Faecal samples are of great value as a non-invasive means to gather information on the genetics, distribution, demography, diet and parasite infestation of endangered species. Direct shotgun sequencing of faecal DNA could give information on these simultaneously, but this approach is largely untested. Here, we used two faecal samples to characterize the diet of two red-shanked doucs langurs (Pygathrix nemaeus) that were fed known foliage, fruits, vegetables and cereals. Illumina HiSeq produced ~74 and 67 million paired reads for these samples, of which ~10 000 (0.014%) and ~44 000 (0.066%), respectively, were of chloroplast origin. Sequences were matched against a database of available chloroplast 'barcodes' for angiosperms. The results were compared with 'metabarcoding' using PCR amplification of the P6 loop of trnL. Metagenomics identified seven and nine of the likely 16 diet plants while six and five were identified by metabarcoding. Metabarcoding produced thousands of reads consistent with the known diet, but the barcodes were too short to identify several plant species to genus. Metagenomics utilized multiple, longer barcodes that combined had greater power of identification. However, rare diet items were not recovered. Read numbers for diet species in metagenomic and metabarcoding data were correlated, indicating that both are useful for determining relative sequence abundance. Metagenomic reads were uniformly distributed across the chloroplast genomes; thus, if chloroplast genomes were used as reference, the precision of identifications and species recovery would improve further. Metagenomics also recovered the host mitochondrial genome and numerous intestinal parasite sequences in addition to generating data useful for characterizing the microbiome.
Avermectins are potent and popular veterinary pharmaceuticals used globally to fight parasites of livestock and humans. By disturbing ion channel transport through the membrane, avermectins are effective against endo- and ectoparasitic round and horsehair worms (Nematoida), insects, or ticks (Arthropoda), but not against Plathelminthes, including flatworms (Trematoda) and tapeworms (Cestoda), or segmented worms (Annelida). Unfortunately, excreted avermectins have strong nontarget effects on beneficial arthropods such as the insect community decomposing livestock dung, ultimately impeding this important ecosystem function to the extent that regulators mandate standardized eco-toxicological tests of dung organisms worldwide. We show that the ancient phylogenetic pattern and qualitative mechanism of avermectin sensitivity is conserved and compatible with most recent phylogenomic hypotheses grouping the Nematoida with the Arthropoda as Ecdysozoa (molting animals). At the species level, we demonstrate phylogenetic clustering in ivermectin sensitivities of 23 species of sepsid dung flies (Diptera: Sepsidae). This clustered 500-fold quantitative variation in sensitivity may indicate recent lineage-specific responses to selection, but more likely reflects pre-existing genetic variation with pleiotropic effects on eco-toxicological responses to pollutants. Regardless, our results question the common practice in eco-toxicology of choosing single test species to infer detrimental effects on entire species communities, which should ideally assess a representative taxonomic sample.
Macroinvertebrates that are collected in large numbers pose major problems in basic and applied biodiversity research: identification to species via morphology is often difficult, slow and/or expensive. DNA barcodes are an attractive alternative or complementary source of information. Unfortunately, obtaining DNA barcodes from specimens requires many steps and thus time and money. Here, we promote a short cut to DNA barcoding, that is, a nondestructive PCR method that skips DNA extraction ('direct PCR') and that can be used for a broad range of invertebrate taxa. We demonstrate how direct PCR can be optimized for the larvae and adults of nonbiting midges (Diptera: Chironomidae), a typical invertebrate group that is abundant, contains important bioindicator species, but is difficult to identify based on morphological features. After optimization, direct PCR yields high PCR success rates (>90%), preserves delicate morphological features (e.g. details of genitalia, and larval head capsules) while allowing for the recovery of genomic DNA. We also document that direct PCR can be successfully optimized for a wide range of other invertebrate taxa that need routine barcoding (flies: Culicidae, Drosophilidae, Dolichopodidae, Sepsidae; sea stars: Oreasteridae). Key for obtaining high PCR success rates is optimizing (i) tissue quantity, (ii) body part, (iii) primer pair and (iv) type of Taq polymerase. Unfortunately, not all invertebrates appear suitable because direct PCR has low success rates for other taxa that were tested (e.g. Coleoptera: Dytiscidae, Copepoda, Hymenoptera: Formicidae and Odonata). It appears that the technique is less successful for heavily sclerotized insects and/or those with many exocrine glands.
With about 5000 species in ca. 180 genera, the Muscidae is the most species-rich family in the muscoid grade of Calyptratae (Diptera: Cyclorrhapha), the others being the Fanniidae, Scathophagidae and Anthomyiidae. Muscidae is remarkable for its young age, high species diversity in all biogeographic regions, and an unusually diverse range of feeding habits at the larval stage (e.g., saprophagy, phytophagy, carnivory, endoparasitism, haematophagy). We here review muscid classification and biology and present a molecular phylogeny based on four mitochondrial genes (12S, 16S, COI, CYTB) and three nuclear genes (28S, Ef1a, and CAD) for 84 species from 40 genera. Our analysis is the first to include species from all biogeographic regions and all currently recognised muscid subfamilies and tribes. We provide strong support for the monophyly of the Muscidae, and for the first time also for the first split within this family. The ancestral larval feeding habit is reconstructed to be saprophagy with more specialised coprophagous saprophagy, phytophagy, and carnivory evolving multiple times from saprophagous ancestors. The origins of carnivory in larvae are significantly correlated with a reduction of the number of larval instars from three (ancestral) to two and one. The genus Achanthiptera which was previously in its own subfamily is shown to be closely related to Azeliini. However, it appears that Azeliinae is paraphyletic because Muscinae is sister-group to the Azeliini while the azeliine Reinwardtiini are polyphyletic. Coenosiinae and Muscinae are monophyletic, but Muscini is paraphyletic with regard to Stomoxyini. Because many subfamilies are apparently para- or even polyphyletic, we review the history of muscid classification in order to reveal how the currently used classification originated.
We here present a phylogenetic hypothesis for Sepsidae (Diptera: Cyclorrhapha), a group of schizophoran flies with ca. 320 described species that is widely used in sexual selection research. The hypothesis is based on five nuclear and five mitochondrial markers totaling 8813 bp for ca. 30% of the diversity (105 sepsid taxa) and - depending on analysis - six or nine outgroup species. Maximum parsimony (MP), maximum likelihood (ML), and Bayesian inferences (BI) yield overall congruent, well-resolved, and supported trees that are largely unaffected by three different ways to partition the data in BI and ML analyses. However, there are also five areas of uncertainty that affect suprageneric relationships where different analyses yield alternate topologies and MP and ML trees have significant conflict according to Shimodaira-Hasegawa tests. Two of these were already affected by conflict in a previous analysis that was based on the same genes and a subset of 69 species. The remaining three involve newly added taxa or genera whose relationships were previously resolved with low support. We thus find that the denser taxon sample in the present analysis does not reduce the topological conflict that had been identified previously. The present study nevertheless presents a significant contribution to the understanding of sepsid relationships in that 50 additional taxa from 18 genera are added to the Tree-of-Life of Sepsidae and that the placement of most taxa is well supported and robust to different tree reconstruction techniques.
Many species descriptions, especially older ones, consist mostly of text and have few illustrations. Only the most conspicuous morphological features needed for species diagnosis and delimitation at the time of description are illustrated. Such descriptions can quickly become inadequate when new species or characters are discovered. We propose that descriptions should become more data-rich by presenting a large amount of images and illustrations to cover as much morphology as possible; these descriptions are more likely to remain adequate over time because their large amounts of visual data could capture character systems that may become important in the future. Such an approach can now be quickly and easily achieved given that high-quality digital photography is readily available. Here, we re-describe the sepsid fly Perochaeta orientalis (de Meijere 1913) (Diptera, Sepsidae) which has suffered from inadequate descriptions in the past, and use photomicrography, scanning electron microscopy and videography to document its external morphology and mating behaviour. All images and videos are embedded within the electronic publication. We discuss briefly benefits and problems with our approach.
This study asked whether reductive traits in cave organisms evolve at a slower pace (suggesting neutral evolution under relaxed selection) than constructive changes, which are likely to evolve under directional selection. We investigated 11 subterranean and seven surface populations of Sundathelphusa freshwater crabs on Bohol Island, Philippines, and examined constructive traits associated with improved food finding in darkness (increased leg and setae length) and reductive traits (reduced cornea size and eyestalk length). All changes occurred rapidly, given that the age of the most recent common ancestor was estimated to be 722-271 ka based on three mitochondrial markers. In order to quantify the speed of character change, we correlated the degree of morphological change with genetic distances between surface and subterranean individuals. The temporal pattern of character change following the transition to subterranean life was indistinguishable for constructive and reductive traits, characterized by an immediate onset and rapid evolutionary change. We propose that the evolution of these reductive traits-just like constructive traits-is most likely driven by strong directional selection.
We here test the proposition that changes in the barcoding region of COI are commonly involved in speciation through intergenomic conflict. We demonstrate that this is unlikely given that even with incomplete taxon sampling, 78-90% of closely-related animal species have identical COI amino acid sequences. In addition, in those cases where amino acid substitutions between closely related species are observed, the inter- and intra-specific substitution patterns are very similar and/or lack consistent differences in the number, position and type of amino acid change. Overall, we conclude that there is little evidence for a widespread involvement of the barcoding gene in speciation.
Flies are one of four superradiations of insects (along with beetles, wasps, and moths) that account for the majority of animal life on Earth. Diptera includes species known for their ubiquity (Musca domestica house fly), their role as pests (Anopheles gambiae malaria mosquito), and their value as model organisms across the biological sciences (Drosophila melanogaster). A resolved phylogeny for flies provides a framework for genomic, developmental, and evolutionary studies by facilitating comparisons across model organisms, yet recent research has suggested that fly relationships have been obscured by multiple episodes of rapid diversification. We provide a phylogenomic estimate of fly relationships based on molecules and morphology from 149 of 157 families, including 30 kb from 14 nuclear loci and complete mitochondrial genomes combined with 371 morphological characters. Multiple analyses show support for traditional groups (Brachycera, Cyclorrhapha, and Schizophora) and corroborate contentious findings, such as the anomalous Deuterophlebiidae as the sister group to all remaining Diptera. Our findings reveal that the closest relatives of the Drosophilidae are highly modified parasites (including the wingless Braulidae) of bees and other insects. Furthermore, we use micro-RNAs to resolve a node with implications for the evolution of embryonic development in Diptera. We demonstrate that flies experienced three episodes of rapid radiation--lower Diptera (220 Ma), lower Brachycera (180 Ma), and Schizophora (65 Ma)--and a number of life history transitions to hematophagy, phytophagy, and parasitism in the history of fly evolution over 260 million y.
The species-specificity of male genitalia has been well documented in many insect groups and sexual selection has been proposed as the evolutionary force driving the often rapid, morphological divergence. The internal female genitalia, in sharp contrast, remain poorly studied. Here, we present the first comparative study of the internal reproductive system of Sepsidae. We test the species-specificity of the female genitalia by comparing recently diverged sister taxa. We also compare the rate of change in female morphological characters with the rate of fast-evolving, molecular and behavioral characters.
Freshwater prawns of the genus Macrobrachium are free-living decapod crustaceans that are commonly encountered in tropical streams and lakes. We present a molecular phylogenetic analysis of the diverse Southeast and East Asian fauna based on >3 kb sequence data from three nuclear and two mitochondrial markers for almost 50% of the described fauna. We reconstruct the phylogenetic relationships and track the evolution of key life history traits. Our tree suggests that the last common ancestor of the Asian Macrobrachium laid numerous small eggs and had prolonged larval development ("PLD") in saline coastal waters after which the adults matured in freshwater habitats. We also argue for five independent losses of the marine larval phase to yield five clades of species that develop entirely in freshwater and have fewer and larger eggs than the species with PLD. These species have either semi-abbreviated (two origins) with at least one free-swimming stage or abbreviated larval development ("ALD": three origins) which lack free-swimming larvae. A Shimodaira-Hasegawa test rejects all trees that would imply a single loss of the marine larval phase, but alternative and equally parsimonious optimizations exist that imply a smaller number of losses. However, these scenarios would require the re-acquisition of free-swimming larvae. A concentrated-change test supports Pereira and Garcias [Pereira, G.A., Garcia, J.V., 1995. Larval development of Macrobrachium reyesi Pereira (Decapoda, Palaemonidae), with a discussion on the origin of abbreviated development in palaemonids. J. Crust. Biol. 15, 117-133] hypothesis of a significant correlation between living in freshwater and the origin of semi-abbreviated and abbreviated larval development. Our phylogenetic tree also reveals that Asian Macrobrachium have independently become cavernicolous at least twice, and invaded the highly acidic waters of freshwater and peat swamps two or three times.
The biologically and geologically extremely diverse archipelagos of Wallacea, Australasia and Oceania have long stimulated ecologists and evolutionary biologists. Yet, few molecular phylogenetic analyses of the terrestrial fauna have been carried out to understand the evolutionary patterns. We use dense taxon and character sampling of more than 7000 bp DNA sequence data for a group of diving beetles ranging from the Holarctic throughout Asia to as far east as French Polynesia. We here show that an ecologically diverse, common and widespread (Portugal to New Zealand) arthropod supertramp species originated in the highlands of New Guinea, ca 6.0-2.7 Myr ago. The approximately 25 closely related species are narrow endemics in Australasia/Oceania. The ancestor of this clade colonized that region from Eurasia ca 9-7 Myr ago. Our finding contradicts the widely held view of local endemism as an evolutionary dead end, as we find multiple peripatric speciation events within the Pleistocene and complex colonization patterns between the Oriental and Australian zoogeographic regions, including the recolonization of Eurasia, jumping across Wallaces line and colonization of continental Australia out of New Guinea. Our study strongly highlights the importance of dispersal over water gaps in shaping biogeographic patterns.
The aerobic formation of methane in plants has been reported previously, but has been questioned by a number of researchers. Recently, isotopic evidence demonstrated that ultraviolet irradiation and heating lead to photochemical or thermal aerobic methane formation mainly from plant pectin in the absence of microbial methane production. However, the origin of aerobic methane formation from plant material observed under low temperature and low-light/dark conditions is still unclear. Here we show that Grey poplar (Populus × canescens, syn. Populus tremula × Populus alba) plants derived from cell cultures under sterile conditions released 13C-labeled methane under low-light conditions after feeding the plants with 13CO2. Molecular biological analysis proved the absence of any microbial contamination with known methanogenic microorganisms and ruled out the possibility that methane emission from our poplar shoot cultures under aerobic low-light/dark and ambient temperature conditions could be of microbial origin. The CH4 release rates in our experiment were in the range of 0.16-0.7 ng g-1 DW h-1, adding evidence to the growing opinion that the quantitative role of aerobic methane emissions from plants in the global methane budget, at least from cold temperate or boreal regions, is only of minor importance.
We use two episodes from systematic history to illustrate how conflict between immature and adult data was important for the development of phylogenetic systematics. A reference search in Zoological Record reveals that most phylogenetic analyses of endopterygote insects continue to utilize morphological rather than DNA sequence data. However, the use of immature and adult data is established for only a few taxa. An assessment of the phylogenetic utility of 73 matrices with immature and adult data reveals that the immature partitions have fewer characters and that immature characters provide lower node support through homoplasy levels in immatures, and adult partitions are comparable. Despite much conflict, analyses based on all available evidence yield better tree resolution and higher support. We argue that DNA sequence-based matching of immature and adult stages will greatly help with the study of endopterygote immatures and facilitate the assembly of combined character matrices with data from all life-history stages.
Coral taxonomy and systematics continue to be plagued by a host of problems. Due to high phenotypic variability within species, morphological approaches have often failed to recognize natural taxa, and molecular techniques have yet to be applied to many groups. Here, we summarize the levels of paraphyly found for scleractinian corals and test, based on new data, whether paraphyly is also a significant problem in Faviidae, the second-most speciose hermatypic scleractinian family. Using both DNA sequence and morphological data we find that, regardless of analysis technique (maximum parsimony, maximum likelihood and Bayesian likelihood), many conventional taxonomic groups are not monophyletic. Based on two mitochondrial markers (COI and a noncoding region) that we amplified for 81 samples representing 41 faviid species and 13 genera, five genera that are represented by more than one species are paraphyletic, as is the family Faviidae. The morphological characters currently used to identify these corals similarly fail to recover many genera. Furthermore, trees based on both data types are incongruent, and total evidence analysis does little to salvage conventional taxonomic groupings. Morphological convergence, phenotypic variability in response to the environment, and recent speciation are likely causes for these conflicts, which suggest that the present classification of corals is in need of a major overhaul. We propose more detailed studies of problematic faviid taxa using standardized morphological, mitochondrial, and nuclear genetic markers to facilitate combining of data.
The All Birds Barcoding Initiative aims to assemble a DNA barcode database for all bird species, but the 648-bp barcoding region of cytochrome c oxidase subunit I (COI) can be difficult to amplify in Southeast Asian perching birds (Aves: Passeriformes). Using COI sequences from complete mitochondrial genomes, we designed a primer pair that more reliably amplifies and sequences the COI barcoding region of Southeast Asian passerine birds. The 655-bp region amplified with these primers overlaps the COI region amplified with other barcoding primer pairs, enabling direct comparison of sequences with previously published DNA barcodes.
Male abdomen appendages are a novel trait found within Sepsidae (Diptera). Here we demonstrate that they are likely to have evolved once, were lost three times, and then secondarily gained in one lineage. The developmental basis of these appendages was investigated by counting the number of histoblast cells in each abdominal segment in four species: two that represented the initial instance of appendage evolution, one that has secondarily gained appendages, and one species that did not have appendages. Males of all species with appendages have elevated cell counts for the fourth segment, which gives rise to the appendages. In Perochaeta dikowi, which reacquired the trait, the females also have elevated cell count on the fourth segment despite the fact that females do not develop appendages. The species without appendages has similar cell counts in all segments regardless of sex. These results suggest that the basis for appendage development is shared in males across all species, but the sexual dimorphism is regulated differently in P. dikowi.
The circadian clock is a core molecular mechanism that allows organisms to anticipate daily environmental changes and adapt the timing of behaviors to maximize efficiency. In social insects, the ability to maintain the appropriate temporal order is thought to improve colony efficiency and fitness. We used the newly sequenced fire ant (Solenopsis invicta) genome to characterize the first ant circadian clock. Our results reveal that the fire ant clock is similar to the clock of the honeybee, a social insect with an independent evolutionary origin of sociality. Gene trees for the eight core clock genes, period, cycle, clock, cryptochrome-m, timeout, vrille, par domain protein 1 & clockwork orange, show ant species grouping closely with honeybees and Nasonia wasps as an outgroup to the social Hymenoptera. Expression patterns for these genes suggest that the ant clock functions similar to the honeybee clock, with period and cry-m mRNA levels increasing during the night and cycle and clockwork orange mRNAs cycling approximately anti-phase to period. Gene models for five of these genes also parallel honeybee models. In particular, the single ant cryptochrome is an ortholog of the mammalian-type (cry-m), rather than Drosophila-like protein (cry-d). Additionally, we find a conserved VPIFAL C-tail region in clockwork orange shared by insects but absent in vertebrates. Overall, our characterization of the ant clock demonstrates that two social insect lineages, ants and bees, share a similar, mammalian-like circadian clock. This study represents the first characterization of clock genes in an ant and is a key step towards understanding socially-regulated plasticity in circadian rhythms by facilitating comparative studies on the organization of circadian clockwork.
The morphological features of the third instar larva of the most important insect model, Drosophila melanogaster, are documented for the first time using a broad spectrum of modern morphological techniques. External structures of the body wall, the cephaloskeleton, and the musculature are described and illustrated. Additional information about other internal organs is provided. The systematic implications of the findings are discussed briefly. Internal apomorphic features of Brachycera and Cyclorrhapha are confirmed for Drosophila. Despite the intensive investigations of the phylogeny of the megadiverse Diptera, evolutionary reconstructions are still impeded by the scarcity of anatomical data for brachyceran larvae. The available morphological information for the life stages of three insect model organisms -D. melanogaster (Diptera, Drosophilidae), Manduca sexta (Lepidoptera, Sphingidae) and Tribolium castaneum (Coleoptera, Tenebrionidae) - is addressed briefly. The usefulness of a combination of traditional and innovative techniques for an optimized acquisition of anatomical data for different life stages is highlighted.
Poorly regulated international trade in ornamental fishes poses risks to both biodiversity and economic activity via invasive alien species and exotic pathogens. Border security officials need robust tools to confirm identifications, often requiring hard-to-obtain taxonomic literature and expertise. DNA barcoding offers a potentially attractive tool for quarantine inspection, but has yet to be scrutinised for aquarium fishes. Here, we present a barcoding approach for ornamental cyprinid fishes by: (1) expanding current barcode reference libraries; (2) assessing barcode congruence with morphological identifications under numerous scenarios (e.g. inclusion of GenBank data, presence of singleton species, choice of analytical method); and (3) providing supplementary information to identify difficult species.
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