• Darwin’s Fancy Revised: An Updated Understanding of the Genomic Constitution of Pigeon Breeds

      Pacheco, G; van Grouw, Hein; Shapiro, MD; Gilbert, MTP; Vieira, FG (Oxford University Press (OUP), 2020-02-13)
      Through its long history of artificial selection, the rock pigeon (Columba livia Gmelin, 1789) was forged into a large number of domestic breeds. The incredible amount of phenotypic diversity exhibited in these breeds has long held the fascination of scholars, particularly those interested in biological inheritance and evolution. However, exploiting them as a model system is challenging, as unlike with many other domestic species, few reliable records exist about the origins of, and relationships between, each of the breeds. Therefore, in order to broaden our understanding of the complex evolutionary relationships among pigeon breeds, we generated genome-wide data by performing the Genotyping-by-Sequencing (GBS) method on close to 200 domestic individuals representing over 60 breeds. We analyzed this GBS data alongside previously published Whole-Genome Sequencing (WGS) data, and this combined analysis allowed us to conduct the most extensive phylogenetic analysis of the group, including two feral pigeons and one outgroup. We improve previous phylogenies, find considerable population structure across the different breeds, and identify unreported interbreed admixture events. Despite the reduced number of loci relative to WGS, we demonstrate that GBS data provide sufficient analytical power to investigate intertwined evolutionary relationships, such as those that are characteristic of animal domestic breeds. Thus, we argue that future studies should consider sequencing methods akin to the GBS approach as an optimal cost-effective approach for addressing complex phylogenies.
    • Delegating sex: differential gene expression in stolonizing syllids uncovers the hormonal control of reproduction in Annelida

      Alvarez-Campos, P; Kenny, NJ; Verdes, A; Fernandez, RM; Novo, M; Giribet, G; Riesgo, A (Oxford Academic, 2018-12-11)
      Stolonization in syllid annelids is a unique mode of reproduction among animals. During the breeding season, a structure resembling the adult but containing only gametes, called stolon, is formed generally at the posterior end of the animal. When stolons mature, they detach from the adult and gametes are released into the water column. The process is synchronized within each species, and it has been reported to be under environmental and endogenous control, probably via endocrine regulation. To further understand reproduction in syllids and to elucidate the molecular toolkit underlying stolonization, we generated Illumina RNA-seq data from different tissues of reproductive and nonreproductive individuals of Syllis magdalena and characterized gene expression during the stolonization process. Several genes involved in gametogenesis (ovochymase, vitellogenin, testis-specific serine/threonine-kinase), immune response (complement receptor 2), neuronal development (tyrosine-protein kinase Src42A), cell proliferation (alpha-1D adrenergic receptor), and steroid metabolism (hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase 2) were found differentially expressed in the different tissues and conditions analyzed. In addition, our findings suggest that several neurohormones, such as methyl farnesoate, dopamine, and serotonin, might trigger stolon formation, the correct maturation of gametes and the detachment of stolons when gametogenesis ends. The process seems to be under circadian control, as indicated by the expression patterns of r-opsins. Overall, our results shed light into the genes that orchestrate the onset of gamete formation and improve our understanding of how some hormones, previously reported to be involved in reproduction and metamorphosis processes in other invertebrates, seem to also regulate reproduction via stolonization.
    • Family-Level Sampling of Mitochondrial Genomes in Coleoptera: Compositional Heterogeneity and Phylogenetics

      Timmermans, MJTN; Barton, C; Haran, J; Ahrens, D; Culverwell, CL; Ollikainen, A; Dodsworth, S; Foster, PG; Bocak, L; Vogler, AP (Oxford University Press, 2016-01-01)
      Mitochondrial genomes are readily sequenced with recent technology and thus evolutionary lineages can be densely sampled. This permits better phylogenetic estimates and assessment of potential biases resulting from heterogeneity in nucleotide composition and rate of change. We gathered 245 mitochondrial sequences for the Coleoptera representing all 4 suborders, 15 superfamilies of Polyphaga, and altogether 97 families, including 159 newly sequenced full or partial mitogenomes. Compositional heterogeneity greatly affected 3rd codon positions, and to a lesser extent the 1st and 2nd positions, even after RY coding. Heterogeneity also affected the encoded protein sequence, in particular in the nad2 , nad4 , nad5 , and nad6 genes. Credible tree topologies were obtained with the nhPhyML (“nonhomogeneous”) algorithm implementing a model for branch-specific equilibrium frequencies. Likelihood searches using RAxML were improved by data partitioning by gene and codon position. Finally, the PhyloBayes software, which allows different substitution processes for amino acid replacement at various sites, produced a tree that best matched known higher level taxa and defined basal relationships in Coleoptera. After rooting with Neuropterida outgroups, suborder relationships were resolved as (Polyphaga (Myxophaga (Archostemata + Adephaga))). The infraorder relationships in Polyphaga were (Scirtiformia (Elateriformia ((Staphyliniformia + Scarabaeiformia) (Bostrichiformia (Cucujiformia))))). Polyphagan superfamilies were recovered as monophyla except Staphylinoidea (paraphyletic for Scarabaeiformia) and Cucujoidea, which can no longer be considered a valid taxon. The study shows that, although compositional heterogeneity is not universal, it cannot be eliminated for some mitochondrial genes, but dense taxon sampling and the use of appropriate Bayesian analyses can still produce robust phylogenetic trees.
    • Genome-wide SNP data reveal an overestimation of species diversity in a group of hawkmoths.

      Hundsdoerfer, AK; Lee, KM; Kitching, IJ; Mutanen, M (Oxford University Press, 2019-05-29)
      The interface between populations and evolving young species continues to generate much contemporary debate in systematics depending on the species concept(s) applied but which ultimately reduces to the fundamental question of “when do nondiscrete entities become distinct,mutually exclusive evolutionary units”? Species are perceived as critical biological entities, and the discovery and naming of new species is perceived by many authors as a major research aim for assessing current biodiversity before much of it becomes extinct.However, less attention is given to determining whether these names represent valid biological entities because this is perceived as both a laborious chore and an undesirable research outcome. The charismatic spurge hawkmoths (Hyles euphorbiae complex, HEC) offer an opportunity to study this less fashionable aspect of systematics. To elucidate this intriguing systematic challenge, we analyzed over 10,000 ddRAD single nucleotide polymorphisms from 62 individuals using coalescent-based and population genomic methodology. These genome-wide data reveal a clear overestimation of (sub)species-level diversity and demonstrate that the HEC taxonomy has been seriously oversplit. We conclude that only one valid species name should be retained for the entire HEC, namely Hyles euphorbiae, and we do not recognize any formal subspecies or other taxonomic subdivisions within it. Although the adoption of genetic tools has frequently revealed morphologically cryptic diversity, the converse, taxonomic oversplitting of species, is generally (and wrongly in our opinion) accepted as rare. Furthermore, taxonomic oversplitting is most likely to have taken place in intensively studied popular and charismatic organisms such as the HEC.
    • A Polychaete’s Powerful Punch: Venom Gland Transcriptomics of Glycera Reveals a Complex Cocktail of Toxin Homologs

      von Reumont, BM; Campbell, LI; Richter, S; Hering, L; Sykes, D; Hetmank, J; Jenner, RA; Bleidorn, C (2014-09)