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1.  Evolutionary analysis of selective constraints identifies ameloblastin (AMBN) as a potential candidate for amelogenesis imperfecta 
Background
Ameloblastin (AMBN) is a phosphorylated, proline/glutamine-rich protein secreted during enamel formation. Previous studies have revealed that this enamel matrix protein was present early in vertebrate evolution and certainly plays important roles during enamel formation although its precise functions remain unclear. We performed evolutionary analyses of AMBN in order to (i) identify residues and motifs important for the protein function, (ii) predict mutations responsible for genetic diseases, and (iii) understand its molecular evolution in mammals.
Results
In silico searches retrieved 56 complete sequences in public databases that were aligned and analyzed computationally. We showed that AMBN is globally evolving under moderate purifying selection in mammals and contains a strong phylogenetic signal. In addition, our analyses revealed codons evolving under significant positive selection. Evidence for positive selection acting on AMBN was observed in catarrhine primates and the aye-aye. We also found that (i) an additional translation initiation site was recruited in the ancestral placental AMBN, (ii) a short exon was duplicated several times in various species including catarrhine primates, and (iii) several polyadenylation sites are present.
Conclusions
AMBN possesses many positions, which have been subjected to strong selective pressure for 200 million years. These positions correspond to several cleavage sites and hydroxylated, O-glycosylated, and phosphorylated residues. We predict that these conserved positions would be potentially responsible for enamel disorder if substituted. Some motifs that were previously identified as potentially important functionally were confirmed, and we found two, highly conserved, new motifs, the function of which should be tested in the near future. This study illustrates the power of evolutionary analyses for characterizing the functional constraints acting on proteins with yet uncharacterized structure.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12862-015-0431-0) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1186/s12862-015-0431-0
PMCID: PMC4518657
Ameloblastin; Evolution; Enamel; Mammals; Purifying selection; Positive selection; Phylomedicine
2.  Morphological and ecological divergence of Lilium and Nomocharis within the Hengduan Mountains and Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau may result from habitat specialization and hybridization 
Background
Several previous studies have shown that some morphologically distinctive, small genera of vascular plants that are endemic to the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau and adjacent Hengduan Mountains appear to have unexpected and complex phylogenetic relationships with their putative sisters, which are typically more widespread and more species rich. In particular, the endemic genera may form one or more poorly resolved paraphyletic clades within the sister group despite distinctive morphology. Plausible explanations for this evolutionary and biogeographic pattern include extreme habitat specialization and hybridization. One genus consistent with this pattern is Nomocharis Franchet. Nomocharis comprises 7–15 species bearing showy-flowers that are endemic to the H-D Mountains. Nomocharis has long been treated as sister to Lilium L., which is comprised of more than 120 species distributed throughout the temperate Northern Hemisphere. Although Nomocharis appears morphologically distinctive, recent molecular studies have shown that it is nested within Lilium, from which is exhibits very little sequence divergence. In this study, we have used a dated molecular phylogenetic framework to gain insight into the timing of morphological and ecological divergence in Lilium-Nomocharis and to preliminarily explore possible hybridization events. We accomplished our objectives using dated phylogenies reconstructed from nuclear internal transcribed spacers (ITS) and six chloroplast markers.
Results
Our phylogenetic reconstruction revealed several Lilium species nested within a clade of Nomocharis, which evolved ca. 12 million years ago and is itself nested within the rest of Lilium. Flat/open and horizon oriented flowers are ancestral in Nomocharis. Species of Lilium nested within Nomocharis diverged from Nomocharis ca. 6.5 million years ago. These Lilium evolved recurved and campanifolium flowers as well as the nodding habit by at least 3.5 million years ago. Nomocharis and the nested Lilium species had relatively low elevation ancestors (<1000 m) and underwent diversification into new, higher elevational habitats 3.5 and 5.5 million years ago, respectively. Our phylogeny reveals signatures of hybridization including incongruence between the plastid and nuclear gene trees, geographic clustering of the maternal (i.e., plastid) lineages, and divergence ages of the nuclear gene trees consistent with speciation and secondary contact, respectively.
Conclusions
The timing of speciation and ecological and morphological evolutionary events in Nomocharis are temporally consistent with uplift in the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau and of the Hengduan Mountains 7 and 3–4 million years ago, respectively. Thus, we speculate that the mountain building may have provided new habitats that led to specialization of morphological and ecological features in Nomocharis and the nested Lilium along ecological gradients. Additionally, we suspect that the mountain building may have led to secondary contact events that enabled hybridization in Lilium-Nomocharis. Both the habitat specialization and hybridization have probably played a role in generating the striking morphological differences between Lilium and Nomocharis.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12862-015-0405-2) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1186/s12862-015-0405-2
PMCID: PMC4518642  PMID: 26219287
Ancestral state reconstruction, biogeography; Divergence time; Lilium; Nomocharis; Hengduan Mountains; Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau
3.  Molecular phylogeny of the subfamily Stevardiinae Gill, 1858 (Characiformes: Characidae): classification and the evolution of reproductive traits 
Background
The subfamily Stevardiinae is a diverse and widely distributed clade of freshwater fishes from South and Central America, commonly known as “tetras” (Characidae). The group was named “clade A” when first proposed as a monophyletic unit of Characidae and later designated as a subfamily. Stevardiinae includes 48 genera and around 310 valid species with many species presenting inseminating reproductive strategy. No global hypothesis of relationships is available for this group and currently many genera are listed as incertae sedis or are suspected to be non-monophyletic.
Results
We present a molecular phylogeny with the largest number of stevardiine species analyzed so far, including 355 samples representing 153 putative species distributed in 32 genera, to test the group’s monophyly and internal relationships. The phylogeny was inferred using DNA sequence data from seven gene fragments (mtDNA: 12S, 16S and COI; nuclear: RAG1, RAG2, MYH6 and PTR). The results support the Stevardiinae as a monophyletic group and a detailed hypothesis of the internal relationships for this subfamily.
Conclusions
A revised classification based on the molecular phylogeny is proposed that includes seven tribes and also defines monophyletic genera, including a resurrected genus Eretmobrycon, and new definitions for Diapoma, Hemibrycon, Bryconamericus sensu stricto, and Knodus sensu stricto, placing some small genera as junior synonyms. Inseminating species are distributed in several clades suggesting that reproductive strategy is evolutionarily labile in this group of fishes.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12862-015-0403-4) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1186/s12862-015-0403-4
PMCID: PMC4509481  PMID: 26195030
Tetras; Neotropical region; “Clade A”; Stevardiinae; Glandulocaudinae; Insemination; Multi-locus phylogeny
4.  Convergent evolution of highly reduced fruiting bodies in Pezizomycotina suggests key adaptations to the bee habitat 
Background
Among the understudied fungi found in nature are those living in close association with social and solitary bees. The bee-specialist genera Bettsia, Ascosphaera and Eremascus are remarkable not only for their specialized niche but also for their simple fruiting bodies or ascocarps, which are morphologically anomalous in Pezizomycotina. Bettsia and Ascosphaera are characterized by a unicellular cyst-like cleistothecium known as a spore cyst, while Eremascus is characterized by completely naked asci, or asci not formed within a protective ascocarp. Before molecular phylogenetics the placement of these genera within Pezizomycotina remained tentative; morphological characters were misleading because they do not produce multicellular ascocarps, a defining character of Pezizomycotina. Because of their unique fruiting bodies, the close relationship of these bee-specialist fungi and their monophyly appeared certain. However, recent molecular studies have shown that Bettsia is not closely related to Ascosphaera.
In this study, I isolated the very rare fungus Eremascus fertilis (Ascomycota, Pezizomycotina) from the bee bread of honey bees. These isolates represent the second report of E. fertilis both in nature and in the honey bee hive. To establish the systematic position of E. fertilis and Bettsia alvei, I performed phylogenetic analyses of nuclear ribosomal LSU + SSU DNA sequences from these species and 63 additional ascomycetes.
Results
The phylogenetic analyses revealed that Eremascus is not monophyletic. Eremascus albus is closely related to Ascosphaera in Eurotiomycetes while E. fertilis belongs in Myxotrichaceae, a putative member of Leotiomycetes. Bettsia is not closely related to Ascosphaera and like E. fertilis apparently belongs in Leotiomycetes. These results indicate that both the naked ascus and spore cyst evolved twice in the Pezizomycotina and in distantly related lineages. The new genus Skoua is described to accommodate E. fertilis.
Conclusions
The naked ascus and spore cyst are both shown to have evolved convergently within the bee habitat. The convergent evolution of these unusual ascocarps is hypothesized to be adaptive for bee-mediated dispersal. Elucidating the dispersal strategies of these fungal symbionts contributes to our understanding of their interaction with bees and provides insight into the factors which potentially drive the evolution of reduced ascocarps in Pezizomycotina.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12862-015-0401-6) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1186/s12862-015-0401-6
PMCID: PMC4509751  PMID: 26194954
Ascosphaerales; Eremascaceae; Honey bees; Solitary bees; Yeasts; Skoua
5.  Characterization of fossilized relatives of the White Spot Syndrome Virus in genomes of decapod crustaceans 
Background
The White Spot Syndrome Virus (WSSV) is an important pathogen that infects a variety of decapod species and causes a highly contagious disease in penaeid shrimps. Mass mortalities caused by WSSV have pronounced commercial impact on shrimp aquaculture. Until now WSSV is the only known member of the virus family Nimaviridae, a group with obscure phylogenetic affinities. Its isolated position makes WSSV studies challenging due to large number of genes without homology in other viruses or cellular organisms.
Results
Here we report the discovery of an unusually large amount of sequences with high similarity to WSSV in a genomic library from the Jamaican bromeliad crab Metopaulias depressus. De novo assembly of these sequences allowed for the partial reconstruction of the genome of this endogenized virus with total length of 200 kbp encompassed in three scaffolds. The genome includes at least 68 putative open reading frames with homology in WSSV, most of which are intact. Among these, twelve orthologs of WSSV genes coding for non-structural proteins and nine genes known to code for the major components of the WSSV virion were discovered. Together with reanalysis of two similar cases of WSSV-like sequences in penaeid shrimp genomic libraries, our data allowed comparison of gene composition and gene order between different lineages related to WSSV. Furthermore, screening of published sequence databases revealed sequences with highest similarity to WSSV and the newly described virus in genomic libraries of at least three further decapod species. Analysis of the viral sequences detected in decapods suggests that they are less a result of contemporary WSSV infection, but rather originate from ancestral infection events. Phylogenetic analyses suggest that genes were acquired repeatedly by divergent viruses or viral strains of the Nimaviridae.
Conclusions
Our results shed new light on the evolution of the Nimaviridae and point to a long association of this viral group with decapod crustaceans.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12862-015-0380-7) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1186/s12862-015-0380-7
PMCID: PMC4506587  PMID: 26187050
Nimaviridae; WSSV; White Spot Syndrome Virus; Endogenized viruses; Paleovirology
6.  Beringian sub-refugia revealed in blackfish (Dallia): implications for understanding the effects of Pleistocene glaciations on Beringian taxa and other Arctic aquatic fauna 
Background
Pleistocene climatic instability had profound and diverse effects on the distribution and abundance of Arctic organisms revealed by variation in phylogeographic patterns documented in extant Arctic populations. To better understand the effects of geography and paleoclimate on Beringian freshwater fishes, we examined genetic variability in the genus Dallia (blackfish: Esociformes: Esocidae). The genus Dallia groups between one and three nominal species of small, cold- and hypoxia-tolerant freshwater fishes restricted entirely in distribution to Beringia from the Yukon River basin near Fairbanks, Alaska westward including the Kuskokwim River basin and low-lying areas of Western Alaska to the Amguema River on the north side of the Chukotka Peninsula and Mechigmen Bay on the south side of the Chukotka Peninsula. The genus has a non-continuous distribution divided by the Bering Strait and the Brooks Range. We examined the distribution of genetic variation across this range to determine the number and location of potential sub-refugia within the greater Beringian refugium as well as the roles of the Bering land bridge, Brooks Range, and large rivers within Beringia in shaping the current distribution of populations of Dallia. Our analyses were based on DNA sequence data from two nuclear gene introns (S7 and RAG1) and two mitochondrial genome fragments from nineteen sampling locations. These data were examined under genetic clustering and coalescent frameworks to identify sub-refugia within the greater Beringia refugium and to infer the demographic history of different populations of Dallia.
Results
We identified up to five distinct genetic clusters of Dallia. Four of these genetic clusters are present in Alaska: (1) Arctic Coastal Plain genetic cluster found north of the Brooks Range, (2) interior Alaska genetic cluster placed in upstream locations in the Kuskokwim and Yukon river basins, (3) a genetic cluster found on the Seward Peninsula, and (4) a coastal Alaska genetic cluster encompassing downstream Kuskokwim River and Yukon River basin sample locations and samples from Southwest Alaska not in either of these drainages. The Chukotka samples are assigned to their own genetic cluster (5) similar to the coastal Alaska genetic cluster. The clustering and ordination analyses implemented in Discriminant Analysis of Principal Components (DAPC) and STRUCTURE showed mostly concordant groupings and a high degree of differentiation among groups. The groups of sampling locations identified as genetic clusters correspond to geographic areas divided by likely biogeographic barriers including the Brooks Range and the Bering Strait. Estimates of sequence diversity (θ) are highest in the Yukon River and Kuskokwim River drainages near the Bering Sea. We also infer asymmetric migration rates between genetic clusters. The isolation of Dallia on the Arctic Coastal Plain of Alaska is associated with very low estimated migration rates between the coastal Alaska genetic cluster and the Arctic Coastal Plain genetic cluster.
Conclusions
Our results support a scenario with multiple aquatic sub-refugia in Beringia during the Pleistocene and the preservation of that structure in extant populations of Dallia. An inferred historical presence of Dallia across the Bering land bridge explains the similarities in the genetic composition of Dallia in West Beringia and western coastal Alaska. In contrast, historic and contemporary isolation across the Brooks Range shaped the distinctiveness of present day Arctic Coastal Plain Dallia. Overall this study uncovered a high degree of genetic structuring among populations of Dallia supporting the idea of multiple Beringian sub-refugia during the Pleistocene and which appears to be maintained to the present due to the strictly freshwater nature and low dispersal ability of this genus.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12862-015-0413-2) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1186/s12862-015-0413-2
PMCID: PMC4506597  PMID: 26187279
Esocidae; Alaska blackfish; Bering Land Bridge; Isolation with Migration; Glacial Refugia; Range Contraction
7.  Biogeography and evolution of a widespread Central American lizard species complex: Norops humilis, (Squamata: Dactyloidae) 
Background
Caribbean anole lizards (Dactyloidae) have frequently been used as models to study questions regarding biogeography and adaptive radiations, but the evolutionary history of Central American anoles (particularly those of the genus Norops) has not been well studied. Previous work has hypothesized a north-to-south dispersal pattern of Central American Norops, but no studies have examined dispersal within any Norops lineages. Here we test two major hypotheses for the dispersal of the N. humilis/quaggulus complex (defined herein, forming a subset within Savage and Guyer’s N. humilis group).
Results
Specimens of the N. humilis group were collected in Central America, from eastern Mexico to the Canal Zone of Panama. Major nodes were dated for comparison to the geologic history of Central America, and ancestral ranges were estimated for the N. humilis/quaggulus complex to test hypothesized dispersal patterns. These lineages displayed a northward dispersal pattern. We also demonstrate that the N. humilis/quaggulus complex consists of a series of highly differentiated mitochondrial lineages, with more conserved nuclear evolution. The paraphyly of the N. humilis species group is confirmed. A spatial analysis of molecular variance suggests that current populations are genetically distinct from one another, with limited mitochondrial gene flow occurring among sites.
Conclusions
The observed south-to-north colonization route within the Norops humilis/quaggulus complex represents the first evidence of a Norops lineage colonizing in a south-to-north pattern, (opposite to the previously held hypothesis for mainland Norops). One previously described taxon (N. quaggulus) was nested within N. humilis, demonstrating the paraphyly of this species; while our analyses also reject the monophyly of the Norops humilis species group (sensu Savage and Guyer), with N. tropidonotus, N. uniformis, and N. marsupialis being distantly related to/highly divergent from the N. humilis/quaggulus complex. Our work sheds light on mainland anole biogeography and past dispersal events, providing a pattern to test against other groups of mainland anoles.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12862-015-0391-4) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1186/s12862-015-0391-4
PMCID: PMC4506609  PMID: 26187158
Ancestral range estimation; Anoles; Dispersal; Internal transcribed spacer (ITS); Mesoamerica; mtDNA; Neotropical diversity; Reptilia; Spatial Analysis of Molecular Variance (SAMOVA); Squamata
8.  Patterns of genetic variation in the endangered European mink (Mustela lutreola L., 1761) 
Background
The European mink (Mustela lutreola, L. 1761) is a critically endangered mustelid, which inhabits several main river drainages in Europe. Here, we assess the genetic variation of existing populations of this species, including new sampling sites and additional molecular markers (newly developed microsatellite loci specific to European mink) as compared to previous studies. Probabilistic analyses were used to examine genetic structure within and between existing populations, and to infer phylogeographic processes and past demography.
Results
According to both mitochondrial and nuclear microsatellite markers, Northeastern (Russia, Estonia and Belarus) and Southeastern (Romania) European populations showed the highest intraspecific diversity. In contrast, Western European (France and Spain) populations were the least polymorphic, featuring a unique mitochondrial DNA haplotype. The high differentiation values detected between Eastern and Western European populations could be the result of genetic drift in the latter due to population isolation and reduction. Genetic differences among populations were further supported by Bayesian clustering and two main groups were confirmed (Eastern vs. Western Europe) along with two contained subgroups at a more local scale (Northeastern vs. Southeastern Europe; France vs. Spain).
Conclusions
Genetic data and performed analyses support a historical scenario of stable European mink populations, not affected by Quaternary climate oscillations in the Late Pleistocene, and posterior expansion events following river connections in both North- and Southeastern European populations. This suggests an eastern refuge during glacial maxima (as already proposed for boreal and continental species). In contrast, Western Europe was colonised more recently following either natural expansions or putative human introductions. Low levels of genetic diversity observed within each studied population suggest recent bottleneck events and stress the urgent need for conservation measures to counteract the demographic decline experienced by the European mink.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12862-015-0427-9) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1186/s12862-015-0427-9
PMCID: PMC4504092  PMID: 26183103
9.  Cytotype diversity and genome size variation in Knautia (Caprifoliaceae, Dipsacoideae) 
Background
Polyploidisation is one of the most important mechanisms in the evolution of angiosperms. As in many other genera, formation of polyploids has significantly contributed to diversification and radiation of Knautia (Caprifoliaceae, Dipsacoideae). Comprehensive studies of fine- and broad-scale patterns of ploidy and genome size (GS) variation are, however, still limited to relatively few genera and little is known about the geographic distribution of ploidy levels within these genera. Here, we explore ploidy and GS variation in Knautia based on a near-complete taxonomic and comprehensive geographic sampling.
Results
Genome size is a reliable indicator of ploidy level in Knautia, even if monoploid genome downsizing is observed in the polyploid cytotypes. Twenty-four species studied are diploid, 16 tetraploid and two hexaploid, whereas ten species possess two, and two species possess three ploidy levels. Di- and tetraploids are distributed across most of the distribution area of Knautia, while hexaploids were sampled in the Balkan and Iberian Peninsulas and the Alps.
Conclusions
We show that the frequency of polyploidisation is unevenly distributed in Knautia both in a geographic and phylogenetic context. Monoploid GS varies considerably among three evolutionary lineages (sections) of Knautia, but also within sections Trichera and Tricheroides, as well as within some of the species. Although the exact causes of this variation remain elusive, we demonstrate that monoploid GS increases significantly towards the limits of the genus’ distribution.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12862-015-0425-y) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1186/s12862-015-0425-y
PMCID: PMC4504173  PMID: 26182989
Chromosome numbers; Cytotype diversity; Genome downsizing; Genome size; Knautia; Polyploidy
10.  Characterization of an AGAMOUS gene expressed throughout development of the fleshy fruit-like structure produced by Ginkgo biloba around its seeds 
Background
The involvement of MADS-box genes of the AGAMOUS lineage in the formation of both flowers and fruits has been studied in detail in Angiosperms. AGAMOUS genes are expressed also in the reproductive structures of Gymnosperms, yet the demonstration of their role has been problematic because Gymnosperms are woody plants difficult to manipulate for physiological and genetic studies. Recently, it was shown that in the gymnosperm Ginkgo biloba an AGAMOUS gene was expressed throughout development and ripening of the fleshy fruit-like structures produced by this species around its seeds. Such fleshy structures are evolutionarily very important because they favor the dispersal of seeds through endozoochory. In this work a characterization of the Ginkgo gene was carried out by over-expressing it in tomato.
Results
In tomato plants ectopically expressing the Ginkgo AGAMOUS gene a macroscopic anomaly was observed only in the flower sepals. While the wild type sepals had a leaf-like appearance, the transgenic ones appeared connately adjoined at their proximal extremity and, concomitant with the development and ripening of the fruit, they became thicker and acquired a yellowish-orange color, thus indicating that they had undergone a homeotic transformation into carpel-like structures. Molecular analyses of several genes associated with either the control of ripening or the ripening syndrome in tomato fruits confirmed that the transgenic sepals behaved like ectopic fruits that could undergo some ripening, although the red color typical of the ripe tomato fruit was never achieved.
Conclusions
The ectopic expression of the Ginkgo AGAMOUS gene in tomato caused the homeotic transformation of the transgenic sepals into carpel-like structures, and this showed that the gymnosperm gene has a genuine C function. In parallel with the ripening of fruits the related transgenic sepals became fleshy fruit-like structures that also underwent some ripening and such a result indicates that this C function gene might be involved, together with other gens, also in the development of the Ginkgo fruit-like structures. It seems thus strengthened the hypothesis that AGAMOUS MADS-box genes were recruited already in Gymnosperms for the development of the fleshy fruit habit which is evolutionarily so important for the dispersal of seeds.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12862-015-0418-x) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1186/s12862-015-0418-x
PMCID: PMC4502469  PMID: 26173604
AGAMOUS gene; Fleshy fruit-like structures; Ginkgo biloba; MADS-box genes; Solanum lycopersicon
11.  Rapid divergence and diversification of mammalian duplicate gene functions 
Background
Gene duplication provides raw material for the evolution of functional innovation. We recently developed a phylogenetic method that classifies evolutionary processes driving the retention of duplicate genes by quantifying divergence between their spatial gene expression profiles and that of their single-copy orthologous gene in a closely related sister species.
Results
Here, we apply our classification method to pairs of duplicate genes in eight mammalian genomes, using data from 11 tissues to construct spatial gene expression profiles. We find that young mammalian duplicates are often functionally conserved, and that expression divergence rapidly increases over evolutionary time. Moreover, expression divergence results in increased tissue specificity, with an overrepresentation of expression in male kidney, underrepresentation of expression in female liver, and strong underrepresentation of expression in testis. Thus, duplicate genes acquire a diversity of new tissue-specific functions outside of the testis, possibly contributing to the origin of a multitude of complex phenotypes during mammalian evolution.
Conclusions
Our findings reveal that mammalian duplicate genes are initially functionally conserved, and then undergo rapid functional divergence over evolutionary time, acquiring diverse tissue-specific biological roles. These observations are in stark contrast to the much faster expression divergence and acquisition of broad housekeeping roles we previously observed in Drosophila duplicate genes. Due to the smaller effective population sizes of mammals relative to Drosophila, these analyses implicate natural selection in the functional evolution of duplicate genes.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12862-015-0426-x) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1186/s12862-015-0426-x
PMCID: PMC4502564  PMID: 26173681
Gene duplication; Duplicate genes; Neofunctionalization; Subfunctionalization; Specialization
12.  Sex-specific effects of sympatric mitonuclear variation on fitness in Drosophila subobscura 
Background
A number of recent studies have shown that the pattern of mitochondrial DNA variation and evolution is at odds with a neutral equilibrium model. Theory has suggested that selection on mitonuclear genotypes can act to maintain stable mitonuclear polymorphism within populations. However, this effect largely relies upon selection being either sex-specific or frequency dependent. Here, we use mitonuclear introgression lines to assess differences in a series of key life-history traits (egg-to-adult developmental time, viability, offspring sex-ratio, adult longevity and resistance to desiccation) in Drosophila subobscura fruit flies carrying one of three different sympatric mtDNA haplotypes.
Results
We found functional differences between these sympatric mtDNA haplotypes, but these effects were contingent upon the nuclear genome with which they were co-expressed. Further, we demonstrate a significant mitonuclear genetic effect on adult sex ratio, as well as a sex × mtDNA × nuDNA interaction for adult longevity.
Conclusions
The observed effects suggest that sex specific mitonuclear selection contributes to the maintenance of mtDNA polymorphism and to mitonuclear linkage disequilibrium in this model system.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12862-015-0421-2) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1186/s12862-015-0421-2
PMCID: PMC4496845  PMID: 26156582
Mitochondria; Mitonuclear epistasis; Life history traits; Sexual dimorphism; Selection; Fruit fly
13.  Serotonin-immunoreactivity in the ventral nerve cord of Pycnogonida – support for individually identifiable neurons as ancestral feature of the arthropod nervous system 
Background
The arthropod ventral nerve cord features a comparably low number of serotonin-immunoreactive neurons, occurring in segmentally repeated arrays. In different crustaceans and hexapods, these neurons have been individually identified and even inter-specifically homologized, based on their soma positions and neurite morphologies. Stereotypic sets of serotonin-immunoreactive neurons are also present in myriapods, whereas in the investigated chelicerates segmental neuron clusters with higher and variable cell numbers have been reported. This led to the suggestion that individually identifiable serotonin-immunoreactive neurons are an apomorphic feature of the Mandibulata. To test the validity of this neurophylogenetic hypothesis, we studied serotonin-immunoreactivity in three species of Pycnogonida (sea spiders). This group of marine arthropods is nowadays most plausibly resolved as sister group to all other extant chelicerates, rendering its investigation crucial for a reliable reconstruction of arthropod nervous system evolution.
Results
In all three investigated pycnogonids, the ventral walking leg ganglia contain different types of serotonin-immunoreactive neurons, the somata of which occurring mostly singly or in pairs within the ganglionic cortex. Several of these neurons are readily and consistently identifiable due to their stereotypic soma position and characteristic neurite morphology. They can be clearly homologized across different ganglia and different specimens as well as across the three species. Based on these homologous neurons, we reconstruct for their last common ancestor (presumably the pycnogonid stem species) a minimal repertoire of at least seven identified serotonin-immunoreactive neurons per hemiganglion. Beyond that, each studied species features specific pattern variations, which include also some neurons that were not reliably labeled in all specimens.
Conclusions
Our results unequivocally demonstrate the presence of individually identifiable serotonin-immunoreactive neurons in the pycnogonid ventral nerve cord. Accordingly, the validity of this neuroanatomical feature as apomorphy of Mandibulata is questioned and we suggest it to be ancestral for arthropods instead. The pronounced disparities between the segmental pattern in pycnogonids and the one of studied euchelicerates call for denser sampling within the latter taxon. By contrast, overall similarities between the pycnogonid and myriapod patterns may be indicative of single cell homologies in these two taxa. This notion awaits further substantiation from future studies.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12862-015-0422-1) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1186/s12862-015-0422-1
PMCID: PMC4496856  PMID: 26156705
Sea spiders; Neuroanatomy; Neurophylogeny; Evolution; 5-hydroxytryptamine; Immunohistochemistry; Pycnogonum litorale; Meridionale; Cilunculus japonicus
14.  Repeated evolution and the impact of evolutionary history on adaptation 
Background
Whether natural selection can erase the imprint of past evolutionary history from phenotypes has been a topic of much debate. A key source of evidence that present-day selection can override historically contingent effects comes from the repeated evolution of similar adaptations in different taxa. Yet classic examples of repeated evolution are often among closely related taxa, suggesting the likelihood that similar adaptations evolve is contingent on the length of time separating taxa. To resolve this, we performed a meta-analysis of published reports of repeated evolution.
Results
Overall, repeated evolution was far more likely to be documented among closely related than distantly related taxa. However, not all forms of adaptation seemed to exhibit the same pattern. The evolution of similar behavior and physiology seemed frequent in distantly related and closely related taxa, while the repeated evolution of morphology was heavily skewed towards closely related taxa. Functionally redundant characteristics—alternative phenotypes that achieve the same functional outcome—also appeared less contingent.
Conclusions
If the literature provides a reasonable reflection of the incidence of repeated evolution in nature, our findings suggest that natural selection can overcome contingent effects to an extent, but it depends heavily on the aspect of the phenotype targeted by selection.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12862-015-0424-z) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1186/s12862-015-0424-z
PMCID: PMC4497378  PMID: 26156849
Parallel evolution; Convergent evolution; Phylogenetic distance; Taxonomic distance; Homoplasy; Many-to-one mapping
15.  Genetic divergence and phylogeographic history of two closely related species (Leucomeris decora and Nouelia insignis) across the 'Tanaka Line' in Southwest China 
Background
Leucomeris decora and Nouelia insignis (Asteraceae) are narrowly and allopatrically distributed species, separated by the important biogeographic boundary Tanaka Line in Southwest China. Previous morphological, cytogenetic and molecular studies suggested that L. decora is sister to N. insignis. However, it is less clear how the two species diverged, whether in full isolation or occurring gene flow across the Tanaka Line. Here, we performed a molecular study at the population level to characterize genetic differentiation and decipher phylogeographic history in two closely related species based on variation examined in plastid and nuclear DNAs using a coalescent-based approach.
Results
These morphologically distinct species share plastid DNA (cpDNA) haplotypes. In contrast, Bayesian analysis of nuclear DNA (nDNA) uncovered two distinct clusters corresponding to L. decora and N. insignis. Based on the IMa analysis, no strong indication of migration was detected based on both cpDNA and nDNA sequences. The molecular data pointed to a major west-east split in nuclear DNA between the two species corresponding with the Tanaka Line. The coalescent time estimate for all cpDNA haplotypes dated to the Mid-Late Pleistocene. The estimated demographic parameters showed that the population size of L. decora was similar to that of N. insignis and both experienced limited demographic fluctuations recently.
Conclusions
The study revealed comprehensive species divergence and phylogeographic histories of N. insignis and L. decora divided by the Tanaka Line. The phylogeographic pattern inferred from cpDNA reflected ancestrally shared polymorphisms without post-divergence gene flow between species. The marked genealogical lineage divergence in nDNA provided some indication of Tanaka Line for its role as a barrier to plant dispersal, and lent support to its importance in promoting strong population structure and allopatric divergence.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12862-015-0374-5) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1186/s12862-015-0374-5
PMCID: PMC4495643  PMID: 26153437
Leucomeris decora; Nouelia insignis; Plastid DNA; Nuclear DNA; Genetic divergence; Migration; Tanaka line
16.  Positive selection in octopus haemocyanin indicates functional links to temperature adaptation 
Background
Octopods have successfully colonised the world’s oceans from the tropics to the poles. Yet, successful persistence in these habitats has required adaptations of their advanced physiological apparatus to compensate impaired oxygen supply. Their oxygen transporter haemocyanin plays a major role in cold tolerance and accordingly has undergone functional modifications to sustain oxygen release at sub-zero temperatures. However, it remains unknown how molecular properties evolved to explain the observed functional adaptations. We thus aimed to assess whether natural selection affected molecular and structural properties of haemocyanin that explains temperature adaptation in octopods.
Results
Analysis of 239 partial sequences of the haemocyanin functional units (FU) f and g of 28 octopod species of polar, temperate, subtropical and tropical origin revealed natural selection was acting primarily on charge properties of surface residues. Polar octopods contained haemocyanins with higher net surface charge due to decreased glutamic acid content and higher numbers of basic amino acids. Within the analysed partial sequences, positive selection was present at site 2545, positioned between the active copper binding centre and the FU g surface. At this site, methionine was the dominant amino acid in polar octopods and leucine was dominant in tropical octopods. Sites directly involved in oxygen binding or quaternary interactions were highly conserved within the analysed sequence.
Conclusions
This study has provided the first insight into molecular and structural mechanisms that have enabled octopods to sustain oxygen supply from polar to tropical conditions. Our findings imply modulation of oxygen binding via charge-charge interaction at the protein surface, which stabilize quaternary interactions among functional units to reduce detrimental effects of high pH on venous oxygen release. Of the observed partial haemocyanin sequence, residue 2545 formed a close link between the FU g surface and the active centre, suggesting a role as allosteric binding site. The prevalence of methionine at this site in polar octopods, implies regulation of oxygen affinity via increased sensitivity to allosteric metal binding. High sequence conservation of sites directly involved in oxygen binding indicates that functional modifications of octopod haemocyanin rather occur via more subtle mechanisms, as observed in this study.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12862-015-0411-4) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1186/s12862-015-0411-4
PMCID: PMC4491423  PMID: 26142723
Cephalopoda; oxygen binding; net surface charge; cold tolerance
17.  Post-zygotic selection against parental genotypes during larval development maintains all-hybrid populations of the frog Pelophylax esculentus 
Background
Hybridization between two species usually leads to inviable or infertile offspring, due to endogenous or exogenous selection pressures. Yet, hybrid taxa are found in several plant and animal genera, and some of these hybrid taxa are ecologically and evolutionarily very successful. One example of such a successful hybrid is the water frog, Pelophylax esculentus which originated from matings between the two species P. ridibundus (genotype RR) and P. lessonae (LL). At the northern border of the distribution all-hybrid populations consisting of diploid (LR) and one or two triploid (LLR, LRR) frog types have been established. Here, the hybrid has achieved reproductive independence from its sexual ancestors and forms a self-sustaining evolutionary unit. Based on the gamete production of these hybrids, certain mating combinations should lead to LL and RR offspring, but these parental forms are absent among the adults.
Results
In order to investigate the mechanisms that maintain such an all-hybrid system, we performed a field study and a crossing experiment. In the field we sampled several ponds for water frog larvae at different developmental stages. Genotype compositions were then analysed and life-history differences between the genotypes examined. In the experiment we crossed diploid and triploid males and females from different ponds and determined fertilization success as well as development speed and survival rates of the offspring under high, medium and low food availability. In both parts of the study, we found numerous LL and RR offspring during the egg and early larval stages; but the frequency of these parental genotypes decreased drastically during later stages. In natural ponds almost all of them had disappeared already before metamorphosis; under the more benign experimental conditions the last ones died as juveniles during the following year.
Conclusions
From the combined results we conclude that the absence of parental genotypes in all-hybrid populations is due to post-zygotic selection against them, rather than to pre-zygotic mechanisms that might prevent their formation in the first place. For this post-zygotic selection, genetic mechanisms resulting from low genetic diversity and fixation of deleterious mutations seem to be a more likely explanation than ecological factors.
doi:10.1186/s12862-015-0404-3
PMCID: PMC4491251  PMID: 26141702
Assortative mating; Environmental conditions; Food supply; Fertility; Genetic diversity; Larval development; Pre- and post-zygotic selection; Survival
18.  A genome-scale mining strategy for recovering novel rapidly-evolving nuclear single-copy genes for addressing shallow-scale phylogenetics in Hydrangea 
Background
Identifying orthologous molecular markers that potentially resolve relationships at and below species level has been a major challenge in molecular phylogenetics over the past decade. Non-coding regions of nuclear low- or single-copy markers are a vast and promising source of data providing information for shallow-scale phylogenetics. Taking advantage of public transcriptome data from the One Thousand Plant Project (1KP), we developed a genome-scale mining strategy for recovering potentially orthologous single-copy markers to address low-scale phylogenetics. Our marker design targeted the amplification of intron-rich nuclear single-copy regions from genomic DNA. As a case study we used Hydrangea section Cornidia, one of the most recently diverged lineages within Hydrangeaceae (Cornales), for comparing the performance of three of these nuclear markers to other “fast” evolving plastid markers.
Results
Our data mining and filtering process retrieved 73 putative nuclear single-copy genes which are potentially useful for resolving phylogenetic relationships at a range of divergence depths within Cornales. The three assessed nuclear markers showed considerably more phylogenetic signal for shallow evolutionary depths than conventional plastid markers. Phylogenetic signal in plastid markers increased less markedly towards deeper evolutionary divergences. Potential phylogenetic noise introduced by nuclear markers was lower than their respective phylogenetic signal across all evolutionary depths. In contrast, plastid markers showed higher probabilities for introducing phylogenetic noise than signal at the deepest evolutionary divergences within the tribe Hydrangeeae (Hydrangeaceae).
Conclusions
While nuclear single-copy markers are highly informative for shallow evolutionary depths without introducing phylogenetic noise, plastid markers might be more appropriate for resolving deeper-level divergences such as the backbone relationships of the Hydrangeaceae family and deeper, at which non-coding parts of nuclear markers could potentially introduce noise due to elevated rates of evolution. The herein developed and demonstrated transcriptome based mining strategy has a great potential for the design of novel and highly informative nuclear markers for a range of plant groups and evolutionary scales.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12862-015-0416-z) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1186/s12862-015-0416-z
PMCID: PMC4491267  PMID: 26141718
Data mining; Fine-scale phylogenetics; Hydrangea sect. Cornidia; Phylogenetic signal; Phylogenetic noise
19.  Sail or sink: novel behavioural adaptations on water in aerially dispersing species 
Background
Long-distance dispersal events have the potential to shape species distributions and ecosystem diversity over large spatial scales, and to influence processes such as population persistence and the pace and scale of invasion. How such dispersal strategies have evolved and are maintained within species is, however, often unclear. We have studied long-distance dispersal in a range of pest-controlling terrestrial spiders that are important predators within agricultural ecosystems. These species persist in heterogeneous environments through their ability to re-colonise vacant habitat by repeated long-distance aerial dispersal (“ballooning”) using spun silk lines. Individuals are strictly terrestrial, are not thought to tolerate landing on water, and have no control over where they land once airborne. Their tendency to spread via aerial dispersal has thus been thought to be limited by the costs of encountering water, which is a frequent hazard in the landscape.
Results
In our study we find that ballooning in a subset of individuals from two groups of widely-distributed and phylogenetically distinct terrestrial spiders (linyphiids and one tetragnathid) is associated with a hitherto undescribed ability of those same individuals to survive encounters with both fresh and marine water. Individuals that showed a high tendency to adopt ‘ballooning’ behaviour adopted elaborate postures to seemingly take advantage of the wind current whilst on the water surface.
Conclusions
The ability of individuals capable of long-distance aerial dispersal to survive encounters with water allows them to disperse repeatedly, thereby increasing the pace and spatial scale over which they can spread and subsequently exert an influence on the ecosystems into which they migrate. The potential for genetic connectivity between populations, which can influence the rate of localized adaptation, thus exists over much larger geographic scales than previously thought. Newly available habitat may be particularly influenced given the degree of ecosystem disturbance that is known to follow new predator introductions.
doi:10.1186/s12862-015-0402-5
PMCID: PMC4490750  PMID: 26138616
20.  Muscular anatomy of an entoproct creeping-type larva reveals extraordinary high complexity and potential shared characters with mollusks 
Background
Entoprocta (Kamptozoa) is an enigmatic, acoelomate, tentacle-bearing phylum with indirect development, either via a swimming- or a creeping-type larva and still debated phylogenetic position within Lophotrochozoa. Recent morphological and neuro-anatomical studies on the creeping-type larva support a close relationship of Entoprocta and Mollusca, with a number of shared apomorphies including a tetraneurous nervous system and a complex serotonin-expressing apical organ. However, many morphological traits of entoproct larvae, in particular of the putative basal creeping-type larva, remain elusive.
Results
Applying fluorescent markers and 3D modeling, we found that this larval type has the most complex musculature hitherto described for any lophotrochozoan larva. The muscle systems identified include numerous novel and most likely creeping-type larva-specific structures such as frontal organ retractors, several other muscle fibers originating from the frontal organ, and longitudinal prototroch muscles. Interestingly, we found distinct muscle sets that are also present in several mollusks. These include paired sets of dorso-ventral muscles that intercross ventrally above the foot sole and a paired enrolling muscle that is distinct from the musculature of the body wall.
Conclusion
Our data add further morphological support for an entoproct-mollusk relationship (Tetraneuralia) and strongly argue for the presence of an enrolling musculature as well as seriality (but not segmentation) in the last common tetraneuralian ancestor. The evolutionary driving forces that have led to the emergence of the extraordinarily complex muscular architecture in this short-lived, non-feeding entoproct larval type remain unknown, as are the processes that give rise to the highly different and much simpler muscular bodyplan of the adult entoproct during metamorphosis.
doi:10.1186/s12862-015-0394-1
PMCID: PMC4490756  PMID: 26138503
Tetraneuralia; Lacunifera; Spiralia; Lophotrochozoa; Kamptozoa; Evolution; Evodevo; Phylogeny; Myogenesis; Trochophore
21.  Tinkering signaling pathways by gain and loss of protein isoforms: the case of the EDA pathway regulator EDARADD 
Background
Only a handful of signaling pathways are major actors of development and responsible for both the conservation and the diversification of animal morphologies. To explain this twofold nature, gene duplication and enhancer evolution were predominantly put forth as tinkering mechanisms whereas the evolution of alternative isoforms has been, so far, overlooked. We investigate here the role of gain and loss of isoforms using Edaradd, a gene of the Ecodysplasin pathway, implicated in morphological evolution. A previous study had suggested a scenario of isoform gain and loss with an alternative isoform (A) newly gained in mammals but secondarily lost in mouse lineage.
Results
For a comprehensive view of A and B Edaradd isoforms history during mammal evolution, we obtained sequences for both isoforms in representative mammals and performed in vitro translations to support functional predictions. We showed that the ancestral B isoform is well conserved, whereas the mammal-specific A isoform was lost at least 7 times independently in terminal lineages throughout mammal phylogeny. Then, to gain insights into the functional relevance of this evolutionary pattern, we compared the biological function of these isoforms: i) In cellulo promoter assays showed that they are transcribed from two alternative promoters, only B exhibiting feedback regulation. ii) RT-PCR in various tissues and ENCODE data suggested that B isoform is systematically expressed whereas A isoform showed a more tissue-specific expression. iii) Both isoforms activated the NF-κB pathway in an in cellulo reporter assay, albeit at different levels and with different dynamics since A isoform exhibited feedback regulation at the protein level. Finally, only B isoform could rescue a zebrafish edaradd knockdown.
Conclusions
These results suggest that the newly evolved A isoform enables modulating EDA signaling in specific conditions and with different dynamics. We speculate that during mammal diversification, A isoform regulation may have evolved rapidly, accompanying and possibly supporting the diversity of ectodermal appendages, while B isoform may have ensured essential roles. This study makes the case to pay greater attention to mosaic loss of evolutionarily speaking “young” isoforms as an important mechanism underlying phenotypic diversity and not simply as a manifestation of neutral evolution.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12862-015-0395-0) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1186/s12862-015-0395-0
PMCID: PMC4489351  PMID: 26134525
22.  Divergence at the edges: peripatric isolation in the montane spiny throated reed frog complex 
Background
Peripatric speciation and peripheral isolation have uncertain importance in species accumulation, and are largely overshadowed by assumed dominance of allopatric modes of speciation. Understanding the role of different speciation mechanisms within biodiversity hotspots is central to understanding the generation of biological diversity. Here, we use a phylogeographic analysis of the spiny-throated reed frogs and examine sister pairings with unbalanced current distributional ranges for characteristics of peripatric speciation. We further investigate whether forest/grassland mosaic adapted species are more likely created through peripatric speciation due to instability of this habitat type.
Results
We reconstructed a multi-locus molecular phylogeny of spiny-throated reed frogs which we then combined with comparative morphologic data to delimit species and analyze historical demographic change; identifying three new species. Three potential peripatric speciation events were identified along with one case of allopatric speciation. Peripatric speciation is supported through uneven potential and realized distributions and uneven population size estimates based on field collections. An associated climate shift was observed in most potentially peripatric splits. Morphological variation was highest in sexually dimorphic traits such as body size and gular shape, but this variation was not limited to peripatric species pairs as hypothesized. The potentially allopatric species pair showed no niche shifts and equivalent effective population sizes, ruling out peripatry in that speciation event. Two major ecological niche shifts were recovered within this radiation, possibly as adaptations to occupy areas of grassland that became more prevalent in the last 5 million years. Restricted and fluctuating grassland mosaics within forests might promote peripatric speciation in the Eastern Arc Biodiversity Hotspot (EABH).
Conclusions
In our case study, peripatric speciation appears to be an important driver of diversity within the EABH biodiversity hotspot, implying it could be a significant speciation mechanism in highly fragmented ecosystems. Extensive peripatric speciation in this montane archipelago may explain the abundance of discrete lineages within the limited area of the EABH, as inferred in remote island archipelagos. Future phylogenetic studies incorporating demographic and spatial analyses will clarify the role of peripatric speciation in creating biodiversity hotspots.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12862-015-0384-3) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1186/s12862-015-0384-3
PMCID: PMC4487588  PMID: 26126573
Speciation; Eastern Afromontane Biodiversity Hotspot; Coalescent analysis; Demography
23.  Evolution of anthozoan polyp retraction mechanisms: convergent functional morphology and evolutionary allometry of the marginal musculature in order Zoanthidea (Cnidaria: Anthozoa: Hexacorallia) 
Background
Retraction is among the most important basic behaviors of anthozoan Cnidaria polyps and is achieved through the coordinated contraction of at least six different muscle groups. Across the Anthozoa, these muscles range from unrecognizable atrophies to massive hypertrophies, producing a wide diversity of retraction abilities and functional morphologies. The marginal musculature is often the single largest component of the retraction mechanism and is composed of a diversity of muscular, attachment, and structural features. Although the arrangements of these features have defined the higher taxonomy of Zoanthidea for more than 100 years, a decade of inferring phylogenies from nucleotide sequences has demonstrated fundamental misconceptions of their evolution.
Results
Here we expand the diversity of known marginal muscle forms from two to at least ten basic states and reconstruct the evolution of its functional morphology across the most comprehensive molecular phylogeny available. We demonstrate that the evolution of these forms follows a series of transitions that are much more complex than previously hypothesized and converge on similar forms multiple times. Evolution of the marginal musculature and its attachment and support structures are partially scaled according to variation in polyp and muscle size, but also vary through evolutionary allometry.
Conclusions
Although the retraction mechanisms are diverse and their evolutionary histories complex, their morphologies are largely reflective of the evolutionary relationships among Zoanthidea higher taxa and may offer a key feature for integrative systematics. The convergence on similar forms across multiple linages of Zoanthidea mirrors the evolution of the marginal musculature in another anthozoan order (Actiniaria). The marginal musculature varies through evolutionary allometry of functional morphologies in response to requirements for additional force and resistance, and the specific ecological and symbiotic functions of individual taxa.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12862-015-0406-1) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1186/s12862-015-0406-1
PMCID: PMC4486433  PMID: 26123288
Phylogenetic comparative methods; Functional morphology; Convergent evolution; Evolutionary allometry; Coelenterata; Hexacorallia; Symbiosis
24.  A refined model of the genomic basis for phenotypic variation in vertebrate hemostasis 
Background
Hemostasis is a defense mechanism that enhances an organism’s survival by minimizing blood loss upon vascular injury. In vertebrates, hemostasis has been evolving with the cardio-vascular and hemodynamic systems over the last 450 million years. Birds and mammals have very similar vascular and hemodynamic systems, thus the mechanism that blocks ruptures in the vasculature is expected to be the same. However, the speed of the process varies across vertebrates, and is particularly slow for birds. Understanding the differences in the hemostasis pathway between birds and mammals, and placing them in perspective to other vertebrates may provide clues to the genetic contribution to variation in blood clotting phenotype in vertebrates. We compiled genomic data corresponding to key elements involved in hemostasis across vertebrates to investigate its genetic basis and understand how it affects fitness.
Results
We found that: i) fewer genes are involved in hemostasis in birds compared to mammals; and ii) the largest differences concern platelet membrane receptors and components from the kallikrein-kinin system. We propose that lack of the cytoplasmic domain of the GPIb receptor subunit alpha could be a strong contributor to the prolonged bleeding phenotype in birds. Combined analysis of laboratory assessments of avian hemostasis with the first avian phylogeny based on genomic-scale data revealed that differences in hemostasis within birds are not explained by phylogenetic relationships, but more so by genetic variation underlying components of the hemostatic process, suggestive of natural selection.
Conclusions
This work adds to our understanding of the evolution of hemostasis in vertebrates. The overlap with the inflammation, complement and renin-angiotensin (blood pressure regulation) pathways is a potential driver of rapid molecular evolution in the hemostasis network. Comparisons between avian species and mammals allowed us to hypothesize that the observed mammalian innovations might have contributed to the diversification of mammals that give birth to live young.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12862-015-0409-y) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1186/s12862-015-0409-y
PMCID: PMC4486697  PMID: 26123414
25.  Extensive range overlap between heliconiine sister species: evidence for sympatric speciation in butterflies? 
Background
Sympatric speciation is today generally viewed as plausible, and some well-supported examples exist, but its relative contribution to biodiversity remains to be established. We here quantify geographic overlap of sister species of heliconiine butterflies, and use age-range correlations and spatial simulations of the geography of speciation to infer the frequency of sympatric speciation. We also test whether shifts in mimetic wing colour pattern, host plant use and climate niche play a role in speciation, and whether such shifts are associated with sympatry.
Results
Approximately a third of all heliconiine sister species pairs exhibit near complete range overlap, and analyses of the observed patterns of range overlap suggest that sympatric speciation contributes 32 %–95 % of speciation events. Müllerian mimicry colour patterns and host plant choice are highly labile traits that seem to be associated with speciation, but we find no association between shifts in these traits and range overlap. In contrast, climatic niches of sister species are more conserved.
Conclusions
Unlike birds and mammals, sister species of heliconiines are often sympatric and our inferences using the most recent comparative methods suggest that sympatric speciation is common. However, if sister species spread rapidly into sympatry (e.g. due to their similar climatic niches), then assumptions underlying our methods would be violated. Furthermore, although we find some evidence for the role of ecology in speciation, ecological shifts did not show the associations with range overlap expected under sympatric speciation. We delimit species of heliconiines in three different ways, based on “strict and ” “relaxed” biological species concepts (BSC), as well as on a surrogate for the widely-used “diagnostic” version of the phylogenetic species concept (PSC). We show that one reason why more sympatric speciation is inferred in heliconiines than in birds may be due to a different culture of species delimitation in the two groups. To establish whether heliconiines are exceptional will require biogeographic comparative studies for a wider range of animal taxa including many more invertebrates.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12862-015-0420-3) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1186/s12862-015-0420-3
PMCID: PMC4486711  PMID: 26123545
Geography of speciation; Butterflies; Age-range correlation; Simulations; Ecological speciation

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