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2.  Response to Klütsch and Crapon de Caprona 
BMC Biology  2010;8:120.
This article is a response to Klütsch and Crapon de Caprona
See correspondence article http://www.biomedcentral.com/1741-7007/8/119 and our original research article http://www.biomedcentral.com/1741-7007/8/16.
doi:10.1186/1741-7007-8-120
PMCID: PMC2944130  PMID: 20825654
3.  The IGF1 small dog haplotype is derived from Middle Eastern grey wolves 
BMC Biology  2010;8:16.
Background
A selective sweep containing the insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF1) gene is associated with size variation in domestic dogs. Intron 2 of IGF1 contains a SINE element and single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) found in all small dog breeds that is almost entirely absent from large breeds. In this study, we surveyed a large sample of grey wolf populations to better understand the ancestral pattern of variation at IGF1 with a particular focus on the distribution of the small dog haplotype and its relationship to the origin of the dog.
Results
We present DNA sequence data that confirms the absence of the derived small SNP allele in the intron 2 region of IGF1 in a large sample of grey wolves and further establishes the absence of a small dog associated SINE element in all wild canids and most large dog breeds. Grey wolf haplotypes from the Middle East have higher nucleotide diversity suggesting an origin there. Additionally, PCA and phylogenetic analyses suggests a closer kinship of the small domestic dog IGF1 haplotype with those from Middle Eastern grey wolves.
Conclusions
The absence of both the SINE element and SNP allele in grey wolves suggests that the mutation for small body size post-dates the domestication of dogs. However, because all small dogs possess these diagnostic mutations, the mutations likely arose early in the history of domestic dogs. Our results show that the small dog haplotype is closely related to those in Middle Eastern wolves and is consistent with an ancient origin of the small dog haplotype there. Thus, in concordance with past archeological studies, our molecular analysis is consistent with the early evolution of small size in dogs from the Middle East.
See associated opinion by Driscoll and Macdonald: http://jbiol.com/content/9/2/10
doi:10.1186/1741-7007-8-16
PMCID: PMC2837629  PMID: 20181231
4.  Multigene phylogeny of the Mustelidae: Resolving relationships, tempo and biogeographic history of a mammalian adaptive radiation 
BMC Biology  2008;6:10.
Background
Adaptive radiation, the evolution of ecological and phenotypic diversity from a common ancestor, is a central concept in evolutionary biology and characterizes the evolutionary histories of many groups of organisms. One such group is the Mustelidae, the most species-rich family within the mammalian order Carnivora, encompassing 59 species classified into 22 genera. Extant mustelids display extensive ecomorphological diversity, with different lineages having evolved into an array of adaptive zones, from fossorial badgers to semi-aquatic otters. Mustelids are also widely distributed, with multiple genera found on different continents. As with other groups that have undergone adaptive radiation, resolving the phylogenetic history of mustelids presents a number of challenges because ecomorphological convergence may potentially confound morphologically based phylogenetic inferences, and because adaptive radiations often include one or more periods of rapid cladogenesis that require a large amount of data to resolve.
Results
We constructed a nearly complete generic-level phylogeny of the Mustelidae using a data matrix comprising 22 gene segments (~12,000 base pairs) analyzed with maximum parsimony, maximum likelihood and Bayesian inference methods. We show that mustelids are consistently resolved with high nodal support into four major clades and three monotypic lineages. Using Bayesian dating techniques, we provide evidence that mustelids underwent two bursts of diversification that coincide with major paleoenvironmental and biotic changes that occurred during the Neogene and correspond with similar bursts of cladogenesis in other vertebrate groups. Biogeographical analyses indicate that most of the extant diversity of mustelids originated in Eurasia and mustelids have colonized Africa, North America and South America on multiple occasions.
Conclusion
Combined with information from the fossil record, our phylogenetic and dating analyses suggest that mustelid diversification may have been spurred by a combination of faunal turnover events and diversification at lower trophic levels, ultimately caused by climatically driven environmental changes. Our biogeographic analyses show Eurasia as the center of origin of mustelid diversity and that mustelids in Africa, North America and South America have been assembled over time largely via dispersal, which has important implications for understanding the ecology of mustelid communities.
doi:10.1186/1741-7007-6-10
PMCID: PMC2276185  PMID: 18275614
5.  Extensive population genetic structure in the giraffe 
BMC Biology  2007;5:57.
Background
A central question in the evolutionary diversification of large, widespread, mobile mammals is how substantial differentiation can arise, particularly in the absence of topographic or habitat barriers to dispersal. All extant giraffes (Giraffa camelopardalis) are currently considered to represent a single species classified into multiple subspecies. However, geographic variation in traits such as pelage pattern is clearly evident across the range in sub-Saharan Africa and abrupt transition zones between different pelage types are typically not associated with extrinsic barriers to gene flow, suggesting reproductive isolation.
Results
By analyzing mitochondrial DNA sequences and nuclear microsatellite loci, we show that there are at least six genealogically distinct lineages of giraffe in Africa, with little evidence of interbreeding between them. Some of these lineages appear to be maintained in the absence of contemporary barriers to gene flow, possibly by differences in reproductive timing or pelage-based assortative mating, suggesting that populations usually recognized as subspecies have a long history of reproductive isolation. Further, five of the six putative lineages also contain genetically discrete populations, yielding at least 11 genetically distinct populations.
Conclusion
Such extreme genetic subdivision within a large vertebrate with high dispersal capabilities is unprecedented and exceeds that of any other large African mammal. Our results have significant implications for giraffe conservation, and imply separate in situ and ex situ management, not only of pelage morphs, but also of local populations.
doi:10.1186/1741-7007-5-57
PMCID: PMC2254591  PMID: 18154651

Results 1-5 (5)