SMBE Bylaws

(Updated June 2013)

ARTICLE 1. Name.

The name of the organization shall be the Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution, hereafter called “the Society.” The Society shall be an international organization.

ARTICLE 2. Purpose.

The purposes of the Society are to provide facilities for association and conference among molecular evolutionists and to further the goals of molecular evolutionary biology and its practitioners, including the publication of the two journals, Molecular Biology and Evolution (MBE), and Genome Biology and Evolution (GBE).

ARTICLE 3. Membership.

All individuals actively interested in any field of molecular evolutionary biology shall be eligible for active membership. One becomes an active member when the dues are accepted or when they accept an invitation by the Society.

ARTICLE 4. Officers and Council.

a. Composition. The officers of the organization shall be the Immediate Past President, the President, the President-elect, the Secretary, and the Treasurer. A full council will also have six elected councilors. The officers and the councilors shall constitute the Council. The Chief Editors of MBE and GBE will also serve on the Council as ex officio non-voting members.

b. Nominations. The President shall appoint a Nominating Committee by the end of December each year to propose candidates for the following year’s election of Council members who will begin their duties January 1 of the year after the election. The Nominating Committee shall consist of three to five active Society members who are not members of the Council. The Secretary shall be an ex officio non-voting member of the Committee. The Committee shall be chaired by a senior Society member. Once the Nominating Committee is formed, the Secretary shall inform the entire Society membership of its composition and invite suggestions for nominees. Two candidates shall be put forward for each office to be filled. The candidates for Councilors shall be presented in a single list in alphabetical order.
Upon recommendation by the Council, a single name may be put forward for the offices of Treasurer and/or Secretary. The Nominating Committee may or may not accept this recommendation. Candidates for all offices must be Society members at the time of the election.

c. Election of Officers shall be by a simple majority of those voting.  Election of Councilors shall be by plurality of those voting, where members are permitted to vote for any number of candidates up to and including the number of Councilor positions being filled.  Ties are to be resolved by the Council.
Elections shall be held by mail ballot. Here and elsewhere in these Bylaws, the term “mail” shall be interpreted as standard postal mail, electronic mail, or other types of clear announcement to the Society membership.

d. Terms of Officers, Councilors, and Chief Editors. The terms of the officers shall be three years. A person elected for Presidency shall serve as President-elect, President, and Past-President for the first, second, and third year, respectively. Councilors will each serve 3-year staggered terms so that two new councilors are elected annually. The Chief Editors of MBE and of GBE shall be appointed by the Council. The terms of the Chief Editors shall be five years but may be extended or terminated by the Council after consultation with members of their respective Editorial Boards. The terms of the Secretary and the Treasurer shall be staggered. Terms shall begin on January 1, except for the Chief Editors, who shall assume their duties so as to be responsible for the next volumes of their respective journals. An overlap period between out-going and in-coming Chief Editors, Secretary, and Treasurer may be negotiated with terms mutually agreed upon and approved by Council. During any overlap period, final decisions on matters concerning each position will be determined by the individual actually serving at that time (defined by the start dates indicated above).

e. Vacancies. Vacancies on the Council shall be filled by appointment by the Council, except: in the event of a vacancy in the Office of President, the President-elect shall become the President for the remainder of the unexpired term as well as for the subsequent term. In the event of vacancy of any other office, the Council shall appoint an active member to serve for the remainder of the year, and the office shall be filled at the next annual election.

f. Duties.
i) President. The President shall preside at the meetings of the Society and the Council. With the advice of the Council, the President shall appoint such committees and representatives as may be needed. With the exception of the Nominating Committee, Committees shall consist of a maximum of one Council member and at least two Society members not on Council. Individuals not members of the Society may be asked to join committees and may be offered a one one-year gratis membership.

ii) President-elect. The President-elect shall preside in the absence of the President. The President-elect shall direct the planning of annual meetings in accordance with rules established by the Council.

iii) Past-president. The Past President shall Chair the Fitch Committee to choose participants in the Fitch Symposium. This committee or another appointed by the Past-president shall also take responsibility for awarding travel grants and promoting participation at annual meetings of younger scientists and under-represented groups.

iv) Secretary. The Secretary shall: (1) keep the records of the Society; (2) send to all members the date and place of the annual meeting, a call for contributions to be presented at that meeting, and a call for suggestions for nomination for all offices to be filled by election; (3) At least six weeks before the annual meeting, send all members a ballot bearing the names of nominees for office; (4) prepare minutes of the annual meeting and present an annual report to the members concerning actions of the Council and activities of the Society and its Committees and representatives; (5) deposit those records of the Society no longer needed on an electronic archive accessible through the Society web site; in addition to Society records such as all formal reports, minutes of Council and Society meetings, and materials relating to the annual meetings, other material deemed of historical value may be deposited in the archive only with approval of Council; and (6) be responsible for maintaining the Society web site; for this purpose, the Council may designate a webmaster.

v) Treasurer. The Treasurer shall: (1) have charge of all funds of the Society and be responsible for their investment; (2) be bonded in an appropriate amount fixed by the Council; and (3) prepare an annual statement to the members of the financial status of the Society. This annual statement shall be reviewed by two auditors appointed by the President before the annual meeting of the Society.

vi) Councilors. Elected councilors shall participate in all matters of the Council and attend annual meetings of the Society.

vii) Chief Editors. Each Chief Editor shall carry out policy decisions of the Council, report directly to the Council, and be authorized to act for his/her respective Editorial Boards in arriving at Editorial decisions and conducting routine business. Editorial Board meetings may be held by electronic means. Each of the Editors shall submit an annual report to the Society regarding the operation of their respective journals. Chief Editors shall also serve as non-voting ex officio members of the Council.

ARTICLE 5. Meetings.

Meetings of the Council may be called by the president or any three other members of the Council. Meetings of the Council may be by electronic means or teleconference. The time and place of the Annual Meeting of the Society shall be determined by the Council at the recommendation of the President-Elect. The registration fee shall be set by the organizing Committee in consultation with the Council to allow a lower fee for members than for non- members.
A Society Business Meeting shall coincide with the annual meeting. At the business meeting, the President shall present an annual report of the Society, including the financial status and the next annual meeting. Each Chief Editor shall present a report concerning the publications of the Society journals. At the business meeting, the President shall also solicit recommendations concerning any Society activities to be considered by the Council.

ARTICLE 6. Quorum.

Two thirds of the Council shall constitute a quorum for Council meetings; in the case of electronic meetings, two-thirds of Council must respond within a reasonable time period set by the President in order to be considered a quorum. A quorum of the membership shall be those attending a duly called meeting or responding to a polling by mail within a reasonable time period set by the President.

ARTICLE 7. Voting.

Actions of the Council at a duly constituted meeting require a majority of those present to approve. A meeting is duly constituted if properly called and a quorum is present. Actions of the membership at the annual meeting also require a majority, but are not binding on the Council excepting demands for a mail polling of the membership on any issue. Actions taken by a majority of the active membership in a mail polling are binding on the Council except amendments to these by-laws (see article 11).

ARTICLE 8. Finances.

a. Budget. The Council shall be responsible for determining the budget. Expenditures in accord with the budget are to be jointly authorized by the President and Treasurer.
b. Dues. Annual dues shall be determined by the Council and will normally include a subscription to MBE, although Society membership without a subscription is an option. Graduate students who provide evidence of their status are entitled to active membership at reduced cost. Postdoctoral Fellows are also entitled to active membership at a reduced cost. Payment shall be due January 1. New members shall be billed for dues from the previous January 1, and shall receive MBE for the entire year. Members who have not paid their dues by January 1 shall be dropped from the rolls. GBE shall be an open access journal, and is therefore freely available to members as well as nonmembers.

ARTICLE 9. Publications.

a. Journals. The Society shall publish 1) Molecular Biology and Evolution [MBE] and 2) Genome Biology and Evolution [GBE] as its official journals. Publication in the journals shall be open to members and non-members alike. Acceptance shall be decided after Editorial review solely on merit and suitability. Other publications may be issued as the Council shall authorize.

b. Editorial Boards. The Editorial Boards of society journals will consist of Senior Editors and/or Associate Editors. They shall be appointed by the respective Chief Editors from a list of candidates submitted to the Council by each Chief Editor and approved by the Council. Editorial Board members shall serve three-year terms which may be renewed by the Chief Editor. Chief Editors may also appoint Guest Editors to the Editorial Board for special journal issues and manuscripts. Guest Editor appointments must be restricted to handing one or a few manuscripts. Chief Editors may retire any member of the Editorial Board prior to the completion of their three-year term in order to improve editorial efficiency and to make room for appointment of editors who will enhance the scientific excellence and breadth.

ARTICLE 10. Procedural Problems.

Procedural problems will be resolved according to Robert’s Rules of Order.

ARTICLE 11. Amending By-Laws.

Amendments to the Bylaws may be proposed by Council or by petition of Society members, whose proposal must be approved by Council. The Bylaws may be changed by a two-thirds vote of the members voting in a mail ballot. Mail voting ceases 45 days and online voting ceases 15 days after initial announcement. Proposed Bylaws changes must be accompanied by an explication and rationale for the proposed changes.

Adopted June 12, 1992 by unanimous vote of those attending meeting and amended by mail ballot October 8, 1993, March 1, 1995, March 30, 2007, November 7, 2008 and January 19, 2011.

This bylaws was passed on January 13, 2011, by the election of the SMBE members with 98% approval. Among the 239 ballots returned, 235 voted for the Bylaws amendments proposed by the council, which led to this Bylaws, and 4 voted to keep the previous Bylaws.

The bylaws were amended on July 10, 2013 by the vote of the members of SMBE. The amendments were passed by a vote of 248 to 26.

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MBE | Most Read

Molecular Biology and Evolution

Skin Game: Study Peels Back Details on Mammalian Keratin Genes and Adaptation to Living on Land or in Water

Thu, 31 Jan 2019 00:00:00 GMT

Whether by land or by sea, mammals live in a diverse variety of protective skins adapted against the elements, from swimming in the deepest azure oceans to climbing precipitous mountain peaks.

Scorpion Toxins: Positive Selection at a Distal Site Modulates Functional Evolution at a Bioactive Site

Tue, 18 Dec 2018 00:00:00 GMT

The bioactive sites of proteins are those that directly interact with their targets. In many immunity- and predation-related proteins, they frequently experience positive selection for dealing with the changes of their targets from competitors. However, some sites that are far away from the interface between proteins and their targets are also identified to evolve under positive selection. Here, we explore the evolutionary implication of such a site in scorpion α-type toxins affecting sodium (Na+) channels (abbreviated as α-ScNaTxs) using a combination of experimental and computational approaches. We found that despite no direct involvement in interaction with Na+ channels, mutations at this site by different types of amino acids led to toxicity change on both rats and insects in three α-ScNaTxs, accompanying differential effects on their structures. Molecular dynamics simulations indicated that the mutations changed the conformational dynamics of the positively selected bioactive site-containing functional regions by allosteric communication, suggesting a potential evolutionary correlation between these bioactive sites and the distant nonbioactive site. Our results reveal for the first time the cause of fast evolution at nonbioactive sites of scorpion neurotoxins, which is presumably to adapt to the change of their bioactive sites through coevolution to maintain an active conformation for channel binding. This might aid rational design of scorpion Na+ channel toxins with improved phyletic selectivity via modification of a distant nonbioactive site.

Evolution of the Yeast Recombination Landscape

Fri, 07 Dec 2018 00:00:00 GMT

Meiotic recombination comprises crossovers and noncrossovers. Recombination, crossover in particular, shuffles mutations and impacts both the level of genetic polymorphism and the speed of adaptation. In many species, the recombination rate varies across the genome with hot and cold spots. The hotspot paradox hypothesis asserts that recombination hotspots are evolutionarily unstable due to self-destruction. However, the genomic landscape of double-strand breaks (DSBs), which initiate recombination, is evolutionarily conserved among divergent yeast species, casting doubt on the hotspot paradox hypothesis. Nonetheless, because only a subset of DSBs are associated with crossovers, the evolutionary conservation of the crossover landscape could differ from that of DSBs. Here, we investigate this possibility by generating a high-resolution recombination map of the budding yeast Saccharomyces paradoxus through whole-genome sequencing of 50 meiotic tetrads and by comparing this recombination map with that of S. cerevisiae. We observe a 40% lower recombination rate in S. paradoxus than in S. cerevisiae. Compared with the DSB landscape, the crossover landscape is even more conserved. Further analyses indicate that the elevated conservation of the crossover landscape is explained by a near-subtelomeric crossover preference in both yeasts, which we find to be attributable at least in part to crossover interference. We conclude that the yeast crossover landscape is highly conserved and that the evolutionary conservation of this landscape can differ from that of the DSB landscape.

Insights into the Evolution of the Suppressors of Cytokine Signaling (SOCS) Gene Family in Vertebrates

Wed, 05 Dec 2018 00:00:00 GMT

The SOCS family are key negative regulators of cytokine and growth factor signaling. Typically, 8–17 SOCS genes are present in vertebrate species with eight known in mammals, classified as type I (SOCS4–7) and type II (CISH and SOCS1–3) SOCS. It was believed that the type II SOCS were expanded through the two rounds of whole genome duplication (1R and 2R WGDs) from a single CISH/SOCS1–3 precursor. Previously, 12 genes were identified in rainbow trout but here we report 15 additional loci are present, and confirm 26 of the genes are expressed, giving rainbow trout the largest SOCS gene repertoire identified to date. The discovery of the additional SOCS genes in trout has led to a novel model of SOCS family evolution, whereby the vertebrate SOCS gene family was derived from CISH/SOCS2, SOCS1/SOCS3, SOCS4/5, SOCS6, and SOCS7 ancestors likely present before the two WGD events. It is also apparent that teleost SOCS2b, SOCS4, and SOCS5b molecules are not true orthologues of mammalian SOCS2, SOCS4, and SOCS5, respectively. The rate of SOCS gene structural changes increased from 2R vertebrates, to 4R rainbow trout, and the genes with structural changes show large differences and low correlation coefficient of expression levels relative to their paralogues, suggesting a role of structural changes in expression and functional diversification. This study has important impacts in the functional prediction and understanding of the SOCS gene family in different vertebrates, and provides a framework for determining how many SOCS genes could be expected in a particular vertebrate species/lineage.

Structural Patching Fosters Divergence of Mitochondrial Ribosomes

Tue, 04 Dec 2018 00:00:00 GMT

Mitochondrial ribosomes (mitoribosomes) are essential components of all mitochondria that synthesize proteins encoded by the mitochondrial genome. Unlike other ribosomes, mitoribosomes are highly variable across species. The basis for this diversity is not known. Here, we examine the composition and evolutionary history of mitoribosomes across the phylogenetic tree by combining three-dimensional structural information with a comparative analysis of the secondary structures of mitochondrial rRNAs (mt-rRNAs) and available proteomic data. We generate a map of the acquisition of structural variation and reconstruct the fundamental stages that shaped the evolution of the mitoribosomal large subunit and led to this diversity. Our analysis suggests a critical role for ablation and expansion of rapidly evolving mt-rRNA. These changes cause structural instabilities that are “patched” by the acquisition of pre-existing compensatory elements, thus providing opportunities for rapid evolution. This mechanism underlies the incorporation of mt-tRNA into the central protuberance of the mammalian mitoribosome, and the altered path of the polypeptide exit tunnel of the yeast mitoribosome. We propose that since the toolkits of elements utilized for structural patching differ between mitochondria of different species, it fosters the growing divergence of mitoribosomes.

Irreversible Activation of Rho-activated Kinases Resulted from Evolution of Proteolytic Sites within Disordered Regions in Coiled-coil Domain

Tue, 04 Dec 2018 00:00:00 GMT

Activation of Rho-associated protein kinase 1 (ROCK1) and myotonic dystrophy kinase-related CDC42-binding kinase alpha (MRCKα) by caspases during apoptosis in vertebrates represents a prototypical example of co-option of kinases by proteases. How caspases acquired the ability to control these proteins during evolution of vertebrates is still unknown. Here, we report a phylogenetic and molecular study on the acquisition of caspase-cleavage sites in the family of Rho-activated kinases (RaKs). We demonstrate that the acquisition of such sites has more frequently occurred in identifiable intrinsically disordered regions (IDRs) within or flanking the coiled-coil domain. Thanks to computational identification of IDRs in protein sequences of different organisms, we predicted and validated the independent evolution of two caspase-cleavage sites in ROCK of arthropods and the loss of one of the MRCKα caspase-cleavage sites in ray-finned fishes. In conclusion, we shed light on the propensity of RaKs to evolve novel proteolytic sites, causing kinase activation and uniform subcellular distribution.

The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Convolutional Neural Networks in Population Genetic Inference

Tue, 04 Dec 2018 00:00:00 GMT

Population-scale genomic data sets have given researchers incredible amounts of information from which to infer evolutionary histories. Concomitant with this flood of data, theoretical and methodological advances have sought to extract information from genomic sequences to infer demographic events such as population size changes and gene flow among closely related populations/species, construct recombination maps, and uncover loci underlying recent adaptation. To date, most methods make use of only one or a few summaries of the input sequences and therefore ignore potentially useful information encoded in the data. The most sophisticated of these approaches involve likelihood calculations, which require theoretical advances for each new problem, and often focus on a single aspect of the data (e.g., only allele frequency information) in the interest of mathematical and computational tractability. Directly interrogating the entirety of the input sequence data in a likelihood-free manner would thus offer a fruitful alternative. Here, we accomplish this by representing DNA sequence alignments as images and using a class of deep learning methods called convolutional neural networks (CNNs) to make population genetic inferences from these images. We apply CNNs to a number of evolutionary questions and find that they frequently match or exceed the accuracy of current methods. Importantly, we show that CNNs perform accurate evolutionary model selection and parameter estimation, even on problems that have not received detailed theoretical treatments. Thus, when applied to population genetic alignments, CNNs are capable of outperforming expert-derived statistical methods and offer a new path forward in cases where no likelihood approach exists.

Differential Evolution of the Epidermal Keratin Cytoskeleton in Terrestrial and Aquatic Mammals

Tue, 04 Dec 2018 00:00:00 GMT

Keratins are the main intermediate filament proteins of epithelial cells. In keratinocytes of the mammalian epidermis they form a cytoskeleton that resists mechanical stress and thereby are essential for the function of the skin as a barrier against the environment. Here, we performed a comparative genomics study of epidermal keratin genes in terrestrial and fully aquatic mammals to determine adaptations of the epidermal keratin cytoskeleton to different environments. We show that keratins K5 and K14 of the innermost (basal), proliferation-competent layer of the epidermis are conserved in all mammals investigated. In contrast, K1 and K10, which form the main part of the cytoskeleton in the outer (suprabasal) layers of the epidermis of terrestrial mammals, have been lost in whales and dolphins (cetaceans) and in the manatee. Whereas in terrestrial mammalian epidermis K6 and K17 are expressed only upon stress-induced epidermal thickening, high levels of K6 and K17 are consistently present in dolphin skin, indicating constitutive expression and substitution of K1 and K10. K2 and K9, which are expressed in a body site-restricted manner in human and mouse suprabasal epidermis, have been lost not only in cetaceans and manatee but also in some terrestrial mammals. The evolution of alternative splicing of K10 and differentiation-dependent upregulation of K23 have increased the complexity of keratin expression in the epidermis of terrestrial mammals. Taken together, these results reveal evolutionary diversification of the epidermal cytoskeleton in mammals and suggest a complete replacement of the quantitatively predominant epidermal proteins of terrestrial mammals by originally stress-inducible keratins in cetaceans.

Repeated Evolution of Asexuality Involves Convergent Gene Expression Changes

Fri, 16 Nov 2018 00:00:00 GMT

Asexual reproduction has evolved repeatedly from sexual ancestors across a wide range of taxa. Whereas the costs and benefits associated with asexuality have received considerable attention, the molecular changes underpinning the evolution of asexual reproduction remain relatively unexplored. In particular, it is completely unknown whether the repeated evolution of asexual phenotypes involves similar molecular changes, as previous studies have focused on changes occurring in single lineages. Here, we investigate the extent of convergent gene expression changes across five independent transitions to asexuality in stick insects. We compared gene expression of asexual females to females of close sexual relatives in whole-bodies, reproductive tracts, and legs. We identified a striking amount of convergent gene expression change (up to 8% of genes), greatly exceeding that expected by chance. Convergent changes were also tissue-specific, and most likely driven by selection for functional changes. Genes showing convergent changes in the reproductive tract were associated with meiotic spindle formation and centrosome organization. These genes are particularly interesting as they can influence the production of unreduced eggs, a key barrier to asexual reproduction. Changes in legs and whole-bodies were likely involved in female sexual trait decay, with enrichment in terms such as sperm-storage and pigmentation. By identifying changes occurring across multiple independent transitions to asexuality, our results provide a rare insight into the molecular basis of asexual phenotypes and suggest that the evolutionary path to asexuality is highly constrained, requiring repeated changes to the same key genes.

Cytonuclear Coevolution following Homoploid Hybrid Speciation in Aegilops tauschii

Fri, 16 Nov 2018 00:00:00 GMT

The diploid D-genome lineage of the Triticum/Aegilops complex has an evolutionary history involving genomic contributions from ancient A- and B/S-genome species. We explored here the possible cytonuclear evolutionary responses to this history of hybridization. Phylogenetic analysis of chloroplast DNAs indicates that the D-genome lineage has a maternal origin of the A-genome or some other closely allied lineage. Analyses of the nuclear genome in the D-genome species Aegilops tauschii indicate that accompanying and/or following this ancient hybridization, there has been biased maintenance of maternal A-genome ancestry in nuclear genes encoding cytonuclear enzyme complexes (CECs). Our study provides insights into mechanisms of cytonuclear coevolution accompanying the evolution and eventual stabilization of homoploid hybrid species. We suggest that this coevolutionary process includes likely rapid fixation of A-genome CEC orthologs as well as biased retention of A-genome nucleotides in CEC homologs following population level recombination during the initial generations.

The Genome Landscape of Tibetan Sheep Reveals Adaptive Introgression from Argali and the History of Early Human Settlements on the Qinghai–Tibetan Plateau

Fri, 16 Nov 2018 00:00:00 GMT

Tibetan sheep are the most common and widespread domesticated animals on the Qinghai–Tibetan Plateau (QTP) and have played an essential role in the permanent human occupation of this high-altitude region. However, the precise timing, route, and process of sheep pastoralism in the QTP region remain poorly established, and little is known about the underlying genomic changes that occurred during the process. Here, we investigate the genomic variation in Tibetan sheep using whole-genome sequences, single nucleotide polymorphism arrays, mitochondrial DNA, and Y-chromosomal variants in 986 samples throughout their distribution range. We detect strong signatures of selection in genes involved in the hypoxia and ultraviolet signaling pathways (e.g., HIF-1 pathway and HBB and MITF genes) and in genes associated with morphological traits such as horn size and shape (e.g., RXFP2). We identify clear signals of argali (Ovis ammon) introgression into sympatric Tibetan sheep, covering 5.23–5.79% of their genomes. The introgressed genomic regions are enriched in genes related to oxygen transportation system, sensory perception, and morphological phenotypes, in particular the genes HBB and RXFP2 with strong signs of adaptive introgression. The spatial distribution of genomic diversity and demographic reconstruction of the history of Tibetan sheep show a stepwise pattern of colonization with their initial spread onto the QTP from its northeastern part ∼3,100 years ago, followed by further southwest expansion to the central QTP ∼1,300 years ago. Together with archeological evidence, the date and route reveal the history of human expansions on the QTP by the Tang–Bo Ancient Road during the late Holocene. Our findings contribute to a depth understanding of early pastoralism and the local adaptation of Tibetan sheep as well as the late-Holocene human occupation of the QTP.

Evolution of the Mutational Process under Relaxed Selection in Caenorhabditis elegans

Thu, 15 Nov 2018 00:00:00 GMT

The mutational process varies at many levels, from within genomes to among taxa. Many mechanisms have been linked to variation in mutation, but understanding of the evolution of the mutational process is rudimentary. Physiological condition is often implicated as a source of variation in microbial mutation rate and may contribute to mutation rate variation in multicellular organisms.Deleterious mutations are an ubiquitous source of variation in condition. We test the hypothesis that the mutational process depends on the underlying mutation load in two groups of Caenorhabditis elegans mutation accumulation (MA) lines that differ in their starting mutation loads. “First-order MA” (O1MA) lines maintained under minimal selection for ∼250 generations were divided into high-fitness and low-fitness groups and sets of “second-order MA” (O2MA) lines derived from each O1MA line were maintained for ∼150 additional generations. Genomes of 48 O2MA lines and their progenitors were sequenced. There is significant variation among O2MA lines in base-substitution rate (µbs), but no effect of initial fitness; the indel rate is greater in high-fitness O2MA lines. Overall, µbs is positively correlated with recombination and proximity to short tandem repeats and negatively correlated with 10 bp and 1 kb GC content. However, probability of mutation is sufficiently predicted by the three-nucleotide motif alone. Approximately 90% of the variance in standing nucleotide variation is explained by mutability. Total mutation rate increased in the O2MA lines, as predicted by the “drift barrier” model of mutation rate evolution. These data, combined with experimental estimates of fitness, suggest that epistasis is synergistic.

Methods for Estimating Demography and Detecting Between-Locus Differences in the Effective Population Size and Mutation Rate

Wed, 14 Nov 2018 00:00:00 GMT

It is known that the effective population size (Ne) and the mutation rate (u) vary across the genome. Here, we show that ignoring this heterogeneity may lead to biased estimates of past demography. To solve the problem, we develop new methods for jointly inferring past changes in population size and detecting variation in Ne and u between loci. These methods rely on either polymorphism data alone or both polymorphism and divergence data. In addition to inferring demography, we can use the methods to study a variety of questions: 1) comparing sex chromosomes with autosomes (for finding evidence for male-driven evolution, an unequal sex ratio, or sex-biased demographic changes) and 2) analyzing multilocus data from within autosomes or sex chromosomes (for studying determinants of variability in Ne and u). Simulations suggest that the methods can provide accurate parameter estimates and have substantial statistical power for detecting difference in Ne and u. As an example, we use the methods to analyze a polymorphism data set from Drosophila simulans. We find clear evidence for rapid population expansion. The results also indicate that the autosomes have a higher mutation rate than the X chromosome and that the sex ratio is probably female-biased. The new methods have been implemented in a user-friendly package.

The Many Nuanced Evolutionary Consequences of Duplicated Genes

Wed, 14 Nov 2018 00:00:00 GMT

Gene duplication is seen as a major source of structural and functional divergence in genome evolution. Under the conventional models of sub or neofunctionalization, functional changes arise in one of the duplicates after duplication. However, we suggest here that the presence of a duplicated gene can result in functional changes to its interacting partners. We explore this hypothesis by in silico evolution of a heterodimer when one member of the interacting pair is duplicated. We examine how a range of selection pressures and protein structures leads to differential patterns of evolutionary divergence. We find that a surprising number of distinct evolutionary trajectories can be observed even in a simple three member system. Further, we observe that selection to correct dosage imbalance can affect the evolution of the initial function in several unexpected ways. For example, if a duplicate is under selective pressure to avoid binding its original binding partner, this can lead to changes in the binding interface of a nonduplicated interacting partner to exclude the duplicate. Hence, independent of the fate of the duplicate, its presence can impact how the original function operates. Additionally, we introduce a conceptual framework to describe how interacting partners cope with dosage imbalance after duplication. Contextualizing our results within this framework reveals that the evolutionary path taken by a duplicate’s interacting partners is highly stochastic in nature. Consequently, the fate of duplicate genes may not only be controlled by their own ability to accumulate mutations but also by how interacting partners cope with them.

Genomic Evidence of Local Adaptation to Climate and Diet in Indigenous Siberians

Wed, 14 Nov 2018 00:00:00 GMT

The indigenous inhabitants of Siberia live in some of the harshest environments on earth, experiencing extended periods of severe cold temperatures, dramatic variation in photoperiod, and limited and highly variable food resources. While the successful long-term settlement of this area by humans required multiple behavioral and cultural innovations, the nature of the underlying genetic changes has generally remained elusive. In this study, we used a three-part approach to identify putative targets of positive natural selection in Siberians. We first performed selection scans on whole exome and genome-wide single nucleotide polymorphism array data from multiple Siberian populations. We then annotated candidates in the tails of the empirical distributions, focusing on candidates with evidence linking them to biological processes and phenotypes previously identified as relevant to adaptation in circumpolar groups. The top candidates were then genotyped in additional populations to determine their spatial allele frequency distributions and associations with climate variables. Our analysis reveals missense mutations in three genes involved in lipid metabolism (PLA2G2A, PLIN1, and ANGPTL8) that exhibit genomic and spatial patterns consistent with selection for cold climate and/or diet. These variants are unified by their connection to brown adipose tissue and may help to explain previously observed physiological differences in Siberians such as low serum lipid levels and increased basal metabolic rate. These results support the hypothesis that indigenous Siberians have genetically adapted to their local environment by selection on multiple genes.

Localizing and Classifying Adaptive Targets with Trend Filtered Regression

Tue, 06 Nov 2018 00:00:00 GMT

Identifying genomic locations of natural selection from sequence data is an ongoing challenge in population genetics. Current methods utilizing information combined from several summary statistics typically assume no correlation of summary statistics regardless of the genomic location from which they are calculated. However, due to linkage disequilibrium, summary statistics calculated at nearby genomic positions are highly correlated. We introduce an approach termed Trendsetter that accounts for the similarity of statistics calculated from adjacent genomic regions through trend filtering, while reducing the effects of multicollinearity through regularization. Our penalized regression framework has high power to detect sweeps, is capable of classifying sweep regions as either hard or soft, and can be applied to other selection scenarios as well. We find that Trendsetter is robust to both extensive missing data and strong background selection, and has comparable power to similar current approaches. Moreover, the model learned by Trendsetter can be viewed as a set of curves modeling the spatial distribution of summary statistics in the genome. Application to human genomic data revealed positively selected regions previously discovered such as LCT in Europeans and EDAR in East Asians. We also identified a number of novel candidates and show that populations with greater relatedness share more sweep signals.

Tipping the Scales: The Migration–Selection Balance Leans toward Selection in Snake Venoms

Sat, 03 Nov 2018 00:00:00 GMT

The migration–selection interaction is the strongest determinant of whether a beneficial allele increases in frequency within a population. Results of empirical studies examining the role of gene flow in an adaptive context, however, have largely been equivocal, with examples of opposing outcomes being repeatedly documented (e.g., local adaptation with high levels of gene flow vs. gene swamping). We compared neutral genomic and venom expression divergence for three sympatric pit vipers with differing ecologies to determine if and how migration–selection disequilibria result in local adaptation. We specifically tested whether neutral differentiation predicted phenotypic differentiation within an isolation-by-distance framework. The decoupling of neutral and phenotypic differentiation would indicate selection led to adaptive divergence irrespective of migration, whereas a significant relationship between neutral and venom expression differentiation would provide evidence in favor of the constraining force of gene flow. Neutral differentiation and geographic distance predicted phenotypic differentiation only in the generalist species, indicating that selection was the predominant mechanism in the migration–selection balance underlying adaptive venom evolution in both specialists. Dispersal is thought to be a stronger influence on genetic differentiation than specialization, but our results suggest the opposite. Greater specialization may lead to greater diversification rates, and extreme spatial and temporal variation in selective pressures can favor generalist phenotypes evolving under strong stabilizing selection. Our results are consistent with these expectations, suggesting that the equivocal findings of studies examining the role of gene flow in an adaptive context may be explained by ecological specialization theory.

GBE | Most Read

Genome Biology & Evolution

An Annotated Genome for Haliotis rufescens (Red Abalone) and Resequenced Green, Pink, Pinto, Black, and White Abalone Species

Thu, 17 Jan 2019 00:00:00 GMT

Abalone are one of the few marine taxa where aquaculture production dominates the global market as a result of increasing demand and declining natural stocks from overexploitation and disease. To better understand abalone biology, aid in conservation efforts for endangered abalone species, and gain insight into sustainable aquaculture, we created a draft genome of the red abalone (Haliotis rufescens). The approach to this genome draft included initial assembly using raw Illumina and PacBio sequencing data with MaSuRCA, before scaffolding using sequencing data generated from Chicago library preparations with HiRise2. This assembly approach resulted in 8,371 scaffolds and total length of 1.498 Gb; the N50 was 1.895 Mb, and the longest scaffold was 13.2 Mb. Gene models were predicted, using MAKER2, from RNA-Seq data and all related expressed sequence tags and proteins from NCBI; this resulted in 57,785 genes with an average length of 8,255 bp. In addition, single nucleotide polymorphisms were called on Illumina short-sequencing reads from five other eastern Pacific abalone species: the green (H. fulgens), pink (H. corrugata), pinto (H. kamtschatkana), black (H. cracherodii), and white (H. sorenseni) abalone. Phylogenetic relationships largely follow patterns detected by previous studies based on 1,784,991 high-quality single nucleotide polymorphisms. Among the six abalone species examined, the endangered white abalone appears to harbor the lowest levels of heterozygosity. This draft genome assembly and the sequencing data provide a foundation for genome-enabled aquaculture improvement for red abalone, and for genome-guided conservation efforts for the other five species and, in particular, for the endangered white and black abalone.

Evolution of Young Sex Chromosomes in Two Dioecious Sister Plant Species with Distinct Sex Determination Systems

Mon, 14 Jan 2019 00:00:00 GMT

In the last decade, progress has been made in methods to identify the sex determination system in plants. This gives the opportunity to study sex chromosomes that arose independently at different phylogenetic scales, and thus allows the discovery and the understanding of early stages of sex chromosome evolution. In the genus Silene, sex chromosomes have evolved independently in at least two clades from a nondioecious ancestor, the Melandrium and Otites sections. In the latter, sex chromosomes could be younger than in the section Melandrium, based on phylogenetic studies and as no heteromorphic sex chromosomes have been detected. This section might also exhibit lability in sex determination, because male heterogamy and female heterogamy have been suggested to occur.In this study, we investigated the sex determination system of two dioecious species in the section Otites (Silene otites and its close relative Silene pseudotites). Applying the new probabilistic method SEX-DETector on RNA-seq data from cross-controlled progenies, we inferred their most likely sex determination system and a list of putative autosomal and sex-linked contigs. We showed that the two phylogenetically close species differed in their sex determination system (XY versus ZW) with sex chromosomes that derived from two different pairs of autosomes. We built a genetic map of the sex chromosomes and showed that both pairs exhibited a large region with lack of recombination. However, the sex-limited chromosomes exhibited no strong degeneration. Finally, using the “ancestral” autosomal expression of sex-linked orthologs of nondioecious S. nutans, we found a slight signature of dosage compensation in the heterogametic females of S. otites.

The Chemosensory Receptor Repertoire of a True Shark Is Dominated by a Single Olfactory Receptor Family

Sat, 12 Jan 2019 00:00:00 GMT

Throughout the animal kingdom chemical senses are one of the primary means by which organisms make sense of their environment. To achieve perception of complex chemosensory stimuli large repertoires of olfactory and gustatory receptors are employed in bony vertebrates, which are characterized by high evolutionary dynamics in receptor repertoire size and composition. However, little is known about their evolution in earlier diverging vertebrates such as cartilaginous fish, which include sharks, skates, rays, and chimeras. Recently, the olfactory repertoire of a chimera, elephant shark, was found to be curiously reduced in odorant receptor number. Elephant sharks rely heavily on electroreception to localize prey; thus, it is unclear how representative their chemosensory receptor repertoire sizes would be for cartilaginous fishes in general. Here, we have mined the genome of a true shark, Scyliorhinus canicula (catshark) for olfactory and gustatory receptors, and have performed a thorough phylogenetic study to shed light on the evolution of chemosensory receptors in cartilaginous fish. We report the presence of several gustatory receptors of the TAS1R family in catshark and elephant shark, whereas TAS2R receptors are absent. The catshark olfactory repertoire is dominated by V2R receptors, with 5–8 receptors in the other three families (OR, ORA, TAAR). Species-specific expansions are mostly limited to the V2R family. Overall, the catshark chemosensory receptor repertoires are generally similar in size to those of elephant shark, if somewhat larger, showing similar evolutionary tendencies across over 400 Myr of separate evolution between catshark and elephant shark.

Plastid Genomes and Proteins Illuminate the Evolution of Eustigmatophyte Algae and Their Bacterial Endosymbionts

Thu, 10 Jan 2019 00:00:00 GMT

Eustigmatophytes, a class of stramenopile algae (ochrophytes), include not only the extensively studied biotechnologically important genus Nannochloropsis but also a rapidly expanding diversity of lineages with much less well characterized biology. Recent discoveries have led to exciting additions to our knowledge about eustigmatophytes. Some proved to harbor bacterial endosymbionts representing a novel genus, Candidatus Phycorickettsia, and an operon of unclear function (ebo) obtained by horizontal gene transfer from the endosymbiont lineage was found in the plastid genomes of still other eustigmatophytes. To shed more light on the latter event, as well as to generally improve our understanding of the eustigmatophyte evolutionary history, we sequenced plastid genomes of seven phylogenetically diverse representatives (including new isolates representing undescribed taxa). A phylogenomic analysis of plastid genome-encoded proteins resolved the phylogenetic relationships among the main eustigmatophyte lineages and provided a framework for the interpretation of plastid gene gains and losses in the group. The ebo operon gain was inferred to have probably occurred within the order Eustigmatales, after the divergence of the two basalmost lineages (a newly discovered hitherto undescribed strain and the Pseudellipsoidion group). When looking for nuclear genes potentially compensating for plastid gene losses, we noticed a gene for a plastid-targeted acyl carrier protein that was apparently acquired by horizontal gene transfer from Phycorickettsia. The presence of this gene in all eustigmatophytes studied, including representatives of both principal clades (Eustigmatales and Goniochloridales), is a genetic footprint indicating that the eustigmatophyte–Phycorickettsia partnership started no later than in the last eustigmatophyte common ancestor.

Genome Sequence of Jaltomata Addresses Rapid Reproductive Trait Evolution and Enhances Comparative Genomics in the Hyper-Diverse Solanaceae

Fri, 04 Jan 2019 00:00:00 GMT

Within the economically important plant family Solanaceae, Jaltomata is a rapidly evolving genus that has extensive diversity in flower size and shape, as well as fruit and nectar color, among its ∼80 species. Here, we report the whole-genome sequencing, assembly, and annotation, of one representative species (Jaltomata sinuosa) from this genus. Combining PacBio long reads (25×) and Illumina short reads (148×) achieved an assembly of ∼1.45 Gb, spanning ∼96% of the estimated genome. Ninety-six percent of curated single-copy orthologs in plants were detected in the assembly, supporting a high level of completeness of the genome. Similar to other Solanaceous species, repetitive elements made up a large fraction (∼80%) of the genome, with the most recently active element, Gypsy, expanding across the genome in the last 1–2 Myr. Computational gene prediction, in conjunction with a merged transcriptome data set from 11 tissues, identified 34,725 protein-coding genes. Comparative phylogenetic analyses with six other sequenced Solanaceae species determined that Jaltomata is most likely sister to Solanum, although a large fraction of gene trees supported a conflicting bipartition consistent with substantial introgression between Jaltomata and Capsicum after these species split. We also identified gene family dynamics specific to Jaltomata, including expansion of gene families potentially involved in novel reproductive trait development, and loss of gene families that accompanied the loss of self-incompatibility. This high-quality genome will facilitate studies of phenotypic diversification in this rapidly radiating group and provide a new point of comparison for broader analyses of genomic evolution across the Solanaceae.

Evolutionary Potential of Cis-Regulatory Mutations to Cause Rapid Changes in Transcription Factor Binding

Fri, 28 Dec 2018 00:00:00 GMT

Transcriptional regulation is crucial for all biological processes and well investigated at the molecular level for a wide range of organisms. However, it is quite unclear how innovations, such as the activity of a novel regulatory element, evolve. In the case of transcription factor (TF) binding, both a novel TF and a novel-binding site would need to evolve concertedly. Since promiscuous functions have recently been identified as important intermediate steps in creating novel specific functions in many areas such as enzyme evolution and protein–protein interactions, we ask here how promiscuous binding of TFs to TF-binding sites (TFBSs) affects the robustness and evolvability of this tightly regulated system. Specifically, we investigate the binding behavior of several hundred TFs from different species at unprecedented breadth. Our results illustrate multiple aspects of TF-binding interactions, ranging from correlations between the strength of the interaction bond and specificity, to preferences regarding TFBS nucleotide composition in relation to both domains and binding specificity. We identified a subset of high A/T binding motifs. Motifs in this subset had many functionally neutral one-error mutants, and were bound by multiple different binding domains. Our results indicate that, especially for some TF–TFBS associations, low binding specificity confers high degrees of evolvability, that is that few mutations facilitate rapid changes in transcriptional regulation, in particular for large and old TF families. In this study we identify binding motifs exhibiting behavior indicating high evolutionary potential for innovations in transcriptional regulation.

Duplicated Myosin V Genes in Teleosts Show Evolutionary Rate Variations among the Motor and Cargo-Binding Domains

Thu, 29 Nov 2018 00:00:00 GMT

We analyzed evolutionary rates of conserved, duplicated myosin V (myo5) genes in nine teleost species to examine the outcomes of duplication events. Syntenic analysis and ancestral chromosome mapping suggest one tandem gene duplication event leading to the appearance of myo5a and myo5c, two rounds of whole genome duplication for vertebrates, and an additional round of whole genome duplication for teleosts account for the presence and location of the myo5 genes and their duplicates in teleosts and other vertebrates and the timing of the duplication events. Phylogenetic analyses reveal a previously unidentified myo5 clade that we refer to now as myo5bb. Analysis using dN/dS rate comparisons revealed large regions within duplicated myo5 genes that are highly conserved. Codons identified in other studies as encoding functionally important portions of the Myo5a and Myo5b proteins are shown to be highly conserved within the newly identified myo5bb clade and in other myo5 duplicates. As much as 30% of 319 codons encoding the cargo-binding domain in the myo5aa genes are conserved in all three codon positions in nine teleost species. For the myo5bb cargo-binding domain, 6.6% of 336 codons have zero substitutions in all nine teleost species. Using molecular evolution assays, we identify the myo5bb branch as being subject to evolutionary rate variation with the cargo-binding domain, having 20% of the sites under positive selection and the motor domain having 8% of its sites under positive selection. The high number of invariant codons coupled with relatively high dN/dS values in the region of the myo5 genes encoding the ATP-binding domain suggests the encoded proteins retain function and may have acquired novel functions associated with changes to the cargo-binding domain.

Insights into the Evolution of Shells and Love Darts of Land Snails Revealed from Their Matrix Proteins

Fri, 02 Nov 2018 00:00:00 GMT

Over the past decade, many skeletal matrix proteins that are possibly related to calcification have been reported in various calcifying animals. Molluscs are among the most diverse calcifying animals and some gastropods have adapted to terrestrial ecological niches. Although many shell matrix proteins (SMPs) have already been reported in molluscs, most reports have focused on marine molluscs, and the SMPs of terrestrial snails remain unclear. In addition, some terrestrial stylommatophoran snails have evolved an additional unique calcified character, called a “love dart,” used for mating behavior. We identified 54 SMPs in the terrestrial snail Euhadra quaesita, and found that they contain specific domains that are widely conserved in molluscan SMPs. However, our results also suggest that some of them possibly have evolved independently by domain shuffling, domain recruitment, or gene co-option. We then identified four dart matrix proteins, and found that two of them are the same proteins as those identified as SMPs. Our results suggest that some dart matrix proteins possibly have evolved by independent gene co-option from SMPs during dart evolution events. These results provide a new perspective on the evolution of SMPs and “love darts” in land snails.