International Journal of Evolutionary Biology
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Open Access journal
ISSN (Online) 2090-052X
Published by Hindawi [333 journals]
- New Insights into the Effects of Several Environmental Parameters on the
Relative Fitness of a Numerically Dominant Class of Evolved Niche
Abstract: Adaptive radiation in bacteria has been investigated using Wrinkly Spreaders (WS), a morphotype which colonises the air-liquid (A-L) interface of static microcosms by biofilm formation with a significant fitness advantage over competitors growing lower down in the O2-limited liquid column. Here, we investigate several environmental parameters which impact the ecological opportunity that the Wrinkly Spreaders exploit in this model system. Manipulation of surface area/volume ratios suggests that the size of the WS niche was not as important as the ability to dominate the A-L interface and restrict competitor growth. The value of this niche to the Wrinkly Spreaders, as determined by competitive fitness assays, was found to increase as O2 flux to the A-L interface was reduced, confirming that competition for O2 was the main driver of WS fitness. The effect of O2 on fitness was also found to be dependent on the availability of nutrients, reflecting the need to take up both for optimal growth. Finally, the meniscus trap, a high-O2 region formed by the interaction of the A-L interface with the vial walls, was also important for fitness during the early stages of biofilm formation. These findings reveal the complexity of this seemingly simple model system and illustrate how changes in environmental physicality alter ecological opportunity and the fitness of the adaptive morphotype.
PubDate: Thu, 22 Dec 2016 12:03:09 +000
- The Challenges and Relevance of Exploring the Genetics of North Africa’s
“Barbary Lion” and the Conservation of Putative Descendants in
Abstract: The lions of North Africa were unique in ecological terms as well as from a human cultural perspective and were the definitive lions of Roman and Medieval Europe. Labelled “Barbary” lions, they were once numerous in North Africa but were exterminated by the mid-20th century. Despite subsequent degeneration of the Atlas Mountain ecosystem through human pressures, the feasibility of lion reintroduction has been debated since the 1970s. Research on the long-established captive lion collection traditionally kept by the sultans and kings of Morocco has enabled selective breeding coordinated across Moroccan and European zoos involving a significant number of animals. Molecular genetic research has recently provided insights into lion phylogeny which, despite previous suggestions that all lions share recent common ancestry, now indicates clear distinctions between lions in North, West, and Central Africa, the Middle East, and India versus those in Southern and Eastern Africa. A review of the evolutionary relevance of North African lions highlights the important challenges and opportunities in understanding relationships between Moroccan lions, extinct North African lions, and extant lion populations in India and West and Central Africa and the potential role for lions in ecosystem recovery in those regions.
PubDate: Tue, 30 Aug 2016 09:58:48 +000
- The Heavy Links between Geological Events and Vascular Plants Evolution: A
Abstract: Since the rise of photosynthesis, life has influenced terrestrial atmosphere, particularly the O2 and the CO2 content (the latter being originally more than 95%), changing the chemistry of waters, atmosphere, and soils. Billions of years after, a far offspring of these first unicellular forms conquered emerging lands, not only completely changing landscape, but also modifying geological cycles of deposition and erosion, many chemical and physical characteristics of soils and fresh waters, and, more, the cycle of various elements. So, there are no doubts that vascular plants modified geology; but it is true that also geology has affected (and, more, has driven) plant evolution. New software, PyRate, has determined vascular plant origin and diversification through a Bayesian analysis of fossil record from Silurian to today, particularly observing their origination and extinction rate. A comparison between PyRate data and geological history suggests that geological events massively influenced plant evolution and that also the rise of nonflowering seed plants and the fast diffusion of flowering plants can be explained, almost partly, with the environmental condition changes induced by geological phenomena.
PubDate: Thu, 04 Feb 2016 13:33:23 +000
- An Evolutionary Perspective of Nutrition and Inflammation as Mechanisms of
Abstract: When cardiovascular diseases are viewed from an evolutionary biology perspective, a heightened thrifty and an inflammatory design could be their mechanisms. Human ancestors confronted a greater infectious load and were subjected to the selection for proinflammatory genes and a strong inflammatory function. Ancestors also faced starvation periods that pressed for a thrifty genotype which caused fat accumulation. The pressure of sustaining gluconeogenesis during periods of poor nourishment selected individuals with insulin resistance. Obesity induces a proinflammatory state due to the secretion of adipokines which underlie cardiometabolic diseases. Our actual lifestyle needs no more of such proinflammatory and thrifty genotypes and these ancestral genes might increase predisposition to diseases. Risk factors for atherosclerosis and diabetes are based on inflammatory and genetic foundations that can be accounted for by excess fat. Longevity has also increased in recent times and is related to a proinflammatory response with cardiovascular consequences. If human ancestral lifestyle could be recovered by increasing exercise and adapting a calorie restriction diet, obesity would decrease and the effects on chronic low-grade inflammation would be limited. Thereby, the rates of both atherosclerosis and diabetes could be reduced.
PubDate: Sun, 29 Nov 2015 13:41:59 +000
- Evolutionary Consequences of Male Driven Sexual Selection and Sex-Biased
Fitness Modifications in Drosophila melanogaster and Members of the
Abstract: Males have evolved a variety of behavioral, morphological, and physiological traits to manipulate their mates in order to maximize their chances of success. These traits are bound to influence how females respond to male behaviors and influence the nature of sexual selection/conflict. A common consequence of aggressive male mating strategies in Drosophila melanogaster is the reduction of female lifespan. Our study shows that this is common across members of the simulans clade. Reduced life expectancy of females implies that female contribution to a population is less than that of males per generation. Fitness differences between the sexes in every generation will invariably affect overall population fitness. How natural selection responds to the female deaths and thereby the unequal fitness of the sexes has rarely been addressed. We shed light on this issue and provide evidence, which suggests that additional gains of fitness by males due to their longevity and continued mating may provide one explanation as to why the loss of female fitness may be “invisible” (effectively neutral) to natural selection. Male driven sexual selection and additional, transgenerational gains of male fitness can be an important force of evolutionary change and need to be tested with other organisms.
PubDate: Tue, 01 Sep 2015 06:09:31 +000
- The Evolutionary History of Daphniid α-Carbonic Anhydrase within
Abstract: Understanding the mechanisms that drive acid-base regulation in organisms is important, especially for organisms in aquatic habitats that experience rapidly fluctuating pH conditions. Previous studies have shown that carbonic anhydrases (CAs), a family of zinc metalloenzymes, are responsible for acid-base regulation in many organisms. Through the use of phylogenetic tools, this present study attempts to elucidate the evolutionary history of the α-CA superfamily, with particular interest in the emerging model aquatic organism Daphnia pulex. We provide one of the most extensive phylogenies of the evolution of α-CAs, with the inclusion of 261 amino acid sequences across taxa ranging from Cnidarians to Homo sapiens. While the phylogeny supports most of our previous understanding on the relationship of how α-CAs have evolved, we find that, contrary to expectations, amino acid conservation with bacterial α-CAs supports the supposition that extracellular α-CAs are the ancestral state of animal α-CAs. Furthermore, we show that two cytosolic and one GPI-anchored α-CA in Daphnia genus have homologs in sister taxa that are possible candidate genes to study for acid-base regulation. In addition, we provide further support for previous findings of a high rate of gene duplication within Daphnia genus, as compared with other organisms.
PubDate: Sun, 29 Mar 2015 08:05:46 +000
- Network Analysis of Plasmidomes: The Azospirillum brasilense Sp245 Case
Abstract: Azospirillum brasilense is a nitrogen-fixing bacterium living in association with plant roots. The genome of the strain Sp245, isolated in Brazil from wheat roots, consists of one chromosome and six plasmids. In this work, the A. brasilense Sp245 plasmids were analyzed in order to shed some light on the evolutionary pathways they followed over time. To this purpose, a similarity network approach was applied in order to identify the evolutionary relationships among all the A. brasilense plasmids encoded proteins; in this context a computational pipeline specifically devoted to the analysis and the visualization of the network-like evolutionary relationships among different plasmids molecules was developed. This information was supplemented with a detailed (in silico) functional characterization of both the connected (i.e., sharing homology with other sequences in the dataset) and the unconnected (i.e., not sharing homology) components of the network. Furthermore, the most likely source organism for each of the genes encoded by A. brasilense plasmids was checked, allowing the identification of possible trends of gene loss/gain in this microorganism. Data obtained provided a detailed description of the evolutionary landscape of the plasmids of A. brasilense Sp245, suggesting some of the molecular mechanisms responsible for the present-day structure of these molecules.
PubDate: Mon, 29 Dec 2014 09:17:58 +000
- A Syntenic Region Conserved from Fish to Mammalian X Chromosome
Abstract: Sex chromosomes bearing the sex-determining gene initiate development along the male or female pathway, no matter which sex is determined by XY male or ZW female heterogamety. Sex chromosomes originate from ancient autosomes but evolved rapidly after the acquisition of sex-determining factors which are highly divergent between species. In the heterogametic male system (XY system), the X chromosome is relatively evolutionary silent and maintains most of its ancestral genes, in contrast to its Y counterpart that has evolved rapidly and degenerated. Sex in a teleost fish, the Nile tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus), is determined genetically via an XY system, in which an unpaired region is present in the largest chromosome pair. We defined the differences in DNA contents present in this chromosome with a two-color comparative genomic hybridization (CGH) and the random amplified polymorphic DNA (RAPD) approach in XY males. We further identified a syntenic segment within this region that is well conserved in several teleosts. Through comparative genome analysis, this syntenic segment was also shown to be present in mammalian X chromosomes, suggesting a common ancestral origin of vertebrate sex chromosomes.
PubDate: Tue, 18 Nov 2014 11:29:50 +000
- Plasticity-Mediated Persistence in New and Changing Environments
Abstract: Baldwin’s synthesis of the Organicist position, first published in 1896 and elaborated in 1902, sought to rescue environmentally induced phenotypes from disrepute by showing their Darwinian significance. Of particular interest to Baldwin was plasticity’s mediating role during environmental change or colonization—plastic individuals were more likely to successfully survive and reproduce in new environments than were nonplastic individuals. Once a population of plastic individuals had become established, plasticity could further mediate the future course of evolution. The evidence for plasticity-mediated persistence (PMP) is reviewed here with a particular focus on evolutionary rescue experiments, studies on invasive success, and the role of learning in survival. Many PMP studies are methodologically limited, showing that preexistent plasticity has utility in new environments (soft PMP) rather than directly demonstrating that plasticity is responsible for persistence (hard PMP). An ideal PMP study would be able to demonstrate that (1) plasticity preexisted environmental change, (2) plasticity was fortuitously beneficial in the new environment, (3) plasticity was responsible for individual persistence in the new environment, and (4) plasticity was responsible for population persistence in succeeding generations. Although PMP is not ubiquitous, Baldwin’s hypotheses have been largely vindicated in theoretical and empirical studies, but much work remains.
PubDate: Wed, 15 Oct 2014 10:06:57 +000
- Is the Frequency Content of the Calls in North American Treefrogs Limited
by Their Larynges'
Abstract: A high diversity of mating calls is found among frogs. The calls of most species, however, are simple, in comparison to those of mammals and birds. In order to determine if the mechanics of the larynx could explain the simplicity of treefrog calls, the larynges of euthanized males were activated with airflow. Laryngeal airflow, sound frequency, and sound intensity showed a positive direct relationship with the driving air pressure. While the natural calls of the studied species exhibit minimal frequency modulation, their larynges produced about an octave of frequency modulation in response to varying pulmonary pressure. Natural advertisement calls are produced near the higher extreme of frequency obtained in the laboratory and at a slightly higher intensity (6 dB). Natural calls also exhibit fewer harmonics than artificial ones, because the larynges were activated with the mouth of the animal open. The results revealed that treefrog larynges allow them to produce calls spanning a much greater range of frequencies than observed in nature; therefore, the simplicity of the calls is not due to a limited frequency range of laryngeal output. Low frequencies are produced at low intensities, however, and this could explain why treefrogs concentrate their calling at the high frequencies.
PubDate: Tue, 23 Sep 2014 11:05:16 +000
- Individual Genetic Contributions to Genital Shape Variation between
Drosophila simulans and D. mauritiana
Abstract: External genitalia are one of the most rapidly evolving morphological features in insects. In the Drosophila melanogaster species subgroup, males possess a nonfertilizing external genital structure, called the posterior lobe, which is highly divergent among even closely related species. A previous study on this subgroup mapped two genomic regions that affect lobe size and four that affect lobe shape differences between D. mauritiana and D. sechellia; none of the regions affected both size and shape. Here, we investigate whether three of these significant regions also affect lobe size and shape differences between the overlapping species pair D. mauritiana and D. simulans. We found that the same three regions of D. mauritiana, previously shown to affect lobe morphology in a D. sechellia genetic background, also affect lobe morphology in a D. simulans genetic background, with one of the regions affecting both size and shape. Two of the regions also affected morphology when introgressed in the reciprocal direction. The overlap of regions affecting genital morphology within related species pairs indicates either that there is a common underlying genetic basis for variation in genital morphology within this species group or that there are multiple adjacent loci with the potential to influence genital morphology.
PubDate: Mon, 08 Sep 2014 08:52:05 +000
- Genetics of Sub-Saharan African Human Population: Implications for
HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria
Abstract: Sub-Saharan Africa has continued leading in prevalence and incidence of major infectious disease killers such as HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria. Epidemiological triad of infectious diseases includes susceptible host, pathogen, and environment. It is imperative that all aspects of vertices of the infectious disease triad are analysed to better understand why this is so. Studies done to address this intriguing reality though have mainly addressed pathogen and environmental components of the triad. Africa is the most genetically diverse region of the world as well as being the origin of modern humans. Malaria is relatively an ancient infection in this region as compared to TB and HIV/AIDS; from the evolutionary perspective, we would draw lessons that this ancestrally unique population now under three important infectious diseases both ancient and exotic will be skewed into increased genetic diversity; moreover, other evolutionary forces are also still at play. Host genetic diversity resulting from many years of malaria infection has been well documented in this population; we are yet to account for genetic diversity from the trio of these infections. Effect of host genetics on treatment outcome has been documented. Host genetics of sub-Saharan African population and its implication to infectious diseases are an important aspect that this review seeks to address.
PubDate: Mon, 18 Aug 2014 12:58:33 +000
- Conservation and Variability of Synaptonemal Complex Proteins in
Phylogenesis of Eukaryotes
Abstract: The problems of the origin and evolution of meiosis include the enigmatic variability of the synaptonemal complexes (SCs) which, being morphology similar, consist of different proteins in different eukaryotic phyla. Using bioinformatics methods, we monitored all available eukaryotic proteomes to find proteins similar to known SC proteins of model organisms. We found proteins similar to SC lateral element (LE) proteins and possessing the HORMA domain in the majority of the eukaryotic taxa and assume them the most ancient among all SC proteins. Vertebrate LE proteins SYCP2, SYCP3, and SC65 proved to have related proteins in many invertebrate taxa. Proteins of SC central space are most evolutionarily variable. It means that different protein-protein interactions can exist to connect LEs. Proteins similar to the known SC proteins were not found in Euglenophyta, Chrysophyta, Charophyta, Xanthophyta, Dinoflagellata, and primitive Coelomata. We conclude that different proteins whose common feature is the presence of domains with a certain conformation are involved in the formation of the SC in different eukaryotic phyla. This permits a targeted search for orthologs of the SC proteins using phylogenetic trees. Here we consider example of phylogenetic trees for protozoans, fungi, algae, mosses, and flowering plants.
PubDate: Wed, 23 Jul 2014 11:38:04 +000
- Mycobacterium tuberculosis H37Rv: In Silico Drug Targets Identification by
Metabolic Pathways Analysis
Abstract: Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb) is a pathogenic bacteria species in the genus Mycobacterium and the causative agent of most cases of tuberculosis. Tuberculosis (TB) is the leading cause of death in the world from a bacterial infectious disease. This antibiotic resistance strain lead to development of the new antibiotics or drug molecules which can kill or suppress the growth of Mycobacterium tuberculosis. We have performed an in silico comparative analysis of metabolic pathways of the host Homo sapiens and the pathogen Mycobacterium tuberculosis (H37Rv). Novel efforts in developing drugs that target the intracellular metabolism of M. tuberculosis often focus on metabolic pathways that are specific to M. tuberculosis. We have identified five unique pathways for Mycobacterium tuberculosis having a number of 60 enzymes, which are nonhomologous to Homo sapiens protein sequences, and among them there were 55 enzymes, which are nonhomologous to Homo sapiens protein sequences. These enzymes were also found to be essential for survival of the Mycobacterium tuberculosis according to the DEG database. Further, the functional analysis using Uniprot showed involvement of all the unique enzymes in the different cellular components.
PubDate: Tue, 25 Feb 2014 13:33:26 +000
- Evolution of the B-Block Binding Subunit of TFIIIC That Binds to the
Internal Promoter for RNA Polymerase III
Abstract: Eukaryotic RNA polymerase III transcribes tRNA genes, and this requires the transcription factor TFIIIC. Promoters are within genes, with which the B-block binding subunit of TFIIIC associates to initiate transcription. The binding subunits are more than 1000 amino acids in length in various eukaryotic species. There are four regions with conserved sequence similarities in the subunits. The helix-turn-helix motif is included in one of these regions and has been characterized as the B-block_TFIIIC family in the Pfam database. In the NCBI and EMBL translated protein databases, there are archaeal proteins (approximately 100 amino acids in length) referred to as B-block binding subunits. Most of them contain a B-block_TFIIIC motif. DELTA-BLAST searches using these archaeal proteins as queries showed significant multiple blast hits for many eukaryotic B-block binding subunits on the same proteins. This result suggests that eukaryotic B-block binding subunits were constituted by repeating a small unit of B-block_TFIIIC over a long evolutionary period. Bacterial proteins have also been annotated as B-block binding subunits in the databases. Here, some of them were confirmed to have significant similarities to B-block_TFIIIC. These results may imply that part of the RNAP III transcription machinery existed in the common ancestry of prokaryotes and eukaryotes.
PubDate: Wed, 12 Feb 2014 08:29:14 +000
- DNA Methylation, Epigenetics, and Evolution in Vertebrates: Facts and
Abstract: DNA methylation is a key epigenetic modification in the vertebrate genomes known to be involved in biological processes such as regulation of gene expression, DNA structure and control of transposable elements. Despite increasing knowledge about DNA methylation, we still lack a complete understanding of its specific functions and correlation with environment and gene expression in diverse organisms. To understand how global DNA methylation levels changed under environmental influence during vertebrate evolution, we analyzed its distribution pattern along the whole genome in mammals, reptiles and fishes showing that it is correlated with temperature, independently on phylogenetic inheritance. Other studies in mammals and plants have evidenced that environmental stimuli can promote epigenetic changes that, in turn, might generate localized changes in DNA sequence resulting in phenotypic effects. All these observations suggest that environment can affect the epigenome of vertebrates by generating hugely different methylation patterns that could, possibly, reflect in phenotypic differences. We are at the first steps towards the understanding of mechanisms that underlie the role of environment in molding the entire genome over evolutionary times. The next challenge will be to map similarities and differences of DNA methylation in vertebrates and to associate them with environmental adaptation and evolution.
PubDate: Thu, 16 Jan 2014 13:24:32 +000
- A Mechanistic Explanation Linking Adaptive Mutation, Niche Change, and
Fitness Advantage for the Wrinkly Spreader
Abstract: Experimental evolution studies have investigated adaptive radiation in static liquid microcosms using the environmental bacterium Pseudomonas fluorescens SBW25. In evolving populations a novel adaptive mutant known as the Wrinkly Spreader arises within days having significant fitness advantage over the ancestral strain. A molecular investigation of the Wrinkly Spreader has provided a mechanistic explanation linking mutation with fitness improvement through the production of a cellulose-based biofilm at the air-liquid interface. Colonisation of this niche provides greater access to oxygen, allowing faster growth than that possible for non-biofilm—forming competitors located in the lower anoxic region of the microcosm. Cellulose is probably normally used for attachment to plant and soil aggregate surfaces and to provide protection in dehydrating conditions. However, the evolutionary innovation of the Wrinkly Spreader in static microcosms is the use of cellulose as the matrix of a robust biofilm, and is achieved through mutations that deregulate multiple diguanylate cyclases leading to the over-production of cyclic-di-GMP and the stimulation of cellulose expression. The mechanistic explanation of the Wrinkly Spreader success is an exemplar of the modern evolutionary synthesis, linking molecular biology with evolutionary ecology, and provides an insight into the phenomenal ability of bacteria to adapt to novel environments.
PubDate: Thu, 16 Jan 2014 11:20:23 +000
- Diversification in Monkeyflowers: An Investigation of the Effects of
Elevation and Floral Color in the Genus Mimulus
Abstract: The vast diversity of floral colours in many flowering plant families, paired with the observation of preferences among pollinators, suggests that floral colour may be involved in the process of speciation in flowering plants. While transitions in floral colour have been examined in numerous genera, we have very little information on the consequences of floral colour transitions to the evolutionary success of a clade. Overlaid upon these patterns is the possibility that certain floral colours are more prevalent in certain environments, with the causes of differential diversification being more directly determined by geographical distribution. Here we examine transition rates to anthocyanin + carotenoid rich (red/orange/fuschia) flowers and examine whether red/orange flowers are associated with differences in speciation and/or extinction rates in Mimulus. Because it has been suggested that reddish flowers are more prevalent at high elevation, we also examine the macroevolutionary evidence for this association and determine if there is evidence for differential diversification at high elevations. We find that, while red/orange clades have equivalent speciation rates, the trait state of reddish flowers reverts more rapidly to the nonreddish trait state. Moreover, there is evidence for high speciation rates at high elevation and no evidence for transition rates in floral colour to differ depending on elevation.
PubDate: Sun, 05 Jan 2014 08:40:15 +000