Gene loss rather than gene gain is associated with a host jump from monocots to dicots in the smut fungus Melanopsichium pennsylvanicum
- Smut fungi are well-suited to investigate the ecology and evolution of plant pathogens, as they are strictly biotrophic, yet cultivable on media. Here we report the genome sequence of Melanopsichium pennsylvanicum, closely related to Ustilago maydis and other Poaceae-infecting smuts, but parasitic to a dicot plant. To explore the evolutionary patterns resulting from host adaptation after this huge host jump, the genome of M. pennsylvanicum was sequenced and compared to the genomes of Ustilago maydis, Sporisorium reilianum, and Ustilago hordei. While all four genomes had a similar completeness in CEGMA analyses, gene absence was highest in M. pennsylvanicum, and most pronounced in putative secreted proteins, which are often considered as effector candidates. In contrast, the amount of private genes was similar among the species, highlighting that gene loss rather than gene gain is the hallmark of adaptation after the host jump to the dicot host. Our analyses revealed a trend of putative effectors to be next to another putative effector, but the majority of these are not in clusters and thus the focus on pathogenicity clusters might not be appropriate for all smut genomes. Positive selection studies revealed that M. pennsylvanicum has the highest number and proportion of genes under positive selection. In general, putative effectors showed a higher proportion of positively selected genes than non-effector candidates. The 248 putative secreted effectors found in all four smut genomes might constitute a core set needed for pathogenicity, while those 92 that are found in all grass-parasitic smuts, but have no ortholog in M. pennsylvanicum might constitute a set of effectors important for successful colonization of grass hosts.
Factors affecting date of implantation, parturition, and den entry estimated from activity and body temperature in free-ranging brown bears
Alina L. Evans
Jon M. Arnemo
Jon E. Swenson
- Knowledge of factors influencing the timing of reproduction is important for animal conservation and management. Brown bears (Ursus arctos) are able to vary the birth date of their cubs in response to their fat stores, but little information is available about the timing of implantation and parturition in free-ranging brown bears. Body temperature and activity of pregnant brown bears is higher during the gestation period than during the rest of hibernation and drops at parturition. We compared mean daily body temperature and activity levels of pregnant and nonpregnant females during preimplantation, gestation, and lactation. Additionally we tested whether age, litter size, primiparity, environmental conditions, and the start of hibernation influence the timing of parturition. The mean date of implantation was 1 December (SD = 12), the mean date of parturition was 26 January (SD = 12), and the mean duration of the gestation period was 56 days (SD = 2). The body temperature of pregnant females was higher during the gestation and lactation periods than that of nonpregnant bears. The body temperature of pregnant females decreased during the gestation period. Activity recordings were also used to determine the date of parturition. The parturition dates calculated with activity and body temperature data did not differ significantly and were the same in 50% of the females. Older females started hibernation earlier. The start of hibernation was earlier during years with favorable environmental conditions. Dates of parturition were later during years with good environmental conditions which was unexpected. We suggest that free-ranging pregnant brown bears in areas with high levels of human activities at the beginning of the denning period, as in our study area, might prioritize investing energy in early denning than in early parturition during years with favorable environmental conditions, as a strategy to prevent disturbances caused by human.
APADB: a database for alternative polyadenylation and microRNA regulation events
Adam M. Zawada
- Alternative polyadenylation (APA) is a widespread mechanism that contributes to the sophisticated dynamics of gene regulation. Approximately 50% of all protein-coding human genes harbor multiple polyadenylation (PA) sites; their selective and combinatorial use gives rise to transcript variants with differing length of their 3' untranslated region (3'UTR). Shortened variants escape UTR-mediated regulation by microRNAs (miRNAs), especially in cancer, where global 3'UTR shortening accelerates disease progression, dedifferentiation and proliferation. Here we present APADB, a database of vertebrate PA sites determined by 3' end sequencing, using massive analysis of complementary DNA ends. APADB provides (A)PA sites for coding and non-coding transcripts of human, mouse and chicken genes. For human and mouse, several tissue types, including different cancer specimens, are available. APADB records the loss of predicted miRNA binding sites and visualizes next-generation sequencing reads that support each PA site in a genome browser. The database tables can either be browsed according to organism and tissue or alternatively searched for a gene of interest. APADB is the largest database of APA in human, chicken and mouse. The stored information provides experimental evidence for thousands of PA sites and APA events. APADB combines 3' end sequencing data with prediction algorithms of miRNA binding sites, allowing to further improve prediction algorithms. Current databases lack correct information about 3'UTR lengths, especially for chicken, and APADB provides necessary information to close this gap. Database URL: http://tools.genxpro.net/apadb/
A pre-ribosomal RNA interaction network involving snoRNAs and the Rok1 helicase
Katherine E. Sloan
Markus T. Bohnsack
- Ribosome biogenesis in yeast requires 75 small nucleolar RNAs (snoRNAs) and a myriad of cofactors for processing, modification, and folding of the ribosomal RNAs (rRNAs). For the 19 RNA helicases implicated in ribosome synthesis, their sites of action and molecular functions have largely remained unknown. Here, we have used UV cross-linking and analysis of cDNA (CRAC) to reveal the pre-rRNA binding sites of the RNA helicase Rok1, which is involved in early small subunit biogenesis. Several contact sites were identified in the 18S rRNA sequence, which interestingly all cluster in the “foot” region of the small ribosomal subunit. These include a major binding site in the eukaryotic expansion segment ES6, where Rok1 is required for release of the snR30 snoRNA. Rok1 directly contacts snR30 and other snoRNAs required for pre-rRNA processing. Using cross-linking, ligation and sequencing of hybrids (CLASH) we identified several novel pre-rRNA base-pairing sites for the snoRNAs snR30, snR10, U3, and U14, which cluster in the expansion segments of the 18S rRNA. Our data suggest that these snoRNAs bridge interactions between the expansion segments, thereby forming an extensive interaction network that likely promotes pre-rRNA maturation and folding in early pre-ribosomal complexes and establishes long-range rRNA interactions during ribosome synthesis.
Polyploidy in haloarchaea: advantages for growth and survival
- The investigated haloarchaeal species, Halobacterium salinarum, Haloferax mediterranei, and H. volcanii, have all been shown to be polyploid. They contain several replicons that have independent copy number regulation, and most have a higher copy number during exponential growth phase than in stationary phase. The possible evolutionary advantages of polyploidy for haloarchaea, most of which have experimental support for at least one species, are discussed. These advantages include a low mutation rate and high resistance toward X-ray irradiation and desiccation, which depend on homologous recombination. For H. volcanii, it has been shown that gene conversion operates in the absence of selection, which leads to the equalization of genome copies. On the other hand, selective forces might lead to heterozygous cells, which have been verified in the laboratory. Additional advantages of polyploidy are survival over geological times in halite deposits as well as at extreme conditions on earth and at simulated Mars conditions. Recently, it was found that H. volcanii uses genomic DNA as genetic material and as a storage polymer for phosphate. In the absence of phosphate, H. volcanii dramatically decreases its genome copy number, thereby enabling cell multiplication, but diminishing the genetic advantages of polyploidy. Stable storage of phosphate is proposed as an alternative driving force for the emergence of DNA in early evolution. Several additional potential advantages of polyploidy are discussed that have not been addressed experimentally for haloarchaea. An outlook summarizes selected current trends and possible future developments.
Are In Vitro Methods for the Detection of Endocrine Potentials in the Aquatic Environment Predictive for In Vivo Effects? Outcomes of the Projects SchussenAktiv and SchussenAktivplus in the Lake Constance Area, Germany
- Many studies about endocrine pollution in the aquatic environment reveal changes in the reproduction system of biota. We analysed endocrine activities in two rivers in Southern Germany using three approaches: (1) chemical analyses, (2) in vitro bioassays, and (3) in vivo investigations in fish and snails. Chemical analyses were based on gas chromatography coupled with mass spectrometry. For in vitro analyses of endocrine potentials in water, sediment, and waste water samples, we used the E-screen assay (human breast cancer cells MCF-7) and reporter gene assays (human cell line HeLa-9903 and MDA-kb2). In addition, we performed reproduction tests with the freshwater mudsnail Potamopyrgus antipodarum to analyse water and sediment samples. We exposed juvenile brown trout (Salmo trutta f. fario) to water downstream of a wastewater outfall (Schussen River) or to water from a reference site (Argen River) to investigate the vitellogenin production. Furthermore, two feral fish species, chub (Leuciscus cephalus) and spirlin (Alburnoides bipunctatus), were caught in both rivers to determine their gonadal maturity and the gonadosomatic index. Chemical analyses provided only little information about endocrine active substances, whereas the in vitro assays revealed endocrine potentials in most of the samples. In addition to endocrine potentials, we also observed toxic potentials (E-screen/reproduction test) in waste water samples, which could interfere with and camouflage endocrine effects. The results of our in vivo tests were mostly in line with the results of the in vitro assays and revealed a consistent reproduction-disrupting (reproduction tests) and an occasional endocrine action (vitellogenin levels) in both investigated rivers, with more pronounced effects for the Schussen river (e.g. a lower gonadosomatic index). We were able to show that biological in vitro assays for endocrine potentials in natural stream water reasonably reflect reproduction and endocrine disruption observed in snails and field-exposed fish, respectively.
Range-Wide Latitudinal and Elevational Temperature Gradients for the World's Terrestrial Birds: Implications under Global Climate Change
Frank A. La Sorte
Stuart H. M. Butchart
- Species' geographical distributions are tracking latitudinal and elevational surface temperature gradients under global climate change. To evaluate the opportunities to track these gradients across space, we provide a first baseline assessment of the steepness of these gradients for the world's terrestrial birds. Within the breeding ranges of 9,014 bird species, we characterized the spatial gradients in temperature along latitude and elevation for all and a subset of bird species, respectively. We summarized these temperature gradients globally for threatened and non-threatened species and determined how their steepness varied based on species' geography (range size, shape, and orientation) and projected changes in temperature under climate change. Elevational temperature gradients were steepest for species in Africa, western North and South America, and central Asia and shallowest in Australasia, insular IndoMalaya, and the Neotropical lowlands. Latitudinal temperature gradients were steepest for extratropical species, especially in the Northern Hemisphere. Threatened species had shallower elevational gradients whereas latitudinal gradients differed little between threatened and non-threatened species. The strength of elevational gradients was positively correlated with projected changes in temperature. For latitudinal gradients, this relationship only held for extratropical species. The strength of latitudinal gradients was better predicted by species' geography, but primarily for extratropical species. Our findings suggest threatened species are associated with shallower elevational temperature gradients, whereas steep latitudinal gradients are most prevalent outside the tropics where fewer bird species occur year-round. Future modeling and mitigation efforts would benefit from the development of finer grain distributional data to ascertain how these gradients are structured within species' ranges, how and why these gradients vary among species, and the capacity of species to utilize these gradients under climate change.
The Complexity of Vesicle Transport Factors in Plants Examined by Orthology Search
- Vesicle transport is a central process to ensure protein and lipid distribution in eukaryotic cells. The current knowledge on the molecular components and mechanisms of this process is majorly based on studies in Saccharomyces cerevisiae and Arabidopsis thaliana, which revealed 240 different proteinaceous factors either experimentally proven or predicted to be involved in vesicle transport. In here, we performed an orthologue search using two different algorithms to identify the components of the secretory pathway in yeast and 14 plant genomes by using the ‘core-set’ of 240 factors as bait. We identified 4021 orthologues and (co-)orthologues in the discussed plant species accounting for components of COP-II, COP-I, Clathrin Coated Vesicles, Retromers and ESCRTs, Rab GTPases, Tethering factors and SNAREs. In plants, we observed a significantly higher number of (co-)orthologues than yeast, while only 8 tethering factors from yeast seem to be absent in the analyzed plant genomes. To link the identified (co-)orthologues to vesicle transport, the domain architecture of the proteins from yeast, genetic model plant A. thaliana and agriculturally relevant crop Solanum lycopersicum has been inspected. For the orthologous groups containing (co-)orthologues from yeast, A. thaliana and S. lycopersicum, we observed the same domain architecture for 79% (416/527) of the (co-)orthologues, which documents a very high conservation of this process. Further, publically available tissue-specific expression profiles for a subset of (co-)orthologues found in A. thaliana and S. lycopersicum suggest that some (co-)orthologues are involved in tissue-specific functions. Inspection of localization of the (co-)orthologues based on available proteome data or localization predictions lead to the assignment of plastid- as well as mitochondrial localized (co-)orthologues of vesicle transport factors and the relevance of this is discussed.
The genetic legacy of multiple beaver reintroductions in Central Europe
Robert H. S. Kraus
- The comeback of the Eurasian beaver (Castor fiber) throughout western and central Europe is considered a major conservation success. Traditionally, several subspecies are recognised by morphology and mitochondrial haplotype, each linked to a relict population. During various reintroduction programs in the 20th century, beavers from multiple source localities were released and now form viable populations. These programs differed in their reintroduction strategies, i.e., using pure subspecies vs. mixed source populations. This inhomogeneity in management actions generated ongoing debates regarding the origin of present beaver populations and appropriate management plans for the future. By sequencing of the mitochondrial control region and microsatellite genotyping of 235 beaver individuals from five selected regions in Germany, Switzerland, Luxembourg, and Belgium we show that beavers from at least four source origins currently form admixed, genetically diverse populations that spread across the study region. While regional occurrences of invasive North American beavers (n = 20) were found, all but one C. fiber bore the mitochondrial haplotype of the autochthonous western Evolutionary Significant Unit (ESU). Considering this, as well as the viability of admixed populations and the fact that the fusion of different lineages is already progressing in all studied regions, we argue that admixture between different beaver source populations should be generally accepted.
Identification of novel methyltransferases, Bmt5 and Bmt6, responsible for the m3U methylations of 25S rRNA in Saccharomyces cerevisiae
- RNA contains various chemical modifications that expand its otherwise limited repertoire to mediate complex processes like translation and gene regulation. 25S rRNA of the large subunit of ribosome contains eight base methylations. Except for the methylation of uridine residues, methyltransferases for all other known base methylations have been recently identified. Here we report the identification of BMT5 (YIL096C) and BMT6 (YLR063W), two previously uncharacterized genes, to be responsible for m3U2634 and m3U2843 methylation of the 25S rRNA, respectively. These genes were identified by RP-HPLC screening of all deletion mutants of putative RNA methyltransferases and were confirmed by gene complementation and phenotypic characterization. Both proteins belong to Rossmann-fold-like methyltransferases and the point mutations in the S-adenosyl-L-methionine binding pocket abolish the methylation reaction. Bmt5 localizes in the nucleolus, whereas Bmt6 is localized predominantly in the cytoplasm. Furthermore, we showed that 25S rRNA of yeast does not contain any m5U residues as previously predicted. With Bmt5 and Bmt6, all base methyltransferases of the 25S rRNA have been identified. This will facilitate the analyses of the significance of these modifications in ribosome function and cellular physiology.