157 research outputs found

    Molecular evidence for a single origin of ultrafiltration-based excretory organs

    Get PDF
    Under embargo until: 2021-06-23Excretion is an essential physiological process, carried out by all living organisms, regardless of their size or complexity.1, 2, 3 Both protostomes (e.g., flies and flatworms) and deuterostomes (e.g., humans and sea urchins) possess specialized excretory organs serving that purpose. Those organs exhibit an astonishing diversity, ranging from units composed of just few distinct cells (e.g., protonephridia) to complex structures, built by millions of cells of multiple types with divergent morphology and function (e.g., vertebrate kidneys).4,5 Although some molecular similarities between the development of kidneys of vertebrates and the regeneration of the protonephridia of flatworms have been reported,6,7 the molecular underpinnings of the development of excretory organs have never been systematically studied in a comparative context.4 Here, we show that a set of transcription factors (eya, six1/2, pou3, sall, lhx1/5, and osr) and structural proteins (nephrin, kirre, and zo1) is expressed in the excretory organs of a phoronid, brachiopod, annelid, onychophoran, priapulid, and hemichordate that represent major protostome lineages and non-vertebrate deuterostomes. We demonstrate that the molecular similarity observed in the vertebrate kidney and flatworm protonephridia6,7 is also seen in the developing excretory organs of those animals. Our results show that all types of ultrafiltration-based excretory organs are patterned by a conserved set of developmental genes, an observation that supports their homology. We propose that the last common ancestor of protostomes and deuterostomes already possessed an ultrafiltration-based organ that later gave rise to the vast diversity of extant excretory organs, including both proto- and metanephridia.acceptedVersio

    Testing for polytomies in phylogenetic species trees using quartet frequencies

    Full text link
    Phylogenetic species trees typically represent the speciation history as a bifurcating tree. Speciation events that simultaneously create more than two descendants, thereby creating polytomies in the phylogeny, are possible. Moreover, the inability to resolve relationships is often shown as a (soft) polytomy. Both types of polytomies have been traditionally studied in the context of gene tree reconstruction from sequence data. However, polytomies in the species tree cannot be detected or ruled out without considering gene tree discordance. In this paper, we describe a statistical test based on properties of the multi-species coalescent model to test the null hypothesis that a branch in an estimated species tree should be replaced by a polytomy. On both simulated and biological datasets, we show that the null hypothesis is rejected for all but the shortest branches, and in most cases, it is retained for true polytomies. The test, available as part of the ASTRAL package, can help systematists decide whether their datasets are sufficient to resolve specific relationships of interest

    Topology-dependent asymmetry in systematic errors affects phylogenetic placement of Ctenophora and Xenacoelomorpha

    Get PDF
    The evolutionary relationships of two animal phyla, Ctenophora and Xenacoelomorpha, have proved highly contentious. Ctenophora have been proposed as the most distant relatives of all other animals (Ctenophora-first rather than the traditional Porifera-first). Xenacoelomorpha may be primitively simple relatives of all other bilaterally symmetrical animals (Nephrozoa) or simplified relatives of echinoderms and hemichordates (Xenambulacraria). In both cases, one of the alternative topologies must be a result of errors in tree reconstruction. Here, using empirical data and simulations, we show that the Ctenophora-first and Nephrozoa topologies (but not Porifera-first and Ambulacraria topologies) are strongly supported by analyses affected by systematic errors. Accommodating this finding suggests that empirical studies supporting Ctenophora-first and Nephrozoa trees are likely to be explained by systematic error. This would imply that the alternative Porifera-first and Xenambulacraria topologies, which are supported by analyses designed to minimize systematic error, are the most credible current alternatives

    Zoology: Worming into the Origin of Bilaterians

    Get PDF
    Xenacoelomorphs, a group of worms with simple body organization, have been proposed to represent the first offshoot of bilaterians. A new study shows that they might instead belong to the deuterostomes, just as echinoderms and vertebrates

    The evolutionary history of consciousness

    Get PDF
    Klein & Barron argue that insects are capable of subjective experience, i.e., sentience. Whereas we mostly agree with the conclusion of their arguments, we think there is an even more important message to be learned from their work. The line of reasoning opened by Klein & Barron proves instructive for how neuroscientists can and should explore the biological phenomenon of consciousness

    The evolutionary history of consciousness

    Get PDF
    Klein & Barron argue that insects are capable of subjective experience, i.e., sentience. Whereas we mostly agree with the conclusion of their arguments, we think there is an even more important message to be learned from their work. The line of reasoning opened by Klein & Barron proves instructive for how neuroscientists can and should explore the biological phenomenon of consciousness

    Mitigating Anticipated Effects of Systematic Errors Supports Sister-Group Relationship between Xenacoelomorpha and Ambulacraria

    Get PDF
    Xenoturbella and the acoelomorph worms (Xenacoe-lomorpha) are simple marine animals with controversial affinities. They have been placed as the sister group of all other bilaterian animals (Nephrozoa hypothesis), implying their simplicity is an ancient characteristic [1, 2]; alternatively, they have been linked to the complex Ambulacraria (echinoderms and hemichordates) in a Glade called the Xenambulacraria [3,5], suggesting their simplicity evolved by reduction from a complex ancestor. The difficulty resolving this problem implies the phylogenetic signal supporting the correct solution is weak and affected by inadequate modeling, creating a misleading non-phylogenetic signal. The idea that the Nephrozoa hypothesis might be an artifact is prompted by the faster molecular evolutionary rate observed within the Acoelomorpha. Unequal rates of evolution are known to result in the systematic artifact of long branch attraction, which would be predicted to result in an attraction between long-branch acoelomorphs and the outgroup, pulling them toward the root [6]. Other biases inadequately accommodated by the models used can also have strong effects, exacerbated in the context of short internal branches and long terminal branches [7]. We have assembled a large and informative dataset to address this problem. Analyses designed to reduce or to emphasize misleading signals show the Nephrozoa hypothesis is supported under conditions expected to exacerbate errors, and the Xenambulacraria hypothesis is preferred in conditions designed to reduce errors. Our reanalyses of two other recently published datasets [1, 2] produce the same result. We conclude that the Xenacoelomorpha are simplified relatives of the Ambulacraria

    Zoology: War of the Worms

    Get PDF
    The phylogenetic affinities of Xenacoelomorpha - the phylum comprising Xenoturbella bocki and acoelomorph worms - are debated. Two recent studies conclude they represent the earliest branching bilaterally symmetrical animals, but additional tests may be needed to confirm this notion

    A new species of Xenoturbella from the western Pacific Ocean and the evolution of Xenoturbella

    Get PDF
    BackgroundXenoturbella is a group of marine benthic animals lacking an anus and a centralized nervous system. Molecular phylogenetic analyses group the animal together with the Acoelomorpha, forming the Xenacoelomorpha. This group has been suggested to be either a sister group to the Nephrozoa or a deuterostome, and therefore it may provide important insights into origins of bilaterian traits such as an anus, the nephron, feeding larvae and centralized nervous systems. However, only five Xenoturbella species have been reported and the evolutionary history of xenoturbellids and Xenacoelomorpha remains obscure.ResultsHere we describe a new Xenoturbella species from the western Pacific Ocean, and report a new xenoturbellid structure - the frontal pore. Non-destructive microCT was used to investigate the internal morphology of this soft-bodied animal. This revealed the presence of a frontal pore that is continuous with the ventral glandular network and which exhibits similarities with the frontal organ in acoelomorphs.ConclusionsOur results suggest that large size, oval mouth, frontal pore and ventral glandular network may be ancestral features for Xenoturbella. Further studies will clarify the evolutionary relationship of the frontal pore and ventral glandular network of xenoturbellids and the acoelomorph frontal organ. One of the habitats of the newly identified species is easily accessible from a marine station and so this species promises to be valuable for research on bilaterian and deuterostome evolution

    22 - War of the Worms II

    Get PDF
    • …
    corecore