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1.  Genetic Structure and Wolbachia Genotyping in Naturally Occurring Populations of Aedes albopictus across Contiguous Landscapes of Orissa, India 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(4):e94094.
Aedes albopictus has recently been implicated as a major vector in the emergence of dengue and chikungunya in several parts of India, like Orissa, which is gradually gaining endemicity for arboviral diseases. Ae. albopictus is further known to be naturally infected with Wolbachia (maternally inherited bacterium), which causes cytoplasmic incompatibility (CI) in mosquitoes leading to sperm-egg incompatibility inducing the death of embryo. Knowledge of genetic diversity of Ae. albopictus, along with revealing the type of Wolbachia infection in Ae. albopictus is important to explore the genetic and biological characteristics of Ae. albopictus, prior to exploring the uses of CI-based vector control strategies. In this study, we assessed the population genetic structure and the pattern of Wolbachia infection in Ae. albopictus mosquitoes of Orissa.
Methods and Results
Ae. albopictus mosquitoes were collected from 15 districts representing the four physiographical regions of Orissa from 2010–2012, analyzed for genetic variability at seven microsatellite loci and genotyped for Wolbachia strain detection using wsp gene primers. Most microsatellite markers were successfully amplified and were polymorphic, showing moderate genetic structure among all geographic populations (FST = 0.088). Genetic diversity was high (FST = 0.168) in Coastal Plains populations when compared with other populations, which was also evident from cluster analyses that showed most Coastal Plains populations consisted of a separate genetic cluster. Genotyping analyses revealed that Wolbachia-infected Ae. albopictus field populations of Orissa were mostly superinfected with wAlbA and wAlbB strains. Wolbachia superinfection was more pronounced in the Coastal Plain populations.
High genetic structure and Wolbachia superinfection, observed in the Coastal Plain populations of Orissa suggested it to be genetically and biologically more unique than other populations, and hence could influence their vectorial attributes. Such high genetic diversity observed among Coastal Plains populations could be attributed to multiple introductions of Ae. albopictus in this region.
PMCID: PMC3979767  PMID: 24714653
2.  Phylogenomics of “Candidatus Hepatoplasma crinochetorum,” a Lineage of Mollicutes Associated with Noninsect Arthropods 
Genome Biology and Evolution  2014;6(2):407-415.
Bacterial gut communities of arthropods are highly diverse and tightly related to host feeding habits. However, our understanding of the origin and role of the symbionts is often hindered by the lack of genetic information. “Candidatus Hepatoplasma crinochetorum” is a Mollicutes symbiont found in the midgut glands of terrestrial isopods. The only available nucleotide sequence for this symbiont is a partial 16S rRNA gene sequence. Here, we present the 657,101 bp assembled genome of Candidatus Hepatoplasma crinochetorum isolated from the terrestrial isopod Armadillidium vulgare. While previous 16S rRNA gene-based analyses have provided inconclusive results regarding the phylogenetic position of Candidatus Hepatoplasma crinochetorum within Mollicutes, we performed a phylogenomic analysis of 127 Mollicutes orthologous genes which confidently branches the species as a sister group to the Hominis group of Mycoplasma. Several genome properties of Candidatus Hepatoplasma crinochetorum are also highlighted compared with other Mollicutes genomes, including adjacent tryptophan tRNA genes, which further our understanding of the evolutionary dynamics of these genes in Mollicutes, and the presence of a probably inactivated CRISPR/Cas system, which constitutes a testimony of past interactions between Candidatus Hepatoplasma crinochetorum and mobile genetic elements, despite their current lack in this streamlined genome. Overall, the availability of the complete genome sequence of Candidatus Hepatoplasma crinochetorum paves the way for further investigation of its ecology and evolution.
PMCID: PMC3942034  PMID: 24482531
Hepatoplasma; Mollicutes; genome sequence; symbiont
3.  High Pressure Freezing/Freeze Substitution Fixation Improves the Ultrastructural Assessment of Wolbachia Endosymbiont – Filarial Nematode Host Interaction 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(1):e86383.
Wolbachia α-proteobacteria are essential for growth, reproduction and survival for many filarial nematode parasites of medical and veterinary importance. Endobacteria were discovered in filarial parasites by transmission electron microscopy in the 1970’s using chemically fixed specimens. Despite improvements of fixation and electron microscopy techniques during the last decades, methods to study the Wolbachia/filaria interaction on the ultrastructural level remained unchanged and the mechanisms for exchange of materials and for motility of endobacteria are not known.
Methodology/Principal Finding
We used high pressure freezing/freeze substitution to improve fixation of Brugia malayi and its endosymbiont, and this led to improved visualization of different morphological forms of Wolbachia. The three concentric, bilayer membranes that surround the endobacterial cytoplasm were well preserved. Vesicles with identical membrane structures were identified close to the endobacteria, and multiple bacteria were sometimes enclosed within a single outer membrane. Immunogold electron microscopy using a monoclonal antibody directed against Wolbachia surface protein-1 labeled the membranes that enclose Wolbachia and Wolbachia-associated vesicles. High densities of Wolbachia were observed in the lateral chords of L4 larvae, immature, and mature adult worms. Extracellular Wolbachia were sometimes present in the pseudocoelomic cavity near the developing female reproductive organs. Wolbachia-associated actin tails were not observed. Wolbachia motility may be explained by their residence within vacuoles, as they may co-opt the host cell’s secretory pathway to move within and between cells.
High pressure freezing/freeze substitution significantly improved the preservation of filarial tissues for electron microscopy to reveal membranes and sub cellular structures that could be crucial for exchange of materials between Wolbachia and its host.
PMCID: PMC3895037  PMID: 24466066
4.  Uncovering Wolbachia Diversity upon Artificial Host Transfer 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(12):e82402.
The common endosymbiotic Wolbachia bacteria influence arthropod hosts in multiple ways. They are mostly recognized for their manipulations of host reproduction, yet, more recent studies demonstrate that Wolbachia also impact host behavior, metabolic pathways and immunity. Besides their biological and evolutionary roles, Wolbachia are new potential biological control agents for pest and vector management. Importantly, Wolbachia-based control strategies require controlled symbiont transfer between host species and predictable outcomes of novel Wolbachia-host associations. Theoretically, this artificial horizontal transfer could inflict genetic changes within transferred Wolbachia populations. This could be facilitated through de novo mutations in the novel recipient host or changes of haplotype frequencies of polymorphic Wolbachia populations when transferred from donor to recipient hosts. Here we show that Wolbachia resident in the European cherry fruit fly, Rhagoletis cerasi, exhibit ancestral and cryptic sequence polymorphism in three symbiont genes, which are exposed upon microinjection into the new hosts Drosophila simulans and Ceratitis capitata. Our analyses of Wolbachia in microinjected D. simulans over 150 generations after microinjection uncovered infections with multiple Wolbachia strains in trans-infected lines that had previously been typed as single infections. This confirms the persistence of low-titer Wolbachia strains in microinjection experiments that had previously escaped standard detection techniques. Our study demonstrates that infections by multiple Wolbachia strains can shift in prevalence after artificial host transfer driven by either stochastic or selective processes. Trans-infection of Wolbachia can claim fitness costs in new hosts and we speculate that these costs may have driven the shifts of Wolbachia strains that we saw in our model system.
PMCID: PMC3869692  PMID: 24376534
5.  Variation of Gene Expression Associated with Colonisation of an Anthropized Environment: Comparison between African and European Populations of Drosophila simulans 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(11):e79750.
The comparison of transcriptome profiles among populations is a powerful tool for investigating the role of gene expression change in adaptation to new environments. In this study, we use massively parallel sequencing of 3′ cDNAs obtained from large samples of adult males, to compare a population of Drosophila simulans from a natural reserve within its ancestral range (eastern Africa) with a derived population collected in the strongly anthropized Rhône valley (France). The goal was to scan for adaptation linked to the invasion of new environments by the species. Among 15,090 genes retained for the analysis, 794 were found to be differentially expressed between the two populations. We observed an increase in expression of reproduction-related genes in eastern Africa, and an even stronger increase in expression of Cytochrome P450, Glutathione transferase and Glucuronosyl transferase genes in the derived population. These three gene families are involved in detoxification processes, which suggests that pesticides are a major environmental pressure for the species in this area. The survey of the Cyp6g1 upstream region revealed the insertion of a transposable element, Juan, in the regulatory sequence that is almost fixed in the Rhône Valley, but barely present in Mayotte. This shows that Cyp6g1 has undergone parallel evolution in derived populations of D. simulans as previously shown for D. melanogaster. The increasing amount of data produced by comparative population genomics and transcriptomics should permit the identification of additional genes associated with functional divergence among those differentially expressed.
PMCID: PMC3832527  PMID: 24260296
6.  Effects of Heat Shock on Resistance to Parasitoids and on Life History Traits in an Aphid/Endosymbiont System 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(10):e75966.
Temperature variation is an important factor determining the outcomes of interspecific interactions, including those involving hosts and parasites. This can apply to variation in average temperature or to relatively short but intense bouts of extreme temperature. We investigated the effect of heat shock on the ability of aphids (Aphis fabae) harbouring protective facultative endosymbionts (Hamiltonella defensa) to resist parasitism by Hymenopteran parasitoids (Lysiphlebus fabarum). Furthermore, we investigated whether heat shocks can modify previously observed genotype-by-genotype (G x G) interactions between different endosymbiont isolates and parasitoid genotypes. Lines of genetically identical aphids possessing different isolates of H. defensa were exposed to one of two heat shock regimes (35°C and 39°C) or to a control temperature (20°C) before exposure to three different asexual lines of the parasitoids. We observed strong G x G interactions on parasitism rates, reflecting the known genetic specificity of symbiont-conferred resistance, and we observed a significant G x G x E interaction induced by heat shocks. However, this three-way interaction was mainly driven by the more extreme heat shock (39°C), which had devastating effects on aphid lifespan and reproduction. Restricting the analysis to the more realistic heat shock of 35°C, the G x G x E interaction was weaker (albeit still significant), and it did not lead to any reversals of the aphid lines' susceptibility rankings to different parasitoids. Thus, under conditions feasibly encountered in the field, the relative fitness of different parasitoid genotypes on hosts protected by particular symbiont strains remains mostly uncomplicated by heat stress, which should simplify biological control programs dealing with this system.
PMCID: PMC3797046  PMID: 24143175
7.  Isolation and Characterization of Microsatellite Loci for the Isopod Crustacean Armadillidium vulgare and Transferability in Terrestrial Isopods 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(10):e76639.
Armadillidium vulgare is a terrestrial isopod (Crustacea, Oniscidea) which harbors Wolbachia bacterial endosymbionts. A. vulgare is the major model for the study of Wolbachia-mediated feminization of genetic males in crustaceans. As a consequence of their impact on host sex determination mechanisms, Wolbachia endosymbionts are thought to significantly influence A. vulgare evolution on various grounds, including population genetic structure, diversity and reproduction strategies. To provide molecular tools for examining these questions, we isolated microsatellite loci through 454 pyrosequencing of a repeat-enriched A. vulgare genomic library. We selected 14 markers and developed three polymorphic microsatellite multiplex kits. We tested the kits on two A. vulgare natural populations and found high genetic variation, thereby making it possible to investigate the impact of Wolbachia endosymbionts on A. vulgare nuclear variation at unprecedented resolution. In addition, we tested the transferability of these kits by cross-species amplification in five other terrestrial isopod species harboring Wolbachia endosymbionts. The microsatellite loci showed good transferability in particular in Armadillidium nasatum and Chaetophiloscia elongata, for which these markers represent promising tools for future genetic studies.
PMCID: PMC3789670  PMID: 24098543
8.  Functional Characterization of the Human Mariner Transposon Hsmar2 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(9):e73227.
DNA transposons are mobile elements with the ability to mobilize and transport genetic information between different chromosomal loci. Unfortunately, most transposons copies are currently inactivated, little is known about mariner elements in humans despite their role in the evolution of the human genome, even though the Hsmar2 transposon is associated to hotspots for homologous recombination involved in human genetic disorders as Charcot–Marie–Tooth, Prader-Willi/Angelman, and Williams syndromes. This manuscript describes the functional characterization of the human HSMAR2 transposase generated from fossil sequences and shows that the native HSMAR2 is active in human cells, but also in bacteria, with an efficiency similar to other mariner elements. We observe that the sub-cellular localization of HSMAR2 is dependent on the host cell type, and is cytotoxic when overexpressed in HeLa cells. Finally, we also demonstrate that the binding of HSMAR2 to its own ITRs is specific, and that the excision reaction leaves non-canonical footprints both in bacteria and eukaryotic cells.
PMCID: PMC3770610  PMID: 24039890
9.  Complete Genomic DNA Sequence of the East Asian Spotted Fever Disease Agent Rickettsia japonica 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(9):e71861.
Rickettsia japonica is an obligate intracellular alphaproteobacteria that causes tick-borne Japanese spotted fever, which has spread throughout East Asia. We determined the complete genomic DNA sequence of R. japonica type strain YH (VR-1363), which consists of 1,283,087 base pairs (bp) and 971 protein-coding genes. Comparison of the genomic DNA sequence of R. japonica with other rickettsiae in the public databases showed that 2 regions (4,323 and 216 bp) were conserved in a very narrow range of Rickettsia species, and the shorter one was inserted in, and disrupted, a preexisting open reading frame (ORF). While it is unknown how the DNA sequences were acquired in R. japonica genomes, it may be a useful signature for the diagnosis of Rickettsia species. Instead of the species-specific inserted DNA sequences, rickettsial genomes contain Rickettsia-specific palindromic elements (RPEs), which are also capable of locating in preexisting ORFs. Precise alignments of protein and DNA sequences involving RPEs showed that when a gene contains an inserted DNA sequence, each rickettsial ortholog carried an inserted DNA sequence at the same locus. The sequence, ATGAC, was shown to be highly frequent and thus characteristic in certain RPEs (RPE-4, RPE-6, and RPE-7). This finding implies that RPE-4, RPE-6, and RPE-7 were derived from a common inserted DNA sequence.
PMCID: PMC3767692  PMID: 24039725
10.  Phylogenomics and Analysis of Shared Genes Suggest a Single Transition to Mutualism in Wolbachia of Nematodes 
Genome Biology and Evolution  2013;5(9):1668-1674.
Wolbachia, endosymbiotic bacteria of the order Rickettsiales, are widespread in arthropods but also present in nematodes. In arthropods, A and B supergroup Wolbachia are generally associated with distortion of host reproduction. In filarial nematodes, including some human parasites, multiple lines of experimental evidence indicate that C and D supergroup Wolbachia are essential for the survival of the host, and here the symbiotic relationship is considered mutualistic. The origin of this mutualistic endosymbiosis is of interest for both basic and applied reasons: How does a parasite become a mutualist? Could intervention in the mutualism aid in treatment of human disease? Correct rooting and high-quality resolution of Wolbachia relationships are required to resolve this question. However, because of the large genetic distance between Wolbachia and the nearest outgroups, and the limited number of genomes so far available for large-scale analyses, current phylogenies do not provide robust answers. We therefore sequenced the genome of the D supergroup Wolbachia endosymbiont of Litomosoides sigmodontis, revisited the selection of loci for phylogenomic analyses, and performed a phylogenomic analysis including available complete genomes (from isolates in supergroups A, B, C, and D). Using 90 orthologous genes with reliable phylogenetic signals, we obtained a robust phylogenetic reconstruction, including a highly supported root to the Wolbachia phylogeny between a (A + B) clade and a (C + D) clade. Although we currently lack data from several Wolbachia supergroups, notably F, our analysis supports a model wherein the putatively mutualist endosymbiotic relationship between Wolbachia and nematodes originated from a single transition event.
PMCID: PMC3787677  PMID: 23960254
Wolbachia; phylogenomics; mutualism; Litomosoides sigmodontis; endosymbiosis
11.  Contrasting Phylogeography of Sandy vs. Rocky Supralittoral Isopods in the Megadiverse and Geologically Dynamic Gulf of California and Adjacent Areas 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(7):e67827.
Phylogeographic studies of animals with low vagility and restricted to patchy habitats of the supralittoral zone, can uncover unknown diversity and shed light on processes that shaped evolution along a continent’s edge. The Pacific coast between southern California and central Mexico, including the megadiverse Gulf of California, offers a remarkable setting to study biological diversification in the supralittoral. A complex geological history coupled with cyclical fluctuations in temperature and sea level provided ample opportunities for diversification of supralittoral organisms. Indeed, a previous phylogeographic study of Ligia, a supralittoral isopod that has limited dispersal abilities and is restricted to rocky patches, revealed high levels of morphologically cryptic diversity. Herein, we examined phylogeographic patterns of Tylos, another supralittoral isopod with limited dispersal potential, but whose habitat (i.e., sandy shores) appears to be more extensive and connected than that of Ligia. We conducted Maximum Likelihood and Bayesian phylogenetic analyses on mitochondrial and nuclear DNA sequences. These analyses revealed multiple highly divergent lineages with discrete regional distributions, despite the recognition of a single valid species for this region. A traditional species-diagnostic morphological trait distinguished several of these lineages. The phylogeographic patterns of Tylos inside the Gulf of California show a deep and complex history. In contrast, patterns along the Pacific region between southern California and the Baja Peninsula indicate a recent range expansion, probably postglacial and related to changes in sea surface temperature (SST). In general, the phylogeographic patterns of Tylos differed from those of Ligia. Differences in the extension and connectivity of the habitats occupied by Tylos and Ligia may account for the different degrees of population isolation experienced by these two isopods and their contrasting phylogeographic patterns. Identification of divergent lineages of Tylos in the study area is important for conservation, as some populations are threatened by human activities.
PMCID: PMC3699670  PMID: 23844103
12.  Human-Specific HERV-K Insertion Causes Genomic Variations in the Human Genome 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(4):e60605.
Human endogenous retroviruses (HERV) sequences account for about 8% of the human genome. Through comparative genomics and literature mining, we identified a total of 29 human-specific HERV-K insertions. We characterized them focusing on their structure and flanking sequence. The results showed that four of the human-specific HERV-K insertions deleted human genomic sequences via non-classical insertion mechanisms. Interestingly, two of the human-specific HERV-K insertion loci contained two HERV-K internals and three LTR elements, a pattern which could be explained by LTR-LTR ectopic recombination or template switching. In addition, we conducted a polymorphic test and observed that twelve out of the 29 elements are polymorphic in the human population. In conclusion, human-specific HERV-K elements have inserted into human genome since the divergence of human and chimpanzee, causing human genomic changes. Thus, we believe that human-specific HERV-K activity has contributed to the genomic divergence between humans and chimpanzees, as well as within the human population.
PMCID: PMC3625200  PMID: 23593260
13.  Horizontal Transfer and Evolution of Prokaryote Transposable Elements in Eukaryotes 
Genome Biology and Evolution  2013;5(5):822-832.
Horizontal transfer (HT) of transposable elements (TEs) plays a key role in prokaryotic evolution, and mounting evidence suggests that it has also had an important impact on eukaryotic evolution. Although many prokaryote-to-prokaryote and eukaryote-to-eukaryote HTs of TEs have been characterized, only few cases have been reported between prokaryotes and eukaryotes. Here, we carried out a comprehensive search for all major groups of prokaryotic insertion sequences (ISs) in 430 eukaryote genomes. We uncovered a total of 80 sequences, all deriving from the IS607 family, integrated in the genomes of 14 eukaryote species belonging to four distinct phyla (Amoebozoa, Ascomycetes, Basidiomycetes, and Stramenopiles). Given that eukaryote IS607-like sequences are most closely related to cyanobacterial IS607 and that their phylogeny is incongruent with that of their hosts, we conclude that the presence of IS607-like sequences in eukaryotic genomes is the result of several HT events. Selection analyses further suggest that our ability to detect these prokaryote TEs today in eukaryotes is because HT of these sequences occurred recently and/or some IS607 elements were domesticated after HT, giving rise to new eukaryote genes. Supporting the recent age of some of these HTs, we uncovered intact full-length, potentially active IS607 copies in the amoeba Acanthamoeba castellani. Overall, our study shows that prokaryote-to-eukaryote HT of TEs occurred at relatively low frequency during recent eukaryote evolution and it sets IS607 as the most widespread TE (being present in prokaryotes, eukaryotes, and viruses).
PMCID: PMC3673617  PMID: 23563966
horizontal transfer; transposable elements; eukaryotes; prokaryotes
14.  Multilocus Comparative Phylogeography of Two Aristeid Shrimps of High Commercial Interest (Aristeus antennatus and Aristaeomorpha foliacea) Reveals Different Responses to Past Environmental Changes 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(3):e59033.
Phylogeographical studies can reveal hidden patterns in the evolutionary history of species. Comparative analyses of closely related species can further help disentangle the relative contributions of processes responsible for such patterns. In this work, the phylogeography of two aristeid species, Aristeus antennatus and Aristaeomorpha foliacea, was compared through multiple genetic markers. These marine shrimp species are of high commercial importance, and are exploited in the Mediterranean Sea (MED) and in Mozambique Channel (MOZ) where they occur in partial sympatry. Aristeus antennatus (N = 50) from Western and Eastern Mediterranean (WM and EM, respectively), Atlantic Ocean (AO) and MOZ, and Aristaeomorpha foliacea (N = 40) from WM, EM, MOZ North-Western Australia (AUS) were analyzed with two nuclear genes (PEPCK and NaK) and one mitochondrial (COI) gene. Within the study area differences were found between the two species in their phylogeographical patterns, suggesting distinct responses to environmental changes. Monophyly of Aristeus antennatus was found across its distributional range. This pattern contrasted by a deep evolutionary split within Aristaeomorpha foliacea where genetic diversity followed geography distinguishing MED-MOZ and AUS. We propose that the AUS lineage of A. foliacea warrants consideration as a distinct species, with consequent implications in systematics and resource management.
PMCID: PMC3596357  PMID: 23516594
15.  The Brown Algae Pl.LSU/2 Group II Intron-Encoded Protein Has Functional Reverse Transcriptase and Maturase Activities 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(3):e58263.
Group II introns are self-splicing mobile elements found in prokaryotes and eukaryotic organelles. These introns propagate by homing into precise genomic locations, following assembly of a ribonucleoprotein complex containing the intron-encoded protein (IEP) and the spliced intron RNA. Engineered group II introns are now commonly used tools for targeted genomic modifications in prokaryotes but not in eukaryotes. We speculate that the catalytic activation of currently known group II introns is limited in eukaryotic cells. The brown algae Pylaiella littoralis Pl.LSU/2 group II intron is uniquely capable of in vitro ribozyme activity at physiological level of magnesium but this intron remains poorly characterized. We purified and characterized recombinant Pl.LSU/2 IEP. Unlike most IEPs, Pl.LSU/2 IEP displayed a reverse transcriptase activity without intronic RNA. The Pl.LSU/2 intron could be engineered to splice accurately in Saccharomyces cerevisiae and splicing efficiency was increased by the maturase activity of the IEP. However, spliced transcripts were not expressed. Furthermore, intron splicing was not detected in human cells. While further tool development is needed, these data provide the first functional characterization of the PI.LSU/2 IEP and the first evidence that the Pl.LSU/2 group II intron splicing occurs in vivo in eukaryotes in an IEP-dependent manner.
PMCID: PMC3594303  PMID: 23505475
16.  Distribution of Endosymbiotic Reproductive Manipulators Reflects Invasion Process and Not Reproductive System Polymorphism in the Little Fire Ant Wasmannia auropunctata 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(3):e58467.
Endosymbiotic reproductive manipulators may have drastic effects on the ecological and evolutionary dynamics of their hosts. The prevalence of these endosymbionts reflects both their ability to manipulate their hosts and the history of the host populations. The little fire ant Wasmannia auropunctata displays a polymorphism in both its reproductive system (sexual versus clonal populations) and the invasive status of its populations (associated to a habitat shift). We first screened for the presence of a diverse array of reproductive parasites in sexual and clonal populations of W. auropunctata, as a means to investigate the role of endosymbionts in reproductive phenotypes. Wolbachia was the only symbiont found and we then focused on its worldwide distribution and diversity in natural populations of W. auropunctata. Using a multilocus scheme, we further characterized the Wolbachia strains present in these populations. We found that almost all the native sexual populations and only a few clonal populations are infected by Wolbachia. The presence of similar Wolbachia strains in both sexual and clonal populations indicates that they are probably not the cause of the reproductive system polymorphism. The observed pattern seems rather associated to the invasion process of W. auropunctata. In particular, the observed loss of Wolbachia in clonal populations, that recurrently emerged from sexual populations, likely resulted from natural heat treatment and/or relaxed selection during the shift in habitat associated to the invasion process.
PMCID: PMC3594316  PMID: 23505512
17.  The Diversity and Evolution of Wolbachia Ankyrin Repeat Domain Genes 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(2):e55390.
Ankyrin repeat domain-encoding genes are common in the eukaryotic and viral domains of life, but they are rare in bacteria, the exception being a few obligate or facultative intracellular Proteobacteria species. Despite having a reduced genome, the arthropod strains of the alphaproteobacterium Wolbachia contain an unusually high number of ankyrin repeat domain-encoding genes ranging from 23 in wMel to 60 in wPip strain. This group of genes has attracted considerable attention for their astonishing large number as well as for the fact that ankyrin proteins are known to participate in protein-protein interactions, suggesting that they play a critical role in the molecular mechanism that determines host-Wolbachia symbiotic interactions. We present a comparative evolutionary analysis of the wMel-related ankyrin repeat domain-encoding genes present in different Drosophila-Wolbachia associations. Our results show that the ankyrin repeat domain-encoding genes change in size by expansion and contraction mediated by short directly repeated sequences. We provide examples of intra-genic recombination events and show that these genes are likely to be horizontally transferred between strains with the aid of bacteriophages. These results confirm previous findings that the Wolbachia genomes are evolutionary mosaics and illustrate the potential that these bacteria have to generate diversity in proteins potentially involved in the symbiotic interactions.
PMCID: PMC3563639  PMID: 23390535
18.  Two Strains of Male-Killing Wolbachia in a Ladybird, Coccinella undecimpunctata, from a Hot Climate 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(1):e54218.
Ladybirds are a hot-spot for the invasion of male-killing bacteria. These maternally inherited endosymbionts cause the death of male host embryos, to the benefit of female sibling hosts and the bacteria that they contain. Previous studies have shown that high temperatures can eradicate male-killers from ladybirds, leaving the host free from infection. Here we report the discovery of two maternally inherited sex ratio distorters in populations of a coccinellid, Coccinella undecimpunctata, from a hot lowland region of the Middle East. DNA sequence analysis indicates that the male killing is the result of infection by Wolbachia, that the trait is tetracycline sensitive, and that two distinct strains of Wolbachia co-occur within one beetle population. We discuss the implications of these findings for theories of male-killing and suggest avenues for future field-work on this system.
PMCID: PMC3549926  PMID: 23349831
19.  A Novel Family of Terminal-Repeat Retrotransposon in Miniature (TRIM) in the Genome of the Red Harvester Ant, Pogonomyrmex barbatus 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(12):e53401.
We report the first described non-plant family of TRIMs (terminal-repeat retrotransposons in miniature), which are small nonautonomous LTR retrotransposons, from the whole-genome sequence of the red harvester ant, Pogonomyrmex barbatus (Hymenoptera: Myrmicinae). Members of this retrotransposon family, named PbTRIM, have typical features of plant TRIMs in length and structure, although they share no overall sequence similarity. PbTRIM elements and their solo-LTRs are abundant in the host genome and exhibit an uneven distribution pattern. Elements are preferentially inserted into TA-rich regions with ATAT as the most common pattern of target site duplication (TSD). PbTRIM is most likely mobile as indicated by the young age of many complete elements, the high degree of sequence similarity among elements at different genomic locations, the abundance of elements in the host genome, and the presence of 4-bp target site duplications (TSDs) flanking the elements and solo-LTRs. Many PbTRIM elements and their solo-LTRs are located within or near genes, suggesting their potential roles in restructuring the host genes and genome. Database search, PCR and sequencing analysis revealed the presence of homologous PbTRIM elements in other ant species. The high sequence similarity between elements from distantly related ant species, the incongruence between the phylogenies of PbTRIM and its hosts, and the patchy distribution of the retroelement within the Myrmicinae subfamily indicate possible horizontal transfer events of the retroelement.
PMCID: PMC3532108  PMID: 23285291
20.  Selection-Driven Extinction Dynamics for Group II Introns in Enterobacteriales 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(12):e52268.
Transposable elements (TEs) are one of the major driving forces of genome evolution, raising the question of the long-term dynamics underlying their evolutionary success. Some TEs were proposed to evolve under a pattern of periodic extinctions-recolonizations, in which elements recurrently invade and quickly proliferate within their host genomes, then start to disappear until total extinction. Depending on the model, TE extinction is assumed to be driven by purifying selection against colonized host genomes (Sel-DE model) or by saturation of host genomes (Sat-DE model). Bacterial group II introns are suspected to follow an extinction-recolonization model of evolution, but whether they follow Sel-DE or Sat-DE dynamics is not known. Our analysis of almost 200 group II intron copies from 90 sequenced Enterobacteriales genomes confirms their extinction-recolonization dynamics: patchy element distributions among genera and even among strains within genera, acquisition of new group II introns through plasmids or other mobile genetic elements, and evidence for recent proliferations in some genomes. Distributions of recent and past proliferations and of their respective homing sites further provide strong support for the Sel-DE model, suggesting that group II introns are deleterious to their hosts. Overall, our observations emphasize the critical impact of host properties on TE dynamics.
PMCID: PMC3522654  PMID: 23251705
21.  Identification of Wolbachia Strains in Mosquito Disease Vectors 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(11):e49922.
Wolbachia bacteria are common endosymbionts of insects, and some strains are known to protect their hosts against RNA viruses and other parasites. This has led to the suggestion that releasing Wolbachia-infected mosquitoes could prevent the transmission of arboviruses and other human parasites. We have identified Wolbachia in Kenyan populations of the yellow fever vector Aedes bromeliae and its relative Aedes metallicus, and in Mansonia uniformis and Mansonia africana, which are vectors of lymphatic filariasis. These Wolbachia strains cluster together on the bacterial phylogeny, and belong to bacterial clades that have recombined with other unrelated strains. These new Wolbachia strains may be affecting disease transmission rates of infected mosquito species, and could be transferred into other mosquito vectors as part of control programs.
PMCID: PMC3503815  PMID: 23185484
22.  Conquered from the Deep Sea? A New Deep-Sea Isopod Species from the Antarctic Shelf Shows Pattern of Recent Colonization 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(11):e49354.
The Amundsen Sea, Antarctica, is amongst the most rapidly changing environments of the world. Its benthic inhabitants are barely known and the BIOPEARL 2 project was one of the first to biologically explore this region. Collected during this expedition, Macrostylis roaldi sp. nov. is described as the first isopod discovered on the Amundsen-Sea shelf. Amongst many characteristic features, the most obvious characters unique for M. roaldi are the rather short pleotelson and short operculum as well as the trapezoid shape of the pleotelson in adult males. We used DNA barcodes (COI) and additional mitochondrial markers (12S, 16S) to reciprocally illuminate morphological results and nucleotide variability. In contrast to many other deep-sea isopods, this species is common and shows a wide distribution. Its range spreads from Pine Island Bay at inner shelf right to the shelf break and across 1,000 m bathymetrically. Its gene pool is homogenized across space and depth. This is indicative for a genetic bottleneck or a recent colonization history. Our results suggest further that migratory or dispersal capabilities of some species of brooding macrobenthos have been underestimated. This might be relevant for the species’ potential to cope with effects of climate change. To determine where this species could have survived the last glacial period, alternative refuge possibilities are discussed.
PMCID: PMC3492298  PMID: 23145160
23.  International Congress on Transposable Elements (ICTE) 2012 in Saint Malo and the sea of TE stories 
Mobile DNA  2012;3:17.
An international conference on Transposable Elements (TEs) was held 21–24 April 2012 in Saint Malo, France. Organized by the French Transposition Community (GDR Elements Génétiques Mobiles et Génomes, CNRS) and the French Society of Genetics (SFG), the conference’s goal was to bring together researchers from around the world who study transposition in diverse organisms using multiple experimental approaches. The meeting drew more than 217 attendees and most contributed through poster presentations (117), invited talks and short talks selected from poster abstracts (48 in total). The talks were organized into four scientific sessions, focused on: impact of TEs on genomes, control of transposition, evolution of TEs and mechanisms of transposition. Here, we present highlights from the talks given during the platform sessions. The conference was sponsored by Alliance pour les sciences de la vie et de la santé (Aviesan), Centre national de la recherche scientifique (CNRS), Institut national de la santé et de la recherche médicale (INSERM), Institut de recherche pour le développement (IRD), Institut national de la recherche agronomique (INRA), Université de Perpignan, Université de Rennes 1, Région Bretagne and Mobile DNA.
Chair of the organization committee
Jean-Marc Deragon
Abdelkader Ainouche, Mireille Bétermier, Mick Chandler, Richard Cordaux, Gaël Cristofari, Jean-Marc Deragon, Pascale Lesage, Didier Mazel, Olivier Panaud, Hadi Quesneville, Chantal Vaury, Cristina Vieira and Clémentine Vitte
PMCID: PMC3520747  PMID: 23110759
Transposable elements; Evolution of transposable elements; Impact on genomes; Control of transposition; Mechanisms of transposition
24.  Testing Phylogenetic Hypotheses of the Subgenera of the Freshwater Crayfish Genus Cambarus (Decapoda: Cambaridae) 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(9):e46105.
The genus Cambarus is one of three most species rich crayfish genera in the Northern Hemisphere. The genus has its center of diversity in the Southern Appalachians of the United States and has been divided into 12 subgenera. Using Cambarus we test the correspondence of subgeneric designations based on morphology used in traditional crayfish taxonomy to the underlying evolutionary history for these crayfish. We further test for significant correlation and explanatory power of geographic distance, taxonomic model, and a habitat model to estimated phylogenetic distance with multiple variable regression.
Methodology/Principal Findings
We use three mitochondrial and one nuclear gene regions to estimate the phylogenetic relationships for species within the genus Cambarus and test evolutionary hypotheses of relationships and associated morphological and biogeographical hypotheses. Our resulting phylogeny indicates that the genus Cambarus is polyphyletic, however we fail to reject the monophyly of Cambarus with a topology test. The majority of the Cambarus subgenera are rejected as monophyletic, suggesting the morphological characters used to define those taxa are subject to convergent evolution. While we found incongruence between taxonomy and estimated phylogenetic relationships, a multiple model regression analysis indicates that taxonomy had more explanatory power of genetic relationships than either habitat or geographic distance.
We find convergent evolution has impacted the morphological features used to delimit Cambarus subgenera. Studies of the crayfish genus Orconectes have shown gonopod morphology used to delimit subgenera is also affected by convergent evolution. This suggests that morphological diagnoses based on traditional crayfish taxonomy might be confounded by convergent evolution across the cambarids and has little utility in diagnosing relationships or defining natural groups. We further suggest that convergent morphological evolution appears to be a common occurrence in invertebrates suggesting the need for careful phylogenetically based interpretations of morphological evolution in invertebrate systematics.
PMCID: PMC3458831  PMID: 23049950
25.  Regulation of Mariner Transposition: The Peculiar Case of Mos1 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(8):e43365.
Mariner elements represent the most successful family of autonomous DNA transposons, being present in various plant and animal genomes, including humans. The introduction and co-evolution of mariners within host genomes imply a strict regulation of the transposon activity. Biochemical data accumulated during the past decade have led to a convergent picture of the transposition cycle of mariner elements, suggesting that mariner transposition does not rely on host-specific factors. This model does not account for differences of transposition efficiency in human cells between mariners. We thus wondered whether apparent similarities in transposition cycle could hide differences in the intrinsic parameters that control mariner transposition.
Principal Findings
We find that Mos1 transposase concentrations in excess to the Mos1 ends prevent the paired-end complex assembly. However, we observe that Mos1 transposition is not impaired by transposase high concentration, dismissing the idea that transposase over production plays an obligatory role in the down-regulation of mariner transposition. Our main finding is that the paired-end complex is formed in a cooperative way, regardless of the transposase concentration. We also show that an element framed by two identical ITRs (Inverted Terminal Repeats) is more efficient in driving transposition than an element framed by two different ITRs (i.e. the natural Mos1 copy), the latter being more sensitive to transposase concentration variations. Finally, we show that the current Mos1 ITRs correspond to the ancestral ones.
We provide new insights on intrinsic properties supporting the self-regulation of the Mos1 element. These properties (transposase specific activity, aggregation, ITR sequences, transposase concentration/transposon copy number ratio…) could have played a role in the dynamics of host-genomes invasion by Mos1, accounting (at least in part) for the current low copy number of Mos1 within host genomes.
PMCID: PMC3419177  PMID: 22905263

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