168 research outputs found

    Superconductivity in CuxBi2Se3 and its implications for pairing in the undoped topological insulator

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    Bi2Se3 is one of a handful of known topological insulators. Here we show that copper intercalation in the van der Waals gaps between the Bi2Se3 layers, yielding an electron concentration of ~ 2 x 10^20cm-3, results in superconductivity at 3.8 K in CuxBi2Se3 for x between 0.12 and 0.15. This demonstrates that Cooper pairing is possible in Bi2Se3 at accessible temperatures, with implications for study of the physics of topological insulators and potential devices.Comment: 6 pages, 4 figure

    Maternal age effect and severe germ-line bottleneck in the inheritance of human mitochondrial DNA

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    The manifestation of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) diseases depends on the frequency of heteroplasmy (the presence of several alleles in an individual), yet its transmission across generations cannot be readily predicted owing to a lack of data on the size of the mtDNA bottleneck during oogenesis. For deleterious heteroplasmies, a severe bottleneck may abruptly transform a benign (low) frequency in a mother into a disease-causing (high) frequency in her child. Here we present a high-resolution study of heteroplasmy transmission conducted on blood and buccal mtDNA of 39 healthy mother–child pairs of European ancestry (a total of 156 samples, each sequenced at ∼20,000× per site). On average, each individual carried one heteroplasmy, and one in eight individuals carried a disease-associated heteroplasmy, with minor allele frequency ≥1%. We observed frequent drastic heteroplasmy frequency shifts between generations and estimated the effective size of the germ-line mtDNA bottleneck at only ∼30–35 (interquartile range from 9 to 141). Accounting for heteroplasmies, we estimated the mtDNA germ-line mutation rate at 1.3 × 10−8 (interquartile range from 4.2 × 10−9 to 4.1 × 10−8) mutations per site per year, an order of magnitude higher than for nuclear DNA. Notably, we found a positive association between the number of heteroplasmies in a child and maternal age at fertilization, likely attributable to oocyte aging. This study also took advantage of droplet digital PCR (ddPCR) to validate heteroplasmies and confirm a de novo mutation. Our results can be used to predict the transmission of disease-causing mtDNA variants and illuminate evolutionary dynamics of the mitochondrial genome

    Evidence for Pervasive Adaptive Protein Evolution in Wild Mice

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    The relative contributions of neutral and adaptive substitutions to molecular evolution has been one of the most controversial issues in evolutionary biology for more than 40 years. The analysis of within-species nucleotide polymorphism and between-species divergence data supports a widespread role for adaptive protein evolution in certain taxa. For example, estimates of the proportion of adaptive amino acid substitutions (alpha) are 50% or more in enteric bacteria and Drosophila. In contrast, recent estimates of alpha for hominids have been at most 13%. Here, we estimate alpha for protein sequences of murid rodents based on nucleotide polymorphism data from multiple genes in a population of the house mouse subspecies Mus musculus castaneus, which inhabits the ancestral range of the Mus species complex and nucleotide divergence between M. m. castaneus and M. famulus or the rat. We estimate that 57% of amino acid substitutions in murids have been driven by positive selection. Hominids, therefore, are exceptional in having low apparent levels of adaptive protein evolution. The high frequency of adaptive amino acid substitutions in wild mice is consistent with their large effective population size, leading to effective natural selection at the molecular level. Effective natural selection also manifests itself as a paucity of effectively neutral nonsynonymous mutations in M. m. castaneus compared to humans

    Postglacial expansion of the arctic keystone copepod calanus glacialis

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    Calanus glacialis, a major contributor to zooplankton biomass in the Arctic shelf seas, is a key link between primary production and higher trophic levels that may be sensitive to climate warming. The aim of this study was to explore genetic variation in contemporary populations of this species to infer possible changes during the Quaternary period, and to assess its population structure in both space and time. Calanus glacialis was sampled in the fjords of Spitsbergen (Hornsund and Kongsfjorden) in 2003, 2004, 2006, 2009 and 2012. The sequence of a mitochondrial marker, belonging to the ND5 gene, selected for the study was 1249 base pairs long and distinguished 75 unique haplotypes among 140 individuals that formed three main clades. There was no detectable pattern in the distribution of haplotypes by geographic distance or over time. Interestingly, a Bayesian skyline plot suggested that a 1000-fold increase in population size occurred approximately 10,000 years before present, suggesting a species expansion after the Last Glacial Maximum.GAME from the National Science Centre, the Polish Ministry of Science and Higher Education Iuventus Plus [IP2014 050573]; FCT-PT [CCMAR/Multi/04326/2013]; [2011/03/B/NZ8/02876

    Convergent development of low-relatedness supercolonies in Myrmica ants.

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    Many ant species have independently evolved colony structures with multiple queens and very low relatedness among nestmate workers, but it has remained unclear whether low-relatedness kin structures can repeatedly arise in populations of the same species. Here we report a study of Danish island populations of the red ant Myrmica sulcinodis and show that it is likely that such repeated developments occur. Two microsatellite loci were used to estimate genetic differentiation (F(ST)) among three populations and nestmate relatedness within these populations. The F(ST) values were highly significant due to very different allele frequencies among the three populations with relatively few common alleles and relatively many rare alleles, possibly caused by single queen foundation and rare subsequent immigration. Given the isolation of the islands and the low investment in reproduction, we infer that each of the populations was most likely established by a single queen, even though all three extant populations now have within-colony relatedness 95%), and the genetic differentiation of nests showed a significantly positive correlation with the distance between them. Both male-biased sex-ratio and genetic viscosity are expected characteristics of populations where queens have very local dispersal and where new colonies are initiated through nest-budding. Based on a comparison with other M. sulcinodis populations we hypothesise a distinct succession of population types and suggest that this may be a possible pathway to unicoloniality, ie, development towards a complete lack of colony kin structure and unrelated nestmate workers

    Mutation Accumulation in a Selfing Population: Consequences of Different Mutation Rates between Selfers and Outcrossers

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    Currently existing theories predict that because deleterious mutations accumulate at a higher rate, selfing populations suffer from more intense genetic degradation relative to outcrossing populations. This prediction may not always be true when we consider a potential difference in deleterious mutation rate between selfers and outcrossers. By analyzing the evolutionary stability of selfing and outcrossing in an infinite population, we found that the genome-wide deleterious mutation rate would be lower in selfing than in outcrossing organisms. When this difference in mutation rate was included in simulations, we found that in a small population, mutations accumulated more slowly under selfing rather than outcrossing. This result suggests that under frequent and intense bottlenecks, a selfing population may have a lower risk of genetic extinction than an outcrossing population

    Molecular evolution of the membrane associated progesterone receptor in the Brachionus plicatilis (Rotifera, Monogononta) species complex

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    Author Posting. © Springer, 2010. This is the author's version of the work. It is posted here by permission of Springer for personal use, not for redistribution. The definitive version was published in Hydrobiologia 662 (2011): 99-106, doi:10.1007/s10750-010-0484-4.Many studies have investigated physiological roles of the membrane associated progesterone receptor (MAPR), but little is known of its evolution. Marked variations in response to exogenous progesterone have been reported for four brachionid rotifer species, suggesting differences in progesterone signaling and reception. Here we report sequence variation for the MAPR gene in the Brachionus plicatilis species complex. Phylogenetic analysis of this receptor is compared with relatedness based on cytochrome c oxidase subunit 1 sequences. Nonsynonymous to synonymous site substitution rate ratios, amino acid divergence, and variations in predicted phosphorylation sites are examined to assess evolution of the MAPR among brachionid clades.National Science Foundation grant BE/GenEn MCB-0412674E to TWS and DMW, and an NSF IGERT fellowship to HAS under DGE 0114400, supported this work

    Experimental mutation-accumulation on the X chromosome of Drosophila melanogaster reveals stronger selection on males than females

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    <p>Abstract</p> <p>Background</p> <p>Sex differences in the magnitude or direction of mutational effect may be important to a variety of population processes, shaping the mutation load and affecting the cost of sex itself. These differences are expected to be greatest after sexual maturity. Mutation-accumulation (MA) experiments provide the most direct way to examine the consequences of new mutations, but most studies have focused on juvenile viability without regard to sex, and on autosomes rather than sex chromosomes; both adult fitness and X-linkage have been little studied. We therefore investigated the effects of 50 generations of X-chromosome mutation accumulation on the fitness of males and females derived from an outbred population of <it>Drosophila melanogaster</it>.</p> <p>Results</p> <p>Fitness declined rapidly in both sexes as a result of MA, but adult males showed markedly greater fitness loss relative to their controls compared to females expressing identical genotypes, even when females were made homozygous for the X. We estimate that these mutations are partially additive (h ~ 0.3) in females. In addition, the majority of new mutations appear to harm both males and females.</p> <p>Conclusions</p> <p>Our data helps fill a gap in our understanding of the consequences of sexual selection for genetic load, and suggests that stronger selection on males may indeed purge deleterious mutations affecting female fitness.</p

    Critical mutation rate has an exponential dependence on population size for eukaryotic-length genomes with crossover

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    The critical mutation rate (CMR) determines the shift between survival-of-the-fittest and survival of individuals with greater mutational robustness (“flattest”). We identify an inverse relationship between CMR and sequence length in an in silico system with a two-peak fitness landscape; CMR decreases to no more than five orders of magnitude above estimates of eukaryotic per base mutation rate. We confirm the CMR reduces exponentially at low population sizes, irrespective of peak radius and distance, and increases with the number of genetic crossovers. We also identify an inverse relationship between CMR and the number of genes, confirming that, for a similar number of genes to that for the plant Arabidopsis thaliana (25,000), the CMR is close to its known wild-type mutation rate; mutation rates for additional organisms were also found to be within one order of magnitude of the CMR. This is the first time such a simulation model has been assigned input and produced output within range for a given biological organism. The decrease in CMR with population size previously observed is maintained; there is potential for the model to influence understanding of populations undergoing bottleneck, stress, and conservation strategy for populations near extinction

    Two Origins for the Gene Encoding α-Isopropylmalate Synthase in Fungi

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    BACKGROUND: The biosynthesis of leucine is a biochemical pathway common to prokaryotes, plants and fungi, but absent from humans and animals. The pathway is a proposed target for antimicrobial therapy. METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: Here we identified the leuA gene encoding alpha-isopropylmalate synthase in the zygomycete fungus Phycomyces blakesleeanus using a genetic mapping approach with crosses between wild type and leucine auxotrophic strains. To confirm the function of the gene, Phycomyces leuA was used to complement the auxotrophic phenotype exhibited by mutation of the leu3+ gene of the ascomycete fungus Schizosaccharomyces pombe. Phylogenetic analysis revealed that the leuA gene in Phycomyces, other zygomycetes, and the chytrids is more closely related to homologs in plants and photosynthetic bacteria than ascomycetes or basidiomycetes, and suggests that the Dikarya have acquired the gene more recently. CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE: The identification of leuA in Phycomyces adds to the growing body of evidence that some primary metabolic pathways or parts of them have arisen multiple times during the evolution of fungi, probably through horizontal gene transfer events