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The mechanism(s) by which fatty acids are sequestered and transported in muscle have not been fully elucidated. A potential key player in this process is the protein myoglobin (Mb). Indeed, there is a catalogue of empirical evidence supporting direct interaction of globins with fatty acid metabolites; however, the binding pocket and regulation of the interaction remains to be established. In this study, we employed a computational strategy to elucidate the structural determinants of fatty acids (palmitic & oleic acid) binding to Mb. Sequence analysis and docking simulations with a horse (Equus caballus) structural Mb reference reveals a fatty acid-binding site in the hydrophobic cleft near the heme region in Mb. Both palmitic acid and oleic acid attain a “U” shaped structure similar to their conformation in pockets of other fatty acid-binding proteins. Specifically, we found that the carboxyl head group of palmitic acid coordinates with the amino group of Lys45, whereas the carboxyl group of oleic acid coordinates with both the amino groups of Lys45 and Lys63. The alkyl tails of both fatty acids are supported by surrounding hydrophobic residues Leu29, Leu32, Phe33, Phe43, Phe46, Val67, Val68 and Ile107. In the saturated palmitic acid, the hydrophobic tail moves freely and occasionally penetrates deeper inside the hydrophobic cleft, making additional contacts with Val28, Leu69, Leu72 and Ile111. Our simulations reveal a dynamic and stable binding pocket in which the oxygen molecule and heme group in Mb are required for additional hydrophobic interactions. Taken together, these findings support a mechanism in which Mb acts as a muscle transporter for fatty acid when it is in the oxygenated state and releases fatty acid when Mb converts to deoxygenated state.
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Nothofagus cunninghamii is a long-lived, wind-pollinated tree species that dominates the cool temperate rainforests of southeastern Australia. The species’ distribution is more or less continuous in western Tasmania but is fragmented elsewhere. However, it is unknown whether this fragmentation has affected the species’ genetic architecture. Thus, we examined N. cunninghamii using 12 nuclear microsatellites and 633 individuals from 18 populations spanning the species’ natural range. Typical of wind-pollinated trees, there was low range-wide genetic structure (FST=0.04) consistent with significant gene flow across most of the species’ range. However, gene flow was not high enough to overcome the effects of drift across some disjunctions. Victorian populations (separated from Tasmania by the 240 km wide Bass Strait) formed a genetic group distinct from Tasmanian populations, had lower diversity (mean allelic richness (Ar)=5.4 in Victoria versus 6.9 in Tasmania) and were significantly more differentiated from one another than those in Tasmania (FST=0.045 in Victoria versus 0.012 in Tasmania). Evidence for bottlenecking was found in small populations that were at least 20 km from other populations. Interestingly, we found little divergence in microsatellite markers between the extremes of genetically based morphological and physiological altitudinal clines suggesting adaptive differentiation is strongly driven by selection because it is likely to be occurring in the presence of gene flow. Even though the cool temperate rainforests of Australia are highly relictual, the species is relatively robust to population fragmentation due to high levels of genetic diversity and gene flow, especially in Tasmania.
Data Types:
  • Geospatial Data
Understanding the impact of postglacial recolonization on genetic diversity is essential in explaining current patterns of genetic variation. The central–marginal hypothesis (CMH) predicts a reduction in genetic diversity from the core of the distribution to peripheral populations, as well as reduced connectivity between peripheral populations. While the CMH has received considerable empirical support, its broad applicability is still debated and alternative hypotheses predict different spatial patterns of genetic diversity. Using microsatellite markers, we analysed the genetic diversity of the adder (Vipera berus) in western Europe to reconstruct postglacial recolonization. Approximate Bayesian Computation (ABC) analyses suggested a postglacial recolonization from two routes: a western route from the Atlantic Coast up to Belgium and a central route from the Massif Central to the Alps. This cold-adapted species likely used two isolated glacial refugia in southern France, in permafrost-free areas during the last glacial maximum. Adder populations further from putative glacial refugia had lower genetic diversity and reduced connectivity; therefore, our results support the predictions of the CMH. Our study also illustrates the utility of highly variable nuclear markers, such as microsatellites, and ABC to test competing recolonization hypotheses.
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Vertical divergence in marine organisms is being increasingly documented, yet much remains to be carried out to understand the role of depth in the context of phylogeographic reconstruction and the identification of management units. An ideal study system to address this issue is the beaked redfish, Sebastes mentella – one of four species of ‘redfish’ occurring in the North Atlantic – which is known for a widely distributed ‘shallow-pelagic’ oceanic type inhabiting waters between 250 and 550 m, and a more localized ‘deep-pelagic’ population dwelling between 550 and 800 m, in the oceanic habitat of the Irminger Sea. Here, we investigate the extent of population structure in relation to both depth and geographic spread of oceanic beaked redfish throughout most of its distribution range. By sequencing the mitochondrial control region of 261 redfish collected over a decadal interval, and combining 160 rhodopsin coding nuclear sequences and previously genotyped microsatellite data, we map the existence of two strongly divergent evolutionary lineages with significantly different distribution patterns and historical demography, and whose genetic variance is mostly explained by depth. Combined genetic data, analysed via independent approaches, are consistent with a Late Pleistocene lineage split, where segregation by depth probably resulted from the interplay of climatic and oceanographic processes with life history and behavioural traits. The ongoing process of diversification in North Atlantic S. mentella may serve as an ‘hourglass’ to understand speciation and adaptive radiation in Sebastes and in other marine taxa distributed across a depth gradient.
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  • Geospatial Data
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Studies of species with continental distributions continue to identify intraspecific lineages despite continuous habitat. Lineages may form due to isolation by distance, adaptation, divergence across barriers, or genetic drift following range expansion. We investigated lineage diversification and admixture within American black bears (Ursus americanus) across their range using 22 k single nucleotide polymorphisms and mitochondrial DNA sequences. We identified three subcontinental nuclear clusters which we further divided into nine geographic regions: Alaskan (Alaska-East), eastern (Central Interior Highlands, Great Lakes, Northeast, Southeast), and western (Alaska-West, West, Pacific Coast, Southwest). We estimated that the western cluster diverged 67 ka, before eastern and Alaskan divergence 31 ka; these divergence dates contrasted with those from the mitochondrial genome where clades A and B diverged 1.07 Ma, and clades A-east and A-west diverged 169 ka. We combined estimates of divergence timing with hindcast species distribution models to infer glacial refugia for the species in Beringia, Pacific Northwest, Southwest, and Southeast. Our results show a complex arrangement of admixture due to expansion out of multiple refugia. The delineation of the genomic population clusters was inconsistent with the ranges for 16 previously described subspecies. Ranges for U. a. pugnax and U. a. cinnamomum were concordant with admixed clusters, calling into question how to order taxa below the species level. Additionally, our finding that U. a. floridanus has not diverged from U. a. americanus also suggests that morphology and genetics should be reanalyzed to assess taxonomic designations relevant to the conservation management of the species.
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  • Geospatial Data
  • Sequencing Data
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The evolution of island populations in natural systems is driven by local adaptation and genetic drift. However, evolutionary pathways may be altered by humans in several ways. The wild boar (WB) (Sus scrofa) is an iconic game species occurring in several islands, where it has been strongly managed since prehistoric times. We examined genomic diversity at 49 803 single-nucleotide polymorphisms in 99 Sardinian WBs and compared them with 196 wild specimens from mainland Europe and 105 domestic pigs (DP; 11 breeds). High levels of genetic variation were observed in Sardinia (80.9% of the total number of polymorphisms), which can be only in part associated to recent genetic introgression. Both Principal Component Analysis and Bayesian clustering approach revealed that the Sardinian WB population is highly differentiated from the other European populations (FST=0.126–0.138), and from DP (FST=0.169). Such evidences were mostly unaffected by an uneven sample size, although clustering results in reference populations changed when the number of individuals was standardized. Runs of homozygosity (ROHs) pattern and distribution in Sardinian WB are consistent with a past expansion following a bottleneck (small ROHs) and recent population substructuring (highly homozygous individuals). The observed effect of a non-random selection of Sardinian individuals on diversity, FST and ROH estimates, stressed the importance of sampling design in the study of structured or introgressed populations. Our results support the heterogeneity and distinctiveness of the Sardinian population and prompt further investigations on its origins and conservation status.
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  • Sequencing Data
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Aim: Glacial cycles during the Pleistocene may have frequently contributed to parallel evolution of phenotypes across independently evolving genetic lineages associated with separate glacial refugia. Previous studies based on morphology suggested that the prickly sculpin (Cottus asper) survived the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM) in southern coastal and inland refugia, favouring allopatric divergence between coastal and inland prickling phenotypes, which vary in the degree to which spine-like scales cover the body of the fish. Herein, we aimed to test whether parallel evolution across multiple genetic lineages rather than a single-lineage origin of highly prickled inland sculpins could serve as an explanation for the biogeographical distribution of prickling phenotypes. Location: North-western North America, Southeast Alaska and Canada (British Columbia). Methods: We used data from mitochondrial haplotypes and 19 microsatellite loci to identify distinct genetic lineages as a basis to interpret patterns of phenotypic evolution. Results: The occurrence of multiple mtDNA groups suggests that highly prickled inland phenotypes comprise more than one genetic lineage. Both mtDNA and microsatellite data are consistent with post-glacial dispersal along the coast and repeated coastal to inland colonization events, as opposed to inland dispersal of a single lineage from a southern refugium to northern regions. Main conclusions: Our results suggest that highly prickled inland phenotypes evolved repeatedly following multiple inland colonization events, probably via coastal rivers. The prickly sculpin therefore provides an example of recent (post-glacial) parallel evolution, potentially facilitated by standing genetic variation already present in the ancestral coastal populations.
Data Types:
  • Geospatial Data
Contact zones between divergent forms of the same species are often characterised by high levels of phenotypic diversity over small geographic distances. What processes are involved in generating such high phenotypic diversity? One possibility is that introgression and recombination between divergent forms in contact zones results in greater phenotypic and genetic polymorphism. Alternatively, strong reproductive isolation between forms may maintain distinct phenotypes, preventing homogenisation by gene flow. Contact zones between divergent freshwater-resident and anadromous stickleback (Gasterosteus aculeatus L.) forms are numerous and common throughout the species distribution, offering an opportunity to examine these contrasting hypotheses in greater detail. This study reports on an interesting new contact zone located in a tidally influenced lake catchment in western Ireland, characterised by high polymorphism for lateral plate phenotypes. Using neutral and QTL-linked microsatellite markers, we tested whether the high diversity observed in this contact zone arose as a result of introgression or reproductive isolation between divergent forms: we found strong support for the latter hypothesis. Three phenotypic and genetic clusters were identified, consistent with two divergent resident forms and a distinct anadromous completely plated population that migrates in and out of the system. Given the strong neutral differentiation detected between all three morphotypes (mean FST = 0.12), we hypothesised that divergent selection between forms maintains reproductive isolation. We found a correlation between neutral genetic and adaptive genetic differentiation that support this. While strong associations between QTL linked markers and phenotypes were also observed in this wild population, our results support the suggestion that such associations may be more complex in some Atlantic populations compared to those in the Pacific. These findings provide an important foundation for future work investigating the dynamics of gene flow and adaptive divergence in this newly discovered stickleback contact zone.
Data Types:
  • Geospatial Data
  • Tabular Data
The long-term establishment success of founder plant populations has been commonly assessed based on the measures of population genetic diversity and among population genetic differentiation, with founder populations expected to carry sufficient genetic diversity when population establishment is the result of many colonists from multiple source populations (the ‘migrant pool’ colonization model). Theory, however, predicts that, after initial colonization, rapid population expansion may result in a fast increase in the extent of spatial genetic structure (SGS), independent of extant genetic diversity. This SGS can reduce long-term population viability by increasing inbreeding. Using 12 microsatellite markers, we inferred colonization patterns in four recent populations of the grassland specialist plant Anthyllis vulneraria and compared the extent of SGS between recently established and old populations. Assignment analyses of the individuals of recent population based on the genetic composition of nine adjacent putative source populations suggested the occurrence of the ‘migrant pool’ colonization model, further confirmed by high genetic diversity within and low genetic differentiation among recent populations. Population establishment, however, resulted in the build-up of strong SGS, most likely as a result of spatially restricted recruitment of the progeny of initial colonists. Although reduced, significant SGS was nonetheless observed to persist in old populations. The presence of SGS was in all populations associated with elevated inbreeding coefficients, potentially affecting the long-term viability of these populations. In conclusion, this study illustrates the importance of studying SGS next to population genetic diversity and differentiation to adequately infer colonization patterns and long-term establishment success of plant species.
Data Types:
  • Geospatial Data
  • Tabular Data
  • Text
Understanding the genetic basis of traits involved in adaptation is a major challenge in evolutionary biology but remains poorly understood. Here, we use genome-wide association mapping using a custom 50 k single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) array in a natural population of collared flycatchers to examine the genetic basis of clutch size, an important life-history trait in many animal species. We found evidence for an association on chromosome 18 where one SNP significant at the genome-wide level explained 3.9% of the phenotypic variance. We also detected two suggestive quantitative trait loci (QTLs) on chromosomes 9 and 26. Fitness differences among genotypes were generally weak and not significant, although there was some indication of a sex-by-genotype interaction for lifetime reproductive success at the suggestive QTL on chromosome 26. This implies that sexual antagonism may play a role in maintaining genetic variation at this QTL. Our findings provide candidate regions for a classic avian life-history trait that will be useful for future studies examining the molecular and cellular function of, as well as evolutionary mechanisms operating at, these loci.
Data Types:
  • Geospatial Data
  • Sequencing Data
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