The GABA transporter (GAT) group is one of the major subgroups in the solute career 6 (SLC6) family of transmembrane proteins. The GAT group, which has been well studied in mammals, has 6 known members, i.e., a taurine transporter (TAUT), four GABA transporters (GAT-1, -2, -3, - 4), and a creatine transporter (CT1), which have important roles in maintaining physiological homeostasis. However, the GAT group has not been extensively investigated in invertebrates; only TAUT has been reported in marine invertebrates such as bivalves and krills, and GAT-1 has been reported in several insect species and nematodes. Thus, it is unknown how transporters in the GAT group arose during the course of animal evolution. In this study, we cloned GAT-1 cDNAs from the deep-sea mussel, Bathymodiolus septemdierum, and the Antarctic krill, Euphausia superba, whose TAUT cDNA has already been cloned. To understand the evolutionary history of the GAT group, we conducted phylogenetic and synteny analyses on the GAT group transporters of vertebrates and invertebrates. Our findings suggest that transporters of the GAT group evolved through the following processes. First, GAT-1 and CT1 arose by tandem duplication of an ancestral transporter gene before the divergence of Deuterostomia and Protostomia; next, the TAUT gene arose and GAT-3 was formed by the tandem duplication of the TAUT gene; and finally, GAT-2 and GAT-4 evolved from a GAT-3 gene by chromosomal duplication in the ancestral vertebrates. Based on synteny and phylogenetic evidence, the present naming of the GAT group members does not accurately reflect the evolutionary relationships.
Emiliania huxleyi, a key player in the global carbon cycle is one of the best studied coccolithophores with respect to biogeochemical cycles, climatology, and host-virus interactions. Strains of E. huxleyi show phenotypic plasticity regarding growth behaviour, light-response, calcification, acidification, and virus susceptibility. This phenomenon is likely a consequence of genomic differences, or transcriptomic responses, to environmental conditions or threats such as viral infections. We used an E. huxleyi genome microarray based on the sequenced strain CCMP1516 (reference strain) to perform comparative genomic hybridizations (CGH) of 16 E. huxleyi strains of different geographic origin. We investigated the genomic diversity and plasticity and focused on the identification of genes related to virus susceptibility and coccolith production (calcification). Among the tested 31940 gene models a core genome of 14628 genes was identified by hybridization among 16 E. huxleyi strains. 224 probes were characterized as specific for the reference strain CCMP1516. Compared to the sequenced E. huxleyi strain CCMP1516 variation in gene content of up to 30 percent among strains was observed. Comparison of core and non-core transcripts sets in terms of annotated functions reveals a broad, almost equal functional coverage over all KOG-categories of both transcript sets within the whole annotated genome. Within the variable (non-core) genome we identified genes associated with virus susceptibility and calcification. Genes associated with virus susceptibility include a Bax inhibitor-1 protein, three LRR receptor-like protein kinases, and mitogen-activated protein kinase. Our list of transcripts associated with coccolith production will stimulate further research, e.g. by genetic manipulation. In particular, the V-type proton ATPase 16 kDa proteolipid subunit is proposed to be a plausible target gene for further calcification studies.
Dinoflagellates are important primary producers, crucial in marine food webs. Toxic strains, however, are the main causative agents of non-bacterial seafood poisoning, a major concern for public health worldwide. Despite their importance, taxonomic uncertainty within many genera of dinoflagellates is still high. The genus Coolia includes potentially harmful species and the diversity within the genus is just starting to become apparent.
In the current study, cultures were established from strains of Coolia spp. isolated from the central Great Barrier Reef (GBR). Cultures were identified based on thecal plate morphology and analyses of sequences (18S, ITS and 28S) from the nuclear rRNA operon. We report that the central GBR harbors a high diversity of Coolia species, including two species known to be capable of toxin production (C. tropicalis and C. malayensis), as well as the non-toxic C. canariensis. The strain of C. canariensis isolated from the GBR may in fact be a cryptic species, closely related but nevertheless phylogenetically distinct from the strain on which the holotype of C. canariensis was based. We also found evidence of the occurrence of a cryptic species morphologically very similar to both C. malayensis and C. monotis. The consequences of taxonomic confusion within the genus are discussed.
The central GBR region harbors a previously unreported high diversity of Coolia spp., including two species known to potentially produce toxins. The presence of a cryptic species of unknown toxicity highlights the importance of cryptic diversity within dinoflagellates.
Although holoplankton are ocean drifters and exhibit high dispersal potential, a number of studies on single species are finding highly divergent genetic clades. These cryptic species complexes are important to discover and describe, as identification of common marine species is fundamental to understanding ecosystem dynamics. Here we investigate the global diversity within Pleuromamma piseki and P. gracilis, two dominant members of the migratory zooplankton assemblage in subtropical and tropical waters worldwide. Using DNA sequence data from the mitochondrial gene cytochrome c oxidase subunit II (mtCOII) from 522 specimens collected across the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian Oceans, we discover twelve well-resolved genetically distinct clades in this species complex (Bayesian posterior probabilities >0.7; 6.3–17% genetic divergence between clades). The morphologically described species P. piseki and P. gracilis did not form monophyletic groups, rather they were distributed throughout the phylogeny and sometimes co-occurred within well-resolved clades: this result suggests that morphological characters currently used for taxonomic identification of P. gracilis and P. piseki may be inaccurate as indicators of species’ boundaries. Cryptic clades within the species complex ranged from being common to rare, and from cosmopolitan to highly restricted in distribution across the global ocean. These novel lineages appear to be ecologically divergent, with distinct biogeographic distributions across varied pelagic habitats. We hypothesize that these mtDNA lineages are distinct species and suggest that resolving their systematic status is important, given the ecological significance of the genus Pleuromamma in subtropical-tropical waters worldwide.
The pelagic brown alga Sargassum forms an oasis of biodiversity and productivity in an otherwise featureless ocean surface. The vast pool of oil resulting from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill came into contact with a large portion of the Gulf of Mexico’s floating Sargassum mats. Aerial surveys performed during and after the oil spill show compelling evidence of loss and subsequent recovery of Sargassum. Expanding on the trends observed in the aerial surveys, we conducted a series of mesocosm experiments to test the effect of oil and dispersants on the vertical position and weight of the Sargassum complex (Sargassum natans and S. fluitans), as well as on the dissolved oxygen concentrations surrounding the algae. Dispersant and dispersed-oil had significant effects on the vertical position of both species of Sargassum over a period of 72 hours. Similarly, dissolved oxygen concentrations were lowest in dispersant and dispersed-oil treatments, respectively. Cumulatively, our findings suggest three pathways for oil-spill related injury: (1) Sargassum accumulated oil on the surface exposing animals to high concentrations of contaminants; (2) application of dispersant sank Sargassum, thus removing the habitat and potentially transporting oil and dispersant vertically; and (3) low oxygen surrounded the habitat potentially stressing animals that reside in the alga. These pathways represent direct, sublethal, and indirect effects of oil and dispersant release that minimize the ecosystem services provided by floating Sargassum – the latter two effects are rarely considered in assessing impacts of oil spills or response procedures.
Ribosome inactivating proteins are enzymes that depurinate a specific adenine residue in the alpha-sarcin-ricin loop of the large ribosomal RNA, being ricin and Shiga toxins the most renowned examples. They are widely distributed in plants and their presence has also been confirmed in a few bacterial species. According to this taxonomic distribution, the current model about the origin and evolution of RIP genes postulates that an ancestral RIP domain was originated in flowering plants, and later acquired by some bacteria via horizontal gene transfer. Here, we unequivocally detected the presence of RIP genes in fungi and metazoa. These findings, along with sequence and phylogenetic analyses, led us to propose an alternative, more parsimonious, hypothesis about the origin and evolutionary history of the RIP domain, where several paralogous RIP genes were already present before the three domains of life evolved. This model is in agreement with the current idea of the Last Universal Common Ancestor (LUCA) as a complex, genetically redundant organism. Differential loss of paralogous genes in descendants of LUCA, rather than multiple horizontal gene transfer events, could account for the complex pattern of RIP genes across extant species, as it has been observed for other genes.
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms include behavioral avoidance which is acquired and tends to increase with time. This avoidance may represent a general learning bias; indeed, individuals with PTSD are often faster than controls on acquiring conditioned responses based on physiologically-aversive feedback. However, it is not clear whether this learning bias extends to cognitive feedback, or to learning from both reward and punishment. Here, male veterans with self-reported current, severe PTSD symptoms (PTSS group) or with few or no PTSD symptoms (control group) completed a probabilistic classification task that included both reward-based and punishment-based trials, where feedback could take the form of reward, punishment, or an ambiguous “no-feedback” outcome that could signal either successful avoidance of punishment or failure to obtain reward. The PTSS group outperformed the control group in total points obtained; the PTSS group specifically performed better than the control group on reward-based trials, with no difference on punishment-based trials. To better understand possible mechanisms underlying observed performance, we used a reinforcement learning model of the task, and applied maximum likelihood estimation techniques to derive estimated parameters describing individual participants’ behavior. Estimations of the reinforcement value of the no-feedback outcome were significantly greater in the control group than the PTSS group, suggesting that the control group was more likely to value this outcome as positively reinforcing (i.e., signaling successful avoidance of punishment). This is consistent with the control group’s generally poorer performance on reward trials, where reward feedback was to be obtained in preference to the no-feedback outcome. Differences in the interpretation of ambiguous feedback may contribute to the facilitated reinforcement learning often observed in PTSD patients, and may in turn provide new insight into how pathological behaviors are acquired and maintained in PTSD.
Traditionally Cocholodinium and Gymnodinium sensu lato clade are distinguished based on the cingulum turn number, which has been increasingly recognized to be inadequate for Gymnodiniales genus classification. This has been improved by the combination of the apical groove characteristics and molecular phylogeny, which has led to the erection of several new genera (Takayama, Akashiwo, Karenia, and Karlodinium). Taking the apical groove characteristics and molecular phylogeny combined approach, we reexamined the historically taxonomically uncertain species Cochlodinium geminatum that formed massive blooms in Pearl River Estuary, China, in recent years. Samples were collected from a bloom in 2011 for morphological, characteristic pigment, and molecular analyses. We found that the cingulum in this species wraps around the cell body about 1.2 turns on average but can appear under the light microscopy to be >1.5 turns after the cells have been preserved. The shape of its apical groove, however, was stably an open-ended anticlockwise loop of kidney bean shape, similar to that of Polykrikos. Furthermore, the molecular phylogenetic analysis using 18S rRNA-ITS-28S rRNA gene cistron we obtained in this study also consistently placed this species closest to Polykrikos within the Gymnodinium sensu stricto clade and set it far separated from the clade of Cochlodinium. These results suggest that this species should be transferred to Polykrikos as Polykrikos geminatum. Our results reiterate the need to use the combination of apical groove morphology and molecular phylogeny for the classification of species within the genus of Cochlodinium and other Gymnodiniales lineages.
In this work, the content of enzymes and DNA-binding transcription factors (TFs) in 794 non-redundant prokaryotic genomes was evaluated. The identification of enzymes was based on annotations deposited in the KEGG database as well as in databases of functional domains (COG and PFAM) and structural domains (Superfamily). For identifications of the TFs, hidden Markov profiles were constructed based on well-known transcriptional regulatory families. From these analyses, we obtained diverse and interesting results, such as the negative rate of incremental changes in the number of detected enzymes with respect to the genome size. On the contrary, for TFs the rate incremented as the complexity of genome increased. This inverse related performance shapes the diversity of metabolic and regulatory networks and impacts the availability of enzymes and TFs. Furthermore, the intersection of the derivatives between enzymes and TFs was identified at 9,659 genes, after this point, the regulatory complexity grows faster than metabolic complexity. In addition, TFs have a low number of duplications, in contrast to the apparent high number of duplications associated with enzymes. Despite the greater number of duplicated enzymes versus TFs, the increment by which duplicates appear is higher in TFs. A lower proportion of enzymes among archaeal genomes (22%) than in the bacterial ones (27%) was also found. This low proportion might be compensated by the interconnection between the metabolic pathways in Archaea. A similar proportion was also found for the archaeal TFs, for which the formation of regulatory complexes has been proposed. Finally, an enrichment of multifunctional enzymes in Bacteria, as a mechanism of ecological adaptation, was detected.
Principal components analysis (PCA) and hierarchical clustering are two of the most heavily used techniques for analyzing the differences between nucleic acid sequence samples taken from a given environment. They have led to many insights regarding the structure of microbial communities. We have developed two new complementary methods that leverage how this microbial community data sits on a phylogenetic tree. Edge principal components analysis enables the detection of important differences between samples that contain closely related taxa. Each principal component axis is a collection of signed weights on the edges of the phylogenetic tree, and these weights are easily visualized by a suitable thickening and coloring of the edges. Squash clustering outputs a (rooted) clustering tree in which each internal node corresponds to an appropriate “average” of the original samples at the leaves below the node. Moreover, the length of an edge is a suitably defined distance between the averaged samples associated with the two incident nodes, rather than the less interpretable average of distances produced by UPGMA, the most widely used hierarchical clustering method in this context. We present these methods and illustrate their use with data from the human microbiome.
Damage to the hippocampal and frontostriatal systems can occur across the adult life span. As these 2systems are involved in learning processes, mild impairments of learning and generalization might be observed even in healthy aging. In this study, we examined both learning and generalization performance in 3 groups of older adults: young-older (ages 45–60), middle-older (ages 61–75), and oldest-older (ages 76–90).We used a simple computerized concurrent discrimination task in which the learning phase has demonstrated sensitivity to frontostriatal dysfunction, and the generalization phase to hippocampal damage. We found that age significantly affected initial learning performance, but generalization was spared in all but the oldest group, with some individuals still generalizing very well. This finding suggests that (a) learning abilities are affected in healthy aging (consistent with earlier reports of frontostriatal dysfunction in healthy aging) and (b) generalization deficit does not necessarily occur in early older age. We hypothesize that generalization deficits in some in the oldest group may be related to hippocampal pathology. Our data shed light on possible neural system dysfunction in healthy aging and Alzheimer disease.
learning; generalization; basal ganglia; hippocampus; Alzheimer disease
Remote homology detection among proteins utilizing only the unlabelled sequences is a central problem in comparative genomics. The existing cluster kernel methods based on neighborhoods and profiles and the Markov clustering algorithms are currently the most popular methods for protein family recognition. The deviation from random walks with inflation or dependency on hard threshold in similarity measure in those methods requires an enhancement for homology detection among multi-domain proteins. We propose to combine spectral clustering with neighborhood kernels in Markov similarity for enhancing sensitivity in detecting homology independent of “recent” paralogs. The spectral clustering approach with new combined local alignment kernels more effectively exploits the unsupervised protein sequences globally reducing inter-cluster walks. When combined with the corrections based on modified symmetry based proximity norm deemphasizing outliers, the technique proposed in this article outperforms other state-of-the-art cluster kernels among all twelve implemented kernels. The comparison with the state-of-the-art string and mismatch kernels also show the superior performance scores provided by the proposed kernels. Similar performance improvement also is found over an existing large dataset. Therefore the proposed spectral clustering framework over combined local alignment kernels with modified symmetry based correction achieves superior performance for unsupervised remote homolog detection even in multi-domain and promiscuous domain proteins from Genolevures database families with better biological relevance. Source code available upon request. Contact: email@example.com.
One barrier to interpreting past studies of cognition and major depressive disorder (MDD) has been the failure in many studies to adequately dissociate the effects of MDD from the potential cognitive side effects of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) use. To better understand how remediation of depressive symptoms affects cognitive function in MDD, we evaluated three groups of subjects: medication-naïve patients with MDD, medicated patients with MDD receiving the SSRI paroxetine, and healthy control (HC) subjects. All were administered a category-learning task that allows for dissociation between learning from positive feedback (reward) vs. learning from negative feedback (punishment). Healthy subjects learned significantly better from positive feedback than medication-naïve and medicated MDD groups, whose learning accuracy did not differ significantly. In contrast, medicated patients with MDD learned significantly less from negative feedback than medication-naïve patients with MDD and healthy subjects, whose learning accuracy was comparable. A comparison of subject’s relative sensitivity to positive vs. negative feedback showed that both the medicated MDD and HC groups conform to Kahneman and Tversky’s (1979) Prospect Theory, which expects losses (negative feedback) to loom psychologically slightly larger than gains (positive feedback). However, medicated MDD and HC profiles are not similar, which indicates that the state of medicated MDD is not “normal” when compared to HC, but rather balanced with less learning from both positive and negative feedback. On the other hand, medication-naïve patients with MDD violate Prospect Theory by having significantly exaggerated learning from negative feedback. This suggests that SSRI antidepressants impair learning from negative feedback, while having negligible effect on learning from positive feedback. Overall, these findings shed light on the importance of dissociating the cognitive consequences of MDD from those of SSRI treatment, and from cognitive evaluation of MDD subjects in a medication-naïve state before the administration of antidepressants. Future research is needed to correlate the mood-elevating effects and the cognitive balance between reward- and punishment-based learning related to SSRIs.
major depressive disorder; selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor; basal ganglia; reward; punishment
Freezing of gait (FOG) is a disabling symptom of advanced Parkinson's disease (PD) that leads to an increased risk of falls and nursing home placement. Interestingly, multiple lines of evidence suggest that the manifestation of FOG is related to specific deficits in cognition, such as set shifting and the ability to process conflict-related signals. These findings are consistent with the specific patterns of abnormal cortical processing seen during functional neuroimaging experiments of FOG, implicating increased neural activation within cortical structures underlying cognition, such as the Cognitive Control Network. In addition, these studies show that freezing episodes are associated with abnormalities in the BOLD response within key structures of the basal ganglia, such as the striatum and the subthalamic nucleus. In this article, we discuss the implications of these findings on current models of freezing behavior and propose an updated model of basal ganglia impairment during FOG episodes that integrates the neural substrates of freezing from the cortex and the basal ganglia to the cognitive dysfunctions inherent in the condition.
Parkinson's disease; freezing of gait; functional decoupling; subthalamic nucleus; pedunculopontine tegmental nucleus
PTSD; hippocampus; amygdala; neurogenetics; cognitive behavioral therapy; computational modeling
Molecular tools may greatly improve our understanding of pathogen evolution and epidemiology but technical constraints have hindered the development of genetic resources for parasites compared to free-living organisms. This study aims at developing molecular tools for Podosphaera plantaginis, an obligate fungal pathogen of Plantago lanceolata. This interaction has been intensively studied in the Åland archipelago of Finland with epidemiological data collected from over 4,000 host populations annually since year 2001.
A cDNA library of a pooled sample of fungal conidia was sequenced on the 454 GS-FLX platform. Over 549,411 reads were obtained and annotated into 45,245 contigs. Annotation data was acquired for 65.2% of the assembled sequences. The transcriptome assembly was screened for SNP loci, as well as for functionally important genes (mating-type genes and potential effector proteins). A genotyping assay of 27 SNP loci was designed and tested on 380 infected leaf samples from 80 populations within the Åland archipelago. With this panel we identified 85 multilocus genotypes (MLG) with uneven frequencies across the pathogen metapopulation. Approximately half of the sampled populations contain polymorphism. Our genotyping protocol revealed mixed-genotype infection within a single host leaf to be common. Mixed infection has been proposed as one of the main drivers of pathogen evolution, and hence may be an important process in this pathosystem.
The developed SNP panel offers exciting research perspectives for future studies in this well-characterized pathosystem. Also, the transcriptome provides an invaluable novel genomic resource for powdery mildews, which cause significant yield losses on commercially important crops annually. Furthermore, the features that render genetic studies in this system a challenge are shared with the majority of obligate parasitic species, and hence our results provide methodological insights from SNP calling to field sampling protocols for a wide range of biological systems.
In a recent paper published in PLOS ONE, Wang et al. challenge our finding that the identity of optimal codons in different genomes follows a set of clear rules. Here we provide a rebuttal of their paper and demonstrate that the results of our original PLOS Genetics paper stand. This provides us with an opportunity to bring up an aspect of how codon usage has been studied that should be of general interest. The Wang et al. study, as well as many other studies, used ribosomal genes as a reference set for the study of patterns of codon usage. We discuss here the assumptions that are made in order to justify using ribosomal genes to study codon bias, suggest that this practice can at times be problematic, and discuss its limitations.
Gene regulatory networks (GRNs) provide insight into the mechanisms of differential gene expression at a system level. However, the methods for inference, functional analysis and visualization of gene regulatory modules and GRNs require the user to collect heterogeneous data from many sources using numerous bioinformatics tools. This makes the analysis expensive and time-consuming.
In this work, the BiologicalNetworks application–the data integration and network based research environment–was extended with tools for inference and analysis of gene regulatory modules and networks. The backend database of the application integrates public data on gene expression, pathways, transcription factor binding sites, gene and protein sequences, and functional annotations. Thus, all data essential for the gene regulation analysis can be mined publicly. In addition, the user’s data can either be integrated in the database and become public, or kept private within the application. The capabilities to analyze multiple gene expression experiments are also provided.
The generated modular networks, regulatory modules and binding sites can be visualized and further analyzed within this same application. The developed tools were applied to the mouse model of asthma and the OCT4 regulatory network in embryonic stem cells. Developed methods and data are available through the Java application from BiologicalNetworks program at http://www.biologicalnetworks.org.
Studies of photosynthetic eukaryotes have revealed that the evolution of plastids from cyanobacteria involved the recruitment of non-cyanobacterial proteins. Our phylogenetic survey of >100 Arabidopsis nuclear-encoded plastid enzymes involved in amino acid biosynthesis identified only 21 unambiguous cyanobacterial-derived proteins. Some of the several non-cyanobacterial plastid enzymes have a shared phylogenetic origin in the three Plantae lineages. We hypothesize that during the evolution of plastids some enzymes encoded in the host nuclear genome were mistargeted into the plastid. Then, the activity of those foreign enzymes was sustained by both the plastid metabolites and interactions with the native cyanobacterial enzymes. Some of the novel enzymatic activities were favored by selective compartmentation of additional complementary enzymes. The mosaic phylogenetic composition of the plastid amino acid biosynthetic pathways and the reduced number of plastid-encoded proteins of non-cyanobacterial origin suggest that enzyme recruitment underlies the recompartmentation of metabolic routes during the evolution of plastids.
Prior to the evolution of DNA-based organisms on earth over 3.5 billion years ago it is hypothesized that RNA was the primary genetic molecule. Before RNA-based organisms arose, peptide nucleic acids may have been used to transmit genetic information by the earliest forms of life on earth. We discovered that cyanobacteria produce N-(2-aminoethyl)glycine (AEG), a backbone for peptide nucleic acids. We detected AEG in axenic strains of cyanobacteria with an average concentration of 1 µg/g. We also detected AEG in environmental samples of cyanobacteria as both a free or weakly bound molecule and a tightly bound form released by acid hydrolysis, at concentrations ranging from not detected to 34 µg/g. The production of AEG by diverse taxa of cyanobacteria suggests that AEG may be a primitive feature which arose early in the evolution of life on earth.
Soils are among the most complex, diverse and competitive habitats on Earth and soil biota are responsible for ecosystem services such as nutrient cycling, carbon sequestration and remediation of freshwater. The extreme biodiversity prohibits the making of a full inventory of soil life. Hence, an appropriate indicator group should be selected to determine the biological condition of soil systems. Due to their ubiquity and the diverse responses to abiotic and biotic changes, nematodes are suitable indicators for environmental monitoring. However, the time-consuming microscopic analysis of nematode communities has limited the scale at which this indicator group is used. In an attempt to circumvent this problem, a quantitative PCR-based tool for the detection of a consistent part of the soil nematofauna was developed based on a phylum-wide molecular framework consisting of 2,400 full-length SSU rDNA sequences. Taxon-specific primers were designed and tested for specificity. Furthermore, relationships were determined between the quantitative PCR output and numbers of target nematodes. As a first field test for this DNA sequence signature-based approach, seasonal fluctuations of nematode assemblages under open canopy (one field) and closed canopy (one forest) were monitored. Fifteen taxa from four feeding guilds (covering ∼ 65% of the free-living nematode biodiversity at higher taxonomical level) were detected at two trophic levels. These four feeding guilds are composed of taxa that developed independently by parallel evolution and we detected ecologically interpretable patterns for free-living nematodes belonging to the lower trophic level of soil food webs. Our results show temporal fluctuations, which can be even opposite within taxa belonging to the same guild. This research on nematode assemblages revealed ecological information about the soil food web that had been partly overlooked.
Previous studies have shown that high total homocysteine levels are associated with Alzheimer's disease (AD) and mild cognitive impairment (MCI). In this study, we test the relationship between cognitive function and total homocysteine levels in healthy subjects (Global Dementia Rating, CDR = 0) and individuals with MCI (CDR = 0.5). We have used a cognitive task that tests learning and generalization of rules, processes that have been previously shown to rely on the integrity of the striatal and hippocampal regions, respectively. We found that total homocysteine levels are higher in MCI individuals than in healthy controls. Unlike what we expected, we found no difference between MCI subjects and healthy controls in learning and generalization. We conducted further analysis after diving MCI subjects in two groups, depending on their Global Deterioration Scale (GDS) scores: individuals with very mild cognitive decline (vMCD, GDS = 2) and mild cognitive decline (MCD, GDS = 3). There was no difference among the two MCI and healthy control groups in learning performance. However, we found that individuals with MCD make more generalization errors than healthy controls and individuals with vMCD. We found no difference in the number of generalization errors between healthy controls and MCI individuals with vMCD. In addition, interestingly, we found that total homocysteine levels correlate positively with generalization errors, but not with learning errors. Our results are in agreement with prior results showing a link between hippocampal function, generalization performance, and total homocysteine levels. Importantly, our study is perhaps among the first to test the relationship between learning (and generalization) of rules and homocysteine levels in healthy controls and individuals with MCI.
The seafloor is a unique environment, which allows insights into how geochemical processes affect the diversity of biological life. Among its diverse ecosystems are deep-sea brine pools - water bodies characterized by a unique combination of extreme conditions. The ‘polyextremophiles’ that constitute the microbial assemblage of these deep hot brines have not been comprehensively studied. We report a comparative taxonomic analysis of the prokaryotic communities of the sediments directly below the Red Sea brine pools, namely, Atlantis II, Discovery, Chain Deep, and an adjacent brine-influenced site. Analyses of sediment samples and high-throughput pyrosequencing of PCR-amplified environmental 16S ribosomal RNA genes (16S rDNA) revealed that one sulfur (S)-rich Atlantis II and one nitrogen (N)-rich Discovery Deep section contained distinct microbial populations that differed from those found in the other sediment samples examined. Proteobacteria, Actinobacteria, Cyanobacteria, Deferribacteres, and Euryarchaeota were the most abundant bacterial and archaeal phyla in both the S- and N-rich sections. Relative abundance-based hierarchical clustering of the 16S rDNA pyrotags assigned to major taxonomic groups allowed us to categorize the archaeal and bacterial communities into three major and distinct groups; group I was unique to the S-rich Atlantis II section (ATII-1), group II was characteristic for the N-rich Discovery sample (DD-1), and group III reflected the composition of the remaining sediments. Many of the groups detected in the S-rich Atlantis II section are likely to play a dominant role in the cycling of methane and sulfur due to their phylogenetic affiliations with bacteria and archaea involved in anaerobic methane oxidation and sulfate reduction.
Insecticide resistance has recently become a critical concern for control of many insect pest species. Genome sequencing and global quantization of gene expression through analysis of the transcriptome can provide useful information relevant to this challenging problem. The oriental fruit fly, Bactrocera dorsalis, is one of the world's most destructive agricultural pests, and recently it has been used as a target for studies of genetic mechanisms related to insecticide resistance. However, prior to this study, the molecular data available for this species was largely limited to genes identified through homology. To provide a broader pool of gene sequences of potential interest with regard to insecticide resistance, this study uses whole transcriptome analysis developed through de novo assembly of short reads generated by next-generation sequencing (NGS). The transcriptome of B. dorsalis was initially constructed using Illumina's Solexa sequencing technology. Qualified reads were assembled into contigs and potential splicing variants (isotigs). A total of 29,067 isotigs have putative homologues in the non-redundant (nr) protein database from NCBI, and 11,073 of these correspond to distinct D. melanogaster proteins in the RefSeq database. Approximately 5,546 isotigs contain coding sequences that are at least 80% complete and appear to represent B. dorsalis genes. We observed a strong correlation between the completeness of the assembled sequences and the expression intensity of the transcripts. The assembled sequences were also used to identify large numbers of genes potentially belonging to families related to insecticide resistance. A total of 90 P450-, 42 GST-and 37 COE-related genes, representing three major enzyme families involved in insecticide metabolism and resistance, were identified. In addition, 36 isotigs were discovered to contain target site sequences related to four classes of resistance genes. Identified sequence motifs were also analyzed to characterize putative polypeptide translational products and associate them with specific genes and protein functions.
When plastids are transferred between eukaryote lineages through series of endosymbiosis, their environment changes dramatically. Comparison of dinoflagellate plastids that originated from different algal groups has revealed convergent evolution, suggesting that the host environment mainly influences the evolution of the newly acquired organelle. Recently the genome from the anomalously pigmented dinoflagellate Karlodinium veneficum plastid was uncovered as a conventional chromosome. To determine if this haptophyte-derived plastid contains additional chromosomal fragments that resemble the mini-circles of the peridin-containing plastids, we have investigated its genome by in-depth sequencing using 454 pyrosequencing technology, PCR and clone library analysis. Sequence analyses show several genes with significantly higher copy numbers than present in the chromosome. These genes are most likely extrachromosomal fragments, and the ones with highest copy numbers include genes encoding the chaperone DnaK(Hsp70), the rubisco large subunit (rbcL), and two tRNAs (trnE and trnM). In addition, some photosystem genes such as psaB, psaA, psbB and psbD are overrepresented. Most of the dnaK and rbcL sequences are found as shortened or fragmented gene sequences, typically missing the 3′-terminal portion. Both dnaK and rbcL are associated with a common sequence element consisting of about 120 bp of highly conserved AT-rich sequence followed by a trnE gene, possibly serving as a control region. Decatenation assays and Southern blot analysis indicate that the extrachromosomal plastid sequences do not have the same organization or lengths as the minicircles of the peridinin dinoflagellates. The fragmentation of the haptophyte-derived plastid genome K. veneficum suggests that it is likely a sign of a host-driven process shaping the plastid genomes of dinoflagellates.