2,351 research outputs found

    Wolbachia Variants Induce Differential Protection to Viruses in Drosophila melanogaster: A Phenotypic and Phylogenomic Analysis

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    Wolbachia are intracellular bacterial symbionts that are able to protect various insect hosts from viral infections. This tripartite interaction was initially described in Drosophila melanogaster carrying wMel, its natural Wolbachia strain. wMel has been shown to be genetically polymorphic and there has been a recent change in variant frequencies in natural populations. We have compared the antiviral protection conferred by different wMel variants, their titres and influence on host longevity, in a genetically identical D. melanogaster host. The phenotypes cluster the variants into two groups--wMelCS-like and wMel-like. wMelCS-like variants give stronger protection against Drosophila C virus and Flock House virus, reach higher titres and often shorten the host lifespan. We have sequenced and assembled the genomes of these Wolbachia, and shown that the two phenotypic groups are two monophyletic groups. We have also analysed a virulent and over-replicating variant, wMelPop, which protects D. melanogaster even better than the closely related wMelCS. We have found that a ~21 kb region of the genome, encoding eight genes, is amplified seven times in wMelPop and may be the cause of its phenotypes. Our results indicate that the more protective wMelCS-like variants, which sometimes have a cost, were replaced by the less protective but more benign wMel-like variants. This has resulted in a recent reduction in virus resistance in D. melanogaster in natural populations worldwide. Our work helps to understand the natural variation in wMel and its evolutionary dynamics, and inform the use of Wolbachia in arthropod-borne disease control.FCT PhD fellowship: (SFRH/BD/51625/2011), Royal Society University Research Fellowship

    The evolution of sex ratio distorter suppression affects a 25 cM genomic region in the butterfly Hypolimnas bolina

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    Open Access ArticleSymbionts that distort their host's sex ratio by favouring the production and survival of females are common in arthropods. Their presence produces intense Fisherian selection to return the sex ratio to parity, typified by the rapid spread of host 'suppressor' loci that restore male survival/development. In this study, we investigated the genomic impact of a selective event of this kind in the butterfly Hypolimnas bolina. Through linkage mapping, we first identified a genomic region that was necessary for males to survive Wolbachia-induced male-killing. We then investigated the genomic impact of the rapid spread of suppression, which converted the Samoan population of this butterfly from a 100:1 female-biased sex ratio in 2001 to a 1:1 sex ratio by 2006. Models of this process revealed the potential for a chromosome-wide effect. To measure the impact of this episode of selection directly, the pattern of genetic variation before and after the spread of suppression was compared. Changes in allele frequencies were observed over a 25 cM region surrounding the suppressor locus, with a reduction in overall diversity observed at loci that co-segregate with the suppressor. These changes exceeded those expected from drift and occurred alongside the generation of linkage disequilibrium. The presence of novel allelic variants in 2006 suggests that the suppressor was likely to have been introduced via immigration rather than through de novo mutation. In addition, further sampling in 2010 indicated that many of the introduced variants were lost or had declined in frequency since 2006. We hypothesize that this loss may have resulted from a period of purifying selection, removing deleterious material that introgressed during the initial sweep. Our observations of the impact of suppression of sex ratio distorting activity reveal a very wide genomic imprint, reflecting its status as one of the strongest selective forces in nature.Natural Environment Research Council (NERC

    Characterisation and expression of microRNAs in developing wings of the neotropical butterfly Heliconius melpomene.

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    BACKGROUND: Heliconius butterflies are an excellent system for studies of adaptive convergent and divergent phenotypic traits. Wing colour patterns are used as signals to both predators and potential mates and are inherited in a Mendelian manner. The underlying genetic mechanisms of pattern formation have been studied for many years and shed light on broad issues, such as the repeatability of evolution. In Heliconius melpomene, the yellow hindwing bar is controlled by the HmYb locus. MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are important post-transcriptional regulators of gene expression that have key roles in many biological processes, including development. miRNAs could act as regulators of genes involved in wing development, patterning and pigmentation. For this reason we characterised miRNAs in developing butterfly wings and examined differences in their expression between colour pattern races. RESULTS: We sequenced small RNA libraries from two colour pattern races and detected 142 Heliconius miRNAs with homology to others found in miRBase. Several highly abundant miRNAs were differentially represented in the libraries between colour pattern races. These candidates were tested further using Northern blots, showing that differences in expression were primarily due to developmental stage rather than colour pattern. Assembly of sequenced reads to the HmYb region identified hme-miR-193 and hme-miR-2788; located 2380 bp apart in an intergenic region. These two miRNAs are expressed in wings and show an upregulation between 24 and 72 hours post-pupation, indicating a potential role in butterfly wing development. A search for miRNAs in all available H. melpomene BAC sequences (~2.5 Mb) did not reveal any other miRNAs and no novel miRNAs were predicted. CONCLUSIONS: Here we describe the first butterfly miRNAs and characterise their expression in developing wings. Some show differences in expression across developing pupal stages and may have important functions in butterfly wing development. Two miRNAs were located in the HmYb region and were expressed in developing pupal wings. Future work will examine the expression of these miRNAs in different colour pattern races and identify miRNA targets among wing patterning genes.RIGHTS : This article is licensed under the BioMed Central licence at http://www.biomedcentral.com/about/license which is similar to the 'Creative Commons Attribution Licence'. In brief you may : copy, distribute, and display the work; make derivative works; or make commercial use of the work - under the following conditions: the original author must be given credit; for any reuse or distribution, it must be made clear to others what the license terms of this work are

    Comparative genomics of the mimicry switch in Papilio dardanus

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    The African Mocker Swallowtail, Papilio dardanus, is a textbook example in evolutionary genetics. Classical breeding experiments have shown that wing pattern variation in this polymorphic Batesian mimic is determined by the polyallelic H locus that controls a set of distinct mimetic phenotypes. Using bacterial artificial chromosome (BAC) sequencing, recombination analyses and comparative genomics, we show that H co-segregates with an interval of less than 500 kb that is collinear with two other Lepidoptera genomes and contains 24 genes, including the transcription factor genes engrailed (en) and invected (inv). H is located in a region of conserved gene order, which argues against any role for genomic translocations in the evolution of a hypothesized multi-gene mimicry locus. Natural populations of P. dardanus show significant associations of specific morphs with single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), centred on en. In addition, SNP variation in the H region reveals evidence of non-neutral molecular evolution in the en gene alone. We find evidence for a duplication potentially driving physical constraints on recombination in the lamborni morph. Absence of perfect linkage disequilibrium between different genes in the other morphs suggests that H is limited to nucleotide positions in the regulatory and coding regions of en. Our results therefore support the hypothesis that a single gene underlies wing pattern variation in P. dardanus

    Women’s empowerment through seed improvement and seed governance: Evidence from participatory barley breeding in pre-war Syria

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    Approaches to food security primarily focus on technological solutions, seeking to produce more food, preferably with fewer resources. It has been argued that access to food involves issues of resource distribution and social marginalization. Governance is seen as one of the keys to redressing the institutional inequity that affects resource distribution. Rural women’s empowerment is seen as a means to reduce social marginalization and to hasten progress towards hunger eradication and gender equitable institutions. Building on the empirical findings of a six-year study (2006–2011) undertaken in the context of a participatory barley breeding (PBB) programme in pre-war Syria, this paper establishes the links between women’s empowerment, seed improvement through PPB and seed governance vis-à-vis household food security. The study shows how the programme enhanced the empowerment of the respondent women and how gender-blind seed governance regimes at national and international levels restricted the empowerment of these women ultimately affecting the pillars of food security. We discuss some of the challenges encountered by the study in conceptualizing and operationalizing gender analysis to enhance women’s empowerment. The article further discusses the interplay of processes to both discipline gender norms and provides transformational opportunities towards gender equity created by public spaces such as the PBB programme. The article contributes to current discussions on the effective pathways to develop smallholder agriculture, enhance gender equity and enhance food security and rural livelihoods in the dry areas of the temperate world

    Male pheromone composition depends on larval but not adult diet in Heliconius melpomene

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    1. Condition-dependent traits can act as honest signals of mate quality, with fitter individuals able to display preferred phenotypes. Nutrition is known to be an important determinant of individual condition, with diet known to affect many secondary sexual traits. 2. In Heliconius butterflies, male chemical signalling plays an important role in female mate choice. Potential male sex pheromone components have been previously identified, but it is unclear what information they convey to the female. 3. Here, we test the effect of diet on androconial and genital compound production in male Heliconius melpomene rosina. To manipulate larval diet, we rear larvae on three different Passiflora host plants: P. menispermifolia, the preferred host plant, P. vitifolia, and P. platyloba. To manipulate adult diet, we rear adult butterflies with and without access to pollen, a key component of their diet. 4. We find no evidence that adult pollen consumption affects compound production in the first ten days after eclosion. We also find strong overlap in the chemical profiles of individuals reared on different larval host plants. The most abundant compounds produced by the butterflies do not differ between host plant groups. However, some compounds found in small amounts differ both qualitatively and quantitatively. We predict some of these compounds to be of plant origin and the others synthesized by the butterfly. Further electrophysiological and behavioural experiments will be needed to determine the biological significance of these differences.KD was supported by a Natural Research Council Doctoral Training Partnership and a Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute Short Term Fellowship. KJRPB and CDJ were supported by a European Research Council grant number 339873 SpeciationGenetics. WOM was supported by the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute and NSF grant DEB 1257689. SS thanks the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) for support through grant Schu984/12-1

    Comparisons of host mitochondrial, nuclear and endosymbiont bacterial genes reveal cryptic fig wasp species and the effects of Wolbachia on host mtDNA evolution and diversity

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    Background Figs and fig-pollinating wasp species usually display a highly specific one-to-one association. However, more and more studies have revealed that the "one-to-one" rule has been broken. Co-pollinators have been reported, but we do not yet know how they evolve. They may evolve from insect speciation induced or facilitated by Wolbachia which can manipulate host reproduction and induce reproductive isolation. In addition, Wolbachia can affect host mitochondrial DNA evolution, because of the linkage between Wolbachia and associated mitochondrial haplotypes, and thus confound host phylogeny based on mtDNA. Previous research has shown that fig wasps have the highest incidence of Wolbachia infection in all insect taxa, and Wolbachia may have great influence on fig wasp biology. Therefore, we look forward to understanding the influence of Wolbachia on mitochondrial DNA evolution and speciation in fig wasps. Results We surveyed 76 pollinator wasp specimens from nine Ficus microcarpa trees each growing at a different location in Hainan and Fujian Provinces, China. We found that all wasps were morphologically identified as Eupristina verticillata, but diverged into three clades with 4.22-5.28% mtDNA divergence and 2.29-20.72% nuclear gene divergence. We also found very strong concordance between E. verticillata clades and Wolbachia infection status, and the predicted effects of Wolbachia on both mtDNA diversity and evolution by decreasing mitochondrial haplotypes. Conclusions Our study reveals that the pollinating wasp E. verticillata on F. microcarpa has diverged into three cryptic species, and Wolbachia may have a role in this divergence. The results also indicate that Wolbachia strains infecting E. verticillata have likely resulted in selective sweeps on host mitochondrial DNA

    Pervasive genetic associations between traits causing reproductive isolation in Heliconius butterflies

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    Ecological speciation proceeds through the accumulation of divergent traits that contribute to reproductive isolation, but in the face of gene flow traits that characterize incipient species may become disassociated through recombination. Heliconius butterflies are well known for bright mimetic warning patterns that are also used in mate recognition and cause both pre- and post-mating isolation between divergent taxa. Sympatric sister taxa representing the final stages of speciation, such as Heliconius cydno and Heliconius melpomene, also differ in ecology and hybrid fertility. We examine mate preference and sterility among offspring of crosses between these species and demonstrate the clustering of Mendelian colour pattern loci and behavioural loci that contribute to reproductive isolation. In particular, male preference for red patterns is associated with the locus responsible for the red forewing band. Two further colour pattern loci are associated, respectively, with female mating outcome and hybrid sterility. This genetic architecture in which ‘speciation genes’ are clustered in the genome can facilitate two controversial models of speciation, namely divergence in the face of gene flow and hybrid speciation
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