Animals in nature are frequently challenged by toxic compounds, from those that occur naturally in plants as a defense against herbivory, to pesticides used to protect crops. On exposure to such xenobiotic substances, animals mount a transcriptional response, generating detoxification enzymes and transporters that metabolize and remove the toxin. Genetic variation in this response can lead to variation in the susceptibility of different genotypes to the toxic effects of a given xenobiotic. Here we use Drosophila melanogaster to dissect the genetic basis of larval resistance to nicotine, a common plant defense chemical and widely used addictive drug in humans. We identified quantitative trait loci (QTL) for the trait using the DSPR (Drosophila Synthetic Population Resource), a panel of multiparental advanced intercross lines. Mapped QTL collectively explain 68.4% of the broad-sense heritability for nicotine resistance. The two largest-effect loci-contributing 50.3 and 8.5% to the genetic variation-map to short regions encompassing members of classic detoxification gene families. The largest QTL resides over a cluster of ten UDP-glucuronosyltransferase (UGT) genes, while the next largest QTL harbors a pair of cytochrome P450 genes. Using RNAseq we measured gene expression in a pair of DSPR founders predicted to harbor different alleles at both QTL and showed that Ugt86Dd, Cyp28d1, and Cyp28d2 had significantly higher expression in the founder carrying the allele conferring greater resistance. These genes are very strong candidates to harbor causative, regulatory polymorphisms that explain a large fraction of the genetic variation in larval nicotine resistance in the DSPR.
Volvocalean green algae have among the most diverse mitochondrial and plastid DNAs (mtDNAs and ptDNAs) from the eukaryotic domain. However, nearly all of the organelle genome data from this group are restricted to unicellular species, like Chlamydomonas reinhardtii, and presently only one multicellular species, the ?4,000-celled Volvox carteri, has had its organelle DNAs sequenced. The V. carteri organelle genomes are repeat rich, and the ptDNA is the largest plastome ever sequenced. Here, we present the complete mtDNA and ptDNA of the colonial volvocalean Gonium pectorale, which is comprised of ?16 cells and occupies a phylogenetic position closer to that of V. carteri than C. reinhardtii within the volvocine line. The mtDNA and ptDNA of G. pectorale are circular-mapping AT-rich molecules with respective lengths and coding densities of 16 and 222.6 kilobases and 73 and 44%. They share some features with the organelle DNAs of V. carteri, including palindromic repeats within the plastid compartment, but show more similarities with those of C. reinhardtii, such as a compact mtDNA architecture and relatively low organelle DNA intron contents. Overall, the G. pectorale organelle genomes raise several interesting questions about the origin of linear mitochondrial chromosomes within the Volvocales and the relationship between multicellularity and organelle genome expansion.
The effects of asexual reproduction on both the number of deleterious mutations per gamete and the mean fitness under mutation-selection balance are investigated. We use two simulation models, considering both finite and infinite populations. The two models incorporate asexual reproduction with varying levels of outcrossing and selfing, degrees of dominance and selection coefficients. The values for mean fitness and number of deleterious mutations per gamete are compared within and among finite and infinite populations to identify the effect of asexual reproduction on levels of load, and how asexual reproduction may interact with genetic drift (population size). Increasing asexual reproduction resulted in an increase in mean fitness and a decrease in the average number of deleterious mutations per gamete for both nearly recessive and additive alleles in both the infinite and finite simulations. Increased mean fitness with increasing asexuality is possibly due to two interacting forces: a greater opportunity for selection to act on heterozygous versus homozygous mutations and the shielding of a proportion of the population from meiotic mutations due to asexual reproduction. The results found here highlight the need to consider asexual reproduction along with mixed mating in models of genetic load and mutation-selection balance.
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