ResearchPad - evolutionary-genetics https://www.researchpad.co Default RSS Feed en-us © 2020 Newgen KnowledgeWorks <![CDATA[Space is the Place: Effects of Continuous Spatial Structure on Analysis of Population Genetic Data]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/N56825d15-18d8-4537-b87e-f85c12d5e5b8 Real geography is continuous, but standard models in population genetics are based on discrete, well-mixed populations. As a result, many methods of analyzing genetic data assume that samples are a random draw from a well-mixed population, but are applied to clustered samples from populations that are structured clinally over space. Here, we use simulations of populations living in continuous geography to study the impacts of dispersal and sampling strategy on population genetic summary statistics, demographic inference, and genome-wide association studies (GWAS). We find that most common summary statistics have distributions that differ substantially from those seen in well-mixed populations, especially when Wright’s neighborhood size is < 100 and sampling is spatially clustered. “Stepping-stone” models reproduce some of these effects, but discretizing the landscape introduces artifacts that in some cases are exacerbated at higher resolutions. The combination of low dispersal and clustered sampling causes demographic inference from the site frequency spectrum to infer more turbulent demographic histories, but averaged results across multiple simulations revealed surprisingly little systematic bias. We also show that the combination of spatially autocorrelated environments and limited dispersal causes GWAS to identify spurious signals of genetic association with purely environmentally determined phenotypes, and that this bias is only partially corrected by regressing out principal components of ancestry. Last, we discuss the relevance of our simulation results for inference from genetic variation in real organisms.

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<![CDATA[Bringing to light the molecular evolution of <i>GUX</i> genes in plants]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/Nfbfaa6e9-3b7e-4640-a910-356aad923bfb Hemicellulose and cellulose are essential polysaccharides for plant development and major components of cell wall. They are also an important energy source for the production of ethanol from plant biomass, but their conversion to fermentable sugars is hindered by the complex structure of cell walls. The glucuronic acid substitution of xylan (GUX) enzymes attach glucuronic acid to xylan, a major component of hemicellulose, decreasing the efficiency of enzymes used for ethanol production. Since loss-of-function gux mutants of Arabidopsis thaliana enhance enzyme accessibility and cell wall digestion without adverse phenotypes, GUX genes are potential targets for genetically improving energy crops. However, comprehensive identification of GUX in important species and their evolutionary history are largely lacking. Here, we identified putative GUX proteins using hidden Markov model searches with the GT8 domain and a GUX-specific motif, and inferred the phylogenetic relationship of 18 species with Maximum likelihood and Bayesian approaches. Each species presented a variable number of GUX, and their evolution can be explained by a mixture of divergent, concerted and birth-and-death evolutionary models. This is the first broad insight into the evolution of GUX gene family in plants and will potentially guide genetic and functional studies in species used for biofuel production.

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<![CDATA[Novel insights into chromosome evolution of Charadriiformes: extensive genomic reshuffling in the wattled jacana (<i>Jacana jacana</i>, Charadriiformes, Jacanidae)]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/Na1ac9d2f-130d-465c-ad90-545b5227d543 The order Charadriiformes comprises three major clades: Lari and Scolopaci as sister group to Charadrii. Until now, only three Charadriiformes species have been studied by chromosome painting: Larus argentatus (Lari), Burhinus oedicnemus and Vanellus chilensis (Charadrii). Hence, there is a lack of information concerning the third clade, Scolapaci. Based on this, and to gain a better understanding of karyotype evolution in the order Charadriiformes, we applied conventional and molecular cytogenetic approaches in a species belonging to clade Scolopaci - the wattled jacana (Jacana jacana) - using Gallus gallus and Zenaida auriculata chromosome-specific probes. Cross-species evaluation of J. jacana chromosomes shows extensive genomic reshuffling within macrochromosomes during evolution, with multiple fission and fusion events, although the diploid number remains at high level (2n=82). Interestingly, this species does not have the GGA7-8 fusion, which was found in two representatives of Charadrii clade, reinforcing the idea that this fusion may be exclusive to the Charadrii clade. In addition, it is shown that the chromosome evolution in Charadriiformes is complex and resulted in species with typical and atypical karyotypes. The karyotypic features of Scolopaci are very different from those of Charadrii and Lari, indicating that after divergence, each suborder has undergone different chromosome rearrangements.

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<![CDATA[The distribution of 45S rDNA sites in bird chromosomes suggests multiple evolutionary histories]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/Nd77715c5-41f2-465a-9558-654ce465fcf3 The distribution of 45S rDNA cluster in avian karyotypes varies in different aspects, such as position, number of bearer chromosomes, and bearers being macro- or microchromosomes. The present study investigated the patterns of variation in the 45S rDNA-bearer chromosomes of birds in order to understand the evolutionary dynamics of the cluster configuration and its contribution to the evolution of bird karyotypes. A total of 73 bird species were analyzed, including both published data and species for which rDNA-FISH was conducted for the first time. In most birds, the 45S rDNA clusters were located in a single pair of microchromosomes. Hence, the location of 45S rDNA in macrochromosomes, observed only in Neognathae species, seems to be a derived state, probably the result of chromosomal fusion between microchromosomes and distinct macrochromosomes. Additionally, the 45S rDNA was observed in multiple microchromosomes in different branches of the bird phylogeny, suggesting recurrence of dispersion processeses, such as duplications and translocations. Overall, this study indicated that the redistribution of the 45S rDNA sites in bird chromosomes followed different evolutionary trajectories with respect to each lineage of the class Aves.

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<![CDATA[RNA editing in the chloroplast of Asian Palmyra palm (<i>Borassus flabellifer</i>)]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/Nf8407ae0-f2bd-4629-920f-de892c2b03dd We have identified 46 RNA editing sites located in 20 chloroplast (cp) genes of Borassus flabellifer (Asian Palmyra palm), family Arecaceae, and tested these genes for supporting phylogenetic study among the commelinids. Among the 46 sites, 43 sites were found to cause amino acid alterations, which were predicted to increase the hydrophobicity and transmembrane regions of the proteins, and one site was to cause a premature stop codon. Analysis of these editing sites with data obtained from seed plants showed that a number of shared-editing sites depend on the evolutionary relationship between plants. We reconstructed a deep phylogenetic relationship among the commelinids using seven RNA edited genes that are orthologous among monocots. This tree could represent the relationship among subfamilies of Arecaceae family, but was insufficient to represent the relationship among the orders of the commelinid. After adding eight gene sequences with high parsimony-informative characters (PICs), the tree topology was improved and could support the topology for the commelinid orders ((Arecales,Dasypogenaceae) (Zingiberales+Commelinales,Poales)). The result provides support for inherent RNA editing along the evolution of seed plants, and we provide an alternative set of loci for the phylogenetic tree reconstruction of Arecaceae’s subfamilies.

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<![CDATA[Parallelism in eco-morphology and gene expression despite variable evolutionary and genomic backgrounds in a Holarctic fish]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/N4fc7d71e-6de4-4251-8df9-22327ccf5952

Understanding the extent to which ecological divergence is repeatable is essential for predicting responses of biodiversity to environmental change. Here we test the predictability of evolution, from genotype to phenotype, by studying parallel evolution in a salmonid fish, Arctic charr (Salvelinus alpinus), across eleven replicate sympatric ecotype pairs (benthivorous-planktivorous and planktivorous-piscivorous) and two evolutionary lineages. We found considerable variability in eco-morphological divergence, with several traits related to foraging (eye diameter, pectoral fin length) being highly parallel even across lineages. This suggests repeated and predictable adaptation to environment. Consistent with ancestral genetic variation, hundreds of loci were associated with ecotype divergence within lineages of which eight were shared across lineages. This shared genetic variation was maintained despite variation in evolutionary histories, ranging from postglacial divergence in sympatry (ca. 10-15kya) to pre-glacial divergence (ca. 20-40kya) with postglacial secondary contact. Transcriptome-wide gene expression (44,102 genes) was highly parallel across replicates, involved biological processes characteristic of ecotype morphology and physiology, and revealed parallelism at the level of regulatory networks. This expression divergence was not only plastic but in part genetically controlled by parallel cis-eQTL. Lastly, we found that the magnitude of phenotypic divergence was largely correlated with the genetic differentiation and gene expression divergence. In contrast, the direction of phenotypic change was mostly determined by the interplay of adaptive genetic variation, gene expression, and ecosystem size. Ecosystem size further explained variation in putatively adaptive, ecotype-associated genomic patterns within and across lineages, highlighting the role of environmental variation and stochasticity in parallel evolution. Together, our findings demonstrate the parallel evolution of eco-morphology and gene expression within and across evolutionary lineages, which is controlled by the interplay of environmental stochasticity and evolutionary contingencies, largely overcoming variable evolutionary histories and genomic backgrounds.

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<![CDATA[Gene pool sharing and genetic bottleneck effects in subpopulations of Eschweilera ovata (Cambess.) Mart. ex Miers (Lecythidaceae) in the Atlantic Forest of southern Bahia, Brazil]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/N27bc46d8-cdc1-4e1e-8cef-63161fde5b93

Abstract

Forest loss and fragmentation are the main threats to the maintenance of the Atlantic Forest, an important global biodiversity hotspot. Because of the current critical level of deforestation, ecological corridors are needed to facilitate species dispersion and gene flow among fragments. This study was conducted to investigate the genetic variability and gene pool sharing of Eschweilera ovata in five forest remnants in southern Bahia, Brazil using nuclear simple sequence repeat (nSSR) and plastid simple sequence repeat (cpSSR) microsatellite markers. cpSSR marker analysis revealed the domains of four haplotypes, showing that 80% of the individuals had only four maternal origins, reflecting a founder effect and/or genetic bottleneck. The results of cpSSR and nSSR analyses indicated moderate genetic diversity, particularly in conservation units with full protection, which showed the best parameters of all areas evaluated. Another indication of the susceptibility of these populations to forest loss and fragmentation was the strong genetic bottleneck observed. In contrast, genetic structure analyses (FST and discriminant analysis of principal components) revealed gene pool sharing between the subpopulations, which may reflect the historical gene flow that occurred before forest fragmentation.

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<![CDATA[Reticulate evolution in eukaryotes: Origin and evolution of the nitrate assimilation pathway]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c784fefd5eed0c484007967

Genes and genomes can evolve through interchanging genetic material, this leading to reticular evolutionary patterns. However, the importance of reticulate evolution in eukaryotes, and in particular of horizontal gene transfer (HGT), remains controversial. Given that metabolic pathways with taxonomically-patchy distributions can be indicative of HGT events, the eukaryotic nitrate assimilation pathway is an ideal object of investigation, as previous results revealed a patchy distribution and suggested that the nitrate assimilation cluster of dikaryotic fungi (Opisthokonta) could have been originated and transferred from a lineage leading to Oomycota (Stramenopiles). We studied the origin and evolution of this pathway through both multi-scale bioinformatic and experimental approaches. Our taxon-rich genomic screening shows that nitrate assimilation is present in more lineages than previously reported, although being restricted to autotrophs and osmotrophs. The phylogenies indicate a pervasive role of HGT, with three bacterial transfers contributing to the pathway origin, and at least seven well-supported transfers between eukaryotes. In particular, we propose a distinct and more complex HGT path between Opisthokonta and Stramenopiles than the one previously suggested, involving at least two transfers of a nitrate assimilation gene cluster. We also found that gene fusion played an essential role in this evolutionary history, underlying the origin of the canonical eukaryotic nitrate reductase, and of a chimeric nitrate reductase in Ichthyosporea (Opisthokonta). We show that the ichthyosporean pathway, including this novel nitrate reductase, is physiologically active and transcriptionally co-regulated, responding to different nitrogen sources; similarly to distant eukaryotes with independent HGT-acquisitions of the pathway. This indicates that this pattern of transcriptional control evolved convergently in eukaryotes, favoring the proper integration of the pathway in the metabolic landscape. Our results highlight the importance of reticulate evolution in eukaryotes, by showing the crucial contribution of HGT and gene fusion in the evolutionary history of the nitrate assimilation pathway.

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<![CDATA[Complex harmonic regularization with differential evolution in a memetic framework for biomarker selection]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c6f1534d5eed0c48467aebf

For studying cancer and genetic diseases, the issue of identifying high correlation genes from high-dimensional data is an important problem. It is a great challenge to select relevant biomarkers from gene expression data that contains some important correlation structures, and some of the genes can be divided into different groups with a common biological function, chromosomal location or regulation. In this paper, we propose a penalized accelerated failure time model CHR-DE using a non-convex regularization (local search) with differential evolution (global search) in a wrapper-embedded memetic framework. The complex harmonic regularization (CHR) can approximate to the combination p(12p<1) and q (1 ≤ q < 2) for selecting biomarkers in group. And differential evolution (DE) is utilized to globally optimize the CHR’s hyperparameters, which make CHR-DE achieve strong capability of selecting groups of genes in high-dimensional biological data. We also developed an efficient path seeking algorithm to optimize this penalized model. The proposed method is evaluated on synthetic and three gene expression datasets: breast cancer, hepatocellular carcinoma and colorectal cancer. The experimental results demonstrate that CHR-DE is a more effective tool for feature selection and learning prediction.

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<![CDATA[Dominance reversals and the maintenance of genetic variation for fitness]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c59feefd5eed0c4841357e1

Antagonistic selection between different fitness components (e.g., survival versus fertility) or different types of individuals in a population (e.g., females versus males) can potentially maintain genetic diversity and thereby account for the high levels of fitness variation observed in natural populations. However, the degree to which antagonistic selection can maintain genetic variation critically depends on the dominance relations between antagonistically selected alleles in diploid individuals. Conditions for stable polymorphism of antagonistically selected alleles are narrow, particularly when selection is weak, unless the alleles exhibit “dominance reversals”—in which each allele is partially or completely dominant in selective contexts in which it is favored and recessive in contexts in which it is harmful. Although theory predicts that dominance reversals should emerge under biologically plausible conditions, evidence for dominance reversals is sparse. In this primer, we review theoretical arguments and data supporting a role for dominance reversals in the maintenance of genetic variation. We then highlight an illuminating new study by Grieshop and Arnqvist, which reports a genome-wide signal of dominance reversals between male and female fitness in seed beetles.

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<![CDATA[Genetic dissection of assortative mating behavior]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c65dcb4d5eed0c484dec08b

The evolution of new species is made easier when traits under divergent ecological selection are also mating cues. Such ecological mating cues are now considered more common than previously thought, but we still know little about the genetic changes underlying their evolution or more generally about the genetic basis for assortative mating behaviors. Both tight physical linkage and the existence of large-effect preference loci will strengthen genetic associations between behavioral and ecological barriers, promoting the evolution of assortative mating. The warning patterns of Heliconius melpomene and H. cydno are under disruptive selection due to increased predation of nonmimetic hybrids and are used during mate recognition. We carried out a genome-wide quantitative trait locus (QTL) analysis of preference behaviors between these species and showed that divergent male preference has a simple genetic basis. We identify three QTLs that together explain a large proportion (approximately 60%) of the difference in preference behavior observed between the parental species. One of these QTLs is just 1.2 (0–4.8) centiMorgans (cM) from the major color pattern gene optix, and, individually, all three have a large effect on the preference phenotype. Genomic divergence between H. cydno and H. melpomene is high but broadly heterogenous, and admixture is reduced at the preference–optix color pattern locus but not the other preference QTLs. The simple genetic architecture we reveal will facilitate the evolution and maintenance of new species despite ongoing gene flow by coupling behavioral and ecological aspects of reproductive isolation.

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<![CDATA[Network hubs affect evolvability]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c5b52c6d5eed0c4842bcfcd

The regulatory processes in cells are typically organized into complex genetic networks. However, it is still unclear how this network structure modulates the evolution of cellular regulation. One would expect that mutations in central and highly connected modules of a network (so-called hubs) would often result in a breakdown and therefore be an evolutionary dead end. However, a new study by Koubkova-Yu and colleagues finds that in some circumstances, altering a hub can offer a quick evolutionary advantage. Specifically, changes in a hub can induce significant phenotypic changes that allow organisms to move away from a local fitness peak, whereas the fitness defects caused by the perturbed hub can be mitigated by mutations in its interaction partners. Together, the results demonstrate how network architecture shapes and facilitates evolutionary adaptation.

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<![CDATA[Improved phylogeny of brown algae Cystoseira (Fucales) from the Atlantic-Mediterranean region based on mitochondrial sequences]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c5b52d7d5eed0c4842bd113

Cystoseira is a common brown algal genus widely distributed throughout the Atlantic and Mediterranean regions whose taxonomical assignment of specimens is often hampered by intra- and interspecific morphological variability. In this study, three mitochondrial regions, namely cytochrome oxidase subunit 1 (COI), 23S rDNA (23S), and 23S-tRNAVal intergenic spacer (mt-spacer) were used to analyse the phylogenetic relationships of 22 Cystoseira taxa (n = 93 samples). A total of 135 sequences (48 from COI, 43 from 23S and 44 from mt-spacer) were newly generated and analysed together with Cystoseira sequences (9 COI, 31 23S and 35 mt-spacer) from other authors. Phylogenetic analysis of these three markers identified 3 well-resolved clades and also corroborated the polyphyletic nature of the genus. The resolution of Cystoseira taxa within the three clades improves significantly when the inclusion of specimens of related genera was minimized. COI and mt-spacer markers resolved the phylogeny of some of the Cystoseira taxa, such as the C. baccata, C. foeniculacea and C. usneoides. Furthermore, trends between phylogeny, embryonic development and available chemotaxonomic classifications were identified, showing that phylogenetic, chemical and morphological data should be taken into account to study the evolutionary relationships among the algae currently classified as Cystoseira. The resolution of Cystoseira macroalgae into three well supported clades achieved here is relevant for a more accurate isolation and identification of natural compounds and the implementation of conservation measures for target species.

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<![CDATA[Gene duplication and relaxation from selective constraints of GCYC genes correlated with various floral symmetry patterns in Asiatic Gesneriaceae tribe Trichosporeae]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c5b52ded5eed0c4842bd181

Floral bilateral symmetry is one of the most important acquisitions in flower shape evolution in angiosperms. Members of Gesneriaceae possess predominantly zygomorphic flowers yet natural reversal to actinomorphy have independently evolved multiple times. The development of floral bilateral symmetry relies greatly on the gene CYCLOIDEA (CYC). Our reconstructed GCYC phylogeny indicated at least five GCYC duplication events occurred over the evolutionary history of Gesneriaceae. However, the patterns of GCYC expression following the duplications and the role of natural selection on GCYC copies in relation to floral symmetry remained largely unstudied. The Asiatic tribe Trichosporeae contains most reversals to actinomorphy. We thus investigated shifts in GCYC gene expression among selected zygomorphic species (Hemiboea bicornuta and Lysionotus pauciflorus) and species with reversals to actinomorphy (Conandron ramondioides) by RT-PCR. In the actinomorphic C. ramondioides, none of the three copies of GCYC was found expressed in petals implying that the reversal was a loss-of-function event. On the other hand, both zygomorphic species retained one GCYC1 copy that was expressed in the dorsal petals but each species utilized a different copy (GCYC1C for H. bicornuta and GCYC1D for L. pauciflorus). Together with previously published data, it appeared that GCYC1C and GCYC1D copies diversified their expression in a distinct species-specific pattern. To detect whether the selection signal (ω) changed before and after the duplication of GCYC1 in Asiatic Trichosporeae, we reconstructed a GCYC phylogeny using maximum likelihood and Bayesian inference algorithms and examined selection signals using PAML. The PAML analysis detected relaxation from selection right after the GCYC1 duplication (ωpre-duplication = 0.2819, ωpost-duplication = 0.3985) among Asiatic Trichosporeae species. We propose that the selection relaxation after the GCYC1 duplication created an "evolutionary window of flexibility" in which multiple copies were retained with randomly diverged roles for dorsal-specific expressions in association with floral symmetry changes.

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<![CDATA[Detecting useful genetic markers and reconstructing the phylogeny of an important medicinal resource plant, Artemisia selengensis, based on chloroplast genomics]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c61e90ed5eed0c48496f746

Artemisia selengenesis is not only a health food, but also a well-known traditional Chinese medicine. Only a fraction of the chloroplast (cp) genome data of Artemisia has been reported and chloroplast genomic materials have been widely used in genomic evolution studies, molecular marker development, and phylogenetic analysis of the genus Artemisia, which makes evolutionary studies, genetic improvement, and phylogenetic identification very difficult. In this study, the complete chloroplast genome of A. selengensis was compared with that of other species within Artemisia and phylogenetic analyses was conducted with other genera in the Asteraceae family. The results showed that A. selengensis is an AT-rich species and has a typical quadripartite structure that is 151,215 bp in length. Comparative genome analyses demonstrated that the available chloroplast genomes of species of Artemisia were well conserved in terms of genomic length, GC contents, and gene organization and order. However, some differences, which may indicate evolutionary events, were found, such as a re-inversion event within the Artemisia genus, an unequal duplicate phenomenon of the ycf1 gene because of the expansion and contraction of the IR region, and the fast-evolving regions. Repeated sequences analysis showed that Artemisia chloroplast genomes presented a highly similar pattern of SSR or LDR distribution. A total of 257 SSRs and 42 LDRs were identified in the A. selengensis chloroplast genome. The phylogenetic analysis showed that A. selengensis was sister to A. gmelinii. The findings of this study will be valuable in further studies to understand the genetic diversity and evolutionary history of Asteraceae.

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<![CDATA[Evolutionary dynamics of bacteria in the gut microbiome within and across hosts]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c521828d5eed0c4847975dd

Gut microbiota are shaped by a combination of ecological and evolutionary forces. While the ecological dynamics have been extensively studied, much less is known about how species of gut bacteria evolve over time. Here, we introduce a model-based framework for quantifying evolutionary dynamics within and across hosts using a panel of metagenomic samples. We use this approach to study evolution in approximately 40 prevalent species in the human gut. Although the patterns of between-host diversity are consistent with quasi-sexual evolution and purifying selection on long timescales, we identify new genealogical signatures that challenge standard population genetic models of these processes. Within hosts, we find that genetic differences that accumulate over 6-month timescales are only rarely attributable to replacement by distantly related strains. Instead, the resident strains more commonly acquire a smaller number of putative evolutionary changes, in which nucleotide variants or gene gains or losses rapidly sweep to high frequency. By comparing these mutations with the typical between-host differences, we find evidence that some sweeps may be seeded by recombination, in addition to new mutations. However, comparisons of adult twins suggest that replacement eventually overwhelms evolution over multi-decade timescales, hinting at fundamental limits to the extent of local adaptation. Together, our results suggest that gut bacteria can evolve on human-relevant timescales, and they highlight the connections between these short-term evolutionary dynamics and longer-term evolution across hosts.

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<![CDATA[Tandem gene duplication and recombination at the AT3 locus in the Solanaceae, a gene essential for capsaicinoid biosynthesis in Capsicum]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c521881d5eed0c484798b01

Capsaicinoids are compounds synthesized exclusively in the genus Capsicum and are responsible for the burning sensation experienced when consuming hot pepper fruits. To date, only one gene, AT3, a member of the BAHD family of acyltransferases, is currently known to have a measurable quantitative effect on capsaicinoid biosynthesis. Multiple AT3 paralogs exist in the Capsicum genome, but their evolutionary relationships have not been characterized well. Recessive alleles at this locus result in absence of capsaicinoids in pepper fruit. To explore the evolution of AT3 in Capsicum and the Solanaceae, we sequenced this gene from diverse Capsicum genotypes and species, along with a number of representative solanaceous taxa. Our results revealed that the coding region of AT3 is highly conserved throughout the family. Further, we uncovered a tandem duplication that predates the diversification of the Solanaceae taxa sampled in this study. This pair of tandem duplications were designated AT3-1 and AT3-2. Sequence alignments showed that the AT3-2 locus, a pseudogene, retains regions of amino acid conservation relative to AT3-1. Gene tree estimation demonstrated that AT3-1 and AT3-2 form well supported, distinct clades. In C. rhomboideum, a non-pungent basal Capsicum species, we describe a recombination event between AT3-1 and AT3-2 that modified the putative active site of AT3-1, also resulting in a frame-shift mutation in the second exon. Our data suggest that duplication of the original AT3 representative, in combination with divergence and pseudogene degeneration, may account for the patterns of sequence divergence and punctuated amino acid conservation observed in this study. Further, an early rearrangement in C. rhomboidium could account for the absence of pungency in this Capsicum species.

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<![CDATA[Intronic CNVs and gene expression variation in human populations]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c536a00d5eed0c484a46c63

Introns can be extraordinarily large and they account for the majority of the DNA sequence in human genes. However, little is known about their population patterns of structural variation and their functional implication. By combining the most extensive maps of CNVs in human populations, we have found that intronic losses are the most frequent copy number variants (CNVs) in protein-coding genes in human, with 12,986 intronic deletions, affecting 4,147 genes (including 1,154 essential genes and 1,638 disease-related genes). This intronic length variation results in dozens of genes showing extreme population variability in size, with 40 genes with 10 or more different sizes and up to 150 allelic sizes. Intronic losses are frequent in evolutionarily ancient genes that are highly conserved at the protein sequence level. This result contrasts with losses overlapping exons, which are observed less often than expected by chance and almost exclusively affect primate-specific genes. An integrated analysis of CNVs and RNA-seq data showed that intronic loss can be associated with significant differences in gene expression levels in the population (CNV-eQTLs). These intronic CNV-eQTLs regions are enriched for intronic enhancers and can be associated with expression differences of other genes showing long distance intron-promoter 3D interactions. Our data suggests that intronic structural variation of protein-coding genes makes an important contribution to the variability of gene expression and splicing in human populations.

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<![CDATA[Heritability and evolvability of morphological traits of Savannah sparrows (Passerculus sandwichensis) breeding in agricultural grasslands]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c466568d5eed0c484519032

Heritability and evolvability estimates of adult traits from free-living bird populations can be used to gauge the ability of populations to respond to selection, but are rare due to difficulties in gathering detailed pedigree information. The capacity to respond to selection is particularly important for species occupying managed habitats such as agricultural grasslands because of the potential for humans to accidentally influence traits. We calculated heritability and evolvability of six morphological traits in a population of Savannah Sparrows (Passerculus sandwichensis) breeding in a large agricultural landscape. We used microsatellite analysis to determine a genetic pedigree, revealing a high level of extra-pair paternity (63%) within a relatively philopatric population. For the entire population, heritabilities varied from low to high (bill width: 0.160±0.182 to tarsus length: 0.651±0.155), while evolvabilities were low across all traits (wing length: 0.035±0.013 to body mass: 0.066±0.106). Our results indicate that any directional selection from agricultural management practices will produce negligible changes in basic morphometrics of Savannah sparrow populations occupying the Champlain Valley of Vermont, USA.

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<![CDATA[Homology and linkage in crossover for linear genomes of variable length]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c37b7bdd5eed0c484490b2f

The use of variable-length genomes in evolutionary computation has applications in optimisation when the size of the search space is unknown, and provides a unique environment to study the evolutionary dynamics of genome structure. Here, we revisit crossover for linear genomes of variable length, identifying two crucial attributes of successful recombination algorithms: the ability to retain homologous structure, and to reshuffle variant information. We introduce direct measures of these properties—homology score and linkage score—and use them to review existing crossover algorithms, as well as two novel ones. In addition, we measure the performance of these crossover methods on three different benchmark problems, and find that variable-length genomes out-perform fixed-length variants in all three cases. Our homology and linkage scores successfully explain the difference in performance between different crossover methods, providing a simple and insightful framework for crossover in a variable-length setting.

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