of teleost fishes. [JOURNAL ARTICLE]
- BMC Evol Biol 2014 Oct 19; 14(1):221.
BackgroundDuplication and subsequent neofunctionalization of the teleostean hatching enzyme gene occurred in the common ancestor of Euteleostei and Otocephala, producing two genes belonging to different phylogenetic clades (clades I and II). In euteleosts, the clade I enzyme inherited the activity of the ancestral enzyme of swelling the egg envelope by cleavage of the N-terminal region of egg envelope proteins. The clade II enzyme gained two specific cleavage sites, N-ZPd and mid-ZPd but lost the ancestral activity. Thus, euteleostean clade II enzymes assumed a new function; solubilization of the egg envelope by the cooperative action with clade I enzyme. However, in Otocephala, the clade II gene was lost during evolution. Consequently, in a late group of Otocephala, only the clade I enzyme is present to swell the egg envelope. We evaluated the egg envelope digestion properties of clade I and II enzymes in Gonorynchiformes, an early diverging group of Otocephala, using milkfish, and compared their digestion with those of other fishes. Finally, we propose a hypothesis the neofunctionalization process.ResultsThe milkfish clade II enzyme cleaved N-ZPd but not mid-ZPd, and did not cause solubilization of the egg envelope. We conclude that neofunctionalization is incomplete in the otocephalan clade II enzymes. Comparison of clade I and clade II enzyme characteristics implies that the specificity of the clade II enzymes gradually changed during evolution after the duplication event, and that a change in substrate was required for the addition of the mid-ZPd site and loss of activity at the N-terminal region.ConclusionsWe infer the process of neofunctionalization of the clade II enzyme after duplication of the gene. The ancestral clade II gene gained N-ZPd cleavage activity in the common ancestral lineage of the Euteleostei and Otocephala. Subsequently, acquisition of cleavage activity at the mid-ZPd site and loss of cleavage activity in the N-terminal region occurred during the evolution of Euteleostei, but not of Otocephala. The clade II enzyme provides an example of the development of a neofunctional gene for which the substrate, the egg envelope protein, has adapted to a gradual change in the specificity of the corresponding enzyme.
- Complex body size trends in the evolution of sloths (Xenarthra: Pilosa). [JOURNAL ARTICLE]
- BMC Evol Biol 2014 Sep 10; 14(1):184.
Extant sloths present an evolutionary conundrum in that the two living genera are superficially similar (small-bodied, folivorous, arboreal) but diverged from one another approximately 30 million years ago and are phylogenetically separated by a radiation of medium to massive, mainly ground-dwelling, taxa. Indeed, the species in the two living genera are among the smallest, and perhaps most unusual, of the 50+ known sloth species, and must have independently and convergently evolved small size and arboreality. In order to accurately reconstruct sloth evolution, it is critical to incorporate their extinct diversity in analyses. Here, we used a dataset of 57 species of living and fossil sloths to examine changes in body mass mean and variance through their evolution, employing a general time-variable model that allows for analysis of evolutionary trends in continuous characters within clades lacking fully-resolved phylogenies, such as sloths.Our analyses supported eight models, all of which partition sloths into multiple subgroups, suggesting distinct modes of body size evolution among the major sloth lineages. Model-averaged parameter values supported trended walks in most clades, with estimated rates of body mass change ranging as high as 126 kg/million years for the giant ground sloth clades Megatheriidae and Nothrotheriidae. Inclusion of living sloth species in the analyses weakened reconstructed rates for their respective groups, with estimated rates for Megalonychidae (large to giant ground sloths and the extant two-toed sloth) were four times higher when the extant genus Choloepus was excluded.Analyses based on extant taxa alone have the potential to oversimplify or misidentify macroevolutionary patterns. This study demonstrates the impact that integration of data from the fossil record can have on reconstructions of character evolution and establishes that body size evolution in sloths was complex, but dominated by trended walks towards the enormous sizes exhibited in some recently extinct forms.
- Morphological differentiation despite gene flow in an endangered grasshopper. [JOURNAL ARTICLE]
- BMC Evol Biol 2014 Oct 16; 14(1):216.
BackgroundGene flow is traditionally considered a limitation to speciation because selection is required to counter the homogenising effect of allele exchange. Here we report on two sympatric short-horned grasshoppers species in the South Island of New Zealand; one (Sigaus australis) widespread and the other (Sigaus childi) a narrow endemic.ResultsOf the 79 putatively neutral markers (mtDNA, microsatellite loci, ITS sequences and RAD-seq SNPs) all but one marker we examined showed extensive allele sharing, and similar or identical allele frequencies in the two species where they co-occur. We found no genetic evidence of deviation from random mating in the region of sympatry. However, analysis of morphological and geometric traits revealed no evidence of morphological introgression.ConclusionsBased on phenotype the two species are clearly distinct, but their genotypes thus far reveal no divergence. The best explanation for this is that some loci associated with the distinguishing morphological characters are under strong selection, but exchange of neutral loci is occurring freely between the two species. Although it is easier to define species as requiring a barrier between them, a dynamic model that accommodates gene flow is a biologically more reasonable explanation for these grasshoppers.