Genes of the major histocompatibility complex (MHC) encode proteins that recognize foreign antigens and are thus crucial for immune response. In a population of a single host species, parasite-mediated selection drives MHC allelic diversity. However, in a community-wide context, species interactions may modulate selection regimes because the prevalence of a given parasite in a given host may depend on its prevalence in other hosts. By combining network analysis with immunogenetics, we show that host species infected by similar parasites harbour similar alleles with similar frequencies. We further show, using a Bayesian approach, that the probability of mutual occurrence of a functional allele and a parasite in a given host individual is nonrandom and depends on other host-parasite interactions, driving co-evolution within subgroups of parasite species and functional alleles. Therefore, indirect effects among hosts and parasites can shape host MHC diversity, scaling it from the population to the community level.
In France as elsewhere in Europe the most prevalent TBD in humans is Lyme borreliosis, caused by different bacterial species belonging to Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato complex and transmitted by the most important tick species in France, Ixodes ricinus. However, the diagnosis of Lyme disease is not always confirmed and unexplained syndromes occurring after tick bites have become an important issue. Recently, B. miyamotoi belonging to the relapsing fever group and transmitted by the same Ixodes species has been involved in human disease in Russia, the USA and the Netherlands. In the present study, we investigate the presence of B. miyamotoi along with other Lyme Borreliosis spirochetes, in ticks and possible animal reservoirs collected in France.
Although theoretical studies have predicted a link between individual multilocus heterozygosity and dispersal, few empirical studies have investigated the effect of individual heterozygosity on dispersal propensity or distance. We investigated this link using measures of heterozygosity at 12 putatively neutral microsatellite markers and natal dispersal behaviour in three contrasting populations of European roe deer (Capreolus capreolus), a species displaying pre-saturation condition-dependent natal dispersal. We found no effect of individual heterozygosity on either dispersal propensity or dispersal distance. Average heterozygosity was similar across the three studied populations, but dispersal propensity and distance differed markedly among them. In Aurignac, dispersal propensity and distance were positively related to individual body mass, whereas there was no detectable effect of body mass on dispersal behaviour in Chizé and Trois Fontaines. We suggest that we should expect both dispersal propensity and distance to be greater when heterozygosity is lower only in those species where dispersal behaviour is driven by density-dependent competition for resources.
Next-generation sequencing opened up new possibilities in phylogenetics; however, choosing an appropriate method of sample preparation remains challenging. Here, we demonstrate that restriction-site-associated DNA sequencing (RAD-seq) generates useful data for phylogenomics. Analysis of our RAD library using current bioinformatic and phylogenetic tools produced 400× more sites than our Sanger approach (2,262,825 nt/species), fully resolving relationships between 18 species of ground beetles (divergences up to 17 My). This suggests that RAD-seq is promising to infer phylogeny of eukaryotic species, though potential biases need to be evaluated and new methodologies developed to take full advantage of such data.
SUMMARY Toxoplasmosis is largely present in rural areas but its spatial distribution in this environment remains poorly known. In particular, it is unclear if areas of high density of cats, the only hosts excreting Toxoplasma gondii, constitute foci of high prevalence. To improve our understanding of the spatial distribution of T. gondii in rural areas, we performed a serological survey in rodents from two villages in France. We trapped 710 rodents including commensal rats and meadow or forest voles and mice. The presence of T. gondii was examined using PCR, mice inoculation and modified agglutination test for antibodies (MAT). We conducted multivariate and discriminant analyses to identify biological, ecological or spatial variables that could explain T. gondii serology in rodents. We then used a logistic regression to assess the relative influence of each explanatory variable. Overall seroprevalence was 4·1%. Commensal-rats were more infected (12·5%) than non-commensal species (3·7%). However, the major determinant of the risk of infection was the distance to the nearest farm (OR = 0·75 for 100 m), which explained the risk in all species or non-commensal species only. We contrast the role of species characteristics and that of the local environment, and discuss the risk of environmental contamination for humans.
In vertebrates, it has been repeatedly demonstrated that genes encoding proteins involved in pathogen-recognition by adaptive immunity (e.g. MHC) are subject to intensive diversifying selection. On the other hand, the role and the type of selection processes shaping the evolution of innate-immunity genes are currently far less clear. In this study we analysed the natural variation and the evolutionary processes acting on two genes involved in the innate-immunity recognition of Microbe-Associated Molecular Patterns (MAMPs).
Molecular markers produced by next-generation sequencing (NGS) technologies are revolutionizing genetic research. However, the costs of analysing large numbers of individual genomes remain prohibitive for most population genetics studies. Here, we present results based on mathematical derivations showing that, under many realistic experimental designs, NGS of DNA pools from diploid individuals allows to estimate the allele frequencies at single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) with at least the same accuracy as individual-based analyses, for considerably lower library construction and sequencing efforts. These findings remain true when taking into account the possibility of substantially unequal contributions of each individual to the final pool of sequence reads. We propose the intuitive notion of effective pool size to account for unequal pooling and derive a Bayesian hierarchical model to estimate this parameter directly from the data. We provide a user-friendly application assessing the accuracy of allele frequency estimation from both pool- and individual-based NGS population data under various sampling, sequencing depth and experimental error designs. We illustrate our findings with theoretical examples and real data sets corresponding to SNP loci obtained using restriction site-associated DNA (RAD) sequencing in pool- and individual-based experiments carried out on the same population of the pine processionary moth (Thaumetopoea pityocampa). NGS of DNA pools might not be optimal for all types of studies but provides a cost-effective approach for estimating allele frequencies for very large numbers of SNPs. It thus allows comparison of genome-wide patterns of genetic variation for large numbers of individuals in multiple populations.
Characterizing genetic diversity through genotyping short amplicons is central to evolutionary biology. Next-generation sequencing (NGS) technologies changed the scale at which these type of data are acquired. SESAME is a web application package that assists genotyping of multiplexed individuals for several markers based on NGS amplicon sequencing. It automatically assigns reads to loci and individuals, corrects reads if standard samples are available and provides an intuitive graphical user interface (GUI) for allele validation based on the sequences and associated decision-making tools. The aim of SESAME is to help allele identification among a large number of sequences.
Data on spatial genetic patterns may provide information about the ecological and behavioural mechanisms underlying population structure. Indeed, social organization and dispersal patterns of species may be reflected by the pattern of genetic structure within a population.
We analysed the influence of MHC class II Dqa and Drb genes on Puumala virus (PUUV) infection in bank voles (Myodes glareolus). We considered voles sampled in five European localities or derived from a previous experiment that showed variable infection success of PUUV. The genetic variation observed in the Dqa and Drb genes was assessed by using single-strand conformation polymorphism and pyrosequencing methods, respectively. Patterns were compared with those obtained from 13 microsatellites. We revealed significant genetic differentiation between PUUV-seronegative and -seropositive bank voles sampled in wild populations, at the Drb gene only. The absence of genetic differentiation observed at neutral microsatellites confirmed the important role of selective pressures in shaping these Drb patterns. Also, we found no significant associations between infection success and MHC alleles among laboratory-colonized bank voles, which is explained by a loss of genetic variability that occurred during the captivity of these voles.
High-throughput sequencing technologies offer new perspectives for biomedical, agronomical and evolutionary research. Promising progresses now concern the application of these technologies to large-scale studies of genetic variation. Such studies require the genotyping of high numbers of samples. This is theoretically possible using 454 pyrosequencing, which generates billions of base pairs of sequence data. However several challenges arise: first in the attribution of each read produced to its original sample, and second, in bioinformatic analyses to distinguish true from artifactual sequence variation. This pilot study proposes a new application for the 454 GS FLX platform, allowing the individual genotyping of thousands of samples in one run. A probabilistic model has been developed to demonstrate the reliability of this method.
The tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-?) influences the ability to limit parasite infection but its over-production might result in inflammatory disorders. The level of Tnf-? gene expression could thus mediate a balance of tolerance/resistance to infections. This study focused on Puumala hantavirus (PUUV) infection in its rodent host, the bank vole (Myodes glareolus). In humans, PUUV is responsible of a mild form of hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome, nephropathia epidemica (NE). The severity of NE is associated with an over-production of TNF-?. By contrast, PUUV infection in bank vole is chronic and asymptomatic. It is likely that different coevolutionary histories between PUUV and its hosts could lead to different balances of resistance/tolerance to PUUV infection, at least partly mediated by variable production levels of TNF-?. We investigated the hypothesis that bank voles from PUUV endemic areas should exhibit higher levels of tolerance, i.e. lower levels of TNF-? production, than bank voles from areas where PUUV prevalence is low. For this purpose, we analysed variations of Tnf-? gene expression and promoter sequences among European populations of bank voles. Our results revealed an absence of up-regulation of Tnf-? gene expression in PUUV infected bank voles and significant differences in Tnf-? gene expression level with regard to PUUV endemicity. These results corroborated the hypothesis of different balances of tolerance/resistance to PUUV. Two single-nucleotide polymorphism genotypes within the Tnf-? promoter (-302 GG/GG and -296 A/A) were associated with higher Tnf-? gene expression and were more frequent in non-endemic areas. This study emphasized the potential influence of selection acting on TNF-? production and mediating a tolerance/resistance balance to PUUV in bank voles. Further investigations, including the role of phenotypic plasticity and parasite communities on Tnf-? expression levels, should provide important keys to understand the prevalence of PUUV over Europe.
Black rats are major invasive vertebrate pests with severe ecological, economic and health impacts. Remarkably, their evolutionary history has received little attention, and there is no firm agreement on how many species should be recognized within the black rat complex. This species complex is native to India and Southeast Asia. According to current taxonomic classification, there are three taxa living in sympatry in several parts of Thailand, Cambodia and Lao Peoples Democratic Republic, where this study was conducted: two accepted species (Rattus tanezumi, Rattus sakeratensis) and an additional mitochondrial lineage of unclear taxonomic status referred to here as Rattus R3. We used extensive sampling, morphological data and diverse genetic markers differing in rates of evolution and parental inheritance (two mitochondrial DNA genes, one nuclear gene and eight microsatellite loci) to assess the reproductive isolation of these three taxa. Two close Asian relatives, Rattus argentiventer and Rattus exulans, were also included in the genetic analyses. Genetic analyses revealed discordance between the mitochondrial and nuclear data. Mitochondrial phylogeny studies identified three reciprocally monophyletic clades in the black rat complex. However, studies of the phylogeny of the nuclear exon interphotoreceptor retinoid-binding protein gene and clustering and assignation analyses with eight microsatellites failed to separate R. tanezumi and R3. Morphometric analyses were consistent with nuclear data. The incongruence between mitochondrial and nuclear (and morphological) data rendered R. tanezumi/R3 paraphyletic for mitochondrial lineages with respect to R. sakeratensis. Various evolutionary processes, such as shared ancestral polymorphism and incomplete lineage sorting or hybridization with massive mitochondrial introgression between species, may account for this unusual genetic pattern in mammals.
An understanding of the evolutionary history and dynamics of invasive species is required for the construction of predictive models of future spread and the design of biological management measures. The black rat (Rattus rattus) is a major vertebrate invader with a worldwide distribution. Despite the severe ecological, economic and health impacts of this species, its evolutionary history has been little studied. We carried out extensive specimen sampling in Senegal, West Africa, and used microsatellite markers to describe the pattern and processes of invasion in this large continental area. The genetic data obtained were combined with historical knowledge concerning the presence of this species in Senegal. Data were analysed by a combination of Bayesian clustering and approximate Bayesian computation methods. The invasion pathways closely paralleled the history of human trade routes in Senegal. In several places, we detected the occurrence of multiple introductions from genetically different sources. Long-distance migration between towns and villages was also observed. Our findings suggest that genetic bottlenecks and admixture have played a major role in shaping the genetics of invasive black rats. These two processes may generate genetic novelty and favour rapid evolution along the invasion pathways.
To further assess the geographic occurrence, possible vectors, and prevalence of Candidatus Neoehrlichia mikurensis, we analyzed spleen tissues from 276 voles trapped close to human settlements in France; 5 were infected with the organism. Sequencing showed the isolates carried the same genotype as the bacteria that caused disease in humans and animals elsewhere in Europe.
Rodentia is the most diverse order among mammals, with more than 2,000 species currently described. Most of the time, species assignation is so difficult based on morphological data solely that identifying rodents at the specific level corresponds to a real challenge. In this study, we compared the applicability of 100 bp mini-barcodes from cytochrome b and cytochrome c oxidase 1 genes to enable rodent species identification. Based on GenBank sequence datasets of 115 rodent species, a 136 bp fragment of cytochrome b was selected as the most discriminatory mini-barcode, and rodent universal primers surrounding this fragment were designed. The efficacy of this new molecular tool was assessed on 946 samples including rodent tissues, feces, museum samples and feces/pellets from predators known to ingest rodents. Utilizing next-generation sequencing technologies able to sequence mixes of DNA, 1,140 amplicons were tagged, multiplexed and sequenced together in one single 454 GS-FLX run. Our method was initially validated on a reference sample set including 265 clearly identified rodent tissues, corresponding to 103 different species. Following validation, 85.6% of 555 rodent samples from Europe, Asia and Africa whose species identity was unknown were able to be identified using the BLASTN program and GenBank reference sequences. In addition, our method proved effective even on degraded rodent DNA samples: 91.8% and 75.9% of samples from feces and museum specimens respectively were correctly identified. Finally, we succeeded in determining the diet of 66.7% of the investigated carnivores from their feces and 81.8% of owls from their pellets. Non-rodent species were also identified, suggesting that our method is sensitive enough to investigate complete predator diets. This study demonstrates how this molecular identification method combined with high-throughput sequencing can open new realms of possibilities in achieving fast, accurate and inexpensive species identification.
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