ResearchPad - microevolution https://www.researchpad.co Default RSS Feed en-us © 2020 Newgen KnowledgeWorks <![CDATA[Short-term evolution strategies for host adaptation and drug escape in human fungal pathogens]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/elastic_article_14537 <![CDATA[Population Expanding with the Phalanx Model and Lineages Split by Environmental Heterogeneity: A Case Study of Primula obconica in Subtropical China]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989dab5ab0ee8fa60bac6de

Background

Current and historical events have both affected the current distribution patterns and intraspecific divergence of plants. While numerous studies have focused on the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau (QTP), the impacts of such events on the flora of subtropical China remain poorly understood. Subtropical China is famous for its highly complex topography and the limited impact from glaciation during the Pleistocene; this may have resulted in a different genetic legacy for species in this region compared to fully glaciated areas.

Methodology/Principal Findings

We used plastid and nuclear DNA sequence data and distribution modeling to analyze the divergence patterns and demographic history of Primula obconica Hance, a widespread herbaceous montane species in subtropical China. The phylogenetic analysis revealed two major lineages (lineage A and lineage B), representing a west-east split into the Yunnan and Eastern groups, and the Sichuan and Central groups, respectively. The Eastern and Central groups comprised relatively new derived haplotypes. Nested Clade Analysis and Bayesian Skyline Plot analyses both indicated that P. obconica mainly experienced a gradual expansion of populations. In addition, the simulated distribution of P. obconica during the Last Glacial Maximum was slightly larger than its present-day distribution.

Conclusion/Significance

Our results are the first to identify a west-east migration of P. obconica. The gradual expansion pattern and a larger potential distribution range in cold periods detected for P. obconica indicate that the population expansion of this species is consistent with the phalanx model. In addition, the current patterns of genetic differentiation have persisted as a result of the extensive environmental heterogeneity that exists in subtropical China.

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<![CDATA[Topological Structure of the Space of Phenotypes: The Case of RNA Neutral Networks]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989dab5ab0ee8fa60baca05

The evolution and adaptation of molecular populations is constrained by the diversity accessible through mutational processes. RNA is a paradigmatic example of biopolymer where genotype (sequence) and phenotype (approximated by the secondary structure fold) are identified in a single molecule. The extreme redundancy of the genotype-phenotype map leads to large ensembles of RNA sequences that fold into the same secondary structure and can be connected through single-point mutations. These ensembles define neutral networks of phenotypes in sequence space. Here we analyze the topological properties of neutral networks formed by 12-nucleotides RNA sequences, obtained through the exhaustive folding of sequence space. A total of 412 sequences fragments into 645 subnetworks that correspond to 57 different secondary structures. The topological analysis reveals that each subnetwork is far from being random: it has a degree distribution with a well-defined average and a small dispersion, a high clustering coefficient, and an average shortest path between nodes close to its minimum possible value, i.e. the Hamming distance between sequences. RNA neutral networks are assortative due to the correlation in the composition of neighboring sequences, a feature that together with the symmetries inherent to the folding process explains the existence of communities. Several topological relationships can be analytically derived attending to structural restrictions and generic properties of the folding process. The average degree of these phenotypic networks grows logarithmically with their size, such that abundant phenotypes have the additional advantage of being more robust to mutations. This property prevents fragmentation of neutral networks and thus enhances the navigability of sequence space. In summary, RNA neutral networks show unique topological properties, unknown to other networks previously described.

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<![CDATA[Shared and Unique Patterns of Embryo Development in Extremophile Poeciliids]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989da0aab0ee8fa60b771ee

Background

Closely related lineages of livebearing fishes have independently adapted to two extreme environmental factors: toxic hydrogen sulphide (H2S) and perpetual darkness. Previous work has demonstrated in adult specimens that fish from these extreme habitats convergently evolved drastically increased head and offspring size, while cave fish are further characterized by reduced pigmentation and eye size. Here, we traced the development of these (and other) divergent traits in embryos of Poecilia mexicana from benign surface habitats (“surface mollies”) and a sulphidic cave (“cave mollies”), as well as in embryos of the sister taxon, Poecilia sulphuraria from a sulphidic surface spring (“sulphur mollies”). We asked at which points during development changes in the timing of the involved processes (i.e., heterochrony) would be detectible.

Methods and Results

Data were extracted from digital photographs taken of representative embryos for each stage of development and each type of molly. Embryo mass decreased in convergent fashion, but we found patterns of embryonic fat content and ovum/embryo diameter to be divergent among all three types of mollies. The intensity of yellow colouration of the yolk (a proxy for carotenoid content) was significantly lower in cave mollies throughout development. Moreover, while relative head size decreased through development in surface mollies, it increased in both types of extremophile mollies, and eye growth was arrested in mid-stage embryos of cave mollies but not in surface or sulphur mollies.

Conclusion

Our results clearly demonstrate that even among sister taxa convergence in phenotypic traits is not always achieved by the same processes during embryo development. Furthermore, teleost development is crucially dependent on sufficient carotenoid stores in the yolk, and so we discuss how the apparent ability of cave mollies to overcome this carotenoid-dependency may represent another potential mechanism explaining the lack of gene flow between surface and cave mollies.

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<![CDATA[Rise of the Earliest Tetrapods: An Early Devonian Origin from Marine Environment]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989da59ab0ee8fa60b8f747

Tetrapod fossil tracks are known from the Middle Devonian (Eifelian at ca. 397 million years ago - MYA), and their earliest bony remains from the Upper Devonian (Frasnian at 375–385 MYA). Tetrapods are now generally considered to have colonized land during the Carboniferous (i.e., after 359 MYA), which is considered to be one of the major events in the history of life. Our analysis on tetrapod evolution was performed using molecular data consisting of 13 proteins from 17 species and different paleontological data. The analysis on the molecular data was performed with the program TreeSAAP and the results were analyzed to see if they had implications on the paleontological data collected. The results have shown that tetrapods evolved from marine environments during times of higher oxygen levels. The change in environmental conditions played a major role in their evolution. According to our analysis this evolution occurred at about 397–416 MYA during the Early Devonian unlike previously thought. This idea is supported by various environmental factors such as sea levels and oxygen rate, and biotic factors such as biodiversity of arthropods and coral reefs. The molecular data also strongly supports lungfish as tetrapod's closest living relative.

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<![CDATA[One Species, Three Pleistocene Evolutionary Histories: Phylogeography of the Italian Crested Newt, Triturus carnifex]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989daddab0ee8fa60bbaa56

Phylogeographic patterns of temperate species from the Mediterranean peninsulas have been investigated intensively. Nevertheless, as more phylogeographies become available, either unique patterns or new lines of concordance continue to emerge, providing new insights on the evolution of regional biotas. Here, we investigated the phylogeography and evolutionary history of the Italian crested newt, Triturus carnifex, through phylogenetic, molecular dating and population structure analyses of two mitochondrial gene fragments (ND2 and ND4; overall 1273 bp). We found three main mtDNA lineages having parapatric distribution and estimated divergence times between Late Pliocene and Early Pleistocene. One lineage (S) was widespread south of the northern Apennine chain and was further geographically structured into five sublineages, likely of Middle Pleistocene origin. The second lineage (C) was widespread throughout the Padano–Venetian plain and did not show a clear phylogeographic structure. The third lineage (N) was observed in only two populations located on western Croatia/Slovenia. Results of analysis of molecular variance suggested that partitioning populations according to the geographic distribution of these lineages and sublineages explains 76% of the observed genetic variation. The phylogeographic structure observed within T. carnifex and divergence time estimates among its lineages, suggest that responses to Pleistocene environmental changes in this single species have been as diverse as those found previously among several codistributed temperate species combined. Consistent with the landscape heterogeneity, physiographic features, and palaeogeographical evolution of its distribution range, these responses encompass multiple refugia along the Apennine chain, lowland refugia in large peri-coastal plains, and a ‘cryptic’ northern refugium.

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<![CDATA[Atypical AT Skew in Firmicute Genomes Results from Selection and Not from Mutation]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989db48ab0ee8fa60bd9586

The second parity rule states that, if there is no bias in mutation or selection, then within each strand of DNA complementary bases are present at approximately equal frequencies. In bacteria, however, there is commonly an excess of G (over C) and, to a lesser extent, T (over A) in the replicatory leading strand. The low G+C Firmicutes, such as Staphylococcus aureus, are unusual in displaying an excess of A over T on the leading strand. As mutation has been established as a major force in the generation of such skews across various bacterial taxa, this anomaly has been assumed to reflect unusual mutation biases in Firmicute genomes. Here we show that this is not the case and that mutation bias does not explain the atypical AT skew seen in S. aureus. First, recently arisen intergenic SNPs predict the classical replication-derived equilibrium enrichment of T relative to A, contrary to what is observed. Second, sites predicted to be under weak purifying selection display only weak AT skew. Third, AT skew is primarily associated with largely non-synonymous first and second codon sites and is seen with respect to their sense direction, not which replicating strand they lie on. The atypical AT skew we show to be a consequence of the strong bias for genes to be co-oriented with the replicating fork, coupled with the selective avoidance of both stop codons and costly amino acids, which tend to have T-rich codons. That intergenic sequence has more A than T, while at mutational equilibrium a preponderance of T is expected, points to a possible further unresolved selective source of skew.

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<![CDATA[High Temperature Triggers Latent Variation among Individuals: Oviposition Rate and Probability for Outbreaks]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989daa4ab0ee8fa60ba6ebb

Background

It is anticipated that extreme population events, such as extinctions and outbreaks, will become more frequent as a consequence of climate change. To evaluate the increased probability of such events, it is crucial to understand the mechanisms involved. Variation between individuals in their response to climatic factors is an important consideration, especially if microevolution is expected to change the composition of populations.

Methodology/Principal Findings

Here we present data of a willow leaf beetle species, showing high variation among individuals in oviposition rate at a high temperature (20°C). It is particularly noteworthy that not all individuals responded to changes in temperature; individuals laying few eggs at 20°C continued to do so when transferred to 12°C, whereas individuals that laid many eggs at 20°C reduced their oviposition and laid the same number of eggs as the others when transferred to 12°C. When transferred back to 20°C most individuals reverted to their original oviposition rate. Thus, high variation among individuals was only observed at the higher temperature. Using a simple population model and based on regional climate change scenarios we show that the probability of outbreaks increases if there is a realistic increase in the number of warm summers. The probability of outbreaks also increased with increasing heritability of the ability to respond to increased temperature.

Conclusions/Significance

If climate becomes warmer and there is latent variation among individuals in their temperature response, the probability for outbreaks may increase. However, the likelihood for microevolution to play a role may be low. This conclusion is based on the fact that it has been difficult to show that microevolution affect the probability for extinctions. Our results highlight the urge for cautiousness when predicting the future concerning probabilities for extreme population events.

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<![CDATA[Adaptive Evolution in the Glucose Transporter 4 Gene Slc2a4 in Old World Fruit Bats (Family: Pteropodidae)]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989daa6ab0ee8fa60ba77e3

Frugivorous and nectarivorous bats are able to ingest large quantities of sugar in a short time span while avoiding the potentially adverse side-effects of elevated blood glucose. The glucose transporter 4 protein (GLUT4) encoded by the Slc2a4 gene plays a critical role in transmembrane skeletal muscle glucose uptake and thus glucose homeostasis. To test whether the Slc2a4 gene has undergone adaptive evolution in bats with carbohydrate-rich diets in relation to their insect-eating sister taxa, we sequenced the coding region of the Slc2a4 gene in a number of bat species, including four Old World fruit bats (Pteropodidae) and three New World fruit bats (Phyllostomidae). Our molecular evolutionary analyses revealed evidence that Slc2a4 has undergone a change in selection pressure in Old World fruit bats with 11 amino acid substitutions detected on the ancestral branch, whereas, no positive selection was detected in the New World fruit bats. We noted that in the former group, amino acid replacements were biased towards either Serine or Isoleucine, and, of the 11 changes, six were specific to Old World fruit bats (A133S, A164S, V377F, V386I, V441I and G459S). Our study presents preliminary evidence that the Slc2a4 gene has undergone adaptive changes in Old World fruit bats in relation to their ability to meet the demands of a high sugar diet.

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<![CDATA[HIV-1 Nef Protein Structures Associated with Brain Infection and Dementia Pathogenesis]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989db3dab0ee8fa60bd5978

The difference between regional rates of HIV-associated dementia (HAD) in patients infected with different subtypes of HIV suggests that genetic determinants exist within HIV that influence the ability of the virus to replicate in the central nervous system (in Uganda, Africa, subtype D HAD rate is 89%, while subtype A HAD rate is 24%). HIV-1 nef is a multifunctional protein with known toxic effects in the brain compartment. The goal of the current study was to identify if specific three-dimensional nef structures may be linked to patients who developed HAD. HIV-1 nef structures were computationally derived for consensus brain and non-brain sequences from a panel of patients infected with subtype B who died due to varied disease pathologies and consensus subtype A and subtype D sequences from Uganda. Site directed mutation analysis identified signatures in brain structures that appear to change binding potentials and could affect folding conformations of brain-associated structures. Despite the large sequence variation between HIV subtypes, structural alignments confirmed that viral structures derived from patients with HAD were more similar to subtype D structures than to structures derived from patient sequences without HAD. Furthermore, structures derived from brain sequences of patients with HAD were more similar to subtype D structures than they were to their own non-brain structures. The potential finding of a brain-specific nef structure indicates that HAD may result from genetic alterations that alter the folding or binding potential of the protein.

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<![CDATA[Microevolution of Candida albicans in Macrophages Restores Filamentation in a Nonfilamentous Mutant]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989da92ab0ee8fa60ba05f2

Following antifungal treatment, Candida albicans, and other human pathogenic fungi can undergo microevolution, which leads to the emergence of drug resistance. However, the capacity for microevolutionary adaptation of fungi goes beyond the development of resistance against antifungals. Here we used an experimental microevolution approach to show that one of the central pathogenicity mechanisms of C. albicans, the yeast-to-hyphae transition, can be subject to experimental evolution. The C. albicans cph1Δ/efg1Δ mutant is nonfilamentous, as central signaling pathways linking environmental cues to hyphal formation are disrupted. We subjected this mutant to constant selection pressure in the hostile environment of the macrophage phagosome. In a comparatively short time-frame, the mutant evolved the ability to escape macrophages by filamentation. In addition, the evolved mutant exhibited hyper-virulence in a murine infection model and an altered cell wall composition compared to the cph1Δ/efg1Δ strain. Moreover, the transcriptional regulation of hyphae-associated, and other pathogenicity-related genes became re-responsive to environmental cues in the evolved strain. We went on to identify the causative missense mutation via whole genome- and transcriptome-sequencing: a single nucleotide exchange took place within SSN3 that encodes a component of the Cdk8 module of the Mediator complex, which links transcription factors with the general transcription machinery. This mutation was responsible for the reconnection of the hyphal growth program with environmental signals in the evolved strain and was sufficient to bypass Efg1/Cph1-dependent filamentation. These data demonstrate that even central transcriptional networks can be remodeled very quickly under appropriate selection pressure.

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<![CDATA[Transcontinental Phylogeography of the Daphnia pulex Species Complex]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989da00ab0ee8fa60b73a7b

Daphnia pulex is quickly becoming an attractive model species in the field of ecological genomics due to the recent release of its complete genome sequence, a wide variety of new genomic resources, and a rich history of ecological data. Sequences of the mitochondrial NADH dehydrogenase subunit 5 and cytochrome c oxidase subunit 1 genes were used to assess the global phylogeography of this species, and to further elucidate its phylogenetic relationship to other members of the Daphnia pulex species complex. Using both newly acquired and previously published data, we analyzed 398 individuals from collections spanning five continents. Eleven strongly supported lineages were found within the D. pulex complex, and one lineage in particular, panarctic D. pulex, has very little phylogeographical structure and a near worldwide distribution. Mismatch distribution, haplotype network, and population genetic analyses are compatible with a North American origin for this lineage and subsequent spatial expansion in the Late Pleistocene. In addition, our analyses suggest that dispersal between North and South America of this and other species in the D. pulex complex has occurred multiple times, and is predominantly from north to south. Our results provide additional support for the evolutionary relationships of the eleven main mitochondrial lineages of the D. pulex complex. We found that the well-studied panarctic D. pulex is present on every continent except Australia and Antarctica. Despite being geographically very widespread, there is a lack of strong regionalism in the mitochondrial genomes of panarctic D. pulex – a pattern that differs from that of most studied cladocerans. Moreover, our analyses suggest recent expansion of the panarctic D. pulex lineage, with some continents sharing haplotypes. The hypothesis that hybrid asexuality has contributed to the recent and unusual geographic success of the panarctic D. pulex lineage warrants further study.

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<![CDATA[Laboratory Relationships between Adult Lifetime Reproductive Success and Fitness Surrogates in a Drosophila littoralis Population]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989da45ab0ee8fa60b8b91f

The difficulties in measuring total fitness of individuals necessitate the use of fitness surrogates in ecological and evolutionary studies. These surrogates can be different components of fitness (e.g. survival or fecundity), or proxies more uncertainly related to fitness (e.g. body size or growth rate). Ideally, fitness would be measured over the lifetime of individuals; however, more convenient short-time measures are often used. Adult lifetime reproductive success (adult LRS) is closely related to the total fitness of individuals, but it is difficult to measure and rarely included in fitness estimation in experimental studies. We explored phenotypic correlations between female adult LRS and various commonly used fitness components and proxies in a recently founded laboratory population of Drosophila littoralis. Noting that survival is usually higher in laboratory conditions than in nature, we also calculated adjusted adult LRS measures that give more weight to early reproduction. The lifetime measures of fecundity, longevity, and offspring viability were all relatively highly correlated with adult LRS. However, correlations with short-time measures of fecundity and offspring production varied greatly depending on the time of measurement, and the optimal time for measurement was different for unadjusted compared to adjusted adult LRS measures. Correlations between size measures and adult LRS varied from weak to modest, leg size and female weight having the highest correlations. Our results stress the importance of well-founded choice of fitness surrogates in empirical research.

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<![CDATA[Comprehensive Phylogenetic Reconstruction of Amoebozoa Based on Concatenated Analyses of SSU-rDNA and Actin Genes]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989da83ab0ee8fa60b9b738

Evolutionary relationships within Amoebozoa have been the subject of controversy for two reasons: 1) paucity of morphological characters in traditional surveys and 2) haphazard taxonomic sampling in modern molecular reconstructions. These along with other factors have prevented the erection of a definitive system that resolves confidently both higher and lower-level relationships. Additionally, the recent recognition that many protosteloid amoebae are in fact scattered throughout the Amoebozoa suggests that phylogenetic reconstructions have been excluding an extensive and integral group of organisms. Here we provide a comprehensive phylogenetic reconstruction based on 139 taxa using molecular information from both SSU-rDNA and actin genes. We provide molecular data for 13 of those taxa, 12 of which had not been previously characterized. We explored the dataset extensively by generating 18 alternative reconstructions that assess the effect of missing data, long-branched taxa, unstable taxa, fast evolving sites and inclusion of environmental sequences. We compared reconstructions with each other as well as against previously published phylogenies. Our analyses show that many of the morphologically established lower-level relationships (defined here as relationships roughly equivalent to Order level or below) are congruent with molecular data. However, the data are insufficient to corroborate or reject the large majority of proposed higher-level relationships (above the Order-level), with the exception of Tubulinea, Archamoebae and Myxogastrea, which are consistently recovered. Moreover, contrary to previous expectations, the inclusion of available environmental sequences does not significantly improve the Amoebozoa reconstruction. This is probably because key amoebozoan taxa are not easily amplified by environmental sequencing methodology due to high rates of molecular evolution and regular occurrence of large indels and introns. Finally, in an effort to facilitate future sampling of key amoebozoan taxa, we provide a novel methodology for genome amplification and cDNA extraction from single or a few cells, a method that is culture-independent and allows both photodocumentation and extraction of multiple genes from natural samples.

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<![CDATA[Nucleoid-Associated Proteins Affect Mutation Dynamics in E. coli in a Growth Phase-Specific Manner]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989daedab0ee8fa60bbfd7e

The binding of proteins can shield DNA from mutagenic processes but also interfere with efficient repair. How the presence of DNA-binding proteins shapes intra-genomic differences in mutability and, ultimately, sequence variation in natural populations, however, remains poorly understood. In this study, we examine sequence evolution in Escherichia coli in relation to the binding of four abundant nucleoid-associated proteins: Fis, H-NS, IhfA, and IhfB. We find that, for a subset of mutations, protein occupancy is associated with both increased and decreased mutability in the underlying sequence depending on when the protein is bound during the bacterial growth cycle. On average, protein-bound DNA exhibits reduced mutability compared to protein-free DNA. However, this net protective effect is weak and can be abolished or even reversed during stages of colony growth where binding coincides – and hence likely interferes with – DNA repair activity. We suggest that the four nucleoid-associated proteins analyzed here have played a minor but significant role in patterning extant sequence variation in E. coli.

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<![CDATA[Multiple Determinants of Whole and Regional Brain Volume among Terrestrial Carnivorans]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989daeaab0ee8fa60bbed0d

Mammalian brain volumes vary considerably, even after controlling for body size. Although several hypotheses have been proposed to explain this variation, most research in mammals on the evolution of encephalization has focused on primates, leaving the generality of these explanations uncertain. Furthermore, much research still addresses only one hypothesis at a time, despite the demonstrated importance of considering multiple factors simultaneously. We used phylogenetic comparative methods to investigate simultaneously the importance of several factors previously hypothesized to be important in neural evolution among mammalian carnivores, including social complexity, forelimb use, home range size, diet, life history, phylogeny, and recent evolutionary changes in body size. We also tested hypotheses suggesting roles for these variables in determining the relative volume of four brain regions measured using computed tomography. Our data suggest that, in contrast to brain size in primates, carnivoran brain size may lag behind body size over evolutionary time. Moreover, carnivore species that primarily consume vertebrates have the largest brains. Although we found no support for a role of social complexity in overall encephalization, relative cerebrum volume correlated positively with sociality. Finally, our results support negative relationships among different brain regions after accounting for overall endocranial volume, suggesting that increased size of one brain regions is often accompanied by reduced size in other regions rather than overall brain expansion.

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<![CDATA[Dietary Differentiation and the Evolution of Population Genetic Structure in a Highly Mobile Carnivore]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989da12ab0ee8fa60b79d99

Recent studies on highly mobile carnivores revealed cryptic population genetic structures correlated to transitions in habitat types and prey species composition. This led to the hypothesis that natal-habitat-biased dispersal may be responsible for generating population genetic structure. However, direct evidence for the concordant ecological and genetic differentiation between populations of highly mobile mammals is rare. To address this we analyzed stable isotope profiles (δ13C and δ15N values) for Eastern European wolves (Canis lupus) as a quantifiable proxy measure of diet for individuals that had been genotyped in an earlier study (showing cryptic genetic structure), to provide a quantitative assessment of the relationship between individual foraging behavior and genotype. We found a significant correlation between genetic distances and dietary differentiation (explaining 46% of the variation) in both the marginal test and crucially, when geographic distance was accounted for as a co-variable. These results, interpreted in the context of other possible mechanisms such as allopatry and isolation by distance, reinforce earlier studies suggesting that diet and associated habitat choice are influencing the structuring of populations in highly mobile carnivores.

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<![CDATA[Armament Imbalances: Match and Mismatch in Plant-Pollinator Traits of Highly Specialized Long-Spurred Orchids]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989d9f1ab0ee8fa60b6e806

Background

Some species of long-spurred orchids achieve pollination by a close association with long-tongued hawkmoths. Among them, several Habenaria species present specialized mechanisms, where pollination success depends on the attachment of pollinaria onto the heads of hawkmoths with very long proboscises. However, in the Neotropical region such moths are less abundant than their shorter-tongued relatives and are also prone to population fluctuations. Both factors may give rise to differences in pollinator-mediated selection on floral traits through time and space.

Methodology/Principal Findings

We characterized hawkmoth assemblages and estimated phenotypic selection gradients on orchid spur lengths in populations of three South American Habenaria species. We examined the match between hawkmoth proboscis and flower spur lengths to determine whether pollinators may act as selective agents on flower morphology. We found significant directional selection on spur length only in Habenaria gourlieana, where most pollinators had proboscises longer than the mean of orchid spur length.

Conclusions/Significance

Phenotypic selection is dependent on the mutual match between pollinator and flower morphologies. However, our findings indicate that pollinator-mediated selection may vary through time and space according to local variations in pollinator assemblages.

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<![CDATA[Contemporary Evolutionary Divergence for a Protected Species following Assisted Colonization]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989da0aab0ee8fa60b775bb

Background

Contemporary evolution following assisted colonization may increase the probability of persistence for refuge populations established as a bet-hedge for protected species. Such refuge populations are considered “genetic replicates” that might be used for future re-colonization in the event of a catastrophe in the native site. Although maladaptive evolutionary divergence of captive populations is well recognized, evolutionary divergence of wild refuge populations may also occur on contemporary time scales. Thus, refuge populations may lose their “value” as true genetic replicates of the native population. Here, we show contemporary evolutionary divergence in body shape in an approximately 30-year old refuge population of the protected White Sands pupfish (Cyprinodon tularosa) resulting in a body-shape mismatch with its native environment.

Methodology/Principal Findings

Geometric morphometic data were collected from C. tularosa cultures raised in experimental mesocosms. Cultures were initiated with fish from the two native populations, plus hybrids, in high or low salinity treatments representing the salinities of the two native habitats. We found that body shape was heritable and that shape variation due to phenotypic plasticity was small compared to shape variation due to population source. C. tularosa from the high salinity population retained slender body shapes and fish from the low salinity population retained deep body shapes, irrespective of mesocosm salinity. These data suggest that the observed divergence of a recently established pupfish population was not explained by plasticity. An analysis of microsatellite variation indicated that no significant genetic drift occurred in the refuge population, further supporting the adaptive nature of changes in body shape. These lines of evidence suggest that body shape divergence of the refuge population reflects a case of contemporary evolution (over a 30-year period).

Conclusions/Significance

These results suggest assisted colonization can introduce novel, and/or relaxed selection, and lead to unintended evolutionary divergence.

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<![CDATA[Variation of Serine-Aspartate Repeats in Membrane Proteins Possibly Contributes to Staphylococcal Microevolution]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989daf3ab0ee8fa60bc1e81

Tandem repeats (either as microsatellites or minisatellites) in eukaryotic and prokaryotic organisms are mutation-prone DNA. While minisatellites in prokaryotic genomes are underrepresented, the cell surface adhesins of bacteria often contain the minisatellite SD repeats, encoding the amino acid pair of serine-asparatate, especially in Staphylococcal strains. However, their relationship to biological functions is still elusive. In this study, effort was made to uncover the copy number variations of SD repeats by bioinformatic analysis and to detect changes in SD repeats during a plasmid-based assay, as a first step to understand its biological functions. The SD repeats were found to be mainly present in the cell surface proteins. The SD repeats were genetically unstable and polymorphic in terms of copy numbers and sequence compositions. Unlike SNPs, the change of its copy number was reversible, without frame shifting. More significantly, a rearrangement hot spot, the ATTC/AGRT site, was found to be mainly responsible for the instability and reversibility of SD repeats. These characteristics of SD repeats may facilitate bacteria to respond to environmental changes, with low cost, low risk and high efficiency.

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