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Molecular biology and evolution [journal]
- Coalescent Methods Are Robust to the Simultaneous Effects of Long Branches and Incomplete Lineage Sorting. [JOURNAL ARTICLE]
- Mol Biol Evol 2014 Nov 26.
It is well known that species with elevated substitution rates can give rise to disproportionately long branches in the species tree. This combination of long and short branches can contribute to long-branch artifacts (LBA). Despite efforts to remedy LBA via increased taxon sampling and methodological improvements in gene tree estimation, it remains unclear how long and short branches affect species tree estimation in the presence of incomplete lineage sorting (ILS). Here, we examine the combined influence of long external and short internal branches on concatenation and coalescent methods using both simulated and empirical data. Our results demonstrate that the presence of long and short branches alone does not obviously confound the consistency of concatenation and coalescent methods. However, when long external and short internal branches occur simultaneously with high ILS, concatenation methods can be misled, especially when two of these long branches are sister lineages. In contrast, coalescent methods are more robust under these circumstances. This is particularly relevant because this topological pattern also characterizes numerous ancient rapid radiations across the Tree of Life. Since short internal branches can increase the potential for ILS and gene tree discordance, our results collectively suggest that coalescent methods are more likely to infer the correct species tree in cases of ancient rapid radiations where long external and short internal branches are in close phylogenetic proximity.
- Genomic signatures reveal new evidences for selection of important traits in domestic cattle. [JOURNAL ARTICLE]
- Mol Biol Evol 2014 Nov 26.
We investigated diverse genomic selections using high-density SNP data of five distinct cattle breeds. Based on allele frequency differences, we detected hundreds of candidate regions under positive selection across Holstein, Angus, Charolais, Brahman, and N'Dama. In addition to well-known genes such as KIT, MC1R, ASIP, GHR, LCORL, NCAPG, WIF1 and ABCA12, we found evidence for a variety of novel and less-known genes under selection in cattle, such as LAP3, SAR1B, LRIG3, FGF5, and NUDCD3. Selective sweeps near LAP3 were then validated by next generation sequencing. Genome wide association analysis involving 26,362 Holsteins confirmed that LAP3 and SAR1B were related to milk production traits, suggesting that our candidate regions were likely functional. In addition, haplotype network analyses further revealed distinct selective pressures and evolution patterns across these five cattle breeds. Our results provided a glimpse into diverse genomic selection during cattle domestication, breed formation, and recent genetic improvement. These findings will facilitate genome-assisted breeding to improve animal production and health.
- The evolution and adaptive potential of transcriptional variation in sticklebacks - signatures of selection and widespread heritability. [JOURNAL ARTICLE]
- Mol Biol Evol 2014 Nov 25.
Evidence implicating differential gene expression as a significant driver of evolutionary novelty continues to accumulate, but our understanding of the underlying sources of variation in expression, both environmental and genetic, are wanting. Heritability in particular may be underestimated when inferred from genetic mapping studies, the predominant 'genetical genomics' approach to the study of expression variation. Such uncertainty represents a fundamental limitation to testing for adaptive evolution at the transcriptomic level. By studying the inheritance of expression levels in 10,495 genes (10,527 splice variants) in a threespine stickleback pedigree consisting of 563 individuals, half of which were subjected to a thermal treatment, we show that 74-98% of transcripts exhibit significant additive genetic variance. Dominance variance is also prevalent (41-99% of transcripts), and genetic sources of variation seem to play a more significant role in expression variance in the liver than a key environmental variable, temperature. Among-population comparisons suggest that the majority of differential expression in the liver is likely due to neutral divergence; however, we also show that signatures of directional selection may be more prevalent than those of stabilizing selection. This predominantly aligns with the neutral model of evolution for gene expression, but also suggests that natural selection may still act on transcriptional variation in the wild. Since genetic variation both within- and among-populations ultimately defines adaptive potential, these results indicate that broad adaptive potential may be found within the transcriptome.
- Evolution of the insect desaturase gene family with an emphasis on social Hymenoptera. [JOURNAL ARTICLE]
- Mol Biol Evol 2014 Nov 24.
Desaturase genes are essential for biological processes, including lipid metabolism, cell signaling, and membrane fluidity regulation. Insect desaturases are particularly interesting for their role in chemical communication, and potential contribution to speciation, symbioses, and sociality. Here, we describe the acyl-CoA desaturase gene families of 15 insects, with a focus on social Hymenoptera. Phylogenetic reconstruction revealed that the insect desaturases represent an ancient gene family characterized by eight subfamilies that differ strongly in their degree of conservation and frequency of gene gain and loss. Analyses of genomic organization showed that five of these subfamilies are represented in a highly microsyntenic region conserved across holometabolous insect taxa, indicating an ancestral expansion during early insect evolution. In three subfamilies, ants exhibit particularly large expansions of genes. Despite these expansions, however, selection analyses showed that desaturase genes in all insect lineages are predominantly undergoing strong purifying selection. Finally, for three expanded subfamilies, we show that ants exhibit variation in gene expression between species, and more importantly, between sexes and castes within species. This suggests functional differentiation of these genes and a role in the regulation of reproductive division of labor in ants. The dynamic pattern of gene gain and loss of acyl-CoA desaturases in ants may reflect changes in response to ecological diversification and an increased demand for chemical signal variability. This may provide an example of how gene family expansions can contribute to lineage-specific adaptations through structural and regulatory changes acting in concert to produce new adaptive phenotypes.
- Rare variation facilitates inferences of fine-scale population structure in humans. [JOURNAL ARTICLE]
- Mol Biol Evol 2014 Nov 21.
Understanding the genetic structure of human populations has important implications for the design and interpretation of disease mapping studies and reconstructing human evolutionary history. To date, inferences of human population structure have primarily been made with common variants. However, recent large-scale resequencing studies have shown an abundance of rare variation in humans, which may be particularly useful for making inferences of fine-scale population structure. To this end, we used an information theory framework and extensive coalescent simulations to rigorously quantify the informativeness of rare and common variation to detect signatures of fine-scale population structure. We show that rare variation affords unique insights into patterns of recent population structure. Furthermore, to empirically assess our theoretical findings, we analyzed high-coverage exome sequences in 6,515 European and African American individuals. As predicted, rare variants are more informative than common polymorphisms in revealing a distinct cluster of European-American individuals, and subsequent analyses demonstrate that these individuals are likely of Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry. Our results provide new insights into the population structure using rare variation, which will be an important factor to account for in rare variant association studies.
- Phylogeny of zebrafish, a 'model species', within Danio, a 'model genus' [JOURNAL ARTICLE]
- Mol Biol Evol 2014 Nov 20.
Zebrafish (Danio rerio) is an important model for vertebrate development, genomics, physiology, behavior, toxicology, and disease. Additionally, work on numerous Danio species is elucidating evolutionary mechanisms for morphological development. Yet, the relationships of zebrafish and its closest relatives remain unclear possibly due to incomplete lineage sorting, speciation with gene flow, and interspecies hybridization. To clarify these relationships, we first constructed phylogenomic datasets from 30,801 RAD-tag loci (483,026 variable positions) with clear orthology to a single location in the sequenced zebrafish genome. We then inferred a well-supported species tree for Danio and tested for gene flow during the diversification of the genus. An approach independent of the sequenced zebrafish genome verified all inferred relationships. Although identification of the sister taxon to zebrafish has been contentious, multiple RAD-tag datasets and several analytical methods provided strong evidence for Danio aesculapii as the most closely related extant zebrafish relative studied to date. Data also displayed patterns consistent with gene flow during speciation and post-speciation introgression in the lineage leading to zebrafish. The incorporation of biogeographic data with phylogenomic analyses put these relationships in a phylogeographic context and supplied additional support for D. aesculapii as the sister species to D. rerio. The clear resolution of this study establishes a framework for investigating the evolutionary biology of Danio and the heterogeneity of genome evolution in the recent history of a model organism within an emerging model genus for genetics, development, and evolution.
- Horizontal gene transfer of chlamydial-like tRNA genes into early vascular plant mitochondria. [JOURNAL ARTICLE]
- Mol Biol Evol 2014 Nov 20.
Mitochondrial genomes of lycophytes are surprisingly diverse, including strikingly different tRNA gene complements: No mitochondrial tRNA genes are present in the spikemoss Selaginella moellendorffii, whereas 26 tRNAs are encoded in the chondrome of the clubmoss Huperzia squarrosa. Re-investigating the latter we found that trnL(gag) and trnS(gga) had never before been identified in any other land plant mtDNA. Sensitive sequence comparisons showed these two tRNAs as well as trnN(guu) and trnS(gcu) to be very similar to their respective counterparts in chlamydial bacteria. We identified homologues of these chlamydial-type tRNAs also in other lycophyte, fern and gymnosperm DNAs, suggesting horizontal gene transfer (HGT) into mitochondria in the early vascular plant stem lineages. These findings extend plant mitochondrial HGT to affect individual tRNA genes, to include bacterial donors and suggest that Chlamydiae on top of their recently proposed key role in primary chloroplast establishment may also have participated in early tracheophyte genome evolution.
- Hybrid Dysfunction and Physiological Compensation in Gene Expression. [JOURNAL ARTICLE]
- Mol Biol Evol 2014 Nov 17.
The formation of new species is often a consequence of genetic incompatibilities accumulated between populations during allopatric divergence. When divergent taxa interbreed, these incompatibilities impact physiology and have a direct cost resulting in reduced hybrid fitness. Recent surveys of gene regulation in interspecific hybrids have revealed anomalous expression across large proportions of the genome, with 30-70% of all genes exhibiting transgressive expression (i.e., higher or lower levels compared to both parental taxa), and these were mostly in the direction of down-regulation. However, since most of these studies have focused on pairs of species exhibiting high degrees of reproductive isolation, the association between regulatory disruption and reduced hybrid fitness prior to species formation remains unclear. Within the copepod species Tigriopus californicus, interpopulation hybrids at F2 or later generations show reduced fitness associated with mitochondrial dysfunction. Here we show that in contrast to studies of interspecific hybrids, only 1.2% of the transcriptome is transgressively expressed in F3+ interpopulation hybrids of T. californicus, and nearly 80% of these genes are overexpressed rather than underexpressed; remarkably, none of these genes are among those showing divergent expression between parentals, nor is magnitude of transgressive gene expression in hybrids dependent on levels of protein sequence divergence. Moreover, many genes with transgressive expression are components of functional pathways impacted by mitonuclear incompatibilities in hybrid T. californicus (e.g., oxidative phosphorylation and antioxidant response). Our results suggest that hybrid breakdown at early stages of speciation may result from initial incompatibilities amplified by the cost of compensatory physiological responses.
- Patterns of linkage disequilibrium and long range hitchhiking in evolving experimental Drosophila melanogaster populations. [JOURNAL ARTICLE]
- Mol Biol Evol 2014 Nov 17.
Whole genome re-sequencing of experimental populations evolving under a specific selection regime has become a popular approach to determine genotype-phenotype maps and understand adaptation to new environments. Despite its conceptual appeal and success in identifying some causative genes, it has become apparent that many studies suffer from an excess of candidate loci. Several explanations have been proposed for this phenomenon, but it is clear that information about the linkage structure during such experiments is needed. Until now only Pool-Seq data were available, which do not provide sufficient information about the correlation between linked sites. We address this problem in two complementary analyses of three replicate D. melanogaster populations evolving to a new hot temperature environment for almost 70 generations. In the first analysis, we sequenced 58 haploid genomes from the founder population and evolved flies at generation 67. We show that during the experiment LD increased almost uniformly over much greater distances than typically seen in Drosophila. In the second analysis, Pool-Seq time series data of the three replicates were combined with haplotype information from the founder population to follow blocks of initial haplotypes over time. We identified 17 selected haplotype-blocks that started at low frequencies in the base population and increased in frequency during the experiment. The size of these haplotype-blocks ranged from 0.082 to 4.095 Mb. Moreover, between 42-46% of the top candidate SNPs from the comparison of founder and evolved populations fell into the genomic region covered by the haplotype-blocks. We conclude that LD in such rising haplotype-blocks results in long range hitchhiking over multiple kb sized regions. LD in such haplotype-blocks is therefore a major factor contributing to an excess of candidate loci. While modifications of the experimental design may help to reduce the hitchhiking effect and allow for more precise mapping of causative variants, we also note that such haplotype-blocks might be well suited to study the dynamics of selected genomic regions during experimental evolution studies.
- Phylostratigraphic profiles in zebrafish uncover chordate origins of the vertebrate brain. [JOURNAL ARTICLE]
- Mol Biol Evol 2014 Nov 17.
An elaborated tripartite brain is considered one of the important innovations of vertebrates. Other extant chordate groups have a more basic brain organization. For instance, cephalochordates possess a relatively simple brain possibly homologous to the vertebrate forebrain and hindbrain, whereas tunicates display the tripartite organization, but without the specialized brain centers. The difference in anatomical complexity is even more pronounced if one compares chordates to other deuterostomes that have only a diffuse nerve net or alternatively a rather simple central nervous system. To gain a new perspective on the evolutionary roots of the complex vertebrate brain, we made here a phylostratigraphic analysis of gene expression patterns in the developing zebrafish (Danio rerio). The recovered adaptive landscape revealed three important periods in the evolutionary history of the zebrafish brain. The oldest period corresponds to preadaptive events in the first metazoans and the emergence of the nervous system at the metazoan-eumetazoan transition. The origin of chordates marks the next phase, where we found the overall strongest adaptive imprint in almost all analyzed brain regions. This finding supports the idea that the vertebrate brain evolved independently of the brains within the protostome lineage. Finally, at the origin of vertebrates we detected a pronounced signal coming from the dorsal telencephalon, in agreement with classical theories that consider this part of the cerebrum a genuine vertebrate innovation. Taken together, these results reveal a stepwise adaptive history of the vertebrate brain where most of its extant organization was already present in the chordate ancestor.