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In an attempt to control the mosquito-borne diseases yellow fever, dengue, chikungunya, and Zika fevers, a strain of transgenically modified Aedes aegypti mosquitoes containing a dominant lethal gene has been developed by a commercial company, Oxitec Ltd. If lethality is complete, releasing this strain should only reduce population size and not affect the genetics of the target populations. Approximately 450 thousand males of this strain were released each week for 27 months in Jacobina, Bahia, Brazil. We genotyped the release strain and the target Jacobina population before releases began for >21,000 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs). Genetic sampling from the target population six, 12, and 27–30 months after releases commenced provides clear evidence that portions of the transgenic strain genome have been incorporated into the target population. Evidently, rare viable hybrid offspring between the release strain and the Jacobina population are sufficiently robust to be able to reproduce in nature. The release strain was developed using a strain originally from Cuba, then outcrossed to a Mexican population. Thus, Jacobina Ae. aegypti are now a mix of three populations. It is unclear how this may affect disease transmission or affect other efforts to control these dangerous vectors. These results highlight the importance of having in place a genetic monitoring program during such releases to detect un-anticipated outcomes.
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A laborious and difficult task in current tree of life reconstruction is to resolve evolutionary relationships of closely related congeneric species that originated from recent radiations. This is particularly difficult for forest species with long generation times and large effective population sizes such as conifers. As the species diversity center of Picea, the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau (QTP) and its adjacent areas harbor 11 species (including 5 varieties) of this genus, but evolutionary relationships of these species are far from being resolved due to recent radiation, morphological convergence, and frequent interspecific gene flow. In this study, we use these spruce species to test whether phylotranscriptomic analysis, combined with population genetic analysis, can disentangle their evolutionary relationships, and to explore whether reticulate evolution has occurred among them. Phylogenomic analyses indicate that all spruce species in the QTP and neighboring areas, except P. asperata and P. crassifolia, cluster together, and in particular, nearly all taxa (including varieties) form their own monophyletic groups, although the two species P. likiangensis and P. brachytyla are not monophyletic. We found that, compared to herbaceous plants, many more genes (a minimum of 600 OGs for Picea) are required to resolve interspecific relationships of conifers. Our study does not support a hybrid origin of P. purpurea reported in previous studies, but suggests a hybrid origin for P. brachytyla var. brachytyla and P. likiangensis var. rubescens. Moreover, we emphasize that population genetic and phylogeographical studies should sample a monophyletic group if more than one species are involved.
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Heliozelidae are a cosmopolitan family of small, day-flying moths, and include some pest species of commercial crops. Overall, the family is poorly known and lacks a well-resolved phylogeny. Previous molecular and taxonomic work has revealed rich undescribed diversity within the family, particularly in Australia; however, the relationships amongst the major clades or genera were not resolved. We therefore sequenced the transcriptomes of 39 taxa, representing all major genera of Heliozelidae, and seven outgroups representing most other Adeloidea families and the putative sister superfamily, Andesianoidea. The resulting phylogeny, based on the coding sequences of up to 1049 nuclear genes, provides a robust hypothesis for the generic relationships within Heliozelidae. On the basis of this analysis, the genus Plesiozela, previously proposed sister group of all other Heliozelidae, is excluded from the family and transferred to Incurvariidae. Additionally, we incorporated fossil and secondary time calibrations into our phylogeny and estimated that Heliozelidae ancestors first appeared at the beginning of the Late Cretaceous, approximately 95 Mya. Finally, we propose an ancestral biogeographical range hypothesis of the family, based on a combination of our transcriptome data and a previous multigene study including over 100 species. We suggest the origins of the Heliozelidae were in the Australian region, with subsequent expansions to the rest of the world.
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Climate change is affecting both the volume and distribution of precipitation, which in turn is expected to affect the growth and reproduction of plant populations. The near ubiquity of local adaptation suggests that adaptive differentiation may have important consequences for how populations are affected by and respond to changing precipitation. Here, we manipulated rainfall in a common garden to examine how differentiation among populations of common ragweed, Ambrosia artemisiifolia (Asteraceae) affects responses to water availability expected under climate change. We collected seeds from 26 populations along gradients of historical rainfall and used event-based rainout shelters and watering additions to simulate drier summer conditions and more extreme rainfall events, respectively. Ambrosia artemisiifolia had higher fitness on average under reduced rainfall, suggesting it may spread and become more abundant in areas projected to become hotter and drier during the summer months. We also found strong evidence for phenotypic and fitness clines across both latitude and longitude, and that phenological responses and fitness effects of altered rainfall depended on seed source or historical climate. The effect of rainfall treatment on female fitness was highest in western and mid longitudes, but there was little effect on eastern populations. Across latitude, the effect of rainfall treatment on male fitness was highest in southern populations. These phenology and fitness clines suggest that adaptive differentiation across the species’ range has the potential to shape future responses of A. artemisiifolia populations to climate change, particularly altered patterns of rainfall.
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Freshwater is one of the most critical elements for sustainable development of ecosystems and societies. River basins, concomitant with administrative zones, form a common unit for freshwater management. So far, no comprehensive, global analysis exists that would link the ecological challenges of the planet's river basins to the capacity of the societies to cope with them. We address this gap by performing a geospatial resilience analysis for a global set of 541 river basins. We use the social‐ecological systems (SES) approach by relating three ecological vulnerability factors (human footprint, natural hazards, water scarcity) with three adaptive capacity factors (governance, economy, human development), based on temporal trajectories from 1990 to 2015. Additionally, we examine resilience by subtracting ecological vulnerability from adaptive capacity. The most striking result is the fundamentally different patterns of controlling factors of the resilience in different developing regions, particularly those of Africa and Asia. Their root causes are particularly low adaptive capacity in Africa, and high ecological vulnerability in Asia. Alarmingly, the difference between those continents grew within the study period. Finally, this study highlights the rapid dynamics of adaptive capacity in comparison to ecological vulnerability, the latter having more inertia. Their fragile balance is of our interest; they can either support or counteract each other depending on the geographic location.
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Collective responses to threats occur throughout the animal kingdom but little is known about the cognitive processes underpinning them. Antipredator mobbing is one such response. Approaching a predator may be highly risky, but the individual risk declines and the likelihood of repelling the predator increases in larger mobbing groups. The ability to appraise the number of conspecifics involved in a mobbing event could therefore facilitate strategic decisions about whether to join. Mobs are commonly initiated by recruitment calls, which may provide valuable information to guide decision-making. We tested whether the number of wild jackdaws responding to recruitment calls was influenced by the number of callers. As predicted, playbacks simulating three or five callers tended to recruit more individuals than playbacks of one caller. Recruitment also substantially increased if recruits themselves produced calls. These results suggest that jackdaws use individual vocal discrimination to assess the number of conspecifics involved in initiating mobbing events, and use this information to guide their responses. Our results show support for the use of numerical assessment in antipredator mobbing responses and highlight the need for a greater understanding of the cognitive processes involved in collective behaviour.
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Predictions of airborne allergenic pollen concentrations at fine spatial scales require information on source plant location and pollen production. Such data are lacking at the urban scale, largely because manually mapping allergenic pollen producing plants across large areas is infeasible. However, modest-sized field surveys paired with allometric equations, remote sensing, and habitat distribution models can predict where these plants occur and how much pollen they produce. In this study, common ragweed (Ambrosia artemisiifolia) was mapped in a field survey in Detroit, MI, USA. The relationship between ragweed presence and habitat-related variables derived from aerial imagery, LiDAR, and municipal data were used to create a habitat distribution model, which was then used to predict ragweed presence across the study area (392 km2). The relationship between inflorescence length and pollen production was used to predict pollen production in the city. Ragweed occurs in 1.7% of Detroit and total pollen production is 312 × 1012 pollen grains annually, but ragweed presence was highly heterogeneous across the city. Ragweed was predominantly found in in vacant lots (75%) and near demolished structures (48%), and had varying associations with land cover types (e.g., sparse vegetation, trees, pavement) detected by remote sensing. These findings also suggest several management strategies that could help reduce levels of allergenic pollen, including appropriate post-demolition management practices. Spatially-resolved predictions for pollen production will allow mechanistic modeling of airborne allergenic pollen and improved exposure estimates for use in epidemiological and other applications.
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Motivation: Quality of gene expression analyses using de novo assembled transcripts in species that experienced recent polyploidization remains unexplored. Results: Differential gene expression (DGE) analyses using putative genes inferred by Trinity, Corset and Grouper performed slightly differently across five plant species that experienced various poly-ploidy histories. In species that lack recent polyploidy events that occurred in the past several millions of years, DGE analyses using de novo assembled transcriptomes identified 54–82% of the differen-tially expressed genes recovered by mapping reads to the reference genes. However, in species that experienced more recent polyploidy events, the percentage decreased to 21–65%. Gene co-expression network analyses using de novo assemblies vs. mapping to the reference genes recov-ered the same module that significantly correlated with treatment in one species that lacks recent polyploidization.
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1. Most studies on the evolution of migration focus on food, mates and/or climate as factors influencing these movements, whereas negative species interactions such as predators, parasites and pathogens are often ignored. Although infection and its associated costs clearly have the potential to influence migration, thoroughly studying these interactions is challenging without a solid theoretical framework from which to develop testable predictions in natural systems. 2. Here, we aim to understand when parasites favour the evolution of migration. 3. We develop a general model which enables us to explore a broad range of biological conditions and to capture population and infection dynamics over both ecological and evolutionary time scales. 4. We show that when migration evolves depends on whether the costs of migration and infection are paid in reduced fecundity or survival. Also important are the parasite transmission mode and spatiotemporal dynamics of infection and recovery (if it occurs). Finally, we find that partial migration (where only a fraction of the population migrates) can evolve but only when parasite transmission is density-dependent. 5. Our results highlight the critical, if overlooked, role of parasites in shaping long-distance movement patterns, and suggest that infection should be considered alongside more traditional drivers of migration in both empirical and theoretical studies.
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Most of our knowledge on human CNS circuitry and related disorders originates from model organisms. How well such data translate to the human CNS remains largely to be determined. Human brain slice cultures derived from neurosurgical resections may offer novel avenues to approach this translational gap. We now demonstrate robust preservation of the complex neuronal cytoarchitecture and electrophysiological properties of human pyramidal neurons in long-term brain slice cultures. Further experiments delineate the optimal conditions for efficient viral transduction of cultures, enabling "high throughput" fluorescence mediated 3D reconstruction of genetically targeted neurons at comparable quality to state-of-the-art biocytin fillings, and demonstrate feasibility of long term live cell imaging of human cells in vitro. This model system has implications toward a broad spectrum of translational studies, regarding the validation of data obtained in non-human model systems, for therapeutic screening and genetic dissection of human CNS circuitry.
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