Showing papers in "Molecular Ecology in 2019"
TL;DR: This paper describes the first software natively capable of using paired‐end sequencing to derive short contigs from de novo RAD data, and shows that the latest version of Stacks is highly accurate and outperforms other software in assembling and genotyping paired‐ end de noVO data sets.
Abstract: For half a century population genetics studies have put type II restriction endonucleases to work. Now, coupled with massively-parallel, short-read sequencing, the family of RAD protocols that wields these enzymes has generated vast genetic knowledge from the natural world. Here, we describe the first software natively capable of using paired-end sequencing to derive short contigs from de novo RAD data. Stacks version 2 employs a de Bruijn graph assembler to build and connect contigs from forward and reverse reads for each de novo RAD locus, which it then uses as a reference for read alignments. The new architecture allows all the individuals in a metapopulation to be considered at the same time as each RAD locus is processed. This enables a Bayesian genotype caller to provide precise SNPs, and a robust algorithm to phase those SNPs into long haplotypes, generating RAD loci that are 400-800 bp in length. To prove its recall and precision, we tested the software with simulated data and compared reference-aligned and de novo analyses of three empirical data sets. Our study shows that the latest version of Stacks is highly accurate and outperforms other software in assembling and genotyping paired-end de novo data sets.
TL;DR: The ideas presented here highlight the need to consider all sources of bias and to justify the methods used to interpret count data in dietary metabarcoding studies, and indicate that using relative read abundance information often provides a more accurate view of population‐level diet even with moderate recovery biases incorporated.
Abstract: Advances in DNA sequencing technology have revolutionized the field of molecular analysis of trophic interactions, and it is now possible to recover counts of food DNA sequences from a wide range of dietary samples. But what do these counts mean? To obtain an accurate estimate of a consumer's diet should we work strictly with data sets summarizing frequency of occurrence of different food taxa, or is it possible to use relative number of sequences? Both approaches are applied to obtain semi‐quantitative diet summaries, but occurrence data are often promoted as a more conservative and reliable option due to taxa‐specific biases in recovery of sequences. We explore representative dietary metabarcoding data sets and point out that diet summaries based on occurrence data often overestimate the importance of food consumed in small quantities (potentially including low‐level contaminants) and are sensitive to the count threshold used to define an occurrence. Our simulations indicate that using relative read abundance (RRA) information often provides a more accurate view of population‐level diet even with moderate recovery biases incorporated; however, RRA summaries are sensitive to recovery biases impacting common diet taxa. Both approaches are more accurate when the mean number of food taxa in samples is small. The ideas presented here highlight the need to consider all sources of bias and to justify the methods used to interpret count data in dietary metabarcoding studies. We encourage researchers to continue addressing methodological challenges and acknowledge unanswered questions to help spur future investigations in this rapidly developing area of research.
École Normale Supérieure1, University of Grenoble2, University of California, Riverside3, Macquarie University4, Bangor University5, Australian Antarctic Division6, University of Canterbury7, University of Essex8, University of Milan9, Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences10, University of Colorado Boulder11, University of Lausanne12, University of Copenhagen13, Norwegian University of Science and Technology14, Curtin University15, Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation16, Kansas State University17, University of Oslo18, Paul Sabatier University19, University of Paris20, University of Geneva21, University of Tartu22, Aarhus University23, University of Cambridge24, Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute25
TL;DR: This book is dedicated to the victims of the Paris terror attacks of 22 July 1997, which claimed the lives of 129 people and injured more than 200 others.
Abstract: Zinger, Lucie; Bonin, Aurélie; Alsos, Inger G; Bálint, Miklós; Bik, Holly; Boyer, Frédéric; Chariton, Anthony A; Creer, Simon; Coissac, Eric; Deagle, Bruce E; De Barba, Marta; Dickie, Ian A; Dumbrell, Alex J; Ficetola, Gentile Francesco; Fierer, Noah; Fumagalli, Luca; Gilbert, M Thomas P; Jarman, Simon; Jumpponen, Ari; Kauserud, Håvard; Orlando, Ludovic; Pansu, Johan; Pawlowski, Jan; Tedersoo, Leho; Thomsen, Philip Francis; Willerslev, Eske; Taberlet, Pierre
TL;DR: The analysis suggests that a weak quantitative relationship may exist between the biomass and sequences produced, albeit with a large degree of uncertainty, and advocates the inclusion of mock communities when metabarcoding as this facilitates direct assessment of the quantitative ability of any given study.
Abstract: Metabarcoding has been used in a range of ecological applications such as taxonomic assignment, dietary analysis, and the analysis of environmental DNA. However, after a decade of use in these applications there is little consensus on the extent to which proportions of reads generated corresponds to the original proportions of species in a community. To quantify our current understanding we conducted a structured review and meta‐analysis. The analysis suggests that a weak quantitative relationship may exist between the biomass and sequences produced (slope = 0.52 ±0.34, p<0.01), albeit it with a large degree of uncertainty. None of the tested moderators: sequencing platform type, the number of species used in a trial, or the source of DNA were able to explain the variance. Our current understanding of the factors affecting the quantitative performance of metabarcoding is still limited: additional research is required before metabarcoding can be confidently utilised for quantitative applications. Until then, we advocate the inclusion of mock communities when metabarcoding as this facilitates direct assessment of the quantitative ability of any given study.
TL;DR: Evidence for adaptive phenotypic changes associated with TEs and the basic molecular mechanisms by which the underlying genetic changes arise are reviewed and how the stress‐dependent incapacitation of defence mechanisms against the activity of TEs might facilitate adaptive responses to environmental challenges are discussed.
Abstract: The growing knowledge about the influence of transposable elements (TEs) on (a) long-term genome and transcriptome evolution; (b) genomic, transcriptomic and epigenetic variation within populations; and (c) patterns of somatic genetic differences in individuals continues to spur the interest of evolutionary biologists in the role of TEs in adaptive evolution. As TEs can trigger a broad range of molecular variation in a population with potentially severe fitness and phenotypic consequences for individuals, different mechanisms evolved to keep TE activity in check, allowing for a dynamic interplay between the host, its TEs and the environment in evolution. Here, we review evidence for adaptive phenotypic changes associated with TEs and the basic molecular mechanisms by which the underlying genetic changes arise: (a) domestication, (b) exaptation, (c) host gene regulation, (d) TE-mediated formation of intronless gene copies-so-called retrogenes and (e) overall increased genome plasticity. Furthermore, we review and discuss how the stress-dependent incapacitation of defence mechanisms against the activity of TEs might facilitate adaptive responses to environmental challenges and how such mechanisms might be particularly relevant in species frequently facing novel environments, such as invasive, pathogenic or parasitic species.
TL;DR: Depending on the primer pair used in the PCR amplification and on the characteristics of the mixture analysed (i.e., high species richness, low evenness), DNA metabarcoding can provide a quantitative estimate of the relative abundances of different species.
Abstract: DNA metabarcoding is a technique used to survey biodiversity in many ecological settings, but there are doubts about whether it can provide quantitative results, that is, the proportions of each species in the mixture as opposed to a species list. While there are several experimental studies that report quantitative metabarcoding results, there are a similar number that fail to do so. Here, we provide the rationale to understand under what circumstances the technique can be quantitative. In essence, we simulate a mixture of DNA of S species with a defined initial abundance distribution. In the simulated PCR, each species increases its concentration following a certain amplification efficiency. The final DNA concentration will reflect the initial one when the efficiency is similar for all species; otherwise, the initial and final DNA concentrations would be poorly related. Although there are many known factors that modulate amplification efficiency, we focused on the number of primer–template mismatches, arguably the most important one. We used 15 common primers pairs targeting the mitochondrial COI region and the mitogenomes of ca. 1,200 insect species. The results showed that some primers pairs produced quantitative results under most circumstances, whereas some other primers failed to do so. In conclusion, depending on the primer pair used in the PCR amplification and on the characteristics of the mixture analysed (i.e., high species richness, low evenness), DNA metabarcoding ca
TL;DR: It is only within the past 10 years, aided by the development of genomic technologies such as high-throughput and later 3rd generation sequencing, that the extent of intra-and interspecific structural variation has been investigated in a number of non-model species.
Abstract: Although single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNPs) were initially thought to make-up the majority of selectable variation (Morin et al. 2004; Sachidanandam et al. 2001), it is becoming increasingly recognized that structural variation represents a significant, yet often poorly understood, source of genetic variation. It is only within the past 10 years, aided by the development of genomic technologies such as high-throughput and later 3rd generation sequencing, that the extent of intra-and interspecific structural variation has been investigated in a number of non-model species (Chain & Feulner 2014; Fan & Meyer 2014). This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
TL;DR: It is argued that variation in EPP can be partly explained when taking the right perspective, and certain behaviours and ecological variables might facilitate or constrain EPP, as indicated by the finding that EPP was negatively associated with latitude within noncolonial species, suggesting a role of breeding synchrony.
Abstract: Since the first molecular study providing evidence for mating outside the pair bond in birds over 30 years ago, >500 studies have reported rates of extra-pair paternity (EPP) in >300 bird species. Here, we give a detailed overview of the current literature reporting EPP in birds and highlight the sampling biases and patterns in the data set with respect to taxonomy, avian phylogeny and global regions, knowledge of which will be crucial for correct interpretation of results in future comparative studies. Subsequently, we use this comprehensive dataset to simultaneously test the role of several ecological and life history variables. We do not find clear evidence that variation in EPP across socially monogamous species can be explained by latitude, density (coloniality), migration, generation length, genetic structuring (dispersal distance), or climatic variability, after accounting for phylogeny. These results contrast previous studies, most likely due to the large heterogeneity within species in both EPP and the predictor of interest, indicating that using species averages might be unreliable. Despite the absence of broadscale ecological drivers in explaining interspecific variation in EPP, we suggest that certain behaviours and ecological variables might facilitate or constrain EPP, as indicated by our finding that EPP was negatively associated with latitude within noncolonial species, suggesting a role of breeding synchrony. Thus, rather than focussing on general explanations for variation in EPP across all species, a future focus should be on how various aspects of ecology or life history might have driven variation in EPP among groups of species or populations of the same species. Hence, we argue that variation in EPP can be partly explained when taking the right perspective. This comprehensive overview, and particularly the dataset provided herein will create a foundation for further studies.
TL;DR: The results show that like other microorganisms, fungi exhibit substantial variation in rDNA copy number, which is linked to their phylogeny in a scale‐dependent manner.
Abstract: Ribosomal DNA (rDNA) copy number variation (CNV) has major physiological implications for all organisms, but how it varies for fungi, an ecologically ubiquitous and important group of microorganisms, has yet to be systemically investigated. Here, we examine rDNA CNV using an in silico read depth approach for 91 fungal taxa with sequenced genomes and assess copy number conservation across phylogenetic scales and ecological lifestyles. rDNA copy number varied considerably across fungi, ranging from an estimated 14 to 1,442 copies (mean = 113, median = 82), and copy number similarity was inversely correlated with phylogenetic distance. No correlations were found between rDNA CNV and fungal trophic mode, ecological guild or genome size. Taken together, these results show that like other microorganisms, fungi exhibit substantial variation in rDNA copy number, which is linked to their phylogeny in a scale-dependent manner.
TL;DR: The available bioinformatic approaches are synthesized to produce a guide for characterizing sex chromosome system and identity simultaneously across clades of organisms, and the current understanding of the processes driving sex chromosome turnover is surveyed.
Abstract: Although sex is a fundamental component of eukaryotic reproduction, the genetic systems that control sex determination are highly variable. In many organisms the presence of sex chromosomes is associated with female or male development. Although certain groups possess stable and conserved sex chromosomes, others exhibit rapid sex chromosome evolution, including transitions between male and female heterogamety, and turnover in the chromosome pair recruited to determine sex. These turnover events have important consequences for multiple facets of evolution, as sex chromosomes are predicted to play a central role in adaptation, sexual dimorphism, and speciation. However, our understanding of the processes driving the formation and turnover of sex chromosome systems is limited, in part because we lack a complete understanding of interspecific variation in the mechanisms by which sex is determined. New bioinformatic methods are making it possible to identify and characterize sex chromosomes in a diverse array of non-model species, rapidly filling in the numerous gaps in our knowledge of sex chromosome systems across the tree of life. In turn, this growing data set is facilitating and fueling efforts to address many of the unanswered questions in sex chromosome evolution. Here, we synthesize the available bioinformatic approaches to produce a guide for characterizing sex chromosome system and identity simultaneously across clades of organisms. Furthermore, we survey our current understanding of the processes driving sex chromosome turnover, and highlight important avenues for future research.
TL;DR: It is shown that body size, which determines the scale at which an organism perceives its environment, predicted the community assembly across taxonomic groups, with soil mesofauna assemblages being more stochastic than microbial ones.
Abstract: Tropical forests shelter an unparalleled biological diversity. The relative influence of environmental selection (i.e., abiotic conditions, biotic interactions) and stochastic-distance-dependent neutral processes (i.e., demography, dispersal) in shaping communities has been extensively studied for various organisms, but has rarely been explored across a large range of body sizes, in particular in soil environments. We built a detailed census of the whole soil biota in a 12-ha tropical forest plot using soil DNA metabarcoding. We show that the distribution of 19 taxonomic groups (ranging from microbes to mesofauna) is primarily stochastic, suggesting that neutral processes are prominent drivers of the assembly of these communities at this scale. We also identify aluminium, topography and plant species identity as weak, yet significant drivers of soil richness and community composition of bacteria, protists and to a lesser extent fungi. Finally, we show that body size, which determines the scale at which an organism perceives its environment, predicted the community assembly across taxonomic groups, with soil mesofauna assemblages being more stochastic than microbial ones. These results suggest that the relative contribution of neutral processes and environmental selection to community assembly directly depends on body size. Body size is hence an important determinant of community assembly rules at the scale of the ecological community in tropical soils and should be accounted for in spatial models of tropical soil food webs. K E Y W O R D S DNA metabarcoding, eDNA, French Guiana, multitaxa, neutral assembly, niche determinism, propagule size, soil diversity
TL;DR: It is found that single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), the typical next‐generation sequencing marker, remain underutilized in parentage analysis but are gaining momentum, with 58 SNP‐based parentage analyses published thus far.
Abstract: Parentage analysis is a cornerstone of molecular ecology that has delivered fundamental insights into behaviour, ecology and evolution. Microsatellite markers have long been the king of parentage, their hypervariable nature conferring sufficient power to correctly assign offspring to parents. However, microsatellite markers have seen a sharp decline in use with the rise of next-generation sequencing technologies, especially in the study of population genetics and local adaptation. The time is ripe to review the current state of parentage analysis and see how it stands to be affected by the emergence of next-generation sequencing approaches. We find that single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), the typical next-generation sequencing marker, remain underutilized in parentage analysis but are gaining momentum, with 58 SNP-based parentage analyses published thus far. Many of these papers, particularly the earlier ones, compare the power of SNPs and microsatellites in a parentage context. In virtually every case, SNPs are at least as powerful as microsatellite markers. As few as 100-500 SNPs are sufficient to resolve parentage completely in most situations. We also provide an overview of the analytical programs that are commonly used and compatible with SNP data. As the next-generation parentage enterprise grows, a reliance on likelihood and Bayesian approaches, as opposed to strict exclusion, will become increasingly important. We discuss some of the caveats surrounding the use of next-generation sequencing data for parentage analysis and conclude that the future is bright for this important realm of molecular ecology.
TL;DR: It is suggested that future research makes comparisons of multiple cities and nonurban habitats, and takes into consideration species' natural history, environmental variation, spatial modelling and marker selection, as well as dispersal ability of species and environmental heterogeneity between cities.
Abstract: Evidence is growing that human modification of landscapes has dramatically altered evolutionary processes. In urban population genetic studies, urbanization is typically predicted to act as a barrier that isolates populations of species, leading to increased genetic drift within populations and reduced gene flow between populations. However, urbanization may also facilitate dispersal among populations, leading to higher genetic diversity within, and lower differentiation between, urban populations. We reviewed the literature on nonadaptive urban evolution to evaluate the support for each of these urban fragmentation and facilitation models. In a review of the literature with supporting quantitative analyses of 167 published urban population genetics studies, we found a weak signature of reduced within-population genetic diversity and no evidence of consistently increased between-population genetic differentiation associated with urbanization. In addition, we found that urban landscape features act as barriers or conduits to gene flow, depending on the species and city in question. Thus, we speculate that dispersal ability of species and environmental heterogeneity between cities contributes to the variation exhibited in our results. However, >90% of published studies reviewed here showed an association of urbanization with genetic drift or gene flow, highlighting the strong impact of urbanization on nonadaptive evolution. It is clear that species biology and city heterogeneity obscure patterns of genetic drift and gene flow in a quantitative analysis. Thus, we suggest that future research makes comparisons of multiple cities and nonurban habitats, and takes into consideration species' natural history, environmental variation, spatial modelling and marker selection.
TL;DR: The results show that metabarcoding is largely robust for determining pollen presence/absence but that sequence reads should not be used to infer relative abundance of pollen grains.
Abstract: Pollen DNA metabarcoding-marker-based genetic identification of potentially mixed-species pollen samples-has applications across a variety of fields. While basic species-level pollen identification using standard DNA barcode markers is established, the extent to which metabarcoding (a) correctly assigns species identities to mixes (qualitative matching) and (b) generates sequence reads proportionally to their relative abundance in a sample (quantitative matching) is unclear, as these have not been assessed relative to known standards. We tested the quantitative and qualitative robustness of metabarcoding in constructed pollen mixtures varying in species richness (1-9 species), taxonomic relatedness (within genera to across class) and rarity (5%-100% of grains), using Illumina MiSeq with the markers rbcL and ITS2. Qualitatively, species composition determinations were largely correct, but false positives and negatives occurred. False negatives were typically driven by lack of a barcode gap or rarity in a sample. Species richness and taxonomic relatedness, however, did not strongly impact correct determinations. False positives were likely driven by contamination, chimeric sequences and/or misidentification by the bioinformatics pipeline. Quantitatively, the proportion of reads for each species was only weakly correlated with its relative abundance, in contrast to suggestions from some other studies. Quantitative mismatches are not correctable by consistent scaling factors, but instead are context-dependent on the other species present in a sample. Together, our results show that metabarcoding is largely robust for determining pollen presence/absence but that sequence reads should not be used to infer relative abundance of pollen grains.
TL;DR: It is argued that a combination of heterosis and divergent selection can explain the observed patterns and should be considered in other systems spanning environmental gradients.
Abstract: Both classical and recent studies suggest that chromosomal inversion polymorphisms are important in adaptation and speciation. However, biases in discovery and reporting of inversions make it difficult to assess their prevalence and biological importance. Here, we use an approach based on linkage disequilibrium among markers genotyped for samples collected across a transect between contrasting habitats to detect chromosomal rearrangements de novo. We report 17 polymorphic rearrangements in a single locality for the coastal marine snail, Littorina saxatilis. Patterns of diversity in the field and of recombination in controlled crosses provide strong evidence that at least the majority of these rearrangements are inversions. Most show clinal changes in frequency between habitats, suggestive of divergent selection, but only one appears to be fixed for different arrangements in the two habitats. Consistent with widespread evidence for balancing selection on inversion polymorphisms, we argue that a combination of heterosis and divergent selection can explain the observed patterns and should be considered in other systems spanning environmental gradients.
TL;DR: It is demonstrated that factors in early‐life are related to fitness prospects through lifespan, and suggests that the study of telomeres may provide insight into the underlying physiological mechanisms linking early‐ and late‐life performance and trade‐offs across a lifetime.
Abstract: Poor conditions during early development can initiate trade-offs that favour current survival at the expense of somatic maintenance and subsequently, future reproduction. However, the mechanisms that link early and late life-history are largely unknown. Recently it has been suggested that telomeres, the nucleoprotein structures at the terminal end of chromosomes, could link early-life conditions to lifespan and fitness. In wild purple-crowned fairy-wrens, we combined measurements of nestling telomere length (TL) with detailed life-history data to investigate whether early-life TL predicts fitness prospects. Our study differs from previous studies in the completeness of our fitness estimates in a highly philopatric population. The association between TL and survival was age-dependent with early-life TL having a positive effect on lifespan only among individuals that survived their first year. Early-life TL was not associated with the probability or age of gaining a breeding position. Interestingly, early-life TL was positively related to breeding duration, contribution to population growth and lifetime reproductive success because of their association with lifespan. Thus, early-life TL, which reflects growth, accumulated early-life stress and inherited TL, predicted fitness in birds that reached adulthood but not noticeably among fledglings. These findings suggest that a lack of investment in somatic maintenance during development particularly affects late life performance. This study demonstrates that factors in early-life are related to fitness prospects through lifespan, and suggests that the study of telomeres may provide insight into the underlying physiological mechanisms linking early- and late-life performance and trade-offs across a lifetime.
TL;DR: It is found that diet diversity estimates increased steadily with the number of pellets analysed per individual, with seven pellets required to detect ~80% of prey species, and most variation in diet composition was associated with differences among individual bats, followed by pellets per individual and PCRs per pellet.
Abstract: DNA metabarcoding is increasingly used in dietary studies to estimate diversity, composition and frequency of occurrence of prey items. However, few studies have assessed how technical and biological replication affect the accuracy of diet estimates. This study addresses these issues using the European free-tailed bat Tadarida teniotis, involving high-throughput sequencing of a small fragment of the COI gene in 15 separate faecal pellets and a 15-pellet pool per each of 20 bats. We investigated how diet descriptors were affected by variability among (a) individuals, (b) pellets of each individual and (c) PCRs of each pellet. In addition, we investigated the impact of (d) analysing separate pellets vs. pellet pools. We found that diet diversity estimates increased steadily with the number of pellets analysed per individual, with seven pellets required to detect ~80% of prey species. Most variation in diet composition was associated with differences among individual bats, followed by pellets per individual and PCRs per pellet. The accuracy of frequency of occurrence estimates increased with the number of pellets analysed per bat, with the highest error rates recorded for prey consumed infrequently by many individuals. Pools provided poor estimates of diet diversity and frequency of occurrence, which were comparable to analysing a single pellet per individual, and consistently missed the less common prey items. Overall, our results stress that maximizing biological replication is critical in dietary metabarcoding studies and emphasize that analysing several samples per individual rather than pooled samples produce more accurate results.
TL;DR: It is shown that the topology of human transportation networks shaped demographic histories with North Italy and Central Italy being the main dispersal centres in Europe and genetically diverse and admixed populations promoted more secondary introductions and have spread farther than single‐source invasions.
Abstract: Multiple introductions are key features for the establishment and persistence of introduced species. However, little is known about the contribution of genetic admixture to the invasive potential of populations. To address this issue, we studied the recent invasion of the Asian tiger mosquito (Aedes albopictus) in Europe. Combining genome-wide single nucleotide polymorphisms and historical knowledge using an approximate Bayesian computation framework, we reconstruct the colonization routes and establish the demographic dynamics of invasion. The colonization of Europe involved at least three independent introductions in Albania, North Italy and Central Italy that subsequently acted as dispersal centres throughout Europe. We show that the topology of human transportation networks shaped demographic histories with North Italy and Central Italy being the main dispersal centres in Europe. Introduction modalities conditioned the levels of genetic diversity in invading populations, and genetically diverse and admixed populations promoted more secondary introductions and have spread farther than single-source invasions. This genomic study provides further crucial insights into a general understanding of the role of genetic diversity promoted by modern trade in driving biological invasions.
TL;DR: A large body of work provides compelling evidence that several inversions in this system are adaptive; however, the precise selective mechanisms that maintain them polymorphic in natural populations remain poorly understood.
Abstract: Chromosomal inversions, structural mutations that reverse a segment of a chromosome, cause suppression of recombination in the heterozygous state Several studies have shown that inversion polymorphisms can form clines or fluctuate predictably in frequency over seasonal time spans These observations prompted the hypothesis that chromosomal rearrangements might be subject to spatially and/or temporally varying selection Here, we review what has been learned about the adaptive significance of inversion polymorphisms in the vinegar fly Drosophila melanogaster, the species in which they were first discovered by Sturtevant in 1917 A large body of work provides compelling evidence that several inversions in this system are adaptive; however, the precise selective mechanisms that maintain them polymorphic in natural populations remain poorly understood Recent advances in population genomics, modelling and functional genetics promise to greatly improve our understanding of this long-standing and fundamental problem in the near future
TL;DR: This study provides the most complete data set of co‐occurring plant and AM fungal taxa to date, showing that at this particular site, the interaction network is assembled non‐randomly, with moderate selectivity in associations between plant species and functional groups and their fungal symbionts.
Abstract: Arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungi are obligate plant symbionts that have important functions in most terrestrial ecosystems, but there remains an incomplete understanding of host-fungus specificity and the relationships between species and functional groups of plants and AM fungi. Here, we aimed to provide a comprehensive description of plant-AM fungal interactions in a biodiverse semi-natural grassland. We sampled all plant species in a 1,000-m2 homogeneous plot of dry calcareous grassland in two seasons (summer and autumn) and identified root-colonizing AM fungi by SSU rDNA sequencing. In the network of 33 plant and 100 AM fungal species, we found a significant effect of both host plant species and host plant functional group on AM fungal richness and community composition. Comparison with network null models revealed a larger-than-random degree of partner selectivity among plants. Grasses harboured a larger number of AM fungal partners and were more generalist in partner selection, compared with forbs. More generalist partner association and lower specialization were apparent among obligately, compared with facultatively, mycorrhizal plant species and among locally more abundant plant species. This study provides the most complete data set of co-occurring plant and AM fungal taxa to date, showing that at this particular site, the interaction network is assembled non-randomly, with moderate selectivity in associations between plant species and functional groups and their fungal symbionts.
TL;DR: It is argued that since mtDNA and nuDNA do not necessarily follow the same mechanisms of evolution, their respective evolutionary history reflects complementary aspects of past demographic and biogeographic events.
Abstract: Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) sequencing has led to an unprecedented rise in the identification of cryptic species. However, it is widely acknowledged that nuclear DNA (nuDNA) sequence data are also necessary to properly define species boundaries. Next generation sequencing techniques provide a wealth of nuclear genomic data, which can be used to ascertain both the evolutionary history and taxonomic status of putative cryptic species. Here, we focus on the intriguing case of the butterfly Thymelicus sylvestris (Lepidoptera: Hesperiidae). We identified six deeply diverged mitochondrial lineages; three distributed all across Europe and found in sympatry, suggesting a potential case of cryptic species. We then sequenced these six lineages using double-digest restriction-site associated DNA sequencing (ddRADseq). Nuclear genomic loci contradicted mtDNA patterns and genotypes generally clustered according to geography, i.e., a pattern expected under the assumption of postglacial recolonization from different refugia. Further analyses indicated that this strong mtDNA/nuDNA discrepancy cannot be explained by incomplete lineage sorting, sex-biased asymmetries, NUMTs, natural selection, introgression or Wolbachia-mediated genetic sweeps. We suggest that this mitonuclear discordance was caused by long periods of geographic isolation followed by range expansions, homogenizing the nuclear but not the mitochondrial genome. These results highlight T. sylvestris as a potential case of multiple despeciation and/or lineage fusion events. We finally argue, since mtDNA and nuDNA do not necessarily follow the same mechanisms of evolution, their respective evolutionary history reflects complementary aspects of past demographic and biogeographic events.
TL;DR: The results suggest that high‐altitude environments affect the composition and function of the gut microbiota in wild mammal populations, including pikas, ruminants and humans.
Abstract: The maintenance of oxygen homeostasis in the gut is critical for the maintenance of a healthy gut microbiota. However, few studies have explored how the concentration of atmospheric oxygen affects the gut microbiota in natural populations. High-altitude environments provide an opportunity to study the potential effects of atmospheric oxygen on the composition and function of the gut microbiota. Here, we characterized the caecal microbial communities of wild house mice (Mus musculus domesticus) in two independent altitudinal transects, one in Ecuador and one in Bolivia, from sea level to nearly 4,000 m. First, we found that differences in altitude were associated with differences in the gut microbial community after controlling for the effects of body mass, diet, reproductive status and population of origin. Second, obligate anaerobes tended to show a positive correlation with altitude, while all other microbes tended to show a negative correlation with altitude. These patterns were seen independently in both transects, consistent with the expected effects of atmospheric oxygen on gut microbes. Prevotella was the most-enriched genus at high elevations in both transects, consistent with observations in high-altitude populations of pikas, ruminants and humans, and also consistent with observations of laboratory mice exposed to hypoxic conditions. Lastly, the renin-angiotensin system, a recently proposed microbiota-mediated pathway of blood pressure regulation, was the top predicted metagenomic pathway enriched in high altitudes in both transects. These results suggest that high-altitude environments affect the composition and function of the gut microbiota in wild mammals.
TL;DR: It is argued that the greater frequency of reproductive incompatibilities accumulating on sex chromosomes and their exposure in the heterogametic sex predisposes inversions to differentially accumulate on the Z chromosome, which contributes to Z chromosome differentiation.
Abstract: Across hybrid zones, the sex chromosomes are often more strongly differentiated than the autosomes This is regularly attributed to the greater frequency of reproductive incompatibilities accumulating on sex chromosomes and their exposure in the heterogametic sex Working within an avian hybrid zone, we explore the possibility that chromosome inversions differentially accumulate on the Z chromosome compared to the autosomes and thereby contribute to Z chromosome differentiation We analyse the northern Australian hybrid zone between two subspecies of the long-tailed finch (Poephila acuticauda), first described based on differences in bill colour, using reduced-representation genomic sequencing for 293 individuals over a 1,530-km transect Autosomal differentiation between subspecies is minimal In contrast, 75% of the Z chromosome is highly differentiated and shows a steep genomic cline, which is displaced 350 km to the west of the cline in bill colour Differentiation is associated with two or more putative chromosomal inversions, each predominating in one subspecies If inversions reduce recombination between hybrid incompatibilities, they are selectively favoured and should therefore accumulate in hybrid zones We argue that this predisposes inversions to differentially accumulate on the Z chromosome One genomic region affecting bill colour is on the Z, but the main candidates are on chromosome 8 This and the displacement of the bill colour and Z chromosome cline centres suggest that bill colour has not strongly contributed to inversion accumulation Based on cline width, however, the Z chromosome and bill colour both contribute to reproductive isolation established between this pair of subspecies
TL;DR: A conservation genetics community is established, which entails an international exchange‐and‐skills platform related to genetic methods and approaches in conservation management and helps conservation genetics to play a more prominent role in future conservation planning and management.
Abstract: Conservation genetics is a well-established scientific field. However, limited information transfer between science and practice continues to hamper successful implementation of scientific knowledge in conservation practice and management. To mitigate this challenge, we have established a conservation genetics community, which entails an international exchange-and-skills platform related to genetic methods and approaches in conservation management. First, it allows for scientific exchange between researchers during annual conferences. Second, personal contact between conservation professionals and scientists is fostered by organising workshops and by popularising knowledge on conservation genetics methods and approaches in professional journals in national languages. Third, basic information on conservation genetics has been made accessible by publishing an easy-to-read handbook on conservation genetics for practitioners. Fourth, joint projects enabled practitioners and scientists to work closely together from the start of a project in order to establish a tight link between applied questions and scientific background. Fifth, standardised workflows simplifying the implementation of genetic tools in conservation management have been developed. By establishing common language and trust between scientists and practitioners, all these measures help conservation genetics to play a more prominent role in future conservation planning and management.
TL;DR: Gene–bacteria associations identified in both humans and wild mice suggest some commonality to the host genetic determinants of gut microbial composition across mammals.
Abstract: Identifying a common set of genes that mediate host-microbial interactions across populations and species of mammals has broad relevance for human health and animal biology. However, the genetic basis of the gut microbial composition in natural populations remains largely unknown outside of humans. Here, we used wild house mouse populations as a model system to ask three major questions: (a) Does host genetic relatedness explain interindividual variation in gut microbial composition? (b) Do population differences in the microbiota persist in a common environment? (c) What are the host genes associated with microbial richness and the relative abundance of bacterial genera? We found that host genetic distance is a strong predictor of the gut microbial composition as characterized by 16S amplicon sequencing. Using a common garden approach, we then identified differences in microbial composition between populations that persisted in a shared laboratory environment. Finally, we used exome sequencing to associate host genetic variants with microbial diversity and relative abundance of microbial taxa in wild mice. We identified 20 genes that were associated with microbial diversity or abundance including a macrophage-derived cytokine (IL12a) that contained three nonsynonymous mutations. Surprisingly, we found a significant overrepresentation of candidate genes that were previously associated with microbial measurements in humans. The homologous genes that overlapped between wild mice and humans included genes that have been associated with traits related to host immunity and obesity in humans. Gene-bacteria associations identified in both humans and wild mice suggest some commonality to the host genetic determinants of gut microbial composition across mammals.
TL;DR: This work links long-term whole community dynamics with that of individual OTUs and taxonomic groups, indicating that recurrent and non-recurrent changes characterize the dynamics of microbial assemblages.
Abstract: How much temporal recurrence is present in microbial assemblages is still an unanswered ecological question. Even though marked seasonal changes have been reported for whole microbial communities, less is known on the dynamics and seasonality of individual taxa. Here, we aim at understanding microbial recurrence at three different levels: community, taxonomic group and operational taxonomic units (OTUs). For that, we focused on a model microbial eukaryotic community populating a long-term marine microbial observatory using 18S rRNA gene data from two organismal size fractions: the picoplankton (0.2-3 µm) and the nanoplankton (3-20 µm). We have developed an index to quantify recurrence in particular taxa. We found that community structure oscillated systematically between two main configurations corresponding to winter and summer over the 10 years studied. A few taxonomic groups such as Mamiellophyceae or MALV-III presented clear recurrence (i.e., seasonality), whereas 13%-19% of the OTUs in both size fractions, accounting for ~40% of the relative abundance, featured recurrent dynamics. Altogether, our work links long-term whole community dynamics with that of individual OTUs and taxonomic groups, indicating that recurrent and non-recurrent changes characterize the dynamics of microbial assemblages.
TL;DR: The results revealed clear signatures of gene losses in these genomes, such as those associated with de novo biosynthesis of essential amino acids, nucleotides, fatty acids and cofactors, highlighting the importance of genome reconstruction for studying metabolic interdependencies between unculturable Saccharimonadia representatives.
Abstract: The size of bacterial genomes is often associated with organismal metabolic capabilities determining ecological breadth and lifestyle. The recently proposed Candidate Phyla Radiation (CPR)/Patescibacteria encompasses mostly unculturable bacterial taxa with relatively small genome sizes with potential for co‐metabolism interdependencies. As yet, little is known about the ecology and evolution of CPR, particularly with respect to how they might interact with other taxa. Here, we reconstructed two novel genomes (namely, Candidatus Saccharibacter sossegus and Candidatus Chaer renensis) of taxa belonging to the class Saccharimonadia within the CPR/Patescibacteria using metagenomes obtained from acid mine drainage (AMD). By testing the hypothesis of genome streamlining or symbiotic lifestyle, our results revealed clear signatures of gene losses in these genomes, such as those associated with de novo biosynthesis of essential amino acids, nucleotides, fatty acids and cofactors. In addition, co‐occurrence analysis provided evidence supporting potential symbioses of these organisms with Hydrotalea sp. in the AMD system. Together, our findings provide a better understanding of the ecology and evolution of CPR/Patescibacteria and highlight the importance of genome reconstruction for studying metabolic interdependencies between unculturable Saccharimonadia representatives.
TL;DR: The question of whether inversions play a role in the divergence of connected populations of the marine fish Atlantic cod is revisited, by exploring a unique data set combining whole‐genome sequencing data and behavioural data obtained with acoustic telemetry and establishing a new model system towards an understanding of the role of genomic structural variants in adaptation and diversification.
Abstract: Genetic divergence among populations arises through natural selection or drift and is counteracted by connectivity and gene flow. In sympatric populations, isolating mechanisms are thus needed to limit the homogenizing effects of gene flow to allow for adaptation and speciation. Chromosomal inversions act as an important mechanism maintaining isolating barriers, yet their role in sympatric populations and divergence with gene flow is not entirely understood. Here, we revisit the question of whether inversions play a role in the divergence of connected populations of the marine fish Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua), by exploring a unique data set combining whole-genome sequencing data and behavioural data obtained with acoustic telemetry. Within a confined fjord environment, we find three genetically differentiated Atlantic cod types belonging to the oceanic North Sea population, the western Baltic population and a local fjord-type cod. Continuous behavioural tracking over 4 year revealed temporally stable sympatry of these types within the fjord. Despite overall weak genetic differentiation consistent with high levels of gene flow, we detected significant frequency shifts of three previously identified inversions, indicating an adaptive barrier to gene flow. In addition, behavioural data indicated that North Sea cod and individuals homozygous for the LG12 inversion had lower fitness in the fjord environment. However, North Sea and fjord-type cod also occupy different depths, possibly contributing to prezygotic reproductive isolation and representing a behavioural barrier to gene flow. Our results provide the first insights into a complex interplay of genomic and behavioural isolating barriers in Atlantic cod and establish a new model system towards an understanding of the role of genomic structural variants in adaptation and diversification.
TL;DR: This study indicates that background selection will not greatly interfere with finding the variants responsible for local adaptation in FST, and background selection does not greatly affect the false‐positive rate in F ST outlier studies in populations connected by gene flow.
Abstract: Background selection is a process whereby recurrent deleterious mutations cause a decrease in the effective population size and genetic diversity at linked loci. Several authors have suggested that variation in the intensity of background selection could cause variation in FST across the genome, which could confound signals of local adaptation in genome scans. We performed realistic simulations of DNA sequences, using recombination maps from humans and sticklebacks, to investigate how variation in the intensity of background selection affects FST and other statistics of population differentiation in sexual, outcrossing species. We show that, in populations connected by gene flow, Weir and Cockerham's (1984; Evolution, 38, 1358) estimator of FST is largely insensitive to locus-to-locus variation in the intensity of background selection. Unlike FST , however, dXY is negatively correlated with background selection. Moreover, background selection does not greatly affect the false-positive rate in FST outlier studies in populations connected by gene flow. Overall, our study indicates that background selection will not greatly interfere with finding the variants responsible for local adaptation.
TL;DR: A next‐generation sequencing approach for use in ecological studies which allows for individual‐level metadata tracking of large numbers of invertebrate samples through the use of hierarchically organised molecular identification tags and discusses the wider potential of nested tagging DNA metabarcoding for constructing large, highly resolved species interaction networks.
Abstract: Determining the host-parasitoid interactions and parasitism rates for invasive species entering novel environments is an important first step in assessing potential routes for biocontrol and integrated pest management. Conventional insect rearing techniques followed by taxonomic identification are widely used to obtain such data, but this can be time-consuming and prone to biases. Here, we present a next-generation sequencing approach for use in ecological studies which allows for individual-level metadata tracking of large numbers of invertebrate samples through the use of hierarchically organised molecular identification tags. We demonstrate its utility using a sample data set examining both species identity and levels of parasitism in late larval stages of the oak processionary moth (Thaumetopoea processionea-Linn. 1758), an invasive species recently established in the United Kingdom. Overall, we find that there are two main species exploiting the late larval stages of oak processionary moth in the United Kingdom with the main parasitoid (Carcelia iliaca-Ratzeburg, 1840) parasitising 45.7% of caterpillars, while a rare secondary parasitoid (Compsilura concinnata-Meigen, 1824) was also detected in 0.4% of caterpillars. Using this approach on all life stages of the oak processionary moth may demonstrate additional parasitoid diversity. We discuss the wider potential of nested tagging DNA metabarcoding for constructing large, highly resolved species interaction networks.