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Molecular Ecology

Ana-Hermina Ghenu, Alexandre Blanckaert, Roger K Butlin, Jonna Kulmuni, Claudia Bank
In many diploid species the sex chromosomes play a special role in mediating reproductive isolation. In haplodiploids, where females are diploid and males haploid, the whole genome behaves similarly to the X/Z chromosomes of diploids. Therefore, haplodiploid systems can serve as a model for the role of sex chromosomes in speciation and hybridization. A previously described population of Finnish Formica wood ants displays genome-wide signs of ploidally and sexually antagonistic selection resulting from hybridization...
January 12, 2018: Molecular Ecology
Sheena L Faherty, José Luis Villanueva-Cañas, Marina B Blanco, Mar M Albà, Anne D Yoder
Hibernation is an adaptive strategy some mammals use to survive highly seasonal or unpredictable environments. We present the first investigation on the transcriptomics of hibernation in a natural population of primate hibernators: Crossley's dwarf lemurs (Cheirogaleus crossleyi). Using capture-mark-recapture techniques to track the same animals over a period of seven months in Madagascar, we used RNA-seq to compare gene expression profiles in white adipose tissue (WAT) during three distinct physiological states...
January 10, 2018: Molecular Ecology
Libor Mořkovský, Václav Janoušek, Jiří Reif, Jakub Rídl, Jan Pačes, Lukáš Choleva, Karel Janko, Michael W Nachman, Radka Reifová
Hybrid sterility is a common first step in the evolution of postzygotic reproductive isolation. According to Haldane's Rule it affects predominantly the heterogametic sex. While the genetic basis of hybrid male sterility in organisms with heterogametic males has been studied for decades, the genetic basis of hybrid female sterility in organisms with heterogametic females has received much less attention. We investigated the genetic basis of reproductive isolation in two closely related avian species, the Common Nightingale (Luscinia megarhynchos) and the Thrush Nightingale (L...
January 10, 2018: Molecular Ecology
Cheng-Jung Sung, Katherine L Bell, Chris C Nice, Noland H Martin
Hybrid zones provide unique opportunities to examine reproductive isolation and introgression in nature. We utilized 45,384 Single Nucleotide Polymorphism (SNP) loci to perform association mapping of 14 floral, vegetative, and ecological traits that differ between Iris hexagona and Iris fulva, and to investigate, using a Bayesian Genomic Cline (BGC) framework, patterns of genomic introgression in a large and phenotypically diverse hybrid zone in southern Louisiana. Many loci of small effect-size were consistently found to be associated with phenotypic variation across all traits, and several individual loci were revealed to influence phenotypic variation across multiple traits...
January 10, 2018: Molecular Ecology
A López-Villalobos, C G Eckert
Evolutionary transitions from outcrossing to selfing can strongly affect the genetic diversity and structure of species at multiple spatial scales. We investigated the genetic consequences of mating system shifts in the North American, Pacific coast dune endemic plant Camissoniopsis cheiranthifolia (Onagraceae) by assaying variation at 13 nuclear (n) and six chloroplast (cp) microsatellite (SSR) loci for 38 populations across the species range. As predicted from the expected reduction of effective population size (Ne ) caused by selfing, small-flowered, predominantly selfing (SF) populations had much lower nSSR diversity (but not cpSSR) than large flowered, predominantly outcrossing (LF) populations...
January 10, 2018: Molecular Ecology
Smiljka Kitanovic, Teri J Orr, Daniel Spalink, Granger B Cocke, Katharina Schramm, P Ross Wilderman, James R Halpert, M Denise Dearing
Theory postulates that dietary specialization in mammalian herbivores is enabled by a specialized set of liver enzymes that process the high concentrations of similar plant secondary metabolites (PSMs) in the diets of specialists. To investigate whether qualitative and quantitative differences in detoxification mechanisms distinguish dietary specialists from generalists, we compared the sequence diversity and gene copy number of detoxification enzymes in two woodrat species: a generalist, the white-throated woodrat (Neotoma albigula), and a juniper specialist, Stephens' woodrat (N...
January 10, 2018: Molecular Ecology
Paul C S Divis, Craig W Duffy, Khamisah A Kadir, Balbir Singh, David J Conway
Plasmodium knowlesi is a significant cause of human malaria transmitted as a zoonosis from macaque reservoir hosts in Southeast Asia. Microsatellite genotyping has indicated that human infections in Malaysian Borneo are an admixture of two highly divergent sympatric parasite subpopulations that are respectively associated with long-tailed macaques (Cluster 1) and pig-tailed macaques (Cluster 2). Whole genome sequences of clinical isolates subsequently confirmed the separate clusters, although fewer of the less common Cluster 2 type were sequenced...
January 2, 2018: Molecular Ecology
Teresita M Porter, Mehrdad Hajibabaei
The purpose of this review is to present the most common and emerging DNA-based methods used to generate data for biodiversity and biomonitoring studies. Since environmental assessment and monitoring programs may require biodiversity information at multiple levels, we pay particular attention to the DNA metabarcoding method and discuss a number of bioinformatic tools and considerations for producing DNA-based indicators using operational taxonomic units (OTUs), taxa at a variety of ranks, and community composition...
January 2, 2018: Molecular Ecology
Zhongqi Chen, Anthony P Farrell, Amanda Matala, Shawn R Narum
Heterogeneous and ever-changing thermal environments drive the evolution of populations and species, especially when extreme conditions increase selection pressure for traits influencing fitness. However, projections of biological diversity under scenarios of climate change rarely consider evolutionary adaptive potential of natural species. In this study, we tested for mechanistic evidence of evolutionary thermal adaptation among ecologically divergent redband trout populations (Oncorhynchus mykiss gairdneri) in cardiorespiratory function, cellular response and genomic variation...
December 31, 2017: Molecular Ecology
Ostaizka Aizpurua, Ivana Budinski, Panagiotis Georgiakakis, Shyam Gopalakrishnan, Carlos Ibañez, Vanessa Mata, Hugo Rebelo, Danilo Russo, Farkas Szodoray-Parádi, Violeta Zhelyazkova, Vida Zrncic, M Thomas P Gilbert, Antton Alberdi
The interaction between agricultural production and wildlife can shape, and even condition, the functioning of both systems. In this study we i) explored the degree to which a widespread European bat, namely the common bent-wing bat Miniopterus schreibersii, consumes crop-damaging insects at a continental scale, and ii) tested whether its dietary niche is shaped by the extension and type of agricultural fields. We employed a dual-primer DNA metabarcoding approach to characterise arthropod 16S and COI DNA sequences within bat faecal pellets collected across 16 Southern European localities, to first characterise the bat species' dietary niche, secondly measure the incidence of agricultural pests across their ranges, and thirdly assess whether geographical dietary variation responds to climatic, landscape diversity, agriculture type and vegetation productivity factors...
December 31, 2017: Molecular Ecology
Klara M Wanelik, Michael Begon, Richard J Birtles, Janette E Bradley, Ida M Friberg, Joseph A Jackson, Christopher H Taylor, Anna G Thomason, Andrew K Turner, Steve Paterson
The animal immune response has hitherto been viewed primarily in the context of resistance only. However, individuals, can also employ a tolerance strategy to maintain good health in the face of on-going infection. To shed light on the genetic and physiological basis of tolerance, we use a natural population of field voles, Microtus agrestis, to search for an association between the expression of the transcription factor Gata3, previously identified as a marker of tolerance in this system, and polymorphism in 84 immune and non-immune genes...
December 31, 2017: Molecular Ecology
Ralf W Kessler, Anne Weiss, Stefan Kuegler, Cornelia Hermes, Thomas Wichard
The marine macroalga Ulva mutabilis (Chlorophyta) develops into callus-like colonies consisting of undifferentiated cells and abnormal cell walls under axenic conditions. U. mutabilis is routinely cultured with two bacteria, the Roseovarius sp. MS2 strain and the Maribacter sp. MS6 strain, which release morphogenetic compounds and ensure proper algal morphogenesis. Using this tripartite community as an emerging model system, we tested the hypothesis that the bacterial-algal interactions evolved as a result of mutually taking advantage of signals in the environment...
December 31, 2017: Molecular Ecology
Alex H Nishida, Howard Ochman
The variation and taxonomic diversity among mammalian gut microbiomes raises several questions about the factors that contribute to the rates and patterns of change in these microbial communities. By comparing the microbiome compositions of 112 species representing 14 mammalian orders, we assessed how host and ecological factors contribute to microbiome diversification. Except in rare cases, the same bacterial phyla predominate in mammalian gut microbiomes, and there has been some convergence of microbiome compositions according to dietary category across all mammalians lineages except Chiropterans (bats), which possess high proportions of Proteobacteria and tend to be most similar to one another regardless of diet...
December 31, 2017: Molecular Ecology
Manus M Patten
In two papers published at about the same time almost thirty years ago, Frank (1991a) and Hurst and Pomiankowski (1991) independently suggested that divergence of meiotic drive systems-comprising genes that cheat meiosis and genes that suppress this cheating-might provide a general explanation for Haldane's rule and the large X-effect in interspecific hybrids. Although at the time the idea was met with skepticism and a conspicuous absence of empirical support, the tide has since turned. Some of the clearest mechanistic explanations we have for hybrid male sterility involve meiotic drive systems, and several other cases of hybrid sterility are suggestive of a role for meiotic drive...
December 27, 2017: Molecular Ecology
Iulia Darolti, Alison E Wright, Pascal Pucholt, Sofia Berlin, Judith E Mank
The relative rate of evolution for sex-biased genes has often been used as a measure of the strength of sex-specific selection. In contrast to studies in a wide variety of animals, far less is known about the molecular evolution of sex-biased genes in plants, particularly in dioecious angiosperms. Here, we investigate the gene expression patterns and evolution of sex-biased genes in the dioecious plant Salix viminalis. We observe lower rates of sequence evolution for male-biased genes expressed in the reproductive tissue compared to unbiased and female-biased genes...
December 23, 2017: Molecular Ecology
D McLennan, J D Armstrong, D C Stewart, S Mckelvey, W Boner, P Monaghan, N B Metcalfe
The importance of parental contributions to offspring development and subsequent performance is self-evident at a genomic level; however, parents can also affect offspring fitness by indirect genetic and environmental routes. The life history strategy that an individual adopts will be influenced by both genes and environment; and this may have important consequences for offspring. Recent research has linked telomere dynamics (i.e. telomere length and loss) in early life to future viability and longevity. Moreover, a number of studies have reported a heritable component to telomere length across a range of vertebrates, though the effects of other parental contribution pathways have been far less studied...
December 23, 2017: Molecular Ecology
Soo-Rang Lee, Yeong-Seok Jo, Chan-Ho Park, Jonathan M Friedman, Matthew S Olson
Understanding the complex influences of landscape and anthropogenic elements that shape the population genetic structure of invasive species provides insight into patterns of colonization and spread. The application of landscape genomics techniques to these questions may offer detailed, previously undocumented insights into factors influencing species invasions. We investigated the spatial pattern of genetic variation and the influences of landscape factors on population similarity in the invasive riparian shrub saltcedar (Tamarix L...
December 23, 2017: Molecular Ecology
Elena Mosca, Erica A Di Pierro, Katharina B Budde, David B Neale, Santiago C González-Martínez
Genetic responses to environmental changes take place at different spatial scales. While the effect of environment on the distribution of species' genetic diversity at large geographical scales has been the focus of several recent studies, its potential effects on genetic structure at local scales are understudied. Environmental effects on fine-scale spatial genetic structure (FSGS) were investigated in four Alpine conifer species (five to eight populations per species) from the eastern Italian Alps. Significant FSGS was found for 11 out of 25 populations...
December 23, 2017: Molecular Ecology
Kirstyn Brunker, Philippe Lemey, Denise A Marston, Anthony R Fooks, Ahmed Lugelo, Chanasa Ngeleja, Katie Hampson, Roman Biek
Landscape heterogeneity plays an important role in disease spread and persistence but quantifying landscape influences and their scale-dependence is challenging. Studies have focused on how environmental features or global transport networks influence pathogen invasion and spread, but their influence on local transmission dynamics that underpin the persistence of endemic diseases remains unexplored. Bayesian phylogeographic frameworks that incorporate spatial heterogeneities are promising tools for analysing linked epidemiological, environmental and genetic data...
December 23, 2017: Molecular Ecology
Honglin Feng, Lingyu Wang, Stefan Wuchty, Alex C C Wilson
Although many insects are associated with obligate bacterial endosymbionts, the mechanisms by which these host/endosymbiont associations are regulated remain mysterious. While microRNAs (miRNAs) have been recently identified as regulators of host/microbe interactions, including host/pathogen and host/facultative endosymbiont interactions, the role miRNAs may play in mediating host/obligate endosymbiont interactions is virtually unknown. Here, we identified conserved miRNAs that potentially mediate symbiotic interactions between aphids and their obligate endosymbiont, Buchnera aphidicola...
December 22, 2017: Molecular Ecology
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