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How do environmental factors influence life cycles and development? An experimental framework for early-diverging metazoans.
Bioessays
PUBLISHED: 09-10-2014
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Ecological developmental biology (eco-devo) explores the mechanistic relationships between the processes of individual development and environmental factors. Recent studies imply that some of these relationships have deep evolutionary origins, and may even pre-date the divergences of the simplest extant animals, including cnidarians and sponges. Development of these early diverging metazoans is often sensitive to environmental factors, and these interactions occur in the context of conserved signaling pathways and mechanisms of tissue homeostasis whose detailed molecular logic remain elusive. Efficient methods for transgenesis in cnidarians together with the ease of experimental manipulation in cnidarians and sponges make them ideal models for understanding causal relationships between environmental factors and developmental mechanisms. Here, we identify major questions at the interface between animal evolution and development and outline a road map for research aimed at identifying the mechanisms that link environmental factors to developmental mechanisms in early diverging metazoans. Also watch the Video Abstract.
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A new species of the genus Hydroporus Clairville, 1806 from the Central Rif mountains of northern Morocco (Coleoptera: Dytiscidae).
Zootaxa
PUBLISHED: 07-23-2014
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Hydroporus rifensis sp. n. is described from Central Rif in northern Morocco. The new species is the first member of the Hydroporus tristis-group to be recorded from the African continent. Analyses of cytochrome oxydase 1 (CO1) and 16S rRNA partial sequences indicate unambiguously that H. rifensis sp. n. is a geographical vicariant of the widespread and common European species Hydroporus gyllenhalii Schiödte, 1841, whose closest Iberian populations are known from southern Spain and southern Portugal. Genetically the two species are very close, but in terms of morphology they differ considerably, to the extent that in several respects H. rifensis sp. n. is more similar to some species of the H. striola-group, the sister clade of the H. tristis-group. The new species differs from H. gyllenhalii notably by its larger size, lighter elytra, stronger pubescence, much finer elytral punctation, morphology of the median prosternum area, and marked differentiation of protarsal claws in male. Hydroporus rifensis sp. n. is the first dytiscid species endemic to the Rif and the second Hydroporus species endemic to Morocco. 
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New insights on ctenophore neural anatomy: immunofluorescence study in Pleurobrachia pileus (Müller, 1776).
J. Exp. Zool. B Mol. Dev. Evol.
PUBLISHED: 04-05-2011
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Ctenophores are non-bilaterian animals sharing with cnidarians and bilaterians the presence of sensory receptors, nerve cells, and synapses, absent in placozoans and sponges. Although recent immunofluorescence studies have renewed our knowledge of cnidarian neuro-anatomy, ctenophores have been much less investigated despite their importance to understanding the origin and early evolution of the nervous system. In this study, the neuro-anatomy of the ctenophore Pleurobrachia pileus (Müller, 1776) was explored by whole-mount fluorescent antibody staining using antibodies against tyrosylated -tubulin, FMRFamide, and vasopressin. We describe the morphology of nerve nets and their local specializations, and the organization of the aboral neuro-sensory complex comprising the apical organ and polar fields. Two distinct nerve nets are distinguished: a mesogleal nerve net, loosely organized throughout body mesoglea, and a much more compact “nerve net” with polygonal meshes in the ectodermal epithelium. The latter is organized as a plexus of short nerve cords. This epithelial nervous system contains distinct sub-populations of dispersed FMRFamide and vasopressin immunoreactive nerve cells. In the aboral neuro-sensory complex, our most significant observations include specialized nerve nets underlying the apical organ and polar fields, a tangential bundle of actin-rich fibers (interpreted as a muscle) within the polar fields, and distinct groups of neurons labeled by anti-FMRFamide and anti-vasopressin antibodies, within the apical organ floor. These results are discussed in a comparative perspective.
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Multiple Sox genes are expressed in stem cells or in differentiating neuro-sensory cells in the hydrozoan Clytia hemisphaerica.
Evodevo
PUBLISHED: 03-02-2011
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The Sox genes are important regulators of animal development belonging to the HMG domain-containing class of transcription factors. Studies in bilaterian models have notably highlighted their pivotal role in controlling progression along cell lineages, various Sox family members being involved at one side or the other of the critical balance between self-renewing stem cells/proliferating progenitors, and cells undergoing differentiation.
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Somatic stem cells express Piwi and Vasa genes in an adult ctenophore: ancient association of "germline genes" with stemness.
Dev. Biol.
PUBLISHED: 07-31-2010
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Stem cells are essential for animal development and adult tissue homeostasis, and the quest for an ancestral gene fingerprint of stemness is a major challenge for evolutionary developmental biology. Recent studies have indicated that a series of genes, including the transposon silencer Piwi and the translational activator Vasa, specifically involved in germline determination and maintenance in classical bilaterian models (e.g., vertebrates, fly, nematode), are more generally expressed in adult multipotent stem cells in other animals like flatworms and hydras. Since the progeny of these multipotent stem cells includes both somatic and germinal derivatives, it remains unclear whether Vasa, Piwi, and associated genes like Bruno and PL10 were ancestrally linked to stemness, or to germinal potential. We have investigated the expression of Vasa, two Piwi paralogues, Bruno and PL10 in Pleurobrachia pileus, a member of the early-diverging phylum Ctenophora, the probable sister group of cnidarians. These genes were all expressed in the male and female germlines, and with the exception of one of the Piwi paralogues, they showed similar expression patterns within somatic territories (tentacle root, comb rows, aboral sensory complex). Cytological observations and EdU DNA-labelling and long-term retention experiments revealed concentrations of stem cells closely matching these gene expression areas. These stem cell pools are spatially restricted, and each specialised in the production of particular types of somatic cells. These data unveil important aspects of cell renewal within the ctenophore body and suggest that Piwi, Vasa, Bruno, and PL10 belong to a gene network ancestrally acting in two distinct contexts: (i) the germline and (ii) stem cells, whatever the nature of their progeny.
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Convergent origins and rapid evolution of spliced leader trans-splicing in metazoa: insights from the ctenophora and hydrozoa.
RNA
PUBLISHED: 02-08-2010
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Replacement of mRNA 5 UTR sequences by short sequences trans-spliced from specialized, noncoding, spliced leader (SL) RNAs is an enigmatic phenomenon, occurring in a set of distantly related animal groups including urochordates, nematodes, flatworms, and hydra, as well as in Euglenozoa and dinoflagellates. Whether SL trans-splicing has a common evolutionary origin and biological function among different organisms remains unclear. We have undertaken a systematic identification of SL exons in cDNA sequence data sets from non-bilaterian metazoan species and their closest unicellular relatives. SL exons were identified in ctenophores and in hydrozoan cnidarians, but not in other cnidarians, placozoans, or sponges, or in animal unicellular relatives. Mapping of SL absence/presence obtained from this and previous studies onto current phylogenetic trees favors an evolutionary scenario involving multiple origins for SLs during eumetazoan evolution rather than loss from a common ancestor. In both ctenophore and hydrozoan species, multiple SL sequences were identified, showing high sequence diversity. Detailed analysis of a large data set generated for the hydrozoan Clytia hemisphaerica revealed trans-splicing of given mRNAs by multiple alternative SLs. No evidence was found for a common identity of trans-spliced mRNAs between different hydrozoans. One feature found specifically to characterize SL-spliced mRNAs in hydrozoans, however, was a marked adenosine enrichment immediately 3 of the SL acceptor splice site. Our findings of high sequence divergence and apparently indiscriminate use of SLs in hydrozoans, along with recent findings in other taxa, indicate that SL genes have evolved rapidly in parallel in diverse animal groups, with constraint on SL exon sequence evolution being apparently rare.
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The backbone of the post-synaptic density originated in a unicellular ancestor of choanoflagellates and metazoans.
BMC Evol. Biol.
PUBLISHED: 02-03-2010
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Comparative genomics of the early diverging metazoan lineages and of their unicellular sister-groups opens new window to reconstructing the genetic changes which preceded or accompanied the evolution of multicellular body plans. A recent analysis found that the genome of the nerve-less sponges encodes the homologues of most vertebrate post-synaptic proteins. In vertebrate excitatory synapses, these proteins assemble to form the post-synaptic density, a complex molecular platform linking membrane receptors, components of their signalling pathways, and the cytoskeleton. Newly available genomes from Monosiga brevicollis (a member of Choanoflagellata, the closest unicellular relatives of animals) and Trichoplax adhaerens (a member of Placozoa: besides sponges, the only nerve-less metazoans) offer an opportunity to refine our understanding of post-synaptic protein evolution.
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Clytia hemisphaerica: a jellyfish cousin joins the laboratory.
Trends Genet.
PUBLISHED: 01-24-2010
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Clytia hemisphaerica, a member of the early-branching animal phylum Cnidaria, is emerging rapidly as an experimental model for studies in developmental biology and evolution. Unlike the two existing genome-sequenced cnidarian models Nematostella and Hydra, Clytia has a free-swimming jellyfish form, which like "higher" animals (the Bilateria) has a complex organization including striated musculature, specialized nervous system and structured sensory and reproductive organs. Clytia has proved well suited to laboratory culture and to gene function analysis during early development. Initial studies have shed light on the origins of embryonic polarity and of the nematocyte as a specialized neurosensory cell, and on the regulation of oocyte maturation. With a full genome sequence soon to become available, and a clear potential for genetic approaches, Clytia is well placed to provide invaluable information on core mechanisms in cell and developmental biology, and on the evolution of key features of animal body plans.
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New tricks with old genes: the genetic bases of novel cnidarian traits.
Trends Genet.
PUBLISHED: 01-07-2010
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Recent thought on genome evolution has focused on the creation of new genes and changes in regulatory mechanisms while ignoring the role of selective gene loss in shaping genomes. Using data from two cnidarians, the jellyfish Clytia and the coral Acropora, we examined the relative significance of new taxonomically restricted genes and selectively retained ancestral genes in enabling the evolution of novel traits. Consistent with its more complex life-cycle, the proportion of novel genes identified in Clytia was higher than that in the polyp only cnidarians Nematostella and Hydra, but each of these cnidarians has retained a proportion of ancestral genes not present in the other two. The ubiquity and near-stochastic nature of gene loss can explain the discord between patterns of gene distribution and taxonomy.
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Molecular phylogenetics of Thecata (Hydrozoa, Cnidaria) reveals long-term maintenance of life history traits despite high frequency of recent character changes.
Syst. Biol.
PUBLISHED: 08-21-2009
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Two fundamental life cycle types are recognized among hydrozoan cnidarians, the benthic (generally colonial) polyp stage either producing pelagic sexual medusae or directly releasing gametes elaborated from an attached gonophore. The existence of intermediate forms, with polyps producing simple medusoids, has been classically considered compelling evidence in favor of phyletic gradualism. In order to gain insights about the evolution of hydrozoan life history traits, we inferred phylogenetic relationships of 142 species of Thecata (= Leptothecata, Leptomedusae), the most species-rich hydrozoan group, using 3 different ribosomal RNA markers (16S, 18S, and 28S). In conflict with morphology-derived classifications, most thecate species fell in 2 well-supported clades named here Statocysta and Macrocolonia. We inferred many independent medusa losses among Statocysta. Several instances of secondary regain of medusoids (but not of full medusa) from medusa-less ancestors were supported among Macrocolonia. Furthermore, life cycle character changes were significantly correlated with changes affecting colony shape. For both traits, changes did not reflect graded and progressive loss or gain of complexity. They were concentrated in recent branches, with intermediate character states being relatively short lived at a large evolutionary scale. This punctuational pattern supports the existence of 2 alternative stable evolutionary strategies: simple stolonal colonies with medusae (the ancestral strategy, seen in most Statocysta species) versus large complex colonies with fixed gonophores (the derived strategy, seen in most Macrocolonia species). Hypotheses of species selection are proposed to explain the apparent long-term stability of these life history traits despite a high frequency of character change. Notably, maintenance of the medusa across geological time in Statocysta might be due to higher extinction rates for species that have lost this dispersive stage.
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Early evolution of symmetry and polarity in metazoan body plans.
C. R. Biol.
PUBLISHED: 03-14-2009
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The early diverging metazoan lineages have highly disparate adult body plan geometries, which can be characterised in terms of five major types of symmetry (asymmetrical, spherical, cylindrical, n-radial, bilateral). Patterns of evolutionary changes in symmetry types and the homology of body axes across lineages are discussed here by confronting evidence from comparative anatomy, phylogeny, genomics and evo-devo. The conventional scenario, postulating a graded complexification from asymmetry to radial and finally bilateral symmetry, is considered untenable. Cylindrical symmetry is likely to be the ancestral type from which derived all remaining types through multiple convergences. Recent proposals prompted by molecular data that the bilateral anatomies of many cnidarians and of the Bilateria are homologous are clearly not supported. The Hox-based patterning system operating along the antero-posterior axis of the Bilateria does not seem to predate their divergence with the Cnidaria, but intercellular signalling systems, notably the Wnt pathway, could have been involved in generating the main body axis in the last common ancestor of the Metazoa.
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Phylogenomics revives traditional views on deep animal relationships.
Curr. Biol.
PUBLISHED: 02-22-2009
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The origin of many of the defining features of animal body plans, such as symmetry, nervous system, and the mesoderm, remains shrouded in mystery because of major uncertainty regarding the emergence order of the early branching taxa: the sponge groups, ctenophores, placozoans, cnidarians, and bilaterians. The "phylogenomic" approach [1] has recently provided a robust picture for intrabilaterian relationships [2, 3] but not yet for more early branching metazoan clades. We have assembled a comprehensive 128 gene data set including newly generated sequence data from ctenophores, cnidarians, and all four main sponge groups. The resulting phylogeny yields two significant conclusions reviving old views that have been challenged in the molecular era: (1) that the sponges (Porifera) are monophyletic and not paraphyletic as repeatedly proposed [4-9], thus undermining the idea that ancestral metazoans had a sponge-like body plan; (2) that the most likely position for the ctenophores is together with the cnidarians in a "coelenterate" clade. The Porifera and the Placozoa branch basally with respect to a moderately supported "eumetazoan" clade containing the three taxa with nervous system and muscle cells (Cnidaria, Ctenophora, and Bilateria). This new phylogeny provides a stimulating framework for exploring the important changes that shaped the body plans of the early diverging phyla.
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Are Hox genes ancestrally involved in axial patterning? Evidence from the hydrozoan Clytia hemisphaerica (Cnidaria).
PLoS ONE
PUBLISHED: 01-21-2009
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The early evolution and diversification of Hox-related genes in eumetazoans has been the subject of conflicting hypotheses concerning the evolutionary conservation of their role in axial patterning and the pre-bilaterian origin of the Hox and ParaHox clusters. The diversification of Hox/ParaHox genes clearly predates the origin of bilaterians. However, the existence of a "Hox code" predating the cnidarian-bilaterian ancestor and supporting the deep homology of axes is more controversial. This assumption was mainly based on the interpretation of Hox expression data from the sea anemone, but growing evidence from other cnidarian taxa puts into question this hypothesis.
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Independent specialisation of myosin II paralogues in muscle vs. non-muscle functions during early animal evolution: a ctenophore perspective.
BMC Evol. Biol.
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Myosin II (or Myosin Heavy Chain II, MHCII) is a family of molecular motors involved in the contractile activity of animal muscle cells but also in various other cellular processes in non-muscle cells. Previous phylogenetic analyses of bilaterian MHCII genes identified two main clades associated respectively with smooth/non-muscle cells (MHCIIa) and striated muscle cells (MHCIIb). Muscle cells are generally thought to have originated only once in ancient animal history, and decisive insights about their early evolution are expected to come from expression studies of Myosin II genes in the two non-bilaterian phyla that possess muscles, the Cnidaria and Ctenophora.
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Maternally localized germ plasm mRNAs and germ cell/stem cell formation in the cnidarian Clytia.
Dev. Biol.
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The separation of the germ line from the soma is a classic concept in animal biology, and depending on species is thought to involve fate determination either by maternally localized germ plasm ("preformation" or "maternal inheritance") or by inductive signaling (classically termed "epigenesis" or "zygotic induction"). The latter mechanism is generally considered to operate in non-bilaterian organisms such as cnidarians and sponges, in which germ cell fate is determined at adult stages from multipotent stem cells. We have found in the hydrozoan cnidarian Clytia hemisphaerica that the multipotent "interstitial" cells (i-cells) in larvae and adult medusae, from which germ cells derive, express a set of conserved germ cell markers: Vasa, Nanos1, Piwi and PL10. In situ hybridization analyses unexpectedly revealed maternal mRNAs for all these genes highly concentrated in a germ plasm-like region at the egg animal pole and inherited by the i-cell lineage, strongly suggesting i-cell fate determination by inheritance of animal-localized factors. On the other hand, experimental tests showed that i-cells can form by epigenetic mechanisms in Clytia, since larvae derived from both animal and vegetal blastomeres separated during cleavage stages developed equivalent i-cell populations. Thus Clytia embryos appear to have maternal germ plasm inherited by i-cells but also the potential to form these cells by zygotic induction. Reassessment of available data indicates that maternally localized germ plasm molecular components were plausibly present in the common cnidarian/bilaterian ancestor, but that their role may not have been strictly deterministic.
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What is Visualize?

JoVE Visualize is a tool created to match the last 5 years of PubMed publications to methods in JoVE's video library.

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We use abstracts found on PubMed and match them to JoVE videos to create a list of 10 to 30 related methods videos.

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In developing our video relationships, we compare around 5 million PubMed articles to our library of over 4,500 methods videos. In some cases the language used in the PubMed abstracts makes matching that content to a JoVE video difficult. In other cases, there happens not to be any content in our video library that is relevant to the topic of a given abstract. In these cases, our algorithms are trying their best to display videos with relevant content, which can sometimes result in matched videos with only a slight relation.