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Title Date Issued Date Released Description
Data from: Interspecific genetics of speciation phenotypes: song and preference coevolution in Hawaiian crickets
05-16-2012 10-05-2015
Understanding the genetic architecture of traits involved in premating isolation between recently diverged lineages can provide valuable insight regarding the mode and tempo of speciation. The repeated coevolution of male courtship song and female preference across the species radiation of Laupala crickets presents an unusual opportunity to compare the genetic basis of divergence across independent evolutionary histories. Previous studies of one pair of species revealed a polygenic basis (including a significant X chromosome contribution) to quantitative differences in male song and female acoustic preference. Here we studied interspecific crosses between two phenotypically less diverged species that represents a phylogenetically independent occurrence of intersexual signaling evolution. We found patterns consistent with an additive polygenic basis to differentiation in both song and preference (nE=5.3 and 5.1 genetic factors, respectively), and estimate a moderate contribution of the X chromosome (7.6%) of similar magnitude to that observed for Laupala species with nearly twice the phenotypic divergence. Together, these findings suggest a similar genetic architecture underlying the parallel evolution of sexual characters in this genus and provide a counterexample to prevailing theory predicting an association between early lineage divergence and sex-linked ‘major genes’.
Data from: Reproductive success of captively bred and naturally spawned Chinook salmon colonizing newly accessible habitat
06-11-2012 02-21-2013
Captively reared animals can provide an immediate demographic boost in reintroduction programs but may also reduce the fitness of colonizing populations. Construction of a fish passage facility at Landsburg Diversion Dam on the Cedar River, WA, USA, provided a unique opportunity to explore this trade-off. We thoroughly sampled adult Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) at the onset of colonization (2003 – 2009), constructed a pedigree from genotypes at 10 microsatellite loci, and calculated reproductive success (RS) as the total number of returning adult offspring. Hatchery males were consistently but not significantly less productive than naturally spawned males (range in relative RS: 0.70 – 0.90), but the pattern for females varied between years. The sex ratio was heavily biased towards males, so inclusion of the hatchery males increased the risk of a genetic fitness cost with little demographic benefit. Measurements of natural selection indicated that larger salmon had higher RS than smaller fish. Fish that arrived early to the spawning grounds tended to be more productive than later fish, although in some years, RS was maximized at intermediate dates. Our results underscore the importance of natural and sexual selection in promoting adaptation during reintroductions.
Data from: Reconstruction of caribou evolutionary history in Western North America and its implications for conservation
05-22-2012 08-07-2012
The role of Beringia as a refugium and route for trans-continental exchange of fauna during glacial cycles of the past 2 million years are well documented; less apparent is its contribution as a significant reservoir of genetic diversity. Using mitochondrial DNA sequences and 14 microsatellite loci, we investigate the phylogeographic history of caribou (Rangifer tarandus) in western North America. Patterns of genetic diversity reveal two distinct groups of caribou. Caribou classified as a Northern group, of Beringian origin, exhibited greater number and variability in mtDNA haplotypes compared to a Southern group originating from refugia south of glacial ice. Results indicate that subspecies R. t. granti of Alaska and R. t. groenlandicus of northern Canada do not constitute distinguishable units at mtDNA or microsatellites, belying their current status as separate subspecies. Additionally, the Northern Mountain ecotype of woodland caribou (presently R. t. caribou) has closer kinship to caribou classified as granti or groenlandicus. Comparisons of mtDNA and microsatellite data suggest that behavioural and ecological specialization is a more recently derived life history characteristic. Notably, microsatellite differentiation among Southern herds is significantly greater, most likely as a result of human-induced landscape fragmentation and genetic drift due to smaller population sizes. These results not only provide important insight into the evolutionary history of northern species such as caribou, but also are important indicators for managers evaluating conservation measures for this threatened species.
Data from: Spatial structure of ecological opportunity drives adaptation in a bacterium
06-19-2012 08-21-2015
Abundant ecological opportunity is thought to drive adaptation and diversification. The presence of multiple opportunities leads to divergent selection, which can slow adaptation when niche-specific beneficial mutations have antagonistically pleiotropic effects. Alternately, competition for multiple opportunities can generate divergent selection leading to high rates of adaptive differentiation. Which outcome occurs may depend on the spatial structure of those ecological opportunities. In a mixture of resources, competition for multiple opportunities can drive divergent selection; however if each resource is available in a spatially distinct patch, competition for multiple opportunities simultaneously cannot occur. We report the effects of extent and spatial structure of ecological opportunity on the evolutionary dynamics of populations of Pseudomonas fluorescens over 1000 generations. We varied extent of ecological opportunity by varying the number of sugar resources (mannose, glucose, and xylose), and varied spatial structure by providing resources in either mixtures, or spatially distinct patches. We saw that a particularly novel resource (xylose) drove the rate of adaptation when in a mixture but had no effect on diversity. Instead we saw the evolution of a single adaptive strategy that differed with respect to phenotype and degree of specialization, depending on both the extent and spatial structure of ecological opportunity.
Data from: Post Permo-Triassic terrestrial vertebrate recovery southwestern United States
09-01-2012 05-09-2013
Recovery of marine biodiversity following the Permo-Triassic extinction is thought to have been delayed relative to other mass extinctions. Terrestrial vertebrate biodiversity is said to have taken as much as 15 Myr longer to recover than the marine. The present study tests, at the scale of an individual fossil community, whether a disparity in biodiversity existed in the American Southwest, between the Moenkopi Formation, containing an early Middle Triassic (Anisian) terrestrial tetrapod fauna, and the Chinle Formation, containing a successor Late Triassic (Norian) tetrapod fauna. Taking Chinle faunal biodiversity to represent full biotic recovery, comparison of taxonomic and guild diversity of faunas from similar depositional and taphonomic environments in these two formations allowed us to assess the possibility of incipient terrestrial recovery of biodiversity in the Anisian. Comparisons were made between the Holbrook Member fauna of the Moenkopi, a unit best characterized as a low-sinuosity medium- to coarse-grained fluvial deposit, and each of four Chinle stratigraphic units, representing fluvial settings from sandy low-sinuosity to muddy high-sinuosity. Three metrics were applied: generic and familial taxonomic diversity and guild diversity; these were compared by rarefaction. Simpson and Shannon diversity metrics augmented the analysis. Units of extraordinary preservation in the Chinle—the so-called blue layers—were removed from the analysis. In all tests the biodiversity of the Holbrook Member fauna is within the variation seen in Chinle faunas. If the results of our study represent global conditions, they suggest that by at least early Anisian time (6 Myr after the P/T extinction) biodiversity had reached levels comparable to those seen in the Late Triassic. This potentially brings the terrestrial vertebrate recovery in line with the 4–8 Myr it took for recovery in the marine realm.
Data from: Infection intensity and infectivity of the tick-borne pathogen Borrelia afzelii
04-26-2012 06-21-2012
The ‘trade-off’ hypothesis for virulence evolution assumes that between-host transmission rate is a positive and saturating function of pathogen exploitation and virulence, but there are as yet few tests of this assumption, in particular for vector-borne pathogens. Here, I show that the infectivity (probability of transmission) of the tick-borne bacterium Borrelia afzelii from two of its natural rodent hosts (bank vole and yellow-necked mouse) to its main tick vector increases asymptotically with increasing exploitation (measured as bacterial load in skin biopsies). Hence, this result provides support for one of the basic assumptions of the ‘trade-off hypothesis’. Moreover, there was no difference in infectivity between bank voles and yellow-necked mice despite bacterial loads being on average an order of magnitude higher in bank voles, most likely because ticks took larger blood meals from mice. This shows that interspecific variation in host resistance does not necessarily translate into a difference in infectivity.
Data from: Characterization of 42 polymorphic microsatellite loci in Mimulus ringens (Phrymaceae) using Illumina sequencing
11-28-2012 10-26-2015
Premise of the study: Microsatellite markers were isolated and characterized in Mimulus ringens (Phrymaceae), a herbaceous wetland perennial, to facilitate studies of mating patterns and population genetic structure. Methods and Results: A total of 42 polymorphic loci were identified from a sample of 24 individuals from a single popula- tion in Ohio, USA. The number of alleles per locus ranged from two to nine, and median observed heterozygosity was 0.435. Conclusions: This large number of polymorphic loci will enable researchers to quantify male fitness, patterns of multiple pa- ternity, selfing, and biparental inbreeding in large natural populations of this species. These markers will also permit detailed study of fine-scale patterns of genetic structure.
Data from: Mitochondrial and morphological variation of Tilapia zillii in Israel
04-02-2012 04-02-2012
BACKGROUND: Tilapia zillii is widespread in the East Levant inland aquatic systems as well as in artificial water reservoirs. In this study we explore the genetic and morphological variation of this widespread species, using mitochondrial control-region sequences and meristic characters. We examine the hypothesis that T. zilli's population structure corresponds to the four Israeli aquatic systems. RESULTS: Out of seven natural water bodies, only two were found to possess genetically divergent populations of T. zillii. In addition to its presence in fish farms, the species was found in two artificial recreational ponds which were supposed to have been stocked only with other fish species. In these two artificial habitats, the haplotype frequencies diverged significantly from those of natural populations. Finally, fish from the Dead Sea springs of Ne'ot HaKikar appear to differ both genetically and morphologically from fish of the same aquatic system but not from fish of other water systems. CONCLUSIONS: Our results show that the population structure of T. zillii does not match the geography of the Israeli water-basins, with the exception of the Dead Sea and Kishon River, when considering natural populations only. The absence of a significant divergence between basins is discussed. Our results and observations suggest that the Ne'ot HaKikar Dead Sea population and those of artificial ponds could have originated from the "hitchhiking" of T. zillii, at the expense of some other cultivated tilapiine species.
Data from: Ontogeny tends to recapitulate phylogeny in digital organisms
07-16-2012 10-27-2015
Biologists have long debated whether ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny and, if so, why. Two plausible explanations are that (i) changes to early developmental stages are selected against because they tend to disrupt later development and (ii) simpler structures often precede more complex ones in both ontogeny and phylogeny if the former serve as building blocks for the latter. It is difficult to test these hypotheses experimentally in natural systems, so we used a computational system that exhibits evolutionary dynamics. We observed that ontogeny does indeed recapitulate phylogeny; traits that arose earlier in a lineage’s history also tended to be expressed earlier in the development of individuals. The relative complexity of traits contributed substantially to this correlation, but a significant tendency toward recapitulation remained even after accounting for trait complexity. This additional effect provides evidence that selection against developmental disruption also contributed to the conservation of early stages in development.
Data from: A reconsideration of the classification of the spider infraorder Mygalomorphae based on three nuclear genes and morphology (Arachnida: Araneae)
06-19-2012 06-26-2012
BACKGROUND: The infraorder Mygalomorphae (i.e., trapdoor spiders, tarantulas, funnel web spiders, etc.) is one of three main lineages of spiders. Comprising 15 families, 325 genera, and over 2,600 species, the group is a diverse assemblage that has retained a number of features considered primitive for spiders. Despite an evolutionary history dating back to the lower Triassic, the group has received comparatively little attention with respect to its phylogeny and higher classification. The few phylogenies published all share the common thread that a stable classification scheme for the group remains unresolved. METHODS AND FINDINGS: We report here a reevaluation of mygalomorph phylogeny using the rRNA genes 18S and 28S, the nuclear protein-coding gene EF-1γ, and a morphological character matrix. Taxon sampling includes members of all 15 families representing 58 genera. The following results are supported in our phylognetic analyses of the data: (1) the Atypoidea (i.e., antrodiaetids, atypids, and mecicobothriids) is a monophyletic group sister to all other mygalomorphs; and (2) the families Mecicobothriidae, Hexathelidae, Cyrtaucheniidae, Nemesiidae, Ctenizidae, and Dipluridae are not monophyletic. The Microstigmatidae is likely to be subsumed into Nemesiidae. Nearly half of all mygalomorph families require reevaluation of generic composition and placement. The polyphyletic family Cyrtaucheniidae is most problematic, representing no fewer than four unrelated lineages. CONCLUSIONS: Based on these analyses we propose the following nomenclatural changes: (1) the establishment of the family Euctenizidae (NEW RANK); (2) establishment of the subfamily Apomastinae within the Euctenizidae; and (3) the transfer of the cyrtaucheniid genus Kiama to Nemesiidae. Additional changes include relimitation of Domiothelina and Theraphosoidea, and the establishment of the Euctenizoidina clade (Idiopidae + Euctenizidae). In addition to these changes, we propose a “road map” for future sampling across the infraorder with the aim of solving many remaining vexing questions that plague mygalomorph systematics.
Data from: The contribution of female meiotic drive to the evolution of neo-sex chromosomes
05-09-2012 10-09-2012
Sex chromosomes undergo rapid turnover in certain taxonomic groups. One of the mechanisms of sex chromosome turnover involves fusions between sex chromosomes and autosomes. Sexual antagonism, heterozygote advantage, and genetic drift have been proposed as the drivers for the fixation of this evolutionary event. However, all empirical patterns of the prevalence of multiple sex chromosome systems across different taxa cannot be simply explained by these three mechanisms. In this study, we propose that female meiotic drive may contribute to the evolution of neo-sex chromosomes. The results of this study showed that in mammals, the XY1Y2 sex chromosome system is more prevalent in species with karyotypes of more bi-armed chromosomes, whereas the X1X2Y sex chromosome system is more prevalent in species with predominantly acrocentric chromosomes. In species where bi-armed chromosomes are favored by female meiotic drive, X-autosome fusions (XY1Y2 sex chromosome system) will be also favored by female meiotic drive. In contrast, in species with more acrocentric chromosomes, Y-autosome fusions (X1X2Y sex chromosome system) will be favored just because of the biased mutation rate towards chromosomal fusions. Further consideration should be given to female meiotic drive as a mechanism in the fixation of neo-sex chromosomes.
Data from: Adaptive molecular evolution of a defence gene in sexual but not functionally asexual evening primroses
05-15-2012 08-16-2012
Theory predicts that sexual reproduction provides evolutionary advantages over asexual reproduction by reducing mutational load and increasing adaptive potential. Here, we test the latter prediction in the context of plant defences against pathogens because pathogens frequently reduce plant fitness and drive the evolution of plant defences. Specifically, we ask whether sexual evening primrose plant lineages (Onagraceae) have faster rates of adaptive molecular evolution and altered gene expression of a class I chitinase, a gene implicated in defence against pathogens, than functionally asexual evening primrose lineages. We found that the ratio of amino acid to silent substitutions (Ka/Ks = 0.19 vs. 0.11 for sexual and asexual lineages, respectively), the number of sites identified to be under positive selection (four vs. zero for sexual and asexual lineages, respectively) and the expression of chitinase were all higher in sexual than in asexual lineages. Our results are congruent with the conclusion that a loss of sexual recombination and segregation in the Onagraceae negatively affects adaptive structural and potentially regulatory evolution of a plant defence protein.
Data from: A meta-analysis of community response predictability to anthropogenic disturbances.
06-18-2012 04-25-2013
Disturbances often lead to changes in average values of community properties; however, disturbances can also affect the predictability of a community’s response. We performed a meta-analysis to determine how response predictability, defined as among-replicate variance in diversity and community abundance, is affected by species removals, species invasions, nutrient addition, temperature increase, and habitat loss/fragmentation, and we further determined whether response predictability differed according to habitat and trophic role. Species removals and nutrient addition decreased response predictability, while species invasions increased response predictability. In aquatic habitats, disturbances generally led to a decrease in response predictability, whereas terrestrial habitats showed no overall change in response predictability, suggesting that differences in food web and ecosystem structure affect how communities respond to disturbance. Producers were also more likely to show decreases in response predictability, particularly following species removals, highlighting widespread destabilizing effects of species loss at the producer level. Overall, our results show that whether disturbances cause changes in response predictability is highly contingent on disturbance type, habitat, and trophic role. The nature of changes in response predictability—for example, strong decreases following species invasions and increases following species removals—will likely play a major role in how communities recover from disturbance.
Data from: Nest predation risk and growth strategies of passerine species: grow fast or develop traits to escape risk?
07-18-2012 10-21-2015
Different body components are thought to trade off in their growth and development rates, but the causes for relative prioritization of any trait remains a critical question. Offspring of species at higher risk of predation might prioritize development of locomotor traits that facilitate escaping risky environments over growth of mass. We tested this possibility in 12 altricial passerine species that differed in their risk of nest predation. We found that rates of growth and development of mass, wings, and endothermy increased with nest predation risk across species. In particular, species with higher nest predation risk exhibited relatively faster growth of wings than of mass, fledged with relatively larger wing sizes and smaller mass, and developed endothermy earlier at relatively smaller mass. This differential development can facilitate both escape from predators and survival outside of the nest environment. Tarsus growth was not differentially prioritized with respect to nest predation risk, and instead all species achieved adult tarsus size by age of fledging. We also tested whether different foraging modes (aerial, arboreal, and ground foragers) might explain the variation of differential growth of locomotor modules, but we found that little residual variation was explained. Our results suggest that differences in nest predation risk among species are associated with relative prioritization of body components to facilitate escape from the risky nest environment.
Data from: Tales of the unexpected: Phylogeography of the arctic-alpine model plant Saxifraga oppositifolia (Saxifragaceae) revisited
07-19-2012 09-26-2012
Arctic-alpine biota occupy enormous areas in the Arctic and the northern hemisphere mountain ranges, and have undergone major range shifts during their comparatively short history. The origins of individual arctic-alpine species remain largely unknown. In the case of the Purple saxifrage, Saxifraga oppositifolia, an important model for arctic-alpine plants, phylogeographic studies have remained inconclusive about early stages of the species’ spatiotemporal diversification, but have provided evidence for long-range colonization out of a presumed Beringian origin to cover today's circumpolar range. . We re-evaluated the species’ large-scale range dynamics based on a geographically extended sampling including crucial areas such as Central Asia and the (south-)eastern European mountain ranges and employing up-to-date phylogeographic analyses of a plastid sequence and a more restricted AFLP data set. In accordance with previous studies, we detected two major plastid DNA lineages also reflected in AFLP divergence, suggesting a long and independent vicariant history. Although we were unable to determine the species’ area of origin, our results point to the Alps and probably Central Asia, respectively, as the likely ancestral areas of the two main clades. AFLP data suggested that contact areas between the two clades in Eastern Europe, Northern Siberia and Greenland were secondary. In marked contrast to high levels of diversity revealed in previous studies, populations from the major arctic refugium Beringia did not exhibit any plastid sequence polymorphism. Our study shows that adequate sampling of the southern, refugial populations is crucial for understanding the range dynamics of arctic-alpine species.
Data from: Parents lend a helping hand to their offspring in plant defence
06-13-2012 02-12-2013
Plants under attack by pathogens and pests can mount a range of inducible defences, encompassing both chemical and structural changes. Although few reports exist, it appears that plants responding to pathogen or herbivore attack, or chemical defence elicitors, may produce progeny which are better able to defend themselves against attack, compared to progeny from unthreatened or untreated plants. To date, all research on transgenerational effects of biotic stress have been conducted on dicotyledenous plants. We examined the possibility that resistance induced by application of chemical defence elicitors to the monocot plant barley, could be passed on to the progeny. Plants were treated with acibenzolar-S-methyl (ASM) or saccharin, and grain harvested at maturity. Germination was unaffected in seed collected from plants treated with saccharin, while germination was reduced significantly in seed collected from ASM-treated plants. The subsequent growth of the seedlings was not significantly different in any of the treatments. However, plants from parents treated with ASM or saccharin both exhibited significantly enhanced resistance to infection by Rhynchosporium commune, despite not being treated with elicitor themselves. These data hint at the possibility of producing disease-resistant plants by exposing parent plants to chemical elicitors.
Data from: Variation in adult sex ratio alters the association between courtship, mating frequency and paternity in the lek-forming fruitfly Ceratitis capitata.
06-21-2012 09-12-2012
The intensity with which males deliver courtship and the frequency with which they mate are key components of male reproductive success. However, we expect the strength of the relationship between these traits and a male’s overall paternity to be strongly context dependent, e.g. to be altered significantly by the extent of post-mating competition. We tested this prediction in a lekking insect, Ceratitis capitata (medfly). We examined the effect of manipulating the sex ratio from male- to female-biased (high and low male competition, respectively) on courtship behaviour, mating frequency and paternity of focal males. Under high male competition, focal males delivered significantly more courtship but gained lower paternity than under lower competition. Paternity was positively associated with mating frequency and small residual testes size. However, the association between mating frequency and paternity was significantly stronger under low competition. We conclude that manipulation of sex ratio significantly altered the predictors of mating success and paternity. The relationship between pre- and post-mating success is therefore plastic and alters according to the prevailing level of competition. The results highlight the importance of post-copulatory processes in lekking species and illuminate selection pressures placed on insects such as medflies that are mass reared for pest control.
Data from: Paternity assignment and demographic closure in the New Zealand southern right whale
06-22-2012 09-10-2012
The identification and characterisation of reproductively isolated subpopulations or ‘stocks’ is essential for effective conservation and management decisions. This can be difficult in vagile marine species like marine mammals. We used paternity assignment and ‘gametic recapture’ to examine the reproductive autonomy of southern right whales (Eubalaena australis) on their New Zealand (NZ) calving grounds. We derived DNA profiles for 34 mother-calf pairs from skin biopsy samples, using sex-specific markers, 13 microsatellite loci and mtDNA haplotypes. We constructed DNA profiles for 314 adult males, representing 30% of the census male abundance of the NZ stock, previously estimated from genotypic mark-recapture modelling to be 1085 (95% CL 855, 1416). Under the hypothesis of demographic closure and the assumption of equal reproductive success among males, we predict: (1) the proportion of paternities assigned will reflect the proportion of the male population sampled and (2) the gametic mark-recapture (GMR) estimate of male abundance will be equivalent to the census male estimate for the NZ stock. Consistent with these predictions, we found that the proportion of assigned paternities equalled the proportion of the census male population size sampled. Using the sample of males as the initial capture, and paternity assignment as the recapture, the GMR estimate of male abundance was 1001 (95% CL 542, 1469), similar to the male census estimate. These findings suggest that right whales returning to the NZ calving ground are reproductively autonomous on a generational timescale, as well as isolated by maternal fidelity on an evolutionary timescale, from others in the Indo-Pacific region.
Data from: Genomic basis of life history evolution in Drosophila melanogaster
06-01-2012 11-06-2012
Natural diversity in aging and other life history patterns is a hallmark of organismal variation. Related species, populations, and individuals within populations show genetically based variation in life span and other aspects of age-related performance. Population differences are especially informative because these differences can be large relative to within-population variation and because they occur in organisms with otherwise similar genomes. We used experimental evolution to produce populations divergent for life span and late-age fertility and then used deep genome sequencing to detect sequence variants with nucleotide-level resolution. Several genes and genome regions showed strong signatures of selection, and the same regions were implicated in independent comparisons, suggesting that the same alleles were selected in replicate lines. Genes related to oogenesis, immunity, and protein degradation were implicated as important modifiers of late-life performance. Expression profiling and functional annotation narrowed the list of strong candidate genes to 38, most of which are novel candidates for regulating aging. Life span and early-age fecundity were negatively correlated among populations; therefore the alleles we identified also are candidate regulators of a major life-history trade-off. More generally, we argue that hitchhiking mapping can be a powerful tool for uncovering the molecular bases of quantitative genetic variation.
Data from: Rapid genetic assimilation of native wall lizard populations (Podarcis muralis) through extensive hybridization with introduced lineages
07-05-2012 10-02-2015
The Common Wall Lizard (Podarcis muralis) has established more than 150 non-native populations in Central Europe, stemming from eight geographically distinct evolutionary lineages. While the majority of these introduced populations are found outside the native range, some of these populations also exist at the northern range margin in south-western Germany. In order to a) infer the level of hybridization in contact zones of alien and native lineages and b) compare the genetic diversity among purebred introduced, native and hybrid populations we used a combination of maternally inherited markers (mtDNA: cytb) and Mendelian markers (microsatellites). Our results suggest a rapid genetic assimilation of native populations by strong introgression from introduced lineages. Discordant patterns of mtDNA and nDNA variation within hybrid populations may be explained by directed mate choice of females towards males of alien lineages. In contrast to previous studies we found a non-linear relationship between genetic diversity and admixture level. The genetic diversity of hybrid populations was substantially higher than in introduced and native populations belonging to a single lineage, but rapidly reaching a plateau of high genetic diversity at an admixture level of two. However, even introduced populations with low founder sizes and from one source population retained moderate levels of genetic diversity and no evidence for a genetic bottleneck was found. The extent of introgression and the dominance of alien haplotypes in mixed populations indicate that introductions of non-native lineages represent a serious threat to the genetic integrity of native populations due to the rapid creation of hybrid swarms.