ResearchPad - animal-phylogenetics https://www.researchpad.co Default RSS Feed en-us © 2020 Newgen KnowledgeWorks <![CDATA[Comparative mitochondrial genome analysis of <i>Dendrolimus houi</i> (Lepidoptera: Lasiocampidae) and phylogenetic relationship among Lasiocampidae species]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/elastic_article_14575 Dendrolimus houi is one of the most common caterpillars infesting Gymnosperm trees, and widely distributed in several countries in Southeast Asia, and exists soley or coexists with several congeners and some Lasiocampidae species in various forest habitats. However, natural hybrids occasionally occur among some closely related species in the same habitat, and host preference, extreme climate stress, and geographic isolation probably lead to their uncertain taxonomic consensus. The mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) of D. houi was extracted and sequenced by using high-throughput technology, and the mitogenome composition and characteristics were compared and analyzed of these species, then the phylogenetic relationship was constructed using the maximum likelihood method (ML) and the Bayesian method (BI) based on their 13 protein-coding genes (PCGs) dataset, which were combined and made available to download which were combined and made available to download among global Lasiocampidae species data. Mitogenome of D. houi was 15,373 bp in length, with 37 genes, including 13 PCGs, 22 tRNA genes (tRNAs) and 2 rRNA genes (rRNAs). The positions and sequences of genes were consistent with those of most known Lasiocampidae species. The nucleotide composition was highly A+T biased, accounting for ~80% of the whole mitogenome. All start codons of PCGs belonged to typical start codons ATN except for COI which used CGA, and most stop codons ended with standard TAA or TAG, while COI, COII, ND4 ended with incomplete T. Only tRNASer (AGN) lacked DHU arm, while the remainder formed a typical “clover-shaped” secondary structure. For Lasiocampidae species, their complete mitochondrial genomes ranged from 15,281 to 15,570 bp in length, and all first genes started from trnM in the same direction. And base composition was biased toward A and T. Finally, both two methods (ML and BI) separately revealed that the same phylogenetic relationship of D. spp. as ((((D. punctatus + D. tabulaeformis) + D. spectabilis) + D. superans) + (D. kikuchii of Hunan population + D. houi) as in previous research, but results were different in that D. kikuchii from a Yunnan population was included, indicating that different geographical populations of insects have differentiated. And the phylogenetic relationship among Lasiocampidae species was ((((Dendrolimus) + Kunugia) + Euthrix) + Trabala). This provides a better theoretical basis for Lasiocampidae evolution and classification for future research directions.

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<![CDATA[Codon Pairs are Phylogenetically Conserved: A comprehensive analysis of codon pairing conservation across the Tree of Life]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/elastic_article_14487 Identical codon pairing and co-tRNA codon pairing increase translational efficiency within genes when two codons that encode the same amino acid are translated by the same tRNA before it diffuses from the ribosome. We examine the phylogenetic signal in both identical and co-tRNA codon pairing across 23 428 species using alignment-free and parsimony methods. We determined that conserved codon pairing typically has a smaller window size than the length of a ribosome, and codon pairing tracks phylogenies across various taxonomic groups. We report a comprehensive analysis of codon pairing, including the extent to which each codon pairs. Our parsimony method generally recovers phylogenies that are more congruent with the established phylogenies than our alignment-free method. However, four of the ten taxonomic groups did not have sufficient orthologous codon pairings and were therefore analyzed using only the alignment-free methods. Since the recovered phylogenies using only codon pairing largely match phylogenies from the Open Tree of Life and the NCBI taxonomy, and are comparable to trees recovered by other algorithms, we propose that codon pairing biases are phylogenetically conserved and should be considered in conjunction with other phylogenomic techniques.

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<![CDATA[Host-parasite interaction explains variation in the prevalence of avian haemosporidians at the community level]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c897744d5eed0c4847d2876

Parasites are a selective force that shape host community structure and dynamics, but host communities can also influence parasitism. Understanding the dual nature from host-parasite interactions can be facilitated by quantifying the variation in parasite prevalence among host species and then comparing that variation to other ecological factors that are known to also shape host communities. Avian haemosporidian parasites (e.g. Plasmodium and Haemoproteus) are abundant and widespread representing an excellent model for the study of host-parasite interactions. Several geographic and environmental factors have been suggested to determine prevalence of avian haemosporidians in bird communities. However, it remains unknown whether host and parasite traits, represented by phylogenetic distances among species and degree of specialization in host-parasite relationships, can influence infection status. The aims of this study were to analyze factors affecting infection status in a bird community and to test whether the degree of parasite specialization on their hosts is determined by host traits. Our statistical analyses suggest that infection status is mainly determined by the interaction between host species and parasite lineages where tolerance and/or susceptibility to parasites plays an essential role. Additionally, we found that although some of the parasite lineages infected a low number of bird individuals, the species they infected were distantly related and therefore the parasites themselves should not be considered typical host specialists. Infection status was higher for generalist than for specialist parasites in some, but not all, host species. These results suggest that detected prevalence in a species mainly results from the interaction between host immune defences and parasite exploitation strategies wherein the result of an association between particular parasite lineages and particular host species is idiosyncratic.

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<![CDATA[Low-cost cross-taxon enrichment of mitochondrial DNA using in-house synthesised RNA probes]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c61e92ed5eed0c48496f93a

Hybridization capture with in-solution oligonucleotide probes has quickly become the preferred method for enriching specific DNA loci from degraded or ancient samples prior to high-throughput sequencing (HTS). Several companies synthesize sets of probes for in-solution hybridization capture, but these commercial reagents are usually expensive. Methods for economical in-house probe synthesis have been described, but they do not directly address one of the major advantages of commercially synthesised probes: that probe sequences matching many species can be synthesised in parallel and pooled. The ability to make “phylogenetically diverse” probes increases the cost-effectiveness of commercial probe sets, as they can be used across multiple projects (or for projects involving multiple species). However, it is labour-intensive to replicate this with in-house methods, as template molecules must first be generated for each species of interest. While it has been observed that probes can be used to enrich for phylogenetically distant targets, the ability of this effect to compensate for the lack of phylogenetically diverse probes in in-house synthesised probe sets has not been tested. In this study, we present a refined protocol for in-house RNA probe synthesis and evaluated the ability of probes generated using this method from a single species to successfully enrich for the target locus in phylogenetically distant species. We demonstrated that probes synthesized using long-range PCR products from a placental mammal mitochondrion (Bison spp.) could be used to enrich for mitochondrial DNA in birds and marsupials (but not plants). Importantly, our results were obtained for approximately a third of the cost of similar commercially available reagents.

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<![CDATA[Evolutionary relationships of courtship songs in the parasitic wasp genus, Cotesia (Hymenoptera: Braconidae)]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c390ba6d5eed0c48491db08

Acoustic signals play an important role in premating isolation based on sexual selection within many taxa. Many male parasitic wasps produce characteristic courtship songs used by females in mate selection. In Cotesia (Hymenoptera: Braconidae: Microgastrinae), courtship songs are generated by wing fanning with repetitive pulses in stereotypical patterns. Our objectives were to sample the diversity of courtship songs within Cotesia and to identify e underlying patterns of differentiation. We compared songs among 12 of ca. 80 Cotesia species in North America, including ten species that have not been recorded previously. For Cotesia congregata, we compared songs of wasps originating from six different host-foodplant sources, two of which are considered incipient species. Songs of emergent males from wild caterpillar hosts in five different families were recorded, and pattern, frequency, and duration of song elements analyzed. Principal component analysis converted the seven elements characterized into four uncorrelated components used in a hierarchical cluster analysis and grouped species by similarity of song structure. Species songs varied significantly in duration of repeating pulse and buzz elements and/or in fundamental frequency. Cluster analysis resolved similar species groups in agreement with the most recent molecular phylogeny for Cotesia spp., indicating the potential for using courtship songs as a predictor of genetic relatedness. Courtship song analysis may aid in identifying closely related cryptic species that overlap spatially, and provide insight into the evolution of this highly diverse and agriculturally important taxon.

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<![CDATA[Mitochondrial genome annotation and phylogenetic placement of Oreochromis andersonii and O. macrochir among the cichlids of southern Africa]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c06f057d5eed0c484c6d757

Genetic characterization of southern African cichlids has not received much attention. Here, we describe the mitogenome sequences and phylogenetic positioning of Oreochromis andersonii and O. macrochir among the African cichlids. The complete mitochondrial DNA sequences were determined for O. andersonii and O. macrochir, two important aquaculture and fisheries species endemic to southern Africa. The complete mitogenome sequence lengths were 16642 bp and 16644 bp for O. andersonii and O. macrochir respectively. The general structural organization follows that of other teleost species with 13 protein–coding genes, 2 rRNAs, 22 tRNAs and a non-coding control region. Phylogenetic placement of the two species among other African cichlids was performed using Maximum Likelihood (ML) and Bayesian Markov-Chain-Monte-Carlo (MCMC). The consensus trees confirmed the relative positions of the two cichlid species with O. andersonii being very closely related to O. mossambicus and O. macrochir showing a close relation to both species. Among the 13 mitochondrial DNA protein coding genes ND6 may have evolved more rapidly and COIII was the most conserved. There are signs that ND6 may have been subjected to positive selection in order for these cichlid lineages to diversify and adapt to new environments. More work is needed to characterize the southern Africa cichlids as they are important species for capture fisheries, aquaculture development and understanding biogeographic history of African cichlids. Bio-conservation of some endangered cichlids is also essential due to the threat by invasive species.

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<![CDATA[Evolution of correlated complexity in the radically different courtship signals of birds-of-paradise]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5bfdb36dd5eed0c4845c9670

Ornaments used in courtship often vary wildly among species, reflecting the evolutionary interplay between mate preference functions and the constraints imposed by natural selection. Consequently, understanding the evolutionary dynamics responsible for ornament diversification has been a longstanding challenge in evolutionary biology. However, comparing radically different ornaments across species, as well as different classes of ornaments within species, is a profound challenge to understanding diversification of sexual signals. Using novel methods and a unique natural history dataset, we explore evolutionary patterns of ornament evolution in a group—the birds-of-paradise—exhibiting dramatic phenotypic diversification widely assumed to be driven by sexual selection. Rather than the tradeoff between ornament types originally envisioned by Darwin and Wallace, we found positive correlations among cross-modal (visual/acoustic) signals indicating functional integration of ornamental traits into a composite unit—the “courtship phenotype.” Furthermore, given the broad theoretical and empirical support for the idea that systemic robustness—functional overlap and interdependency—promotes evolutionary innovation, we posit that birds-of-paradise have radiated extensively through ornamental phenotype space as a consequence of the robustness in the courtship phenotype that we document at a phylogenetic scale. We suggest that the degree of robustness in courtship phenotypes among taxa can provide new insights into the relative influence of sexual and natural selection on phenotypic radiations.

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<![CDATA[Ever-Young Sex Chromosomes in European Tree Frogs]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989db49ab0ee8fa60bd97e7

Non-recombining sex chromosomes are expected to undergo evolutionary decay, ending up genetically degenerated, as has happened in birds and mammals. Why are then sex chromosomes so often homomorphic in cold-blooded vertebrates? One possible explanation is a high rate of turnover events, replacing master sex-determining genes by new ones on other chromosomes. An alternative is that X-Y similarity is maintained by occasional recombination events, occurring in sex-reversed XY females. Based on mitochondrial and nuclear gene sequences, we estimated the divergence times between European tree frogs (Hyla arborea, H. intermedia, and H. molleri) to the upper Miocene, about 5.4–7.1 million years ago. Sibship analyses of microsatellite polymorphisms revealed that all three species have the same pair of sex chromosomes, with complete absence of X-Y recombination in males. Despite this, sequences of sex-linked loci show no divergence between the X and Y chromosomes. In the phylogeny, the X and Y alleles cluster according to species, not in groups of gametologs. We conclude that sex-chromosome homomorphy in these tree frogs does not result from a recent turnover but is maintained over evolutionary timescales by occasional X-Y recombination. Seemingly young sex chromosomes may thus carry old-established sex-determining genes, a result at odds with the view that sex chromosomes necessarily decay until they are replaced. This raises intriguing perspectives regarding the evolutionary dynamics of sexually antagonistic genes and the mechanisms that control X-Y recombination.

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<![CDATA[Identification of a Novel Splicing Form of Amelogenin Gene in a Reptile, Ctenosaura similis]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989da82ab0ee8fa60b9b1e1

Amelogenin, the major enamel matrix protein in tooth development, has been demonstrated to play a significant role in tooth enamel formation. Previous studies have identified the alternative splicing of amelogenin in many mammalian vertebrates as one mechanism for amelogenin heterogeneous expression in teeth. While amelogenin and its splicing forms in mammalian vertebrates have been cloned and sequenced, the amelogenin gene, especially its splicing forms in non-mammalian species, remains largely unknown. To better understand the mechanism underlying amelogenin evolution, we previously cloned and characterized an amelogenin gene sequence from a squamate, the green iguana. In this study, we employed RT-PCR to amplify the amelogenin gene from the black spiny-tailed iguana Ctenosaura similis teeth, and discovered a novel splicing form of the amelogenin gene. The transcript of the newly identified iguana amelogenin gene (named C. Similis-T2L) is 873 nucleotides long encoding an expected polypeptide of 206 amino acids. The C. Similis-T2L contains a unique exon denominated exon X, which is located between exon 5 and exon 6. The C. Similis-T2L contains 7 exons including exon 1, 2, 3, 5, X, 6, and 7. Analysis of the secondary and tertiary structures of T2L amelogenin protein demonstrated that exon X has a dramatic effect on the amelogenin structures. This is the first report to provide definitive evidence for the amelogenin alternative splicing in non-mammalian vertebrates, revealing a unique exon X and the splicing form of the amelogenin gene transcript in Ctenosaura similis.

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<![CDATA[Cryptic Speciation in Brazilian Epiperipatus (Onychophora: Peripatidae) Reveals an Underestimated Diversity among the Peripatid Velvet Worms]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989da21ab0ee8fa60b7f233

Background

Taxonomical studies of the neotropical Peripatidae (Onychophora, velvet worms) have proven difficult, due to intraspecific variation and uniformity of morphological characters across this onychophoran subgroup. We therefore used molecular approaches, in addition to morphological methods, to explore the diversity of Epiperipatus from the Minas Gerais State of Brazil.

Methodology/Principal Findings

Our analyses revealed three new species. While Epiperipatus diadenoproctus sp. nov. can be distinguished from E. adenocryptus sp. nov. and E. paurognostus sp. nov. based on morphology and specific nucleotide positions in the mitochondrial cytochrome c oxidase subunit I (COI) and small ribosomal subunit RNA gene sequences (12S rRNA), anatomical differences between the two latter species are not evident. However, our phylogenetic analyses of molecular data suggest that they are cryptic species, with high Bayesian posterior probabilities and bootstrap and Bremer support values for each species clade. The sister group relationship of E. adenocryptus sp. nov. and E. paurognostus sp. nov. in our analyses correlates with the remarkable morphological similarity of these two species. To assess the species status of the new species, we performed a statistical parsimony network analysis based on 582 base pairs of the COI gene in our specimens, with the connection probability set to 95%. Our findings revealed no connections between groups of haplotypes, which have been recognized as allopatric lineages in our phylogenetic analyses, thus supporting our suggestion that they are separate species.

Conclusions/Significance

Our findings suggest high cryptic species diversity and endemism among the neotropical Peripatidae and demonstrate that the combination of morphological and molecular approaches is helpful for clarifying the taxonomy and species diversity of this apparently large and diverse onychophoran group.

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<![CDATA[An Extensive Field Survey Combined with a Phylogenetic Analysis Reveals Rapid and Widespread Invasion of Two Alien Whiteflies in China]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989da34ab0ee8fa60b85b01

Background

To understand the processes of invasions by alien insects is a pre-requisite for improving management. The whitefly Bemisia tabaci is a cryptic species complex that contains some of the most invasive pests worldwide. However, extensive field data to show the geographic distribution of the members of this species complex as well as the invasion by some of its members are scarce.

Methodology/Principal Findings

We used field surveys and published data to assess the current diversity and distribution of B. tabaci cryptic species in China and relate the indigenous members to other Asian and Australian members of the complex. The survey covered the 16 provinces where indigenous B. tabaci occur and extends this with published data for the whole of China. We used molecular markers to identify cryptic species. The evolutionary relationships between the different Asian B. tabaci were reconstructed using Bayesian methods. We show that whereas in the past the exotic invader Middle East-Asia Minor 1 was predominant across China, another newer invader Mediterranean is now the dominant species in the Yangtze River Valley and eastern coastal areas, and Middle East-Asia Minor 1 is now predominant only in the south and south eastern coastal areas. Based on mtCO1 we identified four new cryptic species, and in total we have recorded 13 indigenous and two invasive species from China. Diversity was highest in the southern and southeastern provinces and declined to north and west. Only the two invasive species were found in the northern part of the country where they occur primarily in protected cropping. By 2009, indigenous species were mainly found in remote mountainous areas and were mostly absent from extensive agricultural areas.

Conclusions/Significance

Invasions by some members of the whitefly B. tabaci species complex can be rapid and widespread, and indigenous species closely related to the invaders are replaced.

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<![CDATA[The First Complete 3D Reconstruction of a Spanish Fly Primary Larva (Lytta vesicatoria, Meloidae, Coleoptera)]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989daf2ab0ee8fa60bc1ba8

The first detailed anatomical study of a primary larva of Meloidae is presented. Thereby techniques such as three-dimensional reconstructions, microtome sections, SEM (scanning electronic microscopy) and CLSM (confocal laser scanning microscopy) are applied. The structural features are discussed in the context of phylogeny, but also possible correlations with parasitism, phoresy and miniaturisation. The triungulin first instar larva is likely an apomorphy of Meloidae excl. Eleticinae and linked with a specialisation on acridoid eggs or larvae and provisions of bees. The campodeid body shape of Lytta and Meloinae is a groundplan feature of Meloidae, whereas a navicular body is an autapomorphy of the generally phoretic larvae of Nemognathinae. Head structures of Lytta and features of the postcephalic body are largely plesiomorphic. The musculature of the head is only moderately simplified while the one of the postcephalic body is well developed. Its thorax is largely characterised by plesiomorphies. The characteristics of the legs suggest phoretic habits, even though this does not apply to larvae of Lytta. It is conceivable that a phoretic behaviour is secondarily lost, together with some but not all morphological modifications related to it. Derived features of the abdomen of Meloidae are the complete loss of the fixed urogomphi (also missing in Rhipiphoridae and other related groups) and the presence of one or two conspicuous caudal bristles. Only few features of Lytta are shared with the parasitic larvae of Rhipiphoridae and Strepsiptera. These characteristics, which are possibly linked with specialised life habits, have obviously evolved independently. Miniaturisation effects are minimal in the larvae of Lytta.

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<![CDATA[Similar Associations of Tooth Microwear and Morphology Indicate Similar Diet across Marsupial and Placental Mammals]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989db3eab0ee8fa60bd5d3c

Low-magnification microwear techniques have been used effectively to infer diets within many unrelated mammalian orders, but the extent to which patterns are comparable among such different groups, including long extinct mammal lineages, is unknown. Microwear patterns between ecologically equivalent placental and marsupial mammals are found to be statistically indistinguishable, indicating that microwear can be used to infer diet across the mammals. Microwear data were compared to body size and molar shearing crest length in order to develop a system to distinguish the diet of mammals. Insectivores and carnivores were difficult to distinguish from herbivores using microwear alone, but combining microwear data with body size estimates and tooth morphology provides robust dietary inferences. This approach is a powerful tool for dietary assessment of fossils from extinct lineages and from museum specimens of living species where field study would be difficult owing to the animal’s behavior, habitat, or conservation status.

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<![CDATA[Comparable Ages for the Independent Origins of Electrogenesis in African and South American Weakly Electric Fishes]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989d9f3ab0ee8fa60b6f101

One of the most remarkable examples of convergent evolution among vertebrates is illustrated by the independent origins of an active electric sense in South American and African weakly electric fishes, the Gymnotiformes and Mormyroidea, respectively. These groups independently evolved similar complex systems for object localization and communication via the generation and reception of weak electric fields. While good estimates of divergence times are critical to understanding the temporal context for the evolution and diversification of these two groups, their respective ages have been difficult to estimate due to the absence of an informative fossil record, use of strict molecular clock models in previous studies, and/or incomplete taxonomic sampling. Here, we examine the timing of the origins of the Gymnotiformes and the Mormyroidea using complete mitogenome sequences and a parametric Bayesian method for divergence time reconstruction. Under two different fossil-based calibration methods, we estimated similar ages for the independent origins of the Mormyroidea and Gymnotiformes. Our absolute estimates for the origins of these groups either slightly postdate, or just predate, the final separation of Africa and South America by continental drift. The most recent common ancestor of the Mormyroidea and Gymnotiformes was found to be a non-electrogenic basal teleost living more than 85 millions years earlier. For both electric fish lineages, we also estimated similar intervals (16–19 or 22–26 million years, depending on calibration method) between the appearance of electroreception and the origin of myogenic electric organs, providing rough upper estimates for the time periods during which these complex electric organs evolved de novo from skeletal muscle precursors. The fact that the Gymnotiformes and Mormyroidea are of similar age enhances the comparative value of the weakly electric fish system for investigating pathways to evolutionary novelty, as well as the influences of key innovations in communication on the process of species radiation.

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<![CDATA[The Local Origin of the Tibetan Pig and Additional Insights into the Origin of Asian Pigs]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989db38ab0ee8fa60bd3e40

Background

The domestic pig currently indigenous to the Tibetan highlands is supposed to have been introduced during a continuous period of colonization by the ancestors of modern Tibetans. However, there is no direct genetic evidence of either the local origin or exotic migration of the Tibetan pig.

Methods and Findings

We analyzed mtDNA hypervariable segment I (HVI) variation of 218 individuals from seven Tibetan pig populations and 1,737 reported mtDNA sequences from domestic pigs and wild boars across Asia. The Bayesian consensus tree revealed a main haplogroup M and twelve minor haplogroups, which suggested a large number of small scale in situ domestication episodes. In particular, haplogroups D1 and D6 represented two highly divergent lineages in the Tibetan highlands and Island Southeastern Asia, respectively. Network analysis of haplogroup M further revealed one main subhaplogroup M1 and two minor subhaplogroups M2 and M3. Intriguingly, M2 was mainly distributed in Southeastern Asia, suggesting for a local origin. Similar with haplogroup D6, M3 was mainly restricted in Island Southeastern Asia. This pattern suggested that Island Southeastern Asia, but not Southeastern Asia, might be the center of domestication of the so-called Pacific clade (M3 and D6 here) described in previous studies. Diversity gradient analysis of major subhaplogroup M1 suggested three local origins in Southeastern Asia, the middle and downstream regions of the Yangtze River, and the Tibetan highlands, respectively.

Conclusions

We identified two new origin centers for domestic pigs in the Tibetan highlands and in the Island Southeastern Asian region.

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<![CDATA[A New Genus of Aplodontid Rodent (Mammalia, Rodentia) from the Late Oligocene of Northern Junggar Basin, China]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989daffab0ee8fa60bc5dd2

A new genus and species of aplodontid rodent, Proansomys dureensis, from the late Oligocene of the northern Junggar Basin of China is described. The new genus is referred to as Ansomyinae because the ectoloph on the upper cheek teeth, although not fully crested, has attained the same characteristic bucket-handle-shaped configuration as other members of the subfamily. It represents the earliest record of the subfamily yet discovered in Asia and is more plesiomorphic than species of the genus Ansomys in having a partly crested ectoloph, a lower degree of lophodonty, and less complex tooth basins (lacking accessory lophules). Proansomys has transitional features between Prosciurus and Ansomys, suggesting that the Ansomyinae derived from a group of aplodontids related to Prosciurus, as did other advanced aplodontid rodents. This provides new light on the paleobiogeography of the Ansomyinae.

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<![CDATA[Redescription and Phylogenetic Analysis of the Mandible of an Enigmatic Pennsylvanian (Late Carboniferous) Tetrapod from Nova Scotia, and the Lability of Meckelian Jaw Ossification]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989da30ab0ee8fa60b844ac

The lower jaw of an unidentified Pennsylvanian (Late Carboniferous) tetrapod from Nova Scotia – the “Parrsboro jaw”- is redescribed in the light of recent tetrapod discoveries and work on evolution of tetrapod mandibular morphology and placed for the first time in a numerical cladistics analysis. All phylogenetic analyses place the jaw in a crownward polytomy of baphetids, temnospondyls, and embolomeres. Several features resemble baphetids and temnospondyls including dermal ornamentation, absence of coronoid teeth, and presence of coronoid shagreen. Dentary dentition is most similar to Baphetes. An adsymphysial toothplate may not preclude temnospondyl affinity. An apparent large exomeckelian fenestra, with the dorsal foraminal margins formed by an unossified element, echoes the morphology of the stem tetrapod Sigournea and is unusually primitive given the other features of the jaw. The jaw may thus provide an example of an intermediate stage in Meckelian element evolution.

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<![CDATA[Mitochondrial COI and 16sRNA Evidence for a Single Species Hypothesis of E. vitis, J. formosana and E. onukii in East Asia]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989da3dab0ee8fa60b889c9

Tea green leafhopper is one of the most damaging tea pests in main tea production regions of East Asia. For lack of recognized morphological characters, the dominant species of tea green leafhoppers in Mainland China, Taiwan and Japan have always been named as Empoasca vitis Göthe, Jacobiasca formosana Paoli and Empoasca onukii MATSUDA, respectively. Furthermore, nothing is known about the genetic relationships among them. In this study, we collected six populations from Mainland China, four populations from Japan and one population from Taiwan, and examined the genetic distances in the COI and 16sRNA regions of mtDNA among them. The results showed that the genetic distances based on single gene or the combined sequences among eleven leafhopper populations were 0.3–1.2%, which were all less than the species boundary of 2%. Moreover, there were at least two haplotypes shared by two distinct populations from different regions. The phylogenetic analysis based on single gene or combined sets also supported that tea green leafhoppers from Mainland China, Taiwan and Japan were closely related to each other, and there were at least two specimens from different regions clustered ahead of those from the same region. Therefore, we propose that the view of recognizing the dominant species of tea green leafhoppers in three adjacent tea production regions of East Asia as different species is unreliable or questionable and suggest that they are a single species.

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<![CDATA[Resolving Discrepancy between Nucleotides and Amino Acids in Deep-Level Arthropod Phylogenomics: Differentiating Serine Codons in 21-Amino-Acid Models]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989da88ab0ee8fa60b9d07a

Background

In a previous study of higher-level arthropod phylogeny, analyses of nucleotide sequences from 62 protein-coding nuclear genes for 80 panarthopod species yielded significantly higher bootstrap support for selected nodes than did amino acids. This study investigates the cause of that discrepancy.

Methodology/Principal Findings

The hypothesis is tested that failure to distinguish the serine residues encoded by two disjunct clusters of codons (TCN, AGY) in amino acid analyses leads to this discrepancy. In one test, the two clusters of serine codons (Ser1, Ser2) are conceptually translated as separate amino acids. Analysis of the resulting 21-amino-acid data matrix shows striking increases in bootstrap support, in some cases matching that in nucleotide analyses. In a second approach, nucleotide and 20-amino-acid data sets are artificially altered through targeted deletions, modifications, and replacements, revealing the pivotal contributions of distinct Ser1 and Ser2 codons. We confirm that previous methods of coding nonsynonymous nucleotide change are robust and computationally efficient by introducing two new degeneracy coding methods. We demonstrate for degeneracy coding that neither compositional heterogeneity at the level of nucleotides nor codon usage bias between Ser1 and Ser2 clusters of codons (or their separately coded amino acids) is a major source of non-phylogenetic signal.

Conclusions

The incongruity in support between amino-acid and nucleotide analyses of the forementioned arthropod data set is resolved by showing that “standard” 20-amino-acid analyses yield lower node support specifically when serine provides crucial signal. Separate coding of Ser1 and Ser2 residues yields support commensurate with that found by degenerated nucleotides, without introducing phylogenetic artifacts. While exclusion of all serine data leads to reduced support for serine-sensitive nodes, these nodes are still recovered in the ML topology, indicating that the enhanced signal from Ser1 and Ser2 is not qualitatively different from that of the other amino acids.

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<![CDATA[Dental and Mandibular Morphologies of Arboroharamiya (Haramiyida, Mammalia): A Comparison with Other Haramiyidans and Megaconus and Implications for Mammalian Evolution]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989da93ab0ee8fa60ba0ae1

Background

Two recent studies published in the same issue of Nature reached conflicting conclusions regarding the phylogeny of early mammals: One places the clade containing haramiyidans and multituberculates within the Mammalia and the other separates haramiyidans from multituberculates and places the former outside of the Mammalia. These two contrasting results require that the minimally oldest divergence time of the Mammalia was within the Late Triassic or the Middle Jurassic, respectively. Morphological descriptions of the species named in the two papers were brief, and no comparisons between the newly named species were possible.

Principal Findings

Here we present a detailed description of the dentary bone, teeth, occlusal and wear patterns of the haramiyidan Arboroharamiya and compare it with other haramiyidans and Megaconus. Using this new information, we suggest that tooth identifications and orientations of several previously described haramiyidan species are incorrect, and that previous interpretations of haramiyidan occlusal pattern are problematic. We propose that the published upper tooth orientation of Megaconus was problematic and question the number of upper molars, the length of dentition and mandible, and presence of the mandibular middle ear in Megaconus.

Conclusions

The additional morphological descriptions and comparisons presented here further support the view that Arboroharamiya, as a derived haramiyidan, shows similarity to multituberculates in tooth and mandible morphologies. Our comparison also suggests that Megaconus lacks many diagnostic features for the family Eleutherodontidae and that its close affinity with multituberculates cannot be ruled out. The detailed morphological data demonstrate that haramiyidans are more similar to multituberculates than to any other mammaliaforms.

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