1,785 research outputs found

    Ecdysozoan mitogenomics: evidence for a common origin of the legged invertebrates, the Panarthropoda

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    Ecdysozoa is the recently recognized clade of molting animals that comprises the vast majority of extant animal species and the most important invertebrate model organisms—the fruit fly and the nematode worm. Evolutionary relationships within the ecdysozoans remain, however, unresolved, impairing the correct interpretation of comparative genomic studies. In particular, the affinities of the three Panarthropoda phyla (Arthropoda, Onychophora, and Tardigrada) and the position of Myriapoda within Arthropoda (Mandibulata vs. Myriochelata hypothesis) are among the most contentious issues in animal phylogenetics. To elucidate these relationships, we have determined and analyzed complete or nearly complete mitochondrial genome sequences of two Tardigrada, Hypsibius dujardini and Thulinia sp. (the first genomes to date for this phylum); one Priapulida, Halicryptus spinulosus; and two Onychophora, Peripatoides sp. and Epiperipatus biolleyi; and a partial mitochondrial genome sequence of the Onychophora Euperipatoides kanagrensis. Tardigrada mitochondrial genomes resemble those of the arthropods in term of the gene order and strand asymmetry, whereas Onychophora genomes are characterized by numerous gene order rearrangements and strand asymmetry variations. In addition, Onychophora genomes are extremely enriched in A and T nucleotides, whereas Priapulida and Tardigrada are more balanced. Phylogenetic analyses based on concatenated amino acid coding sequences support a monophyletic origin of the Ecdysozoa and the position of Priapulida as the sister group of a monophyletic Panarthropoda (Tardigrada plus Onychophora plus Arthropoda). The position of Tardigrada is more problematic, most likely because of long branch attraction (LBA). However, experiments designed to reduce LBA suggest that the most likely placement of Tardigrada is as a sister group of Onychophora. The same analyses also recover monophyly of traditionally recognized arthropod lineages such as Arachnida and of the highly debated clade Mandibulata

    The gene complement of the ancestral bilaterian - was Urbilateria a monster?

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    Expressed sequence tag analyses of the annelid Pomatoceros lamarckii, recently published in BMC Evolutionary Biology, are consistent with less extensive gene loss in the Lophotrochozoa than in the Ecdysozoa, but it would be premature to generalize about patterns of gene loss on the basis of the limited data available

    From parasite genomes to one healthy world: Are we having fun yet?

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    In 1990, the Human Genome Sequencing Project was established. This laid the ground work for an explosion of sequence data that has since followed. As a result of this effort, the first complete genome of an animal, Caenorhabditis elegans was published in 1998. The sequence of Drosophila melanogaster was made available in March, 2000 and in the following year, working drafts of the human genome were generated with the completed sequence (92%) being released in 2003. Recent advancements and next-generation technologies have made sequencing common place and have infiltrated every aspect of biological research, including parasitology. To date, sequencing of 32 apicomplexa and 24 nematode genomes are either in progress or near completion, and over 600k nematode EST and 200k apicomplexa EST submissions fill the databases. However, the winds have shifted and efforts are now refocusing on how best to store, mine and apply these data to problem solving. Herein we tend not to summarize existing X-omics datasets or present new technological advances that promise future benefits. Rather, the information to follow condenses up-to-date-applications of existing technologies to problem solving as it relates to parasite research. Advancements in non-parasite systems are also presented with the proviso that applications to parasite research are in the making

    Expression of Distal-less, dachshund, and optomotor blind in Neanthes arenaceodentata (Annelida, Nereididae) does not support homology of appendage-forming mechanisms across the Bilateria

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    The similarity in the genetic regulation of arthropod and vertebrate appendage formation has been interpreted as the product of a plesiomorphic gene network that was primitively involved in bilaterian appendage development and co-opted to build appendages (in modern phyla) that are not historically related as structures. Data from lophotrochozoans are needed to clarify the pervasiveness of plesiomorphic appendage forming mechanisms. We assayed the expression of three arthropod and vertebrate limb gene orthologs, Distal-less (Dll), dachshund (dac), and optomotor blind (omb), in direct-developing juveniles of the polychaete Neanthes arenaceodentata. Parapodial Dll expression marks premorphogenetic notopodia and neuropodia, becoming restricted to the bases of notopodial cirri and to ventral portions of neuropodia. In outgrowing cephalic appendages, Dll activity is primarily restricted to proximal domains. Dll expression is also prominent in the brain. dac expression occurs in the brain, nerve cord ganglia, a pair of pharyngeal ganglia, presumed interneurons linking a pair of segmental nerves, and in newly differentiating mesoderm. Domains of omb expression include the brain, nerve cord ganglia, one pair of anterior cirri, presumed precursors of dorsal musculature, and the same pharyngeal ganglia and presumed interneurons that express dac. Contrary to their roles in outgrowing arthropod and vertebrate appendages, Dll, dac, and omb lack comparable expression in Neanthes appendages, implying independent evolution of annelid appendage development. We infer that parapodia and arthropodia are not structurally or mechanistically homologous (but their primordia might be), that Dll’s ancestral bilaterian function was in sensory and central nervous system differentiation, and that locomotory appendages possibly evolved from sensory outgrowths

    Comparison of articulate brachiopod nuclear and mitochondrial gene trees leads to a clade-based redefinition of protostomes (Protostomozoa) and deuterostomes (Deuterostomozoa)

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    Nuclear and mtDNA sequences from selected short-looped terebratuloid (terebratulacean) articulate brachiopods yield congruent and genetically independent phylogenetic reconstructions by parsimony, neighbor-joining and maximum likelihood methods, suggesting that both sources of data are reliable guides to brachiopod species phylogeny. The present-day genealogical relationships and geographical distributions of the tested terebratuloid brachiopods are consistent with a tethyan dispersal and subsequent radiation. Concordance of nuclear and mitochondrial gene phylogenies reinforces previous indications that articulate brachiopods, inarticulate brachiopods, phoronids and ectoprocts cluster with other organisms generally regarded as protostomes. Since ontogeny and morphology in brachiopods, ectoprocts and phoronids depart in important respects from those features supposedly diagnostic of protostomes, this demonstrates that the operational definition of protostomy by the usual ontological characters must be misleading or unreliable. New, molecular, operational definitions are proposed to replace the traditional criteria for the recognition of protostomes and deuterostomes, and the clade-based terms 'Protostomozoa' and 'Deuterostomozoa' are proposed to replace the existing terms 'Protostomia' and 'Deuterostomia'

    The genome of Romanomermis culicivorax:revealing fundamental changes in the core developmental genetic toolkit in Nematoda

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    Background: The genetics of development in the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans has been described in exquisite detail. The phylum Nematoda has two classes: Chromadorea (which includes C. elegans) and the Enoplea. While the development of many chromadorean species resembles closely that of C. elegans, enoplean nematodes show markedly different patterns of early cell division and cell fate assignment. Embryogenesis of the enoplean Romanomermis culicivorax has been studied in detail, but the genetic circuitry underpinning development in this species has not been explored. Results: We generated a draft genome for R. culicivorax and compared its gene content with that of C. elegans, a second enoplean, the vertebrate parasite Trichinella spiralis, and a representative arthropod, Tribolium castaneum. This comparison revealed that R. culicivorax has retained components of the conserved ecdysozoan developmental gene toolkit lost in C. elegans. T. spiralis has independently lost even more of this toolkit than has C. elegans. However, the C. elegans toolkit is not simply depauperate, as many novel genes essential for embryogenesis in C. elegans are not found in, or have only extremely divergent homologues in R. culicivorax and T. spiralis. Our data imply fundamental differences in the genetic programmes not only for early cell specification but also others such as vulva formation and sex determination. Conclusions: Despite the apparent morphological conservatism, major differences in the molecular logic of development have evolved within the phylum Nematoda. R. culicivorax serves as a tractable system to contrast C. elegans and understand how divergent genomic and thus regulatory backgrounds nevertheless generate a conserved phenotype. The R. culicivorax draft genome will promote use of this species as a research model

    Deep Genomic-Scale Analyses of the Metazoa Reject Coelomata: Evidence from Single- and Multigene Families Analyzed Under a Supertree and Supermatrix Paradigm

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    Solving the phylogeny of the animals with bilateral symmetry has proven difficult. Morphological studies have suggested a variety of alternative hypotheses, of which, Hyman’s Coelomata hypothesis has become the most established. Studies based on 18S rRNA have failed to endorse Coelomata, supporting instead the rearrangement of the protostomes into two new clades: the Lophotrochozoa (including, e.g., the molluscs and the annelids) and the Ecdysozoa (including the Panarthropoda and most pseudocoelomates, such as the nematodes and priapulids). Support for this new animal phylogeny has been attained from expressed sequence tag studies, although these generally have a limited gene sampling. In contrast, deep genomic-scale analyses have often supported Coelomata. However, these studies are problematic due to their limited taxonomic sampling, which could exacerbate tree reconstruction artifacts

    Homoplasy in genome-wide analysis of rare amino acid replacements: the molecular-evolutionary basis for Vavilov's law of homologous series

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    <p>Abstract</p> <p>Background</p> <p>Rare genomic changes (RGCs) that are thought to comprise derived shared characters of individual clades are becoming an increasingly important class of markers in genome-wide phylogenetic studies. Recently, we proposed a new type of RGCs designated RGC_CAMs (after Conserved Amino acids-Multiple substitutions) that were inferred using genome-wide identification of amino acid replacements that were: i) located in unambiguously aligned regions of orthologous genes, ii) shared by two or more taxa in positions that contain a different, conserved amino acid in a much broader range of taxa, and iii) require two or three nucleotide substitutions. When applied to animal phylogeny, the RGC_CAM approach supported the coelomate clade that unites deuterostomes with arthropods as opposed to the ecdysozoan (molting animals) clade. However, a non-negligible level of homoplasy was detected.</p> <p>Results</p> <p>We provide a direct estimate of the level of homoplasy caused by parallel changes and reversals among the RGC_CAMs using 462 alignments of orthologous genes from 19 eukaryotic species. It is shown that the impact of parallel changes and reversals on the results of phylogenetic inference using RGC_CAMs cannot explain the observed support for the Coelomata clade. In contrast, the evidence in support of the Ecdysozoa clade, in large part, can be attributed to parallel changes. It is demonstrated that parallel changes are significantly more common in internal branches of different subtrees that are separated from the respective common ancestor by relatively short times than in terminal branches separated by longer time intervals. A similar but much weaker trend was detected for reversals. The observed evolutionary trend of parallel changes is explained in terms of the covarion model of molecular evolution. As the overlap between the covarion sets in orthologous genes from different lineages decreases with time after divergence, the likelihood of parallel changes decreases as well.</p> <p>Conclusion</p> <p>The level of homoplasy observed here appears to be low enough to justify the utility of RGC_CAMs and other types of RGCs for resolution of hard problems in phylogeny. Parallel changes, one of the major classes of events leading to homoplasy, occur much more often in relatively recently diverged lineages than in those separated from their last common ancestor by longer time intervals of time. This pattern seems to provide the molecular-evolutionary underpinning of Vavilov's law of homologous series and is readily interpreted within the framework of the covarion model of molecular evolution.</p> <p>Reviewers</p> <p>This article was reviewed by Alex Kondrashov, Nicolas Galtier, and Maximilian Telford and Robert Lanfear (nominated by Laurence Hurst).</p

    The last common bilaterian ancestor

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    Many regulatory genes appear to be utilized in at least superficially similar ways in the development of particular body parts in Drosophila and in chordates. These similarities have been widely interpreted as functional homologies, producing the conventional view of the last common protostome-deuterostome ancestor (PDA) as a complex organism that possessed some of the same body parts as modern bilaterians. Here we discuss an alternative view, in which the last common PDA had a less complex body plan than is frequently conceived. This reconstruction alters expectations for Neoproterozoic fossil remains that could illustrate the pathways of bilaterian evolution
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