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Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Divergent evolution in the genomes of closely related lacertids, Lacerta viridis and L. bilineata, and implications for speciation.

Lacerta viridis and Lacerta bilineata are sister species of European green lizards (eastern and western clades, respectively) that, until recently, were grouped together as the L. viridis complex. Genetic incompatibilities were observed between lacertid populations through crossing experiments, which led to the delineation of two separate species within the L. viridis complex. The population history of these sister species and processes driving divergence are unknown. We constructed the first high-quality de novo genome assemblies for both L. viridis and L. bilineata through Illumina and PacBio sequencing, with annotation support provided from transcriptome sequencing of several tissues. To estimate gene flow…

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Sunday, September 22, 2019

Analysis of aquaporins from the euryhaline barnacle Balanus improvisus reveals differential expression in response to changes in salinity.

Barnacles are sessile macro-invertebrates, found along rocky shores in coastal areas worldwide. The euryhaline bay barnacle Balanus improvisus (Darwin, 1854) (= Amphibalanus improvisus) can tolerate a wide range of salinities, but the molecular mechanisms underlying the osmoregulatory capacity of this truly brackish species are not well understood. Aquaporins are pore-forming integral membrane proteins that facilitate transport of water, small solutes and ions through cellular membranes, and that have been shown to be important for osmoregulation in many organisms. The knowledge of the function of aquaporins in crustaceans is, however, limited and nothing is known about them in barnacles. We here…

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Sunday, September 22, 2019

First insights into the nature and evolution of antisense transcription in nematodes.

The development of multicellular organisms is coordinated by various gene regulatory mechanisms that ensure correct spatio-temporal patterns of gene expression. Recently, the role of antisense transcription in gene regulation has moved into focus of research. To characterize genome-wide patterns of antisense transcription and to study their evolutionary conservation, we sequenced a strand-specific RNA-seq library of the nematode Pristionchus pacificus.We identified 1112 antisense configurations of which the largest group represents 465 antisense transcripts (ASTs) that are fully embedded in introns of their host genes. We find that most ASTs show homology to protein-coding genes and are overrepresented in proteomic data. Together…

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Sunday, September 22, 2019

Divergent brain gene expression profiles between alternative behavioural helper types in a cooperative breeder.

Juveniles of the cooperatively breeding cichlid fish Neolamprologus pulcher either consistently provide help in form of alloparental egg care (“cleaners”) or consistently abstain from helping (“noncleaners”). These phenotypes are not based on heritable genetic differences. Instead, they arise during ontogeny, which should lead to differences in brain structure or physiology, a currently untested prediction. We compared brain gene expression profiles of cleaners and noncleaners in two experimental conditions, a helping opportunity and a control condition. We aimed to identify (a) expression differences between cleaners and noncleaners in the control, (b) changes in gene expression induced by the opportunity and (c)…

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Sunday, September 22, 2019

The genomic architecture and molecular evolution of ant odorant receptors.

The massive expansions of odorant receptor (OR) genes in ant genomes are notable examples of rapid genome evolution and adaptive gene duplication. However, the molecular mechanisms leading to gene family expansion remain poorly understood, partly because available ant genomes are fragmentary. Here, we present a highly contiguous, chromosome-level assembly of the clonal raider ant genome, revealing the largest known OR repertoire in an insect. While most ant ORs originate via local tandem duplication, we also observe several cases of dispersed duplication followed by tandem duplication in the most rapidly evolving OR clades. We found that areas of unusually high transposable…

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