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Integrative and Comparative Biology

Marymegan Daly, H Gibbs
No abstract text is available yet for this article.
October 6, 2016: Integrative and Comparative Biology
Frank E Fish
Re-invasion of the aquatic environment by terrestrial vertebrates resulted in the evolution of species expressing a suite of adaptations for high-performance swimming. Examination of swimming by secondarily aquatic vertebrates provides opportunities to understand potential selection pressures and mechanical constraints, which may have directed the evolution of these aquatic species. Mammals and birds realigned the body and limbs for cursorial movements and flight, respectively, from the primitive tetrapod configuration...
October 3, 2016: Integrative and Comparative Biology
Lisa Noelle Cooper, Mark T Clementz, Sharon Usip, Sunil Bajpai, S Taseer Hussain, Tobin L Hieronymus
The earliest cetaceans were interpreted as semi-aquatic based on the presence of thickened bones and stable oxygen isotopes in tooth enamel. However, the origin of aquatic behaviors in cetacean relatives (e.g., raoellids, anthracotheres) remains unclear. This study reconstructs the origins of aquatic behaviors based on long bone microanatomy and stable oxygen isotopes of tooth enamel in modern and extinct cetartiodactylans. Our findings are congruent with published accounts that microanatomy can be a reliable indicator of aquatic behaviors in taxa that are obligatorily aquatic, and also highlight that some "semi-aquatic" behaviors (fleeing into the water to escape predation) may have a stronger relationship to bone microanatomy than others (herbivory in near-shore aquatic settings)...
October 3, 2016: Integrative and Comparative Biology
Stephen P Mackessy, Anthony J Saviola
Snake venoms represent an adaptive trophic response to the challenges confronting a limbless predator for overcoming combative prey, and this chemical means of subduing prey shows several dominant phenotypes. Many front-fanged snakes, particularly vipers, feed on various vertebrate and invertebrate prey species, and some of their venom components (e.g., metalloproteinases, cobratoxin) appear to have been selected for "broad-brush" incapacitation of different prey taxa. Using proteomic and genomic techniques, the compositional diversity of front-fanged snakes is becoming well characterized; however, this is not the case for most rear-fanged colubroid snakes...
September 17, 2016: Integrative and Comparative Biology
Donald L Mykles, Karen G Burnett, David S Durica, Blake L Joyce, Fiona M McCarthy, Carl J Schmidt, Jonathon H Stillman
High-throughput RNA sequencing (RNA-seq) technology has become an important tool for studying physiological responses of organisms to changes in their environment. De novo assembly of RNA-seq data has allowed researchers to create a comprehensive catalog of genes expressed in a tissue and to quantify their expression without a complete genome sequence. The contributions from the "Tapping the Power of Crustacean Transcriptomics to Address Grand Challenges in Comparative Biology" symposium in this issue show the successes and limitations of using RNA-seq in the study of crustaceans...
September 17, 2016: Integrative and Comparative Biology
Donald L Mykles, Karen G Burnett, David S Durica, Jonathon H Stillman
Crustaceans, and decapods in particular (i.e., crabs, shrimp, and lobsters), are a diverse and ecologically and commercially important group of organisms. Understanding responses to abiotic and biotic factors is critical for developing best practices in aquaculture and assessing the effects of changing environments on the biology of these important animals. A relatively small number of decapod crustacean species have been intensively studied at the molecular level; the availability, experimental tractability, and economic relevance factor into the selection of a particular species as a model...
September 1, 2016: Integrative and Comparative Biology
Patrício M V Simões, Swidbert R Ott, Jeremy E Niven
The ability to learn and store information should be adapted to the environment in which animals operate to confer a selective advantage. Yet the relationship between learning, memory, and the environment is poorly understood, and further complicated by phenotypic plasticity caused by the very environment in which learning and memory need to operate. Many insect species show polyphenism, an extreme form of phenotypic plasticity, allowing them to occupy distinct environments by producing two or more alternative phenotypes...
August 22, 2016: Integrative and Comparative Biology
Michael R Markham, Yue Ban, Austin G McCauley, Rosalie Maltby
Weakly electric freshwater fish use self-generated electric fields to image their worlds and communicate in the darkness of night and turbid waters. This active sensory/communication modality evolved independently in the freshwaters of South America and Africa, where hundreds of electric fish species are broadly and abundantly distributed. The adaptive advantages of the sensory capacity to forage and communicate in visually-unfavorable environments and outside the detection of visually-guided predators likely contributed to the broad success of these clades across a variety of Afrotropical and neotropical habitats...
August 22, 2016: Integrative and Comparative Biology
Daniel I Speiser, Yakir Luc Gagnon, Raghav K Chhetri, Amy L Oldenburg, Sönke Johnsen
The eyes of scallops form images using a concave spherical mirror and contain two separate retinas, one layered on top of the other. Behavioral and electrophysiological studies indicate that the images formed by these eyes have angular resolutions of about 2°. Based on previous ray-tracing models, it has been thought that the more distal of the two retinas lies near the focal point of the mirror and that the proximal retina, positioned closer to the mirror at the back of the eye, receives light that is out-of-focus...
August 22, 2016: Integrative and Comparative Biology
Brian Hoover, Gabrielle Nevitt
Understanding the genetic basis of mate choice in natural populations is a challenging undertaking. Mechanistic investigations of neural and genetic exemplars must be interpreted in the context of population-level effects, and complex demographic and ecological processes that may mask MHC-based mate-choice effects. This is particularly exacerbated in highly polymorphic MHC-based mate choice studies, which require a large sample size to sufficiently characterize an allele distribution in a population, and typically yield small effect sizes...
August 22, 2016: Integrative and Comparative Biology
Sunetra Das, Donald L Mykles
Next-generation sequencing technologies are revolutionizing crustacean biology. De novo assembly of RNA sequencing (RNA-seq) data allows researchers to catalog and quantify genes expressed in tissues of a species that lacks a complete genome sequence. RNA-seq has become an important tool for understanding phenotypic plasticity and the responses of organisms to environmental cues. However, there are challenges with identification of assembled contiguous sequences (contigs) without a reference genome. Thus, the selection of resources for annotating contigs is critical for the downstream analysis of gene functions...
August 22, 2016: Integrative and Comparative Biology
Ricardo C Rodríguez de la Vega, Tatiana Giraud
The evolution of venoms is the story of how toxins arise and of the processes that generate and maintain their diversity. For animal venoms these processes include recruitment for expression in the venom gland, neofunctionalization, paralogous expansions, and functional divergence. The systematic study of these processes requires the reliable identification of the venom components involved in antagonistic interactions. High-throughput sequencing has the potential of uncovering the entire set of toxins in a given organism, yet the existence of non-venom toxin paralogs and the misleading effects of partial census of the molecular diversity of toxins make necessary to collect complementary evidence to distinguish true toxins from their non-venom paralogs...
August 19, 2016: Integrative and Comparative Biology
Thomas W Cronin, Sönke Johnsen
It has been recognized for decades that animals sense light using photoreceptors besides those that are devoted strictly to vision. However, the nature of these receptors, their molecular components, their physiological responses, and their biological functions are often obscure. Only recently have researchers begun to learn how critical these non-visual or very simple visual responses are to organismal function. New approaches, including high-throughput molecular genetic techniques, have led to a revolution in our understanding of the evolution, anatomical distribution, physiology, and-in some cases-function of non-visual photoreception in diverse organisms...
August 4, 2016: Integrative and Comparative Biology
D W Miller, A D Jones, J S Goldston, M P Rowe, A H Rowe
Studies of venom variability have advanced from describing the mechanisms of action and relative potency of medically important toxins to understanding the ecological and evolutionary causes of the variability itself. While most studies have focused on differences in venoms among taxa, populations, or age-classes, there may be intersexual effects as well. Striped bark scorpions (Centruroides vittatus) provide a good model for examining sex differences in venom composition and efficacy, as this species exhibits dramatic sexual dimorphism in both size and defensive behavior; when threatened by an enemy, larger, slower females stand and fight while smaller, fleeter males prefer to run...
July 28, 2016: Integrative and Comparative Biology
Winnie W Ho, Jeffrey A Riffell
Plants experience often opposing energetic demands and selective pressures-for instance, where plants need to attract an insect that is both the pollinator and herbivore, or alternately, where plants attract prey (due to limited resources) and pollinators. Together, these selective pressures can modify the volatile signals available to the plant's mutualistic and antagonistic partners. Nevertheless, it remains an open question how changes in the information content of volatile signals modify behavioral responses in mutualists and antagonists, and what the underlying neural bases of these behaviors are...
July 28, 2016: Integrative and Comparative Biology
R Brian Langerhans, Christopher M Anderson, Justa L Heinen-Kay
The study of genital diversity has experienced rapidly burgeoning attention over the past few decades. This research has shown that male genitalia in internally fertilizing animals exhibit remarkably rapid and complex evolution. In recent years, a consensus has emerged that sexual selection is responsible for much of the observed genital diversity, with natural selection largely playing a subsidiary role. Despite enhanced understanding of the key proximate forms of selection responsible for genital evolution, we still have a poor grasp of the broader, ultimate causes and consequences of the striking diversity of genitalia...
October 2016: Integrative and Comparative Biology
Marissa L Gredler
An intromittent phallus is used for sperm transfer in most amniote taxa; however, there is extensive variation in external genital morphology within and among the major amniote clades. Amniote phalluses vary in number (paired, single, or rudimentary), spermatic canal morphology (closed tube or open sulcus), and mode of transition between resting and tumescent states (inflation, rotation, eversion, or muscle relaxation). In a phylogenetic context, these varying adult anatomies preclude a clear interpretation for the evolutionary history of amniote external genitalia; as such, multiple hypotheses have been presented for the origin(s) of the amniote phallus...
October 2016: Integrative and Comparative Biology
Jason E Podrabsky, Natalie E Wilson
Embryos of the annual killifish Austrofundulus limnaeus are routinely exposed to oxygen limitation during development and are extremely tolerant of anoxia. Importantly, tolerance of anoxia is not strictly associated with entrance into metabolic dormancy associated with diapause II, but rather any embryo will respond to anoxia by entering into a state of anoxia-induced quiescence. Hypoxia causes a reduction in the rate of development, reduced heart rates, and reduced capacities for metabolic enzyme activity in both aerobic and anaerobic pathways...
October 2016: Integrative and Comparative Biology
Brad A Seibel, Jillian L Schneider, Stein Kaartvedt, Karen F Wishner, Kendra L Daly
The effects of regional variations in oxygen and temperature levels with depth were assessed for the metabolism and hypoxia tolerance of dominant euphausiid species. The physiological strategies employed by these species facilitate prediction of changing vertical distributions with expanding oxygen minimum zones and inform estimates of the contribution of vertically migrating species to biogeochemical cycles. The migrating species from the Eastern Tropical Pacific (ETP), Euphausia eximia and Nematoscelis gracilis, tolerate a Partial Pressure (PO2) of 0...
October 2016: Integrative and Comparative Biology
Alison E Murray, Frank R Rack, Robert Zook, Michael J M Williams, Mary L Higham, Michael Broe, Ronald S Kaufmann, Marymegan Daly
Edwardsiella andrillae is a sea anemone (Cnidaria: Anthozoa: Actiniaria) only known to live embedded in the ice at the seawater interface on the underside of the Ross Ice Shelf, Antarctica. Although the anatomy and morphological characteristics of E. andrillae have been described, the adaptations of this species to the under-ice ecosystem have yet to be examined. One feature that may be important to the physiology and ecology of E. andrillae is its microbiome, which may play a role in health and survival, as has been deduced in other metazoans, including anthozoans...
October 2016: Integrative and Comparative Biology
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