Glucosyltransferases (Gtfs) catalyze the synthesis of glucans from sucrose and are produced by several species of lactic-acid bacteria. The oral bacterium Streptococcus mutans produces large amounts of glucans through the action of three Gtfs. GtfD produces water-soluble glucan (WSG), GtfB synthesizes water-insoluble glucans (WIG) and GtfC produces mainly WIG but also WSG. These enzymes, especially those synthesizing WIG, are of particular interest because of their role in the formation of dental plaque, an environment where S. mutans can thrive and produce lactic acid, promoting the formation of dental caries. We sequenced the gtfB, gtfC and gtfD genes from several mutans streptococcal strains isolated from the oral cavity of humans and searched for their homologues in strains isolated from chimpanzees and macaque monkeys. The sequence data were analyzed in conjunction with the available Gtf sequences from other bacteria in the genera Streptococcus, Lactobacillus and Leuconostoc to gain insights into the evolutionary history of this family of enzymes, with a particular emphasis on S. mutans Gtfs. Our analyses indicate that streptococcal Gtfs arose from a common ancestral progenitor gene, and that they expanded to form two clades according to the type of glucan they synthesize. We also show that the clade of streptococcal Gtfs synthesizing WIG appeared shortly after the divergence of viviparous, dentate mammals, which potentially contributed to the formation of dental plaque and the establishment of several streptococci in the oral cavity. The two S. mutans Gtfs capable of WIG synthesis, GtfB and GtfC, are likely the product of a gene duplication event. We dated this event to coincide with the divergence of the genomes of ancestral early primates. Thus, the acquisition and diversification of S. mutans Gtfs predates modern humans and is unrelated to the increase in dietary sucrose consumption.
The evolution of the diverse insect lineages is one of the most fascinating issues in evolutionary biology. Despite extensive research in this area, the resolution of insect phylogeny especially of interordinal relationships has turned out to be still a great challenge. One of the challenges for insect systematics is the radiation of the polyneopteran lineages with several contradictory and/or unresolved relationships. Here, we provide the first transcriptomic data for three enigmatic polyneopteran orders (Dermaptera, Plecoptera, and Zoraptera) to clarify one of the most debated issues among higher insect systematics. We applied different approaches to generate 3 data sets comprising 78 species and 1,579 clusters of orthologous genes. Using these three matrices, we explored several key mechanistic problems of phylogenetic reconstruction including missing data, matrix selection, gene and taxa number/choice, and the biological function of the genes. Based on the first phylogenomic approach including these three ambiguous polyneopteran orders, we provide here conclusive support for monophyletic Polyneoptera, contesting the hypothesis of Zoraptera + Paraneoptera and Plecoptera + remaining Neoptera. In addition, we employ various approaches to evaluate data quality and highlight problematic nodes within the Insect Tree that still exist despite our phylogenomic approach. We further show how the support for these nodes or alternative hypotheses might depend on the taxon- and/or gene-sampling.
polyneoptera; zoraptera; dermaptera; plecoptera; data quality
Aggregatibacter actinomycetemcomitans is implicated in localized aggressive periodontitis. We report the first genome sequence of an A. actinomycetemcomitans strain isolated from an Old World primate.
Alpha human papillomaviruses (HPVs) are among the most common sexually transmitted agents of which a subset causes cervical neoplasia and cancer in humans. Alpha-PVs have also been identified in non-human primates although few studies have systematically characterized such mucosal PVs. We cloned and characterized 10 distinct types of PVs from exfoliated cervicovaginal cells from different populations of female cynomolgus macaques (Macaca fascicularis) originating from China and Indonesia. These include 5 novel genotypes and 5 previously identified genotypes found in rhesus (Macaca mulatta) (RhPV-1, RhPV-a, RhPV-b and RhPV-d) and cynomolgus macaques (MfPV-a). Type-specific primers were designed to amplify the complete PV genomes using an overlapping PCR method. Four MfPVs were associated with cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (CIN). The most prevalent virus type was MfPV-3 (formerly RhPV-d), which was identified in 60% of animals with CIN. In addition, the complete genomes of variants of MfPV-3 and RhPV-1 were characterized. These variants are 97.1% and 97.7% similar across the L1 nucleotide sequences with the prototype genomes, respectively. Sequence comparisons and phylogenetic analyses indicate that these novel MfPVs cluster together within the alpha PV α12 species closely related to the α9 (e.g., HPV16) and α11 species (e.g., HPV34), and all share a most recent common ancestor. Our data expand the molecular diversity of non-human primate PVs and suggest the recent expansion of alpha PV species groups. Moreover, identification of an overlapping set of MfPVs in rhesus and cynomolgus macaques indicates that non-human primate alpha PVs might not be strictly species specific and that “subtypes” may represent recent divergence of host species or past interspecies infection.
alpha papillomavirus; Macaca fascicularis; novel PVs; genomic diversity; evolution
The international wildlife trade is a key threat to biodiversity. Temporal genetic marketplace monitoring can determine if wildlife trade regulation efforts such as the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) are succeeding. Protected under CITES effective 1997, sturgeons and paddlefishes, the producers of black caviar, are flagship CITES species.
We test whether CITES has limited the amount of fraudulent black caviar reaching the marketplace. Using mitochondrial DNA-based methods, we compare mislabeling in caviar and meat purchased in the New York City area pre and post CITES listing. Our recent sampling of this market reveals a decrease in mislabeled caviar (2006–2008; 10%; n = 90) compared to pre-CITES implementation (1995–1996; 19%; n = 95). Mislabeled caviar was found only in online purchase (n = 49 online/41 retail).
Stricter controls on importing and exporting as per CITES policies may be having a positive conservation effect by limiting the amount of fraudulent caviar reaching the marketplace. Sturgeons and paddlefishes remain a conservation priority, however, due to continued overfishing and habitat degradation. Other marine and aquatic species stand to benefit from the international trade regulation that can result from CITES listing.
Human DOR/TP53INP2 displays a unique bifunctional role as a modulator of autophagy and gene transcription. However, the domains or regions of DOR that participate in those functions have not been identified. Here we have performed structure/function analyses of DOR guided by identification of conserved regions in the DOR gene family by phylogenetic reconstructions. We show that DOR is present in metazoan species. Invertebrates harbor only one gene, DOR/Tp53inp2, and in the common ancestor of vertebrates Tp53inp1 may have arisen by gene duplication. In keeping with these data, we show that human TP53INP1 regulates autophagy and that different DOR/TP53INP2 and TP53INP1 proteins display transcriptional activity. The use of molecular evolutionary information has been instrumental to determine the regions that participate in DOR functions. DOR and TP53INP1 proteins share two highly conserved regions (region 1, aa residues 28–42; region 2, 66–112 in human DOR). Mutation of conserved hydrophobic residues in region 1 of DOR (that are part of a nuclear export signal, NES) reduces transcriptional activity, and blocks nuclear exit and autophagic activity under autophagy-activated conditions. We also identify a functional and conserved LC3-interacting motif (LIR) in region 1 of DOR and TP53INP1 proteins. Mutation of conserved acidic residues in region 2 of DOR reduces transcriptional activity, impairs nuclear exit in response to autophagy activation, and disrupts autophagy. Taken together, our data reveal DOR and TP53INP1 as dual regulators of transcription and autophagy, and identify two conserved regions in the DOR family that concentrate multiple functions crucial for autophagy and transcription.
A novel result of the current research is the development and implementation of a unique functional phylogenomic approach that explores the genomic origins of seed plant diversification. We first use 22,833 sets of orthologs from the nuclear genomes of 101 genera across land plants to reconstruct their phylogenetic relationships. One of the more salient results is the resolution of some enigmatic relationships in seed plant phylogeny, such as the placement of Gnetales as sister to the rest of the gymnosperms. In using this novel phylogenomic approach, we were also able to identify overrepresented functional gene ontology categories in genes that provide positive branch support for major nodes prompting new hypotheses for genes associated with the diversification of angiosperms. For example, RNA interference (RNAi) has played a significant role in the divergence of monocots from other angiosperms, which has experimental support in Arabidopsis and rice. This analysis also implied that the second largest subunit of RNA polymerase IV and V (NRPD2) played a prominent role in the divergence of gymnosperms. This hypothesis is supported by the lack of 24nt siRNA in conifers, the maternal control of small RNA in the seeds of flowering plants, and the emergence of double fertilization in angiosperms. Our approach takes advantage of genomic data to define orthologs, reconstruct relationships, and narrow down candidate genes involved in plant evolution within a phylogenomic view of species' diversification.
Understanding the genetic and genomic basis of plant diversification has been a major goal of evolutionary biologists since Darwin first pondered his “abominable mystery,” the rapid diversification of the angiosperms in the fossil record. We develop and deploy a functional phylogenomic approach that helps identify genes and biological processes putatively involved in species diversification. We assembled a matrix of 22,833 orthologs from 150 species to reconstruct seed plant phylogenetic relationships and to identify gene sets with a unique evolutionary signal. Our analysis of overrepresented biological processes in these sets narrowed down possible genetic mechanisms underlying plant adaptation and diversification. The phylogenetic relationships we uncovered support the hypothesis that gnetophytes are closely related to the rest of the gymnosperms at the base of the living seed plants. We also found that genes involved in post-transcriptional silencing via RNA interference (RNAi)—increasingly important in understanding plant evolution—are significantly represented early in angiosperm and gymnosperm divergence, with an apparent loss of specific classes of small interfering RNAs (siRNA) in gymnosperms. Our functional phylogenomic approach can be applied to any taxa with available sequences to enhance our knowledge of the evolutionary processes underlying biodiversity in general.
Recent whole-genome approaches to microbial phylogeny have emphasized partitioning genes into functional classes, often focusing on differences between a stable core of genes and a variable shell. To rigorously address the effects of partitioning and combining genes in genome-level analyses, we developed a novel technique called Random Addition Concatenation Analysis (RADICAL). RADICAL operates by sequentially concatenating randomly chosen gene partitions starting with a single-gene partition and ending with the entire genomic data set. A phylogenetic tree is built for every successive addition, and the entire process is repeated creating multiple random concatenation paths. The result is a library of trees representing a large variety of differently sized random gene partitions. This library can then be mined to identify unique topologies, assess overall agreement, and measure support for different trees. To evaluate RADICAL, we used 682 orthologous genes across 13 cyanobacterial genomes. Despite previous assertions of substantial differences between a core and a shell set of genes for this data set, RADICAL reveals the two partitions contain congruent phylogenetic signal. Substantial disagreement within the data set is limited to a few nodes and genes involved in metabolism, a functional group that is distributed evenly between the core and the shell partitions. We highlight numerous examples where RADICAL reveals aspects of phylogenetic behavior not evident by examining individual gene trees or a “‘total evidence” tree. Our method also demonstrates that most emergent phylogenetic signal appears early in the concatenation process. The software is freely available at http://desalle.amnh.org.
cyanobacteria; concatenation; core; shell; emergent phylogenetic support
The family Pteropodidae comprises bats commonly known as megabats or Old World fruit bats. Molecular phylogenetic studies of pteropodids have provided considerable insight into intrafamilial relationships, but these studies have included only a fraction of the extant diversity (a maximum of 26 out of the 46 currently recognized genera) and have failed to resolve deep relationships among internal clades. Here we readdress the systematics of pteropodids by applying a strategy to try to resolve ancient relationships within Pteropodidae, while providing further insight into subgroup membership, by 1) increasing the taxonomic sample to 42 genera; 2) increasing the number of characters (to >8,000 bp) and nuclear genomic representation; 3) minimizing missing data; 4) controlling for sequence bias; and 5) using appropriate data partitioning and models of sequence evolution.
Our analyses recovered six principal clades and one additional independent lineage (consisting of a single genus) within Pteropodidae. Reciprocal monophyly of these groups was highly supported and generally congruent among the different methods and datasets used. Likewise, most relationships within these principal clades were well resolved and statistically supported. Relationships among the 7 principal groups, however, were poorly supported in all analyses. This result could not be explained by any detectable systematic bias in the data or incongruence among loci. The SOWH test confirmed that basal branches' lengths were not different from zero, which points to closely-spaced cladogenesis as the most likely explanation for the poor resolution of the deep pteropodid relationships. Simulations suggest that an increase in the amount of sequence data is likely to solve this problem.
The phylogenetic hypothesis generated here provides a robust framework for a revised cladistic classification of Pteropodidae into subfamilies and tribes and will greatly contribute to the understanding of character evolution and biogeography of pteropodids. The inability of our data to resolve the deepest relationships of the major pteropodid lineages suggests an explosive diversification soon after origin of the crown pteropodids. Several characteristics of pteropodids are consistent with this conclusion, including high species diversity, great morphological diversity, and presence of key innovations in relation to their sister group.
In the eight years since phylogenomics was introduced as the intersection of genomics and phylogenetics, the field has provided fundamental insights into gene function, genome history and organismal relationships. The utility of phylogenomics is growing with the increase in the number and diversity of taxa for which whole genome and large transcriptome sequence sets are being generated. We assert that the synergy between genomic and phylogenetic perspectives in comparative biology would be enhanced by the development and refinement of minimal reporting standards for phylogenetic analyses. Encouraged by the development of the Minimum Information About a Microarray Experiment (MIAME) standard, we propose a similar roadmap for the development of a Minimal Information About a Phylogenetic Analysis (MIAPA) standard. Key in the successful development and implementation of such a standard will be broad participation by developers of phylogenetic analysis software, phylogenetic database developers, practitioners of phylogenomics, and journal editors.
The innate immune system responds within minutes of infection to produce type I interferons and pro-inflammatory cytokines. Interferons induce the synthesis of cell proteins with antiviral activity, and also shape the adaptive immune response by priming T cells. Despite the discovery of interferons over 50 years ago, only recently have we begun to understand how cells sense the presence of a virus infection. Two families of pattern recognition receptors have been shown to distinguish unique molecules present in pathogens, such as bacterial and fungal cell wall components, viral RNA and DNA, and lipoproteins. The first family includes the membrane-bound toll-like receptors (TLRs). Studies of the signaling pathways that lead from pattern recognition to cytokine induction have revealed extensive and overlapping cascades that involve protein-protein interactions and phosphorylation, and culminate in activation of transcription proteins that control the transcription of genes encoding interferons and other cytokines. A second family of pattern recognition receptors has recently been identified, which comprises the cytoplasmic sensors of viral nucleic acids, including MDA-5, RIG-I, and LGP2. In this review we summarize the discovery of these cytoplasmic sensors, how they recognize nucleic acids, the signaling pathways leading to cytokine synthesis, and viral countermeasures that have evolved to antagonize the functions of these proteins. We also consider the function of these cytoplasmic sensors in apoptosis, development and differentiation, and diabetes.
Antiviral innate immunity; MDA-5; RIG-I; domain grafting; cell signaling; apoptosis; viral pathogenesis
Human Papillomavirus type 16 (HPV16) causes over half of all cervical cancer and some HPV16 variants are more oncogenic than others. The genetic basis for the extraordinary oncogenic properties of HPV16 compared to other HPVs is unknown. In addition, we neither know which nucleotides vary across and within HPV types and lineages, nor which of the single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) determine oncogenicity.
A reference set of 62 HPV16 complete genome sequences was established and used to examine patterns of evolutionary relatedness amongst variants using a pairwise identity heatmap and HPV16 phylogeny. A BLAST-based algorithm was developed to impute complete genome data from partial sequence information using the reference database. To interrogate the oncogenic risk of determined and imputed HPV16 SNPs, odds-ratios for each SNP were calculated in a case-control viral genome-wide association study (VWAS) using biopsy confirmed high-grade cervix neoplasia and self-limited HPV16 infections from Guanacaste, Costa Rica.
HPV16 variants display evolutionarily stable lineages that contain conserved diagnostic SNPs. The imputation algorithm indicated that an average of 97.5±1.03% of SNPs could be accurately imputed. The VWAS revealed specific HPV16 viral SNPs associated with variant lineages and elevated odds ratios; however, individual causal SNPs could not be distinguished with certainty due to the nature of HPV evolution.
Conserved and lineage-specific SNPs can be imputed with a high degree of accuracy from limited viral polymorphic data due to the lack of recombination and the stochastic mechanism of variation accumulation in the HPV genome. However, to determine the role of novel variants or non-lineage-specific SNPs by VWAS will require direct sequence analysis. The investigation of patterns of genetic variation and the identification of diagnostic SNPs for lineages of HPV16 variants provides a valuable resource for future studies of HPV16 pathogenicity.
Human papillomavirus 16 (HPV16) species group (alpha-9) of the Alphapapillomavirus genus contains HPV16, HPV31, HPV33, HPV35, HPV52, HPV58 and HPV67. These HPVs account for 75% of invasive cervical cancers worldwide. Viral variants of these HPVs differ in evolutionary history and pathogenicity. Moreover, a comprehensive nomenclature system for HPV variants is lacking, limiting comparisons between studies.
DNA from cervical samples previously characterized for HPV type were obtained from multiple geographic regions to screen for novel variants. The complete 8 kb genomes of 120 variants representing the major and minor lineages of the HPV16-related alpha-9 HPV types were sequenced to capture maximum viral heterogeneity. Viral evolution was characterized by constructing phylogenic trees based on complete genomes using multiple algorithms. Maximal and viral region specific divergence was calculated by global and pairwise alignments. Variant lineages were classified and named using an alphanumeric system; the prototype genome was assigned to the A lineage for all types.
The range of genome-genome sequence heterogeneity varied from 0.6% for HPV35 to 2.2% for HPV52 and included 1.4% for HPV31, 1.1% for HPV33, 1.7% for HPV58 and 1.1% for HPV67. Nucleotide differences of approximately 1.0% - 10.0% and 0.5%–1.0% of the complete genomes were used to define variant lineages and sublineages, respectively. Each gene/region differs in sequence diversity, from most variable to least variable: noncoding region 1 (NCR1) /noncoding region 2 (NCR2) >upstream regulatory region (URR)> E6/E7 > E2/L2 > E1/L1.
These data define maximum viral genomic heterogeneity of HPV16-related alpha-9 HPV variants. The proposed nomenclature system facilitates the comparison of variants across epidemiological studies. Sequence diversity and phylogenies of this clinically important group of HPVs provides the basis for further studies of discrete viral evolution, epidemiology, pathogenesis and preventative/therapeutic interventions.
HPV types differ profoundly in cervical carcinogenicity. For the most carcinogenic type, HPV16, variant lineages representing further evolutionary divergence also differ in cancer risk. Variants of the remaining 10-15 carcinogenic HPV types have not been well-studied.
In the first prospective, population-based study of HPV variants, we explored whether, on average, the oldest evolutionary branches within each carcinogenic type predicted different risks of ≥2-year viral persistence and/or precancer and cancer (CIN3+). We examined the natural history of HPV variants in the 7-year, 10,049-woman Guanacaste Cohort Study, using a nested case-control design. Infections were assigned to a variant lineage determined by phylogenetic parsimony methods based on URR/E6 sequences. We used the Fisher's combination test to evaluate significance of the risk associations, cumulating evidence across types.
Globally, for HPV types including HPV16, the p-value was 0.01 for persistence and 0.07 for CIN3+. Excluding HPV16, the p-values were 0.04 and 0.37, respectively. For HPV16, non-European viral variants were significantly more likely than European variants to cause persistence (OR = 2.6, p = 0.01) and CIN3+ (OR = 2.4, p = 0.004). HPV35 and HPV51 variant lineages also predicted CIN3+.
HPV variants generally differ in risk of persistence. For some HPV types, especially HPV16, variant lineages differ in risk of CIN3+. The findings indicate that continued evolution of HPV types has led to even finer genetic discrimination linked to HPV natural history and cervical cancer risk. Larger viral genomic studies are warranted, especially to identify the genetic basis for HPV16's unique carcinogenicity.
HPV; variants; evolution; cervix; cancer
Over the past decade, fluorescent proteins (FPs) have become ubiquitous tools in biological research. Yet, little is known about the natural function or evolution of this superfamily of proteins that originate from marine organisms. Using molecular phylogenetic analyses of 102 naturally occurring cyan fluorescent proteins, green fluorescent proteins, red fluorescent proteins, as well as the nonfluorescent (purple-blue) protein sequences (including new FPs from Lizard Island, Australia) derived from organisms with known geographic origin, we show that FPs consist of two distinct and novel regions that have evolved under opposite and sharply divergent evolutionary pressures. A central region is highly conserved, and although it contains the residues that form the chromophore, its evolution does not track with fluorescent color and evolves independently from the rest of the protein. By contrast, the regions enclosing this central region are under strong positive selection pressure to vary its sequence and yet segregate well with fluorescence color emission. We did not find a significant correlation between geographic location of the organism from which the FP was isolated and molecular evolution of the protein. These results define for the first time two distinct regions based on evolution for this highly compact protein. The findings have implications for more sophisticated bioengineering of this molecule as well as studies directed toward understanding the natural function of FPs.
fluorescent protein; molecular evolution; positive selection; conserved region
We use measures of congruence on a combined expressed sequenced tag genome phylogeny to identify proteins that have potential significance in the evolution of seed plants. Relevant proteins are identified based on the direction of partitioned branch and hidden support on the hypothesis obtained on a 16-species tree, constructed from 2,557 concatenated orthologous genes. We provide a general method for detecting genes or groups of genes that may be under selection in directions that are in agreement with the phylogenetic pattern. Gene partitioning methods and estimates of the degree and direction of support of individual gene partitions to the overall data set are used. Using this approach, we correlate positive branch support of specific genes for key branches in the seed plant phylogeny. In addition to basic metabolic functions, such as photosynthesis or hormones, genes involved in posttranscriptional regulation by small RNAs were significantly overrepresented in key nodes of the phylogeny of seed plants. Two genes in our matrix are of critical importance as they are involved in RNA-dependent regulation, essential during embryo and leaf development. These are Argonaute and the RNA-dependent RNA polymerase 6 found to be overrepresented in the angiosperm clade. We use these genes as examples of our phylogenomics approach and show that identifying partitions or genes in this way provides a platform to explain some of the more interesting organismal differences among species, and in particular, in the evolution of plants.
phylogenomics; orthologs; partition metrics; gene ontology; micro-RNAs; small interfering RNAs
For diagnosis of neuropsychiatric disorders, a categorical classification system is often utilized as a simple way for conceptualizing an often complex clinical picture. This approach provides an unsatisfactory model of mental illness, since in practice patients do not conform to these prototypical diagnostic categories. Family studies show notable familial co-aggregation between schizophrenia and bipolar illness and between schizoaffective disorders and both bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, revealing that mental illness does not conform to such categorical models and is likely to follow a continuum encompassing a spectrum of behavioral symptoms.
Results and Methodology
We introduce an analytic framework to dissect the phenotypic heterogeneity present in complex psychiatric disorders based on the conceptual paradigm of a continuum of psychosis. The approach identifies subgroups of behavioral symptoms that are likely to be phenotypically and genetically homogenous. We have evaluated this approach through analysis of simulated data with simulated behavioral traits and predisposing genetic factors. We also apply this approach to a psychiatric dataset of a genome scan for schizophrenia for which extensive behavioral information was collected for each individual patient and their families. With this approach, we identified significant evidence for linkage among depressed individuals with two distinct symptom profiles, that is individuals with sleep disturbance symptoms with linkage on chromosome 2q13 and also a mutually exclusive group of individuals with symptoms of concentration problems with linkage on chromosome 2q35. In addition we identified a subset of individuals with schizophrenia defined by language disturbances with linkage to chromosome 2p25.1 and a group of patients with a phenotype intermediate between those of schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder with linkage to chromosome 2p21.
The findings presented are novel and demonstrate the efficacy of this approach in detection of genes underlying such complex human disorders as schizophrenia and depression.
We report the finished and annotated genome sequence of Aggregatibacter aphrophilus strain NJ8700, a strain isolated from the oral flora of a healthy individual, and discuss characteristics that may affect its dual roles in human health and disease. This strain has a rough appearance, and its genome contains genes encoding a type VI secretion system and several factors that may participate in host colonization.
Developing a greater understanding of population genetic structure in lowland tropical plant species is highly relevant to our knowledge of increasingly fragmented forests and to the conservation of threatened species. Specific studies are particularly needed for taxa whose population dynamics are further impacted by human harvesting practices. One such case is the fishtail or xaté palm (Chamaedorea ernesti-augusti) of Central America, whose wild-collected leaves are becoming progressively more important to the global ornamental industry. We use microsatellite markers to describe the population genetics of this species in Belize and test the effects of climate change and deforestation on its recent and historical effective population size.
We found high levels of inbreeding coupled with moderate or high allelic diversity within populations. Overall high gene flow was observed, with a north and south gradient and ongoing differentiation at smaller spatial scales. Immigration rates among populations were more difficult to discern, with minimal evidence for isolation by distance. We infer a tenfold reduction in effective population size ca. 10,000 years ago, but fail to detect changes attributable to Mayan or contemporary deforestation.
Populations of C. ernesti-augusti are genetically heterogeneous demes at a local spatial scale, but are widely connected at a regional level in Belize. We suggest that the inferred patterns in population genetic structure are the result of the colonization of this species into Belize following expansion of humid forests in combination with demographic and mating patterns. Within populations, we hypothesize that low aggregated population density over large areas, short distance pollen dispersal via thrips, low adult survival, and low fruiting combined with early flowering may contribute towards local inbreeding via genetic drift. Relatively high levels of regional connectivity are likely the result of animal-mediated long-distance seed dispersal. The greatest present threat to the species is the potential onset of inbreeding depression as the result of increased human harvesting activities. Future genetic studies in understory palms should focus on both fine-scale and landscape-level genetic structure.
For many familiar with metazoan relationships and body plans, the hypothesis of a sister group relationship between Diploblasta and Bilateria1 comes as a surprise. One of the consequences of this hypothesis—the independent evolution of a nervous system in Coelenterata and Bilateria—seems highly unlikely to many. However, to a small number of scientists working on Metazoa, the parallel evolution of the nervous system is not surprising at all and rather a confirmation of old morphological and new genetic knowledge.2–4 The controversial hypothesis that the Diploblasta and Bilateria are sister taxa is, therefore, tantamount to reconciling the parallel evolution of the nervous system in Coelenterata and Bilateria. In this addendum to Schierwater et al.1 we discuss two aspects critical to the controversy. First we discuss the strength of the inference of the proposed sister relationship of Diploblasta and Bilateria and second we discuss the implications for the evolution of nerve cells and nervous systems.
placozoa; trichoplax; urmetazoon hypothesis; basal metazoan evolution; trichoplax.com; pre-nervous system; placula hypothesis
Specific questions about intron evolution are precisely addressed applying a phylogenomic approach to suitable gene families. With this approach we have recently reported that the appearance of most human tetraspanins occurred in the common ancestor of vertebrates and coincides in nearly all cases with the concomitant acquisition of new introns. We observed that indels at the ends of the DNA exonic sequences with no involvement of the corresponding intronic sequence, were the cause of two discordant intron positions between orthologous tetraspanins. Here, we discuss a putative intron sliding occurrence in which a new acquired intron junction (intron 1a) in the ancestor of chordates could have been shifted to new positions (introns 1b and 1c) during the expansion of the tetraspanin family in vertebrates. Such a mechanism could be responsible for generating some of the variation of function in this important family of membrane spanning proteins.
intron sliding; tetraspanins; indels; exonization; intronization
Human papillomavirus type 18 (HPV18) and HPV45 account for approximately 20% of all cervix cancers. We show that HPV18, HPV45, and the recently discovered HPV97 comprise a clade sharing a most recent common ancestor within HPV α7 species. Variant lineages of these HPV types were classified by sequence analysis of the upstream regulatory region/E6 region among cervical samples from a population-based study in Costa Rica, and 27 representative genomes from each major variant lineage were sequenced. Nucleotide variation within HPV18 and HPV45 was 3.82% and 2.39%, respectively, and amino acid variation was 4.73% and 2.87%, respectively. Only 18 nucleotide variations, of which 10 were nonsynonymous, were identified among three HPV97 genomes. Full-genome comparisons revealed maximal diversity between HPV18 African and non-African variants (2.6% dissimilarity), whereas HPV18 Asian-American [E1 (AA)] and European (E2) variants were closely related (less than 0.5% dissimilarity); HPV45 genomes had a maximal difference of 1.6% nucleotides. Using a Bayesian Markov chain Monte Carlo (MCMC) method, the divergence times of HPV18, -45, and -97 from their most recent common ancestors indicated that HPV18 diverged approximately 7.7 million years (Myr) ago, whereas HPV45 and HPV97 split off around 5.7 Myr ago, in a period encompassing the divergence of the great ape species. Variants within the HPV18/45/97 lineages were estimated to have diverged from their common ancestors in the genus Homo within the last 1 Myr (<0.7 Myr). To investigate the molecular basis of HPV18, HPV45, and HPV97 evolution, regression models of codon substitution were used to identify lineages and amino acid sites under selective pressure. The E5 open reading frame (ORF) of HPV18 and the E4 ORFs of HPV18, HPV45, and HPV18/45/97 had nonsynonymous/synonymous substitution rate ratios (dN/dS) over 1 indicative of positive Darwinian selection. The L1 ORF of HPV18 genomes had an increased proportion of nonsynonymous substitutions (4.93%; average dN/dS ratio [M3] = 0.3356) compared to HPV45 (1.86%; M3 = 0.1268) and HPV16 (2.26%; M3 = 0.1330) L1 ORFs. In contrast, HPV18 and HPV16 genomes had similar amino acid substitution rates within the E1 ORF (2.89% and 3.24%, respectively), while HPV45 E1 was highly conserved (amino acid substitution rate was 0.77%). These data provide an evolutionary history of this medically important clade of HPVs and identify an unexpected divergence of the L1 gene of HPV18 that may have clinical implications for the long-term use of an L1-virus-like particle-based prophylactic vaccine.