Joseph Felsenstein is Professor in the Departments of Genome Sciences and Biology and Adjunct Professor in the Departments of Computer Science and Statistics at the University of Washington in Seattle. He is best known for his work on phylogenetic inference, and is the author of Inferring Phylogenies, and principal author and distributor of the package of phylogenetic inference programs called PHYLIP, and is currently serving as the President of the Society for Molecular Biology & Evolution.

You can reach Joe at president.smbe@gmail.com

James McInerney is the principle investigator of the Bioinformatics and Molecular Evolution Laboratories at NUI Maynooth. He was one of the founding directors of the Irish Centre for High End Computing, an Associate Editor of Molecular Biology and Evolution, Biology Direct, and Journal of Experimental Zoology, and is currently serving as the Secretary for the Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution.

You can reach James at secretary.smbe@gmail.com

Juliette de Meaux is interested in the molecular basis of Darwinian adaptation in natural plant systems. Her works combines the approaches of population, quantitative and molecular genetics to dissect the underpinning of adaptive changes. She completed her PhD at AgroParisTech, under the supervision of Prof. Claire Neema and studied the molecular basis of host-pathogen coevolution in natural populations of common bean. She then spent her Postdoc time in the lab of Prof. Tom Mitchell-Olds at the Max Planck Institute of Chemical Ecology in Jena and worked on the evolution of cis-regulatory DNA. Since 2005, she runs her own lab, first at the Max Planck Institute of Plant Breeding in Cologne and then at the University of Münster. In January 2015, she relocated her lab at the University of Cologne. She is currently serving as the Treasurer for the Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution.

You can reach Juliette at treasurer.smbe@gmail.com

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The Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution is an international organization whose goals are to provide facilities for association and communication among molecular evolutionists and to further the goals of molecular evolution, as well as its practitioners and teachers. In order to accomplish these goals, the Society publishes two peer-reviewed journals, Molecular Biology and Evolution and Genome Biology and Evolution. The Society sponsors an annual meeting, as well as smaller satellite meetings or workshop on important, focused, and timely topics. It also confers honors and awards to students and researchers.

SMBE 2017

On behalf of the organising committee it is our pleasure to invite you to attend SMBE 2017 - the annual meeting of the Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution. SMBE 2017 will be held from the 2nd-6th of July at the JW Marriott in Austin, TX, USA. The meeting - including plenary talks, symposia presentations, the Walter Fitch symposium, and poster sessions - will showcase the latest research in genomics, population genetics, and molecular biology and evolution. Social activities will include an opening reception, mixers with each poster session, and a conference dinner. We’re looking forward to seeing you in Austin this summer!

More information can be found HERE

Featured News and Updates

Plan ahead for SMBE 2018!

For those who like to plan ahead: SMBE 2018, in Yokohama, Japan, is set to be July 8-12, 2018.

  • Tuesday, April 18, 2017
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MBE | Most Read

Molecular Biology and Evolution

2017-06-02

2017-06-02

2017-06-02

2017-06-02

From Chimps to Humans to Cold Sore Cousin Mixing Before Worldwide Spread

2017-05-11

Honing in on Culprit behind Fleece Variation in Domesticated Sheep

2017-05-08

2017-05-08

An Expanded History of Life on Earth at Your Fingertips

2017-05-08

Speciation and Genome Evolution in the Symbionts of Hominid Lice

2017-04-14

2017-04-13

2017-04-06

A Resource for Timelines, Timetrees, and Divergence Times

2017-04-06

2017-04-05

A Markov Clustering Approach to Study Population Genetic Structure

2017-04-05

2017-04-04

2017-04-04

2017-04-03

2017-04-03

2017-03-29

2017-03-28

2017-03-28

2017-03-27

2017-03-23

2017-03-21

2017-03-20

Eight Fast-Evolving Megacircles

2017-03-16

2017-03-15

New Insights from the Evolution of Human Chromosome 2 Ancestral Centromeric Region

2017-03-15

2017-03-13

2017-03-13

2017-03-01

the polycystine radiolarian Lithomelissa setosa (Nassellaria) and Sticholonche zanclea (Taxopodida). A phylogenomic approach using 255 genes finds Radiolaria and Foraminifera as separate monophyletic groups (together as Retaria), while Cercozoa is shown to be paraphyletic where Endomyxa is sister to Retaria. Analysis of the genetic components of the cytoskeleton and mapping of the evolution of these on the revised phylogeny of Rhizaria reveal lineage-specific gene duplications and neofunctionalization of α and β tubulin in Retaria, actin in Retaria and Endomyxa, and Arp2/3 complex genes in Chlorarachniophyta. We show how genetic innovations have shaped cytoskeletal structures in Rhizaria, and how single cell transcriptomics can be applied for resolving deep phylogenies and studying gene evolution in uncultured protist species.

GBE | Most Read

Genome Biology & Evolution

Adaptive Prediction Emerges Over Short Evolutionary Time Scales

2017-07-14

Abstract
Adaptive prediction is a capability of diverse organisms, including microbes, to sense a cue and prepare in advance to deal with a future environmental challenge. Here, we investigated the timeframe over which adaptive prediction emerges when an organism encounters an environment with novel structure. We subjected yeast to laboratory evolution in a novel environment with repetitive, coupled exposures to a neutral chemical cue (caffeine), followed by a sublethal dose of a toxin (5-FOA), with an interspersed requirement for uracil prototrophy to counter-select mutants that gained constitutive 5-FOA resistance. We demonstrate the remarkable ability of yeast to internalize a novel environmental pattern within 50–150 generations by adaptively predicting 5-FOA stress upon sensing caffeine. We also demonstrate how novel environmental structure can be internalized by coupling two unrelated response networks, such as the response to caffeine and signaling-mediated conditional peroxisomal localization of proteins.

The Mitonuclear Dimension of Neanderthal and Denisovan Ancestry in Modern Human Genomes

2017-07-13

Abstract
Some human populations interbred with Neanderthals and Denisovans, resulting in substantial contributions to modern-human genomes. Therefore, it is now possible to use genomic data to investigate mechanisms that shaped historical gene flow between humans and our closest hominin relatives. More generally, in eukaryotes, mitonuclear interactions have been argued to play a disproportionate role in generating reproductive isolation. There is no evidence of mtDNA introgression into modern human populations, which means that all introgressed nuclear alleles from archaic hominins must function on a modern-human mitochondrial background. Therefore, mitonuclear interactions are also potentially relevant to hominin evolution. We performed a detailed accounting of mtDNA divergence among hominin lineages and used population-genomic data to test the hypothesis that mitonuclear incompatibilities have preferentially restricted the introgression of nuclear genes with mitochondrial functions. We found a small but significant underrepresentation of introgressed Neanderthal alleles at such nuclear loci. Structural analyses of mitochondrial enzyme complexes revealed that these effects are unlikely to be mediated by physically interacting sites in mitochondrial and nuclear gene products. We did not detect any underrepresentation of introgressed Denisovan alleles at mitochondrial-targeted loci, but this may reflect reduced power because locus-specific estimates of Denisovan introgression are more conservative. Overall, we conclude that genes involved in mitochondrial function may have been subject to distinct selection pressures during the history of introgression from archaic hominins but that mitonuclear incompatibilities have had, at most, a small role in shaping genome-wide introgression patterns, perhaps because of limited functional divergence in mtDNA and interacting nuclear genes.

Functional Analogy in Human Metabolism: Enzymes with Different Biological Roles or Functional Redundancy?

2017-07-06

Abstract
Since enzymes catalyze almost all chemical reactions that occur in living organisms, it is crucial that genes encoding such activities are correctly identified and functionally characterized. Several studies suggest that the fraction of enzymatic activities in which multiple events of independent origin have taken place during evolution is substantial. However, this topic is still poorly explored, and a comprehensive investigation of the occurrence, distribution, and implications of these events has not been done so far. Fundamental questions, such as how analogous enzymes originate, why so many events of independent origin have apparently occurred during evolution, and what are the reasons for the coexistence in the same organism of distinct enzymatic forms catalyzing the same reaction, remain unanswered. Also, several isofunctional enzymes are still not recognized as nonhomologous, even with substantial evidence indicating different evolutionary histories. In this work, we begin to investigate the biological significance of the cooccurrence of nonhomologous isofunctional enzymes in human metabolism, characterizing functional analogous enzymes identified in metabolic pathways annotated in the human genome. Our hypothesis is that the coexistence of multiple enzymatic forms might not be interpreted as functional redundancy. Instead, these enzymatic forms may be implicated in distinct (and probably relevant) biological roles.

Does the Promoter Constitute a Barrier in the Horizontal Transposon Transfer Process? Insight from Bari Transposons

2017-07-04

Abstract
The contribution of the transposons’ promoter in the horizontal transfer process is quite overlooked in the scientific literature. To shed light on this aspect we have mimicked the horizontal transfer process in laboratory and assayed in a wide range of hosts (fly, human, yeast and bacteria) the promoter activity of the 5′ terminal sequences in Bari1 and Bari3, two Drosophila transposons belonging to the Tc1-mariner superfamily. These sequences are able to drive the transcription of a reporter gene even in distantly related organisms at least at the episomal level. By combining bioinformatics and experimental approaches, we define two distinct promoter sequences for each terminal sequence analyzed, which allow transcriptional activity in prokaryotes and eukaryotes, respectively. We propose that the Bari family of transposons, and possibly other members of the Tc1-mariner superfamily, might have evolved “blurry promoters,” which have facilitated their diffusion in many living organisms through horizontal transfer.

Domestication of Lambda Phage Genes into a Putative Third Type of Replicative Helicase Matchmaker

2017-06-27

Abstract
At the onset of the initiation of chromosome replication, bacterial replicative helicases are recruited and loaded on the DnaA-oriC nucleoprotein platform, assisted by proteins like DnaC/DnaI or DciA. Two orders of bacteria appear, however, to lack either of these factors, raising the question of the essentiality of these factors in bacteria. Through a phylogenomic approach, we identified a pair of genes that could have substituted for dciA. The two domesticated genes are specific of the dnaC/dnaI- and dciA-lacking organisms and apparently domesticated from lambdoid phage genes. They derive from λO and λP and were renamed dopC and dopE, respectively. DopE is expected to bring the replicative helicase to the bacterial origin of replication, while DopC might assist DopE in this function. The confirmation of the implication of DopCE in the handling of the replicative helicase at the onset of replication in these organisms would generalize to all bacteria and therefore to all living organisms the need for specific factors dedicated to this function.

Comparative Genomics of All Three Campylobacter sputorum Biovars and a Novel Cattle-Associated C. sputorum Clade

2017-06-19

Abstract
Campylobacter sputorum is a nonthermotolerant campylobacter that is primarily isolated from food animals such as cattle and sheep. C. sputorum is also infrequently associated with human illness. Based on catalase and urease activity, three biovars are currently recognized within C. sputorum: bv. sputorum (catalase negative, urease negative), bv. fecalis (catalase positive, urease negative), and bv. paraureolyticus (catalase negative, urease positive). A multi-locus sequence typing (MLST) method was recently constructed for C. sputorum. MLST typing of several cattle-associated C. sputorum isolates suggested that they are members of a divergent C. sputorum clade. Although catalase positive, and thus technically bv. fecalis, the taxonomic position of these strains could not be determined solely by MLST. To further characterize C. sputorum, the genomes of four strains, representing all three biovars and the divergent clade, were sequenced to completion. Here we present a comparative genomic analysis of the four C. sputorum genomes. This analysis indicates that the three biovars and the cattle-associated strains are highly related at the genome level with similarities in gene content. Furthermore, the four genomes are strongly syntenic with one or two minor inversions. However, substantial differences in gene content were observed among the three biovars. Finally, although the strain representing the cattle-associated isolates was shown to be C. sputorum, it is possible that this strain is a member of a novel C. sputorum subspecies; thus, these cattle-associated strains may form a second taxon within C. sputorum.

Further Simulations and Analyses Demonstrate Open Problems of Phylostratigraphy

2017-06-14

Abstract
Phylostratigraphy, originally designed for gene age estimation by BLAST-based protein homology searches of sequenced genomes, has been widely used for studying patterns and inferring mechanisms of gene origination and evolution. We previously showed by computer simulation that phylostratigraphy underestimates gene age for a nonnegligible fraction of genes and that the underestimation is severer for genes with certain properties such as fast evolution and short protein sequences. Consequently, many previously reported age distributions of gene properties may have been methodological artifacts rather than biological realities. Domazet-Lošo and colleagues recently argued that our simulations were flawed and that phylostratigraphic bias does not impact inferences about gene emergence and evolution. Here we discuss conceptual difficulties of phylostratigraphy, identify numerous problems in Domazet-Lošo et al.’s argument, reconfirm phylostratigraphic error using simulations suggested by Domazet-Lošo and colleagues, and demonstrate that a phylostratigraphic trend claimed to be robust to error disappears when genes likely to be error-resistant are analyzed. We conclude that extreme caution is needed in interpreting phylostratigraphic results because of the inherent biases of the method and that reanalysis using genes exhibiting no error in realistic simulations may help reduce spurious findings.

Evolution of miRNA Tailing by 3′ Terminal Uridylyl Transferases in Metazoa

2017-06-14

Abstract
In bilaterian animals the 3′ ends of microRNAs (miRNAs) are frequently modified by tailing and trimming. These modifications affect miRNA-mediated gene regulation by modulating miRNA stability. Here, we analyzed data from three nonbilaterian animals: two cnidarians (Nematostella vectensis and Hydra magnipapillata) and one poriferan (Amphimedon queenslandica). Our analysis revealed that nonbilaterian miRNAs frequently undergo modifications like the bilaterian counterparts: the majority are expressed as different length isoforms and frequent modifications of the 3′ end by mono U or mono A tailing are observed. Moreover, as the factors regulating miRNA modifications are largely uncharacterized in nonbilaterian animal phyla, in present study, we investigated the evolution of 3′ terminal uridylyl transferases (TUTases) that are known to involved in miRNA 3′ nontemplated modifications in Bilateria. Phylogenetic analysis on TUTases showed that TUTase1 and TUTase6 are a result of duplication in bilaterians and that TUTase7 and TUTase4 are the result of a vertebrate-specific duplication. We also find an unexpected number of Drosophila-specific gene duplications and domain losses in most of the investigated gene families. Overall, our findings shed new light on the evolutionary history of TUTases in Metazoa, as they reveal that this core set of enzymes already existed in the last common ancestor of all animals and was probably involved in modifying small RNAs in a similar fashion to its present activity in bilaterians.

Extreme Mitogenomic Variation in Natural Populations of Chaetognaths

2017-06-14

Abstract
The extent of within-species genetic variation across the diversity of animal life is an underexplored problem in ecology and evolution. Although neutral genetic variation should scale positively with population size, mitochondrial diversity levels are believed to show little variation across animal species. Here, we report an unprecedented case of extreme mitochondrial diversity within natural populations of two morphospecies of chaetognaths (arrow worms). We determine that this diversity is composed of deep sympatric mitochondrial lineages, which are in some cases as divergent as human and platypus. Additionally, based on 54 complete mitogenomes, we observed mitochondrial gene order differences between several of these lineages. We examined nuclear divergence patterns (18S, 28S, and an intron) to determine the possible origin of these lineages, but did not find congruent patterns between mitochondrial and nuclear markers. We also show that extreme mitochondrial divergence in chaetognaths is not driven by positive selection. Hence, we propose that the extreme levels of mitochondrial variation could be the result of either a complex scenario of reproductive isolation, or a combination of large population size and accelerated mitochondrial mutation rate. These findings emphasize the importance of characterizing genome-wide levels of nuclear variation in these species and promote chaetognaths as a remarkable model to study mitochondrial evolution.

Evolution of Transcription Activator-Like Effectors in Xanthomonas oryzae

2017-06-14

Abstract
Transcription activator-like effectors (TALEs) are secreted by plant–pathogenic Xanthomonas bacteria into plant cells where they act as transcriptional activators and, hence, are major drivers in reprogramming the plant for the benefit of the pathogen. TALEs possess a highly repetitive DNA-binding domain of typically 34 amino acid (AA) tandem repeats, where AA 12 and 13, termed repeat variable di-residue (RVD), determine target specificity. Different Xanthomonas strains possess different repertoires of TALEs. Here, we study the evolution of TALEs from the level of RVDs determining target specificity down to the level of DNA sequence with focus on rice-pathogenic Xanthomonas oryzae pv. oryzae (Xoo) and Xanthomonas oryzae pv. oryzicola (Xoc) strains. We observe that codon pairs coding for individual RVDs are conserved to a similar degree as the flanking repeat sequence. We find strong indications that TALEs may evolve 1) by base substitutions in codon pairs coding for RVDs, 2) by recombination of N-terminal or C-terminal regions of existing TALEs, or 3) by deletion of individual TALE repeats, and we propose possible mechanisms. We find indications that the reassortment of TALE genes in clusters is mediated by an integron-like mechanism in Xoc. We finally study the effect of the presence/absence and evolutionary modifications of TALEs on transcriptional activation of putative target genes in rice, and find that even single RVD swaps may lead to considerable differences in activation. This correlation allowed a refined prediction of TALE targets, which is the crucial step to decipher their virulence activity.

Unraveling the Population History of Indian Siddis

2017-06-14

Abstract
The Siddis are a unique Indian tribe of African, South Asian, and European ancestry. While previous investigations have traced their ancestral origins to the Bantu populations from subSaharan Africa, the geographic localization of their ancestry has remained elusive. Here, we performed biogeographical analysis to delineate the ancestral origin of the Siddis employing an admixture based algorithm, Geographical Population Structure (GPS). We evaluated the Siddi genomes in reference to five African populations from the 1000 Genomes project, two Bantu groups from the Human Genome Diversity Panel (HGDP) and five South Indian populations. The Geographic Population Structure analysis localized the ancestral Siddis to Botsawana and its present-day northeastern border with Zimbabwe, overlapping with one of the principal areas of secondary Bantu settlement in southeast Africa. Our results further indicated that while the Siddi genomes are significantly diverged from that of the Bantus, they manifested the highest genomic proximity to the North-East Bantus and the Luhyas from Kenya. Our findings resonate with evidences supporting secondary Bantu dispersal routes that progressed southward from the east African Bantu center, in the interlacustrine region and likely brought the ancestral Siddis to settlement sites in south and southeastern Africa from where they were disseminated to India, by the Portuguese. We evaluated our results in the light of existing historical, linguistic and genetic evidences, to glean an improved resolution into the reconstruction of the distinctive population history of the Siddis, and advance our knowledge of the demographic factors that likely contributed to the contemporary Siddi genomes.

The Genomic Impact of Gene Retrocopies: What Have We Learned from Comparative Genomics, Population Genomics, and Transcriptomic Analyses?

2017-06-14

Abstract
Gene duplication is a major driver of organismal evolution. Gene retroposition is a mechanism of gene duplication whereby a gene’s transcript is used as a template to generate retroposed gene copies, or retrocopies. Intriguingly, the formation of retrocopies depends upon the enzymatic machinery encoded by retrotransposable elements, genomic parasites occurring in the majority of eukaryotes. Most retrocopies are depleted of the regulatory regions found upstream of their parental genes; therefore, they were initially considered transcriptionally incompetent gene copies, or retropseudogenes. However, examples of functional retrocopies, or retrogenes, have accumulated since the 1980s. Here, we review what we have learned about retrocopies in animals, plants and other eukaryotic organisms, with a particular emphasis on comparative and population genomic analyses complemented with transcriptomic datasets. In addition, these data have provided information about the dynamics of the different “life cycle” stages of retrocopies (i.e., polymorphic retrocopy number variants, fixed retropseudogenes and retrogenes) and have provided key insights into the retroduplication mechanisms, the patterns and evolutionary forces at work during the fixation process and the biological function of retrogenes. Functional genomic and transcriptomic data have also revealed that many retropseudogenes are transcriptionally active and a biological role has been experimentally determined for many. Finally, we have learned that not only non-long terminal repeat retroelements but also long terminal repeat retroelements play a role in the emergence of retrocopies across eukaryotes. This body of work has shown that mRNA-mediated duplication represents a widespread phenomenon that produces an array of new genes that contribute to organismal diversity and adaptation.

Similar Ratios of Introns to Intergenic Sequence across Animal Genomes

2017-06-13

Abstract
One central goal of genome biology is to understand how the usage of the genome differs between organisms. Our knowledge of genome composition, needed for downstream inferences, is critically dependent on gene annotations, yet problems associated with gene annotation and assembly errors are usually ignored in comparative genomics. Here, we analyze the genomes of 68 species across 12 animal phyla and some single-cell eukaryotes for general trends in genome composition and transcription, taking into account problems of gene annotation. We show that, regardless of genome size, the ratio of introns to intergenic sequence is comparable across essentially all animals, with nearly all deviations dominated by increased intergenic sequence. Genomes of model organisms have ratios much closer to 1:1, suggesting that the majority of published genomes of nonmodel organisms are underannotated and consequently omit substantial numbers of genes, with likely negative impact on evolutionary interpretations. Finally, our results also indicate that most animals transcribe half or more of their genomes arguing against differences in genome usage between animal groups, and also suggesting that the transcribed portion is more dependent on genome size than previously thought.

Selfing in Haploid Plants and Efficacy of Selection: Codon Usage Bias in the Model Moss Physcomitrella patens

2017-05-26

Abstract
A long-term reduction in effective population size will lead to major shift in genome evolution. In particular, when effective population size is small, genetic drift becomes dominant over natural selection. The onset of self-fertilization is one evolutionary event considerably reducing effective size of populations. Theory predicts that this reduction should be more dramatic in organisms capable for haploid than for diploid selfing. Although theoretically well-grounded, this assertion received mixed experimental support. Here, we test this hypothesis by analyzing synonymous codon usage bias of genes in the model moss Physcomitrella patens frequently undergoing haploid selfing. In line with population genetic theory, we found that the effect of natural selection on synonymous codon usage bias is very weak. Our conclusion is supported by four independent lines of evidence: 1) Very weak or nonsignificant correlation between gene expression and codon usage bias, 2) no increased codon usage bias in more broadly expressed genes, 3) no evidence that codon usage bias would constrain synonymous and nonsynonymous divergence, and 4) predominant role of genetic drift on synonymous codon usage predicted by a model-based analysis. These findings show striking similarity to those observed in AT-rich genomes with weak selection for optimal codon usage and GC content overall. Our finding is in contrast to a previous study reporting adaptive codon usage bias in the moss P. patens.

Transcriptome-Wide Identification and Expression Analysis of DIVARICATA- and RADIALIS- Like Genes of the Mediterranean Orchid Orchis italica

2017-05-25

Abstract
Bilateral symmetry of flowers is a relevant novelty that has occurred many times throughout the evolution of flowering plants. In Antirrhinum majus, establishment of flower dorso-ventral asymmetry is mainly due to interaction of TCP (CYC and DICH) and MYB (DIV, RAD, and DRIF) transcription factors. In the present study, we characterized 8 DIV-, 4 RAD-, and 2 DRIF-like genes from the transcriptome of Orchis italica, an orchid species with bilaterally symmetric and resupinate flowers. We found a similar number of DIV- and RAD-like genes within the genomes of Phalaenopsis equestris and Dendrobium catenatum orchids. Orchid DIV- and RAD-like proteins share conserved motifs whose distribution reflects their phylogeny and analysis of the genomic organization revealed a single intron containing many traces of transposable elements. Evolutionary analysis has shown that purifying selection acts on the DIV- and RAD-like coding regions in orchids, with relaxation of selective constraints in a branch of the DIV-like genes. Analysis of the expression patterns of DIV- and RAD-like genes in O. italica revealed possible redundant functions for some of them. In the perianth of O. italica, the ortholog of DIV and DRIF of A. majus are expressed in all tissues, whereas RAD is mainly expressed in the outer tepals and lip. These data allow for proposal of an evolutionary conserved model in which the expression of the orthologs of the DIV, RAD, and DRIF genes might be related to establishment of flower bilateral symmetry in the nonmodel orchid species O. italica.

Genome Size in North American Fireflies: Substantial Variation Likely Driven by Neutral Processes

2017-05-25

Abstract
Eukaryotic genomes show tremendous size variation across taxa. Proximate explanations for genome size variation include differences in ploidy and amounts of noncoding DNA, especially repetitive DNA. Ultimate explanations include selection on physiological correlates of genome size such as cell size, which in turn influence body size, resulting in the often-observed correlation between body size and genome size. In this study, we examined body size and repetitive DNA elements in relationship to the evolution of genome size in North American representatives of a single beetle family, the Lampyridae (fireflies). The 23 species considered represent an excellent study system because of the greater than 5-fold range of genome sizes, documented here using flow cytometry, and the 3-fold range in body size, measured using pronotum width. We also identified common genomic repetitive elements using low-coverage sequencing. We found a positive relationship between genome size and repetitive DNA, particularly retrotransposons. Both genome size and these elements were evolving as expected given phylogenetic relatedness. We also tested whether genome size varied with body size and found no relationship. Together, our results suggest that genome size is evolving neutrally in fireflies.

The Evolutionary Landscape of Dbl-Like RhoGEF Families: Adapting Eukaryotic Cells to Environmental Signals

2017-05-25

Abstract
The dynamics of cell morphology in eukaryotes is largely controlled by small GTPases of the Rho family. Rho GTPases are activated by guanine nucleotide exchange factors (RhoGEFs), of which diffuse B-cell lymphoma (Dbl)-like members form the largest family. Here, we surveyed Dbl-like sequences from 175 eukaryotic genomes and illuminate how the Dbl family evolved in all eukaryotic supergroups. By combining probabilistic phylogenetic approaches and functional domain analysis, we show that the human Dbl-like family is made of 71 members, structured into 20 subfamilies. The 71 members were already present in ancestral jawed vertebrates, but several members were subsequently lost in specific clades, up to 12% in birds. The jawed vertebrate repertoire was established from two rounds of duplications that occurred between tunicates, cyclostomes, and jawed vertebrates. Duplicated members showed distinct tissue distributions, conserved at least in Amniotes. All 20 subfamilies have members in Deuterostomes and Protostomes. Nineteen subfamilies are present in Porifera, the first phylum that diverged in Metazoa, 14 in Choanoflagellida and Filasterea, single-celled organisms closely related to Metazoa and three in Fungi, the sister clade to Metazoa. Other eukaryotic supergroups show an extraordinary variability of Dbl-like repertoires as a result of repeated and independent gain and loss events. Last, we observed that in Metazoa, the number of Dbl-like RhoGEFs varies in proportion of cell signaling complexity. Overall, our analysis supports the conclusion that Dbl-like RhoGEFs were present at the origin of eukaryotes and evolved as highly adaptive cell signaling mediators.

The Whole-Genome and Transcriptome of the Manila Clam ( Ruditapes philippinarum )

2017-05-13

Abstract
The manila clam, Ruditapes philippinarum, is an important bivalve species in worldwide aquaculture including Korea. The aquaculture production of R. philippinarum is under threat from diverse environmental factors including viruses, microorganisms, parasites, and water conditions with subsequently declining production. In spite of its importance as a marine resource, the reference genome of R. philippinarum for comprehensive genetic studies is largely unexplored. Here, we report the de novo whole-genome and transcriptome assembly of R. philippinarum across three different tissues (foot, gill, and adductor muscle), and provide the basic data for advanced studies in selective breeding and disease control in order to obtain successful aquaculture systems. An approximately 2.56 Gb high quality whole-genome was assembled with various library construction methods. A total of 108,034 protein coding gene models were predicted and repetitive elements including simple sequence repeats and noncoding RNAs were identified to further understanding of the genetic background of R. philippinarum for genomics-assisted breeding. Comparative analysis with the bivalve marine invertebrates uncover that the gene family related to complement C1q was enriched. Furthermore, we performed transcriptome analysis with three different tissues in order to support genome annotation and then identified 41,275 transcripts which were annotated. The R. philippinarum genome resource will markedly advance a wide range of potential genetic studies, a reference genome for comparative analysis of bivalve species and unraveling mechanisms of biological processes in molluscs. We believe that the R. philippinarum genome will serve as an initial platform for breeding better-quality clams using a genomic approach.

Evolution of Two Short Interspersed Elements in Callorhinchus milii (Chondrichthyes, Holocephali) and Related Elements in Sharks and the Coelacanth

2017-05-13

Abstract
Short interspersed elements (SINEs) are non-autonomous retrotransposons. Although they usually show fast evolutionary rates, in some instances highly conserved domains (HCDs) have been observed in elements with otherwise divergent sequences and from distantly related species. Here, we document the life history of two HCD-SINE families in the elephant shark Callorhinchus milii, one specific to the holocephalan lineage (CmiSINEs) and another one (SacSINE1-CM) with homologous elements in sharks and the coelacanth (SacSINE1s, LmeSINE1s). The analyses of their relationships indicated that these elements share the same 3′-tail, which would have allowed both elements to rise to high copy number by exploiting the C. milii L2-2_CM long interspersed element (LINE) enzymes. Molecular clock analysis on SINE activity in C. milii genome evidenced two replication bursts occurring right after two major events in the holocephalan evolution: the end-Permian mass extinction and the radiation of modern Holocephali. Accordingly, the same analysis on the coelacanth homologous elements, LmeSINE1, identified a replication wave close to the split age of the two extant Latimeria species. The genomic distribution of the studied SINEs pointed out contrasting results: some elements were preferentially sorted out from gene regions, but accumulated in flanking regions, while others appear more conserved within genes. Moreover, data from the C. milii transcriptome suggest that these SINEs could be involved in miRNA biogenesis and may be targets for miRNA-based regulation.

Transposable Element Misregulation Is Linked to the Divergence between Parental piRNA Pathways in Drosophila Hybrids

2017-05-10

Abstract
Interspecific hybridization is a genomic stress condition that leads to the activation of transposable elements (TEs) in both animals and plants. In hybrids between Drosophila buzzatii and Drosophila koepferae, mobilization of at least 28 TEs has been described. However, the molecular mechanisms underlying this TE release remain poorly understood. To give insight on the causes of this TE activation, we performed a TE transcriptomic analysis in ovaries (notorious for playing a major role in TE silencing) of parental species and their F1 and backcrossed (BC) hybrids. We find that 15.2% and 10.6% of the expressed TEs are deregulated in F1 and BC1 ovaries, respectively, with a bias toward overexpression in both cases. Although differences between parental piRNA (Piwi-interacting RNA) populations explain only partially these results, we demonstrate that piRNA pathway proteins have divergent sequences and are differentially expressed between parental species. Thus, a functional divergence of the piRNA pathway between parental species, together with some differences between their piRNA pools, might be at the origin of hybrid instabilities and ultimately cause TE misregulation in ovaries. These analyses were complemented with the study of F1 testes, where TEs tend to be less expressed than in D. buzzatii. This can be explained by an increase in piRNA production, which probably acts as a defence mechanism against TE instability in the male germline. Hence, we describe a differential impact of interspecific hybridization in testes and ovaries, which reveals that TE expression and regulation are sex-biased.