Determining the presence or absence of gene flow between populations is the target of some statistical methods in population genetics. Until recently, these methods either avoided the use of recombining genes, or treated recombination as a nuisance parameter. However, genes with recombination contribute additional information for the detection of gene flow (i.e. through linkage disequilibrium).
Mother-to-child transmission (MTCT) is responsible for most pediatric HIV-1 infections worldwide. It can occur during pregnancy, labor, or breastfeeding. Numerous studies have used coalescent and molecular clock methods to understand the epidemic history of HIV-1, but the timing of vertical transmission has not been studied using these methods. Taking advantage of the constant accumulation of HIV genetic variation over time and using longitudinally sampled viral sequences, we used a coalescent approach to investigate the timing of MTCT.
After HCV infection, the association between the humoral response and viral sequence evolution remains unclear. We investigated the mechanisms leading to early HCV clearance and spontaneous recovery in two patients. The early evolution of the HCV envelope glycoproteins, and the infectivity spectrum of variants were explored using retroviral pseudoparticles bearing HCV envelopes. Ability of the autologous neutralizing response to control these variants was analyzed. For the first case, the maximum neutralizing activity was for serum collected between two and three months post ALT peak, this activity was still detectable after 30 months. For the second case, autologous neutralizing activity against the variant isolated at the ALT peak was detected in every serum collected between 4 days and 13 months after. The neutralizing response was sustained beyond the time at which the virus was cleared. This raise interesting questions about the role of such antibodies in case of re-exposure.
The analysis of ancient DNA in a population genetic or phylogeographical framework is an emerging field, as traditional analytical tools were largely developed for the purpose of analysing data sampled from a single time point. Markov chain Monte Carlo approaches have been successfully developed for the analysis of heterochronous sequence data from closed panmictic populations. However, attributing genetic differences between temporal samples to mutational events between time points requires the consideration of other factors that may also result in genetic differentiation. Geographical effects are an obvious factor for species exhibiting geographical structuring of genetic variation. The departure from a closed panmictic model require researchers to either exploit software developed for the analysis of isochronous data, take advantage of simulation approaches using algorithms developed for heterochronous data, or explore approximate Bayesian computation. Here, we review statistical approaches employed and available software for the joint analysis of ancient and modern DNA, and where appropriate we suggest how these may be further developed.
To many pathogenic bacteria, human hosts are an evolutionary dead end. This begs the question what evolutionary forces have shaped their virulence traits. Why are these bacteria so virulent? The coincidental evolution hypothesis suggests that such virulence factors result from adaptation to other ecological niches. In particular, virulence traits in bacteria might result from selective pressure exerted by protozoan predator. Thus, grazing resistance may be an evolutionarily exaptation for bacterial pathogenicity. This hypothesis was tested by subjecting a well characterized collection of 31 Escherichia coli strains (human commensal or extra-intestinal pathogenic) to grazing by the social haploid amoeba Dictyostelium discoideum. We then assessed how resistance to grazing correlates with some bacterial traits, such as the presence of virulence genes. Whatever the relative population size (bacteria/amoeba) for a non-pathogenic bacteria strain, D. discoideum was able to phagocytise, digest and grow. In contrast, a pathogenic bacterium strain killed D. discoideum above a certain bacteria/amoeba population size. A plating assay was then carried out using the E. coli collection faced to the grazing of D. discoideum. E. coli strains carrying virulence genes such as iroN, irp2, fyuA involved in iron uptake, belonging to the B2 phylogenetic group and being virulent in a mouse model of septicaemia were resistant to the grazing from D. discoideum. Experimental proof of the key role of the irp gene in the grazing resistance was evidenced with a mutant strain lacking this gene. Such determinant of virulence may well be originally selected and (or) further maintained for their role in natural habitat: resistance to digestion by free-living protozoa, rather than for virulence per se.
Among primates, genome-wide analysis of recent positive selection is currently limited to the human species because it requires extensive sampling of genotypic data from many individuals. The extent to which genes positively selected in human also present adaptive changes in other primates therefore remains unknown. This question is important because a gene that has been positively selected independently in the human and in other primate lineages may be less likely to be involved in human specific phenotypic changes such as dietary habits or cognitive abilities. To answer this question, we analysed heterozygous Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms (SNPs) in the genomes of single human, chimpanzee, orangutan, and macaque individuals using a new method aiming to identify selective sweeps genome-wide. We found an unexpectedly high number of orthologous genes exhibiting signatures of a selective sweep simultaneously in several primate species, suggesting the presence of hotspots of positive selection. A similar significant excess is evident when comparing genes positively selected during recent human evolution with genes subjected to positive selection in their coding sequence in other primate lineages and identified using a different test. These findings are further supported by comparing several published human genome scans for positive selection with our findings in non-human primate genomes. We thus provide extensive evidence that the co-occurrence of positive selection in humans and in other primates at the same genetic loci can be measured with only four species, an indication that it may be a widespread phenomenon. The identification of positive selection in humans alongside other primates is a powerful tool to outline those genes that were selected uniquely during recent human evolution.
New polymorphism datasets from heterochroneous data have arisen thanks to recent advances in experimental and microbial molecular evolution, and the sequencing of ancient DNA (aDNA). However, classical tools for population genetics analyses do not take into account heterochrony between subsets, despite potential bias on neutrality and population structure tests. Here, we characterize the extent of such possible biases using serial coalescent simulations.
Pearl millet landraces display an important variation in their cycle duration. This diversity contributes to the stability of crop production in the Sahel despite inter-annual rainfall fluctuation. Conservation of phenological diversity is important for the future of pearl millet improvement and sustainable use. Identification of genes contributing to flowering time variation is therefore relevant. In this study we focused on three flowering candidate genes, PgHd3a, PgDwarf8 and PgPHYC. We tested for signatures of past selective events within polymorphism patterns of these three genes that could have been associated with pearl millet domestication and/or landraces differentiation. In order to implement ad hoc neutrality tests, a plausible demographic history of pearl millet domestication was inferred through Approximate Bayesian Computation by using eight neutral STS loci.
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