Sexual size dimorphism (SSD) is related to ecology, behaviour and life history of organisms. Rensch’s rule states that SSD increases with overall body size in species where males are the larger sex, while decreasing with body size when females are larger. To test this rule, we analysed literature as well as own data on male and female body size in anurans (39 species and 17 genera). We also tested the hypothesis that SSD is largely a function of age difference between the sexes.
Our data set encompassed 36 species with female-biased SSD, and three species with male-biased SSD. All considered species failed to support Rensch’s rule, also when the analyses were phylogenetically corrected. However, SSD was significantly correlated with Sexual Age Difference (SAD) across species. We also found a significant correlation between SSD contrasts and SAD contrasts.
Our study suggests that Rensch’s rule does not accurately describe macroevolutionary patterns of SSD in anurans. That SAD can explain most of the variation in SSD among species when controlling for phylogenetic effects suggests that phylogeny is not responsible for the broad relationship between age and size across the sexes.
Allometry; Anurans; Rensch’s rule; Sexual size dimorphism
Sociality has evolved independently multiple times across the spider phylogeny, and despite wide taxonomic and geographical breadth the social species are characterized by a common geographical constrain to tropical and subtropical areas. Here we investigate the environmental factors that drive macro-ecological patterns in social and solitary species in a genus that shows a Mediterranean–Afro-Oriental distribution (Stegodyphus). Both selected drivers (productivity and seasonality) may affect the abundance of potential prey insects, but seasonality may further directly affect survival due to mortality caused by extreme climatic events. Based on a comprehensive dataset including information about the distribution of three independently derived social species and 13 solitary congeners we tested the hypotheses that the distribution of social Stegodyphus species relative to solitary congeners is: (1) restricted to habitats of high vegetation productivity and (2) constrained to areas with a stable climate (low precipitation seasonality).
Using spatial logistic regression modelling and information-theoretic model selection, we show that social species occur at higher vegetation productivity than solitary, while precipitation seasonality received limited support as a predictor of social spider occurrence. An analysis of insect biomass data across the Stegodyphus distribution range confirmed that vegetation productivity is positively correlated to potential insect prey biomass.
Habitat productivity constrains the distribution of social spiders across continents compared to their solitary congeners, with group-living in spiders being restricted to areas with relatively high vegetation productivity and insect prey biomass. As known for other taxa, permanent sociality likely evolves in response to high predation pressure and imposes within-group competition for resources. Our results suggest that group living is contingent upon productive environmental conditions where elevated prey abundance meet the increased demand for food of social groups.
Macroecology; Social spiders; Group living; Habitat productivity; Prey availability; Insect biomass
Many animals use information acquired from recent experiences to modify their responses to new situations. Animals’ decisions in contests also depend on their previous experience: after recent victories individuals tend to behave more aggressively and after defeats more submissively. Although these winner and/or loser effects have been reported for animals of different taxa, they have only recently been shown to be flexible traits, which can be influenced by extrinsic factors. In a mangrove killifish (Kryptolebias marmoratus), for instance, individuals which lost an earlier contest were more likely than others to alter contest decisions after a recent win/loss. This result suggests that individuals perceiving themselves to have worse fighting abilities are more inclined to adjust contest strategy based on new information. If this is the case, an individual’s propensity to modify behaviour after a win/loss might also be modulated by intrinsic mechanisms related to its ability to fight. Stress and sex steroid hormones are often associated with an individual’s contest behaviour and performance, so, in this study, we tested the hypothesis that an individual’s propensity to change behaviour after wins or losses also depends on its hormonal state.
Our results show that an individual’s propensity to adjust contest decisions after wins and losses does depend on its hormonal state: individuals with lower levels of cortisol (F), testosterone (T) and 11-ketotestosterone (KT) are more receptive than others to the influence of recent contest experiences, especially losing experiences, and the influences last longer. Furthermore, although winning and losing experiences resulted in significant changes in behaviour, they did not bring about a significant change in the levels of F, T, KT or oestradiol (E2).
This study shows that an individual’s receptivity to the influence of recent wins and losses is modulated by its internal state, as well as by extrinsic factors. Individuals with hormonal profiles corresponding to lower aggressiveness and a reduced likelihood of winning were more likely to alter contest decisions after a recent win/loss. The results also suggest that F, T, KT and E2 are not the primary physiological mechanisms mediating winner-loser effects in this fish.
Animal contest; Information; Winner-loser effect; Cortisol; 11-ketotestosterone; Testosterone; Oestradiol; Kryptolebias marmoratus
Patterns of biodiversity in the subterranean realm are typically different from those encountered on the Earth’s surface. The Dinaric karst of Croatia, Slovenia and Bosnia and Herzegovina is a global hotspot of subterranean biodiversity. How this was achieved and why this is so remain largely unresolved despite a long tradition of research. To obtain insights into the colonisation of the Dinaric Karst and the effects of the subterranean realm on its inhabitants, we studied the tertiary relict Congeria, a unique cave-dwelling bivalve (Dreissenidae), using a combination of biogeographical, molecular, morphological, and paleontological information.
Phylogenetic and molecular clock analyses using both nuclear and mitochondrial markers have shown that the surviving Congeria lineage has actually split into three distinct species, i.e., C. kusceri, C. jalzici sp. nov. and C. mulaomerovici sp. nov., by vicariant processes in the late Miocene and Pliocene. Despite millions of years of independent evolution, analyses have demonstrated a great deal of shell similarity between modern Congeria species, although slight differences in hinge plate structure have enabled the description of the two new species. Ancestral plesiomorphic shell forms seem to have been conserved during the processes of cave colonisation and subsequent lineage isolation. In contrast, shell morphology is divergent within one of the lineages, probably due to microhabitat differences.
Following the turbulent evolution of the Dreissenidae during the Tertiary and major radiations in Lake Pannon, species of Congeria went extinct. One lineage survived, however, by adopting a unique life history strategy that suited it to the underground environment. In light of our new data, an alternative scenario for its colonisation of the karst is proposed. The extant Congeria comprises three sister species that, to date, have only been found to live in 15 caves in the Dinaric karst. Inter-specific morphological stasis and intra-specific ecophenotypic plasticity of the congerid shell demonstrate the contrasting ways in which evolution in the underground environments shapes its inhabitants.
Dinaric Karst; Subterranean habitats; Cave bivalve; Congeria; Dreissenidae; New species; Ecophenotypic plasticity
Creation and use of the scientific names of animals are ruled by the International Code of Zoological Nomenclature. Until recently, publication of new names in a work produced with ink on paper was required for their availability. A long awaited amendment to the Code issued in September 2012 by the International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature now allows publication of new names in online-only works, provided that the latter are registered with ZooBank, the Official Register of Animal Names. With this amendment, the rules of zoological nomenclature have been aligned with the opportunities (and needs) of our digital era. However, possible causes for nomenclatural instability remain. These could be completely removed if the Code-compliant publication of new names will be identified with their online registration, under suitable technological and formal (legal) conditions. Future developments of the ZooBank may provide the tool required to make this definitive leap ahead in zoological nomenclature.
Digital publication; International code of zoological nomenclature; International commission on zoological nomenclature; Scientific names of animals; ZooBank
Insects have evolved a wide range of mechanisms to defend themselves and their offspring against antagonists. One of these strategies involves the utilization of antimicrobial compounds provided by symbiotic bacteria to protect the host or its nutritional resources from pathogens and parasites. In the symbiosis of the solitary digger wasp, Philanthus triangulum (Hymenoptera, Crabronidae), the bacterial symbiont ‘Candidatus Streptomyces philanthi’ defends the developing larvae against pathogens by producing a mixture of at least nine antimicrobial substances on the cocoon surface. This antibiotic cocktail inhibits the growth of a broad range of detrimental fungi and bacteria, thereby significantly enhancing the offspring’s survival probability.
Here we show that the production of antimicrobial compounds by the beewolf symbionts is confined to the first two weeks after cocoon spinning, leading to a high concentration of piericidins and streptochlorin on the cocoon surface. Expression profiling of housekeeping, sporulation, and antibiotic biosynthesis genes indicates that antibiotic production coincides with morphological differentiation that enables the symbionts to survive the nutrient-limited conditions on the beewolf cocoon. The antibiotic substances remain stable on the cocoon surface for the entire duration of the beewolf’s hibernation period, demonstrating that the compounds are resistant against environmental influences.
The antibiotic production by the beewolf symbionts serves as a reliable protection for the wasp offspring against pathogenic microorganisms during the long and unpredictable developmental phase in the subterranean brood cells. Thus, the beewolf-Streptomyces symbiosis provides one of the rare examples of antibiotics serving as an efficient defense in the natural environment and may aid in devising new strategies for the utilization of antibiotic combination therapies in human medicine against increasingly resistant bacterial and fungal pathogens.
Defensive symbiosis; Protective mutualism; Crabronidae; Antibiotic; Streptomyces; Hymenoptera; Streptochlorin synthesis
Dispersal and gene flow determine connectivity among populations, and can be studied through population genetics and phylogeography. We here review the results of such a framework for free-living marine nematodes. Although field experiments have illustrated substantial dispersal in nematodes at ecological time scales, analysis of the genetic diversity illustrated the importance of priority effects, founder effects and genetic bottlenecks for population structuring between patches <1 km apart. In contrast, only little genetic structuring was observed within an estuary (<50 km), indicating that these small scale fluctuations in genetic differentiation are stabilized over deeper time scales through extensive gene flow. Interestingly, nematode species with contrasting life histories (extreme colonizers vs persisters) or with different habitat preferences (algae vs sediment) show similar, low genetic structuring. Finally, historical events have shaped the genetic pattern of marine nematodes and show that gene flow is restricted at large geographical scales. We also discuss the presence of substantial cryptic diversity in marine nematodes, and end with highlighting future important steps to further unravel nematode evolution and diversity.
Connectivity; Cryptic species; Dispersal; Gene flow; Life history; Marine nematodes; Population genetics; Phylogeography
Social parasitism is an important selective pressure for social insect species. It is particularly the case for the hosts of dulotic (so called slave-making) ants, which pillage the brood of host colonies to increase the worker force of their own colony. Such raids can have an important impact on the fitness of the host nest. An arms race which can lead to geographic variation in host defenses is thus expected between hosts and parasites. In this study we tested whether the presence of a social parasite (the dulotic ant Myrmoxenus ravouxi) within an ant community correlated with a specific behavioral defense strategy of local host or non-host populations of Temnothorax ants. Social recognition often leads to more or less pronounced agonistic interactions between non-nestmates ants. Here, we monitored agonistic behaviors to assess whether ants discriminate social parasites from other ants. It is now well-known that ants essentially rely on cuticular hydrocarbons to discriminate nestmates from aliens. If host species have evolved a specific recognition mechanism for their parasite, we hypothesize that the differences in behavioral responses would not be fully explained simply by quantitative dissimilarity in cuticular hydrocarbon profiles, but should also involve a qualitative response due to the detection of particular compounds. We scaled the behavioral results according to the quantitative chemical distance between host and parasite colonies to test this hypothesis.
Cuticular hydrocarbon profiles were distinct between species, but host species did not show a clearly higher aggression rate towards the parasite than toward non-parasite intruders, unless the degree of response was scaled by the chemical distance between intruders and recipient colonies. By doing so, we show that workers of the host and of a non-host species in the parasitized site displayed more agonistic behaviors (bites and ejections) towards parasite than toward non-parasite intruders.
We used two different analyses of our behavioral data (standardized with the chemical distance between colonies or not) to test our hypothesis. Standardized data show behavioral differences which could indicate qualitative and specific parasite recognition. We finally stress the importance of considering the whole set of potentially interacting species to understand the coevolution between social parasites and their hosts.
Coevolution; Formicidae; Social recognition; Social parasitism; Temnothorax
One central concept in evolutionary ecology is that current and residual reproductive values are negatively linked by the so-called cost of reproduction. Previous studies examining the nature of this cost suggested a possible involvement of oxidative stress resulting from the imbalance between pro- and anti-oxidant processes. Still, data remain conflictory probably because, although oxidative damage increases during reproduction, high systemic levels of oxidative stress might also constrain parental investment in reproduction. Here, we investigated variation in oxidative balance (i.e. oxidative damage and antioxidant defences) over the course of reproduction by comparing female laboratory mice rearing or not pups.
A significant increase in oxidative damage over time was only observed in females caring for offspring, whereas antioxidant defences increased over time regardless of reproductive status. Interestingly, oxidative damage measured prior to reproduction was negatively associated with litter size at birth (constraint), whereas damage measured after reproduction was positively related to litter size at weaning (cost).
Globally, our correlative results and the review of literature describing the links between reproduction and oxidative stress underline the importance of timing/dynamics when studying and interpreting oxidative balance in relation to reproduction. Our study highlights the duality (constraint and cost) of oxidative stress in life-history trade-offs, thus supporting the theory that oxidative stress plays a key role in life-history evolution.
Life-history trade-offs; Reactive oxygen species; Antioxidant; Ageing; Literature review
Human speech does not only communicate linguistic information but also paralinguistic features, e.g. information about the identity and the arousal state of the sender. Comparable morphological and physiological constraints on vocal production in mammals suggest the existence of commonalities encoding sender-identity and the arousal state of a sender across mammals. To explore this hypothesis and to investigate whether specific acoustic parameters encode for sender-identity while others encode for arousal, we studied infants of the domestic cat (Felis silvestris catus). Kittens are an excellent model for analysing vocal correlates of sender-identity and arousal. They strongly depend on the care of their mother. Thus, the acoustical conveyance of sender-identity and arousal may be important for their survival.
We recorded calls of 18 kittens in an experimentally-induced separation paradigm, where kittens were spatially separated from their mother and siblings. In the Low arousal condition, infants were just separated without any manipulation. In the High arousal condition infants were handled by the experimenter. Multi-parametric sound analyses revealed that kitten isolation calls are individually distinct and differ between the Low and High arousal conditions. Our results suggested that source- and filter-related parameters are important for encoding sender-identity, whereas time-, source- and tonality-related parameters are important for encoding arousal.
Comparable findings in other mammalian lineages provide evidence for commonalities in non-verbal cues encoding sender-identity and arousal across mammals comparable to paralinguistic cues in humans. This favours the establishment of general concepts for voice recognition and emotions in humans and animals.
Affect-intensity; Individual signature; Infant; Mammal; Cat; Vocalisation
Primitively eusocial halictid bees are excellent systems to study the origin of eusociality, because all individuals have retained the ancestral ability to breed independently. In the sweat bee Halictus scabiosae, foundresses overwinter, establish nests and rear a first brood by mass-provisioning each offspring with pollen and nectar. The mothers may thus manipulate the phenotype of their offspring by restricting their food provisions. The first brood females generally help their mother to rear a second brood of males and gynes that become foundresses. However, the first brood females may also reproduce in their maternal or in other nests, or possibly enter early diapause. Here, we examined if the behavioural specialization of the first and second brood females was associated with between-brood differences in body size, energetic reserves and pollen provisions.
The patterns of variation in adult body size, weight, fat content and food provisioned to the first and second brood indicate that H. scabiosae has dimorphic females. The first-brood females were significantly smaller, lighter and had lower fat reserves than the second-brood females and foundresses. The first-brood females were also less variable in size and fat content, and developed on homogeneously smaller pollen provisions. Foundresses were larger than gynes of the previous year, suggesting that small females were less likely to survive the winter.
The marked size dimorphism between females produced in the first and second brood and the consistently smaller pollen provisions provided to the first brood suggest that the first brood females are channelled into a helper role during their pre-imaginal development. As a large body size is needed for successful hibernation, the mother may promote helping in her first brood offspring by restricting their food provisions. This pattern supports the hypothesis that parental manipulation may contribute to promote worker behaviour in primitively eusocial halictids.
Evolution of eusociality; Caste differentiation; Parental manipulation; Provisioning behaviour; Sweat bees; Halictids; Halictus scabiosae
Many Ophidiidae are active in dark environments and display complex sonic apparatus morphologies. However, sound recordings are scarce and little is known about acoustic communication in this family. This paper focuses on Ophidion rochei which is known to display an important sexual dimorphism in swimbladder and anterior skeleton. The aims of this study were to compare the sound producing morphology, and the resulting sounds in juveniles, females and males of O. rochei.
Males, females, and juveniles possessed different morphotypes. Females and juveniles contrasted with males because they possessed dramatic differences in morphology of their sonic muscles, swimbladder, supraoccipital crest, and first vertebrae and associated ribs. Further, they lacked the ‘rocker bone’ typically found in males. Sounds from each morphotype were highly divergent. Males generally produced non harmonic, multiple-pulsed sounds that lasted for several seconds (3.5 ± 1.3 s) with a pulse period of ca. 100 ms. Juvenile and female sounds were recorded for the first time in ophidiids. Female sounds were harmonic, had shorter pulse period (±3.7 ms), and never exceeded a few dozen milliseconds (18 ± 11 ms). Moreover, unlike male sounds, female sounds did not have alternating long and short pulse periods. Juvenile sounds were weaker but appear to be similar to female sounds.
Although it is not possible to distinguish externally male from female in O. rochei, they show a sonic apparatus and sounds that are dramatically different. This difference is likely due to their nocturnal habits that may have favored the evolution of internal secondary sexual characters that help to distinguish males from females and that could facilitate mate choice by females. Moreover, the comparison of different morphotypes in this study shows that these morphological differences result from a peramorphosis that takes place during the development of the gonads.
Ophidiidae; Sound production; Sexual dimorphism
Traditionally, genomic or transcriptomic data have been restricted to a few model or emerging model organisms, and to a handful of species of medical and/or environmental importance. Next-generation sequencing techniques have the capability of yielding massive amounts of gene sequence data for virtually any species at a modest cost. Here we provide a comparative analysis of de novo assembled transcriptomic data for ten non-model species of previously understudied animal taxa.
cDNA libraries of ten species belonging to five animal phyla (2 Annelida [including Sipuncula], 2 Arthropoda, 2 Mollusca, 2 Nemertea, and 2 Porifera) were sequenced in different batches with an Illumina Genome Analyzer II (read length 100 or 150 bp), rendering between ca. 25 and 52 million reads per species. Read thinning, trimming, and de novo assembly were performed under different parameters to optimize output. Between 67,423 and 207,559 contigs were obtained across the ten species, post-optimization. Of those, 9,069 to 25,681 contigs retrieved blast hits against the NCBI non-redundant database, and approximately 50% of these were assigned with Gene Ontology terms, covering all major categories, and with similar percentages in all species. Local blasts against our datasets, using selected genes from major signaling pathways and housekeeping genes, revealed high efficiency in gene recovery compared to available genomes of closely related species. Intriguingly, our transcriptomic datasets detected multiple paralogues in all phyla and in nearly all gene pathways, including housekeeping genes that are traditionally used in phylogenetic applications for their purported single-copy nature.
We generated the first study of comparative transcriptomics across multiple animal phyla (comparing two species per phylum in most cases), established the first Illumina-based transcriptomic datasets for sponge, nemertean, and sipunculan species, and generated a tractable catalogue of annotated genes (or gene fragments) and protein families for ten newly sequenced non-model organisms, some of commercial importance (i.e., Octopus vulgaris). These comprehensive sets of genes can be readily used for phylogenetic analysis, gene expression profiling, developmental analysis, and can also be a powerful resource for gene discovery. The characterization of the transcriptomes of such a diverse array of animal species permitted the comparison of sequencing depth, functional annotation, and efficiency of genomic sampling using the same pipelines, which proved to be similar for all considered species. In addition, the datasets revealed their potential as a resource for paralogue detection, a recurrent concern in various aspects of biological inquiry, including phylogenetics, molecular evolution, development, and cellular biochemistry.
Annelida; Arthropoda; Illumina; Mollusca; Nemertea; Next-generation sequencing; Porifera; Sipuncula
Correlations between sea surface temperature (SST) and growth parameters of the solitary azooxanthellate Dendrophylliid Leptopsammia pruvoti were assessed along an 8° latitudinal gradient on western Italian coasts (Mediterranean Sea), to check for possible negative effects of increasing temperature as the ones reported for a closely related, sympatric but zooxanthellate species.
Calcification rate was correlated with skeletal density but not with linear extension rate, indicating that calcium carbonate deposition was preferentially allocated to keep a constant skeletal density. Unlike most studies on both temperate and tropical zooxanthellate corals, where calcification rate is strongly related to environmental parameters such as SST, in the present study calcification rate was not correlated with SST.
The lower sensitivity of L. pruvoti to SST with respect to other sympatric zooxanthellate corals, such as Balanophyllia europaea, may rely on the absence of a temperature induced inhibition of photosynthesis, and thus the absence of an inhibition of the calcification process. This study is the first field investigation of the relationship between SST and the three growth parameters of an azooxanthellate coral. Increasing research effort on determining the effects of temperature on biological traits of the poorly studied azooxanthellate scleractinians may help to predict the possible species assemblage shifts that are likely to occur in the immediate future as a consequence of global climatic change.
Asymbiotic coral; Coral growth; Dendrophylliidae; Global warming; Scleractinia; Temperate coral
We describe the tagmatization pattern of the anterior region of the extant stomatopod Erugosquilla massavensis. For documentation we used the autofluorescence capacities of the specimens, resulting in a significant contrast between sclerotized and membranous areas.
The anterior body region of E. massavensis can be grouped into three tagmata. Tagma I, the sensorial unit, comprises the segments of the eyes, antennules and antennae. This unit is set-off anteriorly from the posterior head region. Ventrally this unit surrounds a large medial sclerite, interpreted as the anterior part of the hypostome. Dorsally the antennular and antennal segments each bear a well-developed tergite. The dorsal shield is part of tagma II, most of the ventral part of which is occupied in the midline by the large, partly sclerotized posterior part of a complex combining hypostome and labrum. Tagma II includes three more segments behind the labrum, the mandibular, maxillulary and maxillary segments. Tagma III includes the maxillipedal segments, bearing five pairs of sub-chelate appendages. The dorsal sclerite of the first of these tagma-III segments, the segment of the first maxillipeds, is not included in the shield, so this segment is not part of tagma II as generally thought. The second and third segments of tagma III form a unit dorsally and ventrally. The tergites of the segments of tagma III become progressively larger from the anterior to the posterior, possibly resulting from a paedomorphic effect during evolution, which caused this reversed enlargement.
The described pattern of tagmosis differs from current textbook knowledge. Therefore, our re-description of the anterior body area of stomatopods is of considerable impact for understanding the head evolution of Stomatopoda. Likewise, it has a bearing upon any comparisons with fossil stomatopods, as mainly sclerotized areas are fossilized, and, on a wider scale, upon larger-scale comparisons with other malacostracans and eucrustaceans in general.
Tagmata; Evolution; Unipeltata; Macro-fluorescence; Sclerites
Our purpose was to assess how pairs of sibling horseshoe bats coexists when their morphology and echolocation are almost identical. We collected data on echolocation, wing morphology, diet, and habitat use of sympatric Rhinolophus mehelyi and R. euryale. We compared our results with literature data collected in allopatry with similar protocols and at the same time of the year (breeding season).
Echolocation frequencies recorded in sympatry for R. mehelyi (mean = 106.8 kHz) and R. euryale (105.1 kHz) were similar to those reported in allopatry (R. mehelyi 105–111 kHz; R. euryale 101–109 kHz). Wing parameters were larger in R. mehelyi than R. euryale for both sympatric and allopatric conditions. Moths constitute the bulk of the diet of both species in sympatry and allopatry, with minor variation in the amounts of other prey. There were no inter-specific differences in the use of foraging habitats in allopatry in terms of structural complexity, however we found inter-specific differences between sympatric populations: R. mehelyi foraged in less complex habitats. The subtle inter-specific differences in echolocation frequency seems to be unlikely to facilitate dietary niche partitioning; overall divergences observed in diet may be explained as a consequence of differential prey availability among foraging habitats. Inter-specific differences in the use of foraging habitats in sympatry seems to be the main dimension for niche partitioning between R. mehelyi and R. euryale, probably due to letter differences in wing morphology.
Coexistence between sympatric sibling horseshoe bats is likely allowed by a displacement in spatial niche dimension, presumably due to the wing morphology of each species, and shifts the niche domains that minimise competition. Effective measures for conservation of sibling/similar horseshoe bats should guarantee structural diversity of foraging habitats.
Chiroptera; Coexistence; Diet; Foraging habitat; Morphology; Sibling species; Rhinolophus
Matrotrophy or extraembryonic nutrition – transfer of nutrients from mother to embryo during gestation – is well known and thoroughly studied among vertebrates, but still poorly understood in invertebrates. The current paper focuses on the anatomy and ultrastructure of the oogenesis and placentotrophy as well as formation of the brood chamber (ovicell) in the cheilostome bryozoan Bicellariella ciliata (Linnaeus, 1758). Our research aimed to combine these aspects of the sexual reproduction into an integral picture, highlighting the role of the primitive placenta-like system in the evolution of bryozoan reproductive patterns.
Follicular and nutrimentary provisioning of the oocyte occur during oogenesis. Small macrolecithal oocytes are produced, and embryos are nourished in the ovicell via a simple placental analogue (embryophore). Every brooding episode is accompanied by the hypertrophy of the embryophore, which collapses after larval release. Nutrients are released and uptaken by exocytosis (embryophore) and endocytosis (embryo). Embryos lack specialized area for nutrient uptake, which occurs through the whole epidermal surface. The volume increase between the ripe oocyte and the larva is ca. 10-fold.
The ovicell is a complex organ (not a special polymorph as often thought) consisting of an ooecium (protective capsule) and an ooecial vesicle (plugging the entrance to the brooding cavity) that develop from the distal and the fertile zooid correspondingly. Combination of macrolecithal oogenesis and extraembryonic nutrition allows attributing B. ciliata to species with reproductive pattern IV. However, since its oocytes are small, this species represents a previously undescribed variant of this pattern, which appears to represent a transitional state from the insipient matrotrophy (with large macrolecithal eggs) to substantial one (with small microlecithal ones). Altogether, our results substantially added and corrected the data obtained by the previous authors, providing a new insight in our understanding of the evolution of matrotrophy in invertebrates.
Matrotrophy; Oogenesis; Ovicell; Placental analogue; Bicellariella ciliata; Bryozoa
Ongoing ocean warming and acidification increasingly affect marine ecosystems, in particular around the Antarctic Peninsula. Yet little is known about the capability of Antarctic notothenioid fish to cope with rising temperature in acidifying seawater. While the whole animal level is expected to be more sensitive towards hypercapnia and temperature, the basis of thermal tolerance is set at the cellular level, with a putative key role for mitochondria. This study therefore investigates the physiological responses of the Antarctic Notothenia rossii after long-term acclimation to increased temperatures (7°C) and elevated PCO2 (0.2 kPa CO2) at different levels of physiological organisation.
For an integrated picture, we analysed the acclimation capacities of N. rossii by measuring routine metabolic rate (RMR), mitochondrial capacities (state III respiration) as well as intra- and extracellular acid–base status during acute thermal challenges and after long-term acclimation to changing temperature and hypercapnia. RMR was partially compensated during warm- acclimation (decreased below the rate observed after acute warming), while elevated PCO2 had no effect on cold or warm acclimated RMR. Mitochondrial state III respiration was unaffected by temperature acclimation but depressed in cold and warm hypercapnia-acclimated fish. In both cold- and warm-exposed N. rossii, hypercapnia acclimation resulted in a shift of extracellular pH (pHe) towards more alkaline values. A similar overcompensation was visible in muscle intracellular pH (pHi). pHi in liver displayed a slight acidosis after warm normo- or hypercapnia acclimation, nevertheless, long-term exposure to higher PCO2 was compensated for by intracellular bicarbonate accumulation.
The partial warm compensation in whole animal metabolic rate indicates beginning limitations in tissue oxygen supply after warm-acclimation of N. rossii. Compensatory mechanisms of the reduced mitochondrial capacities under chronic hypercapnia may include a new metabolic equilibrium to meet the elevated energy demand for acid–base regulation. New set points of acid–base regulation under hypercapnia, visible at the systemic and intracellular level, indicate that N. rossii can at least in part acclimate to ocean warming and acidification. It remains open whether the reduced capacities of mitochondrial energy metabolism are adaptive or would impair population fitness over longer timescales under chronically elevated temperature and PCO2.
Notothenioid; Oxygen consumption; Routine metabolic rate; Extracellular pH (pHe); Intracellular pH (pHi); Mitochondrial respiration; Acclimation; Acid–base
Acoels are microscopic marine worms that have become the focus of renewed debate and research due to their placement at the base of the Bilateria by molecular phylogenies. To date, Isodiametra pulchra is the most promising “model acoel” as it can be cultured and gene knockdown can be performed with double-stranded RNA. Despite its well-known morphology data on the nervous system are scarce. Therefore we examined this organ using various microscopic techniques, including histology, conventional histochemistry, electron microscopy, and immunocytochemistry in combination with CLSM and discuss our results in light of recently established phylogenies.
The nervous system of Isodiametra pulchra consists of a bilobed brain with a dorsal posterior commissure, a frontal ring and tracts, four pairs of longitudinal neurite bundles, as well as a supramuscular and submuscular plexus. Serotonin-like immunoreactivity (SLI) is displayed in parts of the brain, the longitudinal neurite bundles and a large part of the supramuscular plexus, while FMRFamide-like immunoreactivity (RFLI) is displayed in parts of the brain and a distinct set of neurons, the longitudinal neurite bundles and the submuscular plexus. Despite this overlap SLI and RFLI are never colocalized. Most remarkable though is the presence of a distinct functional neuro-muscular system consisting of the statocyst, tracts, motor neurons and inner muscles, as well as the presence of various muscles that differ with regard to their ultrastructure and innervation.
The nervous system of Isodiametra pulchra consists of an insunk, bilobed brain, a peripheral part for perception and innervation of the smooth body-wall musculature as well as tracts and motor neurons that together with pseudostriated inner muscles are responsible for steering and quick movements. The insunk, bilobed brains with two to three commissures found in numerous acoels are homologous and evolved from a ring-commissural brain that was present in the stem species of acoelomorphs. The acoelomorph brain is bipartite, consisting of a Six3/6-dependend animal pole nervous system that persists throughout adulthood and an axial nervous system that does not develop by exhibiting a staggered pattern of conserved regulatory genes as in other bilaterians but by a nested pattern of these genes. This indicates that acoelomorphs stem from an ancestor with a simple brain or with a biphasic life cycle.
Brain; Serotonin; FMRF; Tubulin; Evolution; Phylogeny
In the past decade neuroanatomy has proved to be a valuable source of character systems that provide insights into arthropod relationships. Since the most detailed description of dipluran brain anatomy dates back to Hanström (1940) we re-investigated the brains of Campodea augens and Catajapyx aquilonaris with modern neuroanatomical techniques. The analyses are based on antibody staining and 3D reconstruction of the major neuropils and tracts from semi-thin section series.
Remarkable features of the investigated dipluran brains are a large central body, which is organized in nine columns and three layers, and well developed mushroom bodies with calyces receiving input from spheroidal olfactory glomeruli in the deutocerebrum. Antibody staining against a catalytic subunit of protein kinase A (DC0) was used to further characterize the mushroom bodies. The japygid Catajapyx aquilonaris possesses mushroom bodies which are connected across the midline, a unique condition within hexapods.
Mushroom body and central body structure shows a high correspondence between japygids and campodeids. Some unique features indicate that neuroanatomy further supports the monophyly of Diplura. In a broader phylogenetic context, however, the polarization of brain characters becomes ambiguous. The mushroom bodies and the central body of Diplura in several aspects resemble those of Dicondylia, suggesting homology. In contrast, Archaeognatha completely lack mushroom bodies and exhibit a central body organization reminiscent of certain malacostracan crustaceans. Several hypotheses of brain evolution at the base of the hexapod tree are discussed.
Diplura; two-pronged bristletails; mushroom body; central body; 3D reconstruction; CNS; DC0; apterygote insects
Gene expression in eukaryotes is regulated by histone acetylation/deacetylation, an epigenetic process mediated by histone acetyltransferases (HATs) and histone deacetylases (HDACs) whose opposing activities are tightly regulated. The acetylation of histones by HATs increases DNA accessibility and promotes gene expression, whereas the removal of acetyl groups by HDACs has the opposite effect.
We explored the role of HDACs and HATs in epigenetic reprogramming during metamorphosis, wounding and infection in the lepidopteran model host Galleria mellonella. We measured the expression of genes encoding components of HATs and HDACs to monitor the transcriptional activity of each enzyme complex and found that both enzymes were upregulated during pupation. Specific HAT inhibitors were able to postpone pupation and to reduce insect survival following wounding, whereas HDAC inhibitors accelerated pupation and increased survival. The administration of HDAC inhibitors modulated the expression of effector genes with key roles in tissue remodeling (matrix metalloproteinase), the regulation of sepsis (inhibitor of metalloproteinases from insects) and host defense (antimicrobial peptides), and simultaneously induced HAT activity, suggesting that histone acetylation is regulated by a feedback mechanism. We also discovered that both the entomopathogenic fungus Metarhizium anisopliae and the human bacterial pathogen Listeria monocytogenes can delay metamorphosis in G. mellonella by skewing the HDAC/HAT balance.
Our study provides for the first evidence that pathogenic bacteria can interfere with the regulation of HDACs and HATs in insects which appear to manipulate host immunity and development. We conclude that histone acetylation/deacetylation in insects mediates transcriptional reprogramming during metamorphosis and in response to wounding and infection.
Epigenetics; Histone acetylation; Development; Metamorphosis; Immunity; Galleria mellonella
The phenomenon of sexual conflict has been well documented, and in populations with biased operational sex ratios the consequences for the rarer sex can be severe. Females are typically a limited resource and males often evolve aggressive mating behaviors, which can improve individual fitness for the male while negatively impacting female condition and fitness. In response, females can adjust their behavior to minimize exposure to aggressive mating tactics or minimize the costs of mating harassment. While male-male competition is common in amphibian mating systems, little is known about the consequences or responses of females. The red-spotted newt (Notophthalmus viridescens) is a common pond-breeding amphibian with a complex, well-studied mating system where males aggressively court females. Breeding populations across much of its range have male-biased sex ratios and we predicted that female newts would have behavioral mechanisms to mitigate mating pressure from males. We conducted four experiments examining the costs and behavioral responses of female N. viridescens exposed to a male-biased environment.
In field enclosures, we found that female newts exposed to a male-biased environment during the five-month breeding season ended with lower body condition compared to those in a female-biased environment. Shorter-term exposure to a male-biased environment for five weeks caused a decrease in circulating total leukocyte and lymphocyte abundance in blood, which suggests females experienced physiological stress. In behavioral experiments, we found that females were more agitated in the presence of male chemical cues and females in a male-biased environment spent more time in refuge than those in a female-biased environment.
Our results indicate that male-biased conditions can incur costs to females of decreased condition and potentially increased risk of infection. However, we found that females can also alter their behavior and microhabitat use under a male-biased sex ratio. Consistent with surveys showing reduced detection probabilities for females, our research suggests that females avoid male encounters using edge and substrate habitat. Our work illustrates the integrated suite of impacts that sexual conflict can have on the structure and ecology of a population.
Leukocytes; Male-biased sex ratio; Mating behavior; Microhabitat use; Notophthalmus viridescens; Red-spotted newt; Sexual conflict; Stress
Two types of excretory systems, protonephridia and metanephridial systems are common among bilaterians. The homology of protonephridia of lophotrochozoan taxa has been widely accepted. In contrast, the homology of metanephridial systems – including coelomic cavities as functional units – among taxa as well as the homology between the two excretory systems is a matter of ongoing discussion. This particularly concerns the molluscan kidneys, which are mostly regarded as being derived convergently to the metanephridia of e.g. annelids because of different ontogenetic origin. A reinvestigation of nephrogenesis in polyplacophorans, which carry many primitive traits within molluscs, could shed light on these questions.
The metanephridial system of Lepidochitona corrugata develops rapidly in the early juvenile phase. It is formed from a coelomic anlage that soon achieves endothelial organization. The pericardium and heart are formed from the central portion of the anlage. The nephridial components are formed by outgrowth from lateral differentiations of the anlage. Simultaneously with formation of the heart, podocytes appear in the atrial wall of the pericardium. In addition, renopericardial ducts, kidneys and efferent nephroducts, all showing downstream ciliation towards the internal lumen, become differentiated (specimen length: 0.62 mm). Further development consists of elongation of the kidney and reinforcement of filtration and reabsorptive structures.
During development and in fully formed condition the metanephridial system of Lepidochitona corrugata shares many detailed traits (cellular and overall organization) with the protonephridia of the same species. Accordingly, we suggest a serial homology of various cell types and between the two excretory systems and the organs as a whole. The formation of the metanephridial system varies significantly within Mollusca, thus the mode of formation cannot be used as a homology criterion. Because of similarities in overall organization, we conclude that the molluscan metanephridial system is homologous with that of the annelids not only at the cellular but also at the organ level.
Metanephridial system; Nephridia; Protonephridia; Coelomic cavities; Ontogeny; Homology; Mollusca; Polyplacophora
Some decades ago, biogeographers distinguished three major faunal types of high importance for Europe: (i) Mediterranean elements with exclusive glacial survival in the Mediterranean refugia, (ii) Siberian elements with glacial refugia in the eastern Palearctic and only postglacial expansion to Europe and (iii) arctic and/or alpine elements with large zonal distributions in the periglacial areas and postglacial retreat to the North and/or into the high mountain systems. Genetic analyses have unravelled numerous additional refugia both of continental and Mediterranean species, thus strongly modifying the biogeographical view of Europe. This modified notion is particularly true for the so-called Siberian species, which in many cases have not immigrated into Europe during the postglacial period, but most likely have survived the last, or even several glacial phases, in extra-Mediterranean refugia in some climatically favourable but geographically limited areas of southern Central and Eastern Europe. Recently, genetic analyses revealed that typical Mediterranean species have also survived the Last Glacial Maximum in cryptic northern refugia (e.g. in the Carpathians or even north of the Alps) in addition to their Mediterranean refuge areas.
Phylogeography; Refugia; Faunal types; Last Glacial Maximum (LGM); Postglacial; Range expansions; Range shifts; Mediterranean; Continental; Siberian
Tonsils are secondary lymphoid organs located in the naso- and oropharynx of most mammalian species. Most tonsils are characterised by crypts surrounded by dense lymphoid tissue. However, tonsils without crypts have also been recognised. Gut-associated lymphoid tissue (GALT), although not well-organised and lacking tonsillar crypts, is abundant in the avian oropharynx and has been referred to as the “pharyngeal tonsil”. In this context the pharyngeal folds present in the oropharynx of ratites have erroneously been named the pharyngeal tonsils. This study distinguishes between the different types and arrangements of lymphoid tissue in the pharyngeal region of D. novaehollandiae and S. camelus and demonstrates that both species possess a true pharyngeal tonsil which fits the classical definition of tonsils in mammals.
The pharyngeal tonsil (Tonsilla pharyngea) of D. novaehollandiae was located on the dorsal free surface of the pharyngeal folds and covered by a small caudo-lateral extension of the folds whereas in S. camelus the tonsil was similarly located on the dorsal surface of the pharyngeal folds but was positioned retropharyngeally and encapsulated by loose connective tissue. The pharyngeal tonsil in both species was composed of lymph nodules, inter-nodular lymphoid tissue, mucus glands, crypts and intervening connective tissue septa. In S. camelus a shallow tonsillar sinus was present. Aggregated lymph nodules and inter-nodular lymphoid tissue was associated with the mucus glands on the ventral surface of the pharyngeal folds in both species and represented the Lymphonoduli pharyngeales. Similar lymphoid tissue, but more densely packed and situated directly below the epithelium, was present on the dorsal, free surface of the pharyngeal folds and represented a small, non-follicular tonsil.
The follicular pharyngeal tonsils in D. novaehollandiae and S. camelus are distinct from the pharyngeal folds in these species and perfectly fit the classical mammalian definition of pharyngeal tonsils. The presence of a true pharyngeal tonsil differentiates these two ratite species from other known avian species where similar structures have not been described. The pharyngeal tonsils in these ratites may pose a suitable and easily accessible site for immune response surveillance as indicated by swelling and inflammation of the tonsillar tissue and pharyngeal folds. This would be facilitated by the fact that the heads of these commercially slaughtered ratites are discarded, thus sampling at these sites would not result in financial losses.
Dromaius novaehollandiae; Struthio camelus; Pharyngeal tonsil; GALT; Lymphonoduli pharyngeales