For thousands of generations we humans grew up in nature. Our teachers were flora and fauna and our textbooks thunderstorms and stars in the night sky. Our minds were like the forests, oases and deltas around which our ...
The origin of oxygenic photosynthesis in the Archaeplastida common ancestor was foundational for the evolution of multicellular life. It is very likely that the primary endosymbiosis that explains plastid origin relied initially on the establishment of a metabolic connection between the host cell and captured cyanobacterium. We posit that these connections were derived primarily from existing host-derived components. To test this idea, we used phylogenomic and network analysis to infer the phylogenetic origin and evolutionary history of 37 validated plastid innermost membrane (permeome) metabolite transporters from the model plantArabidopsis thaliana. Our results show that 57% of these transporter genes are of eukaryotic origin and that the captured cyanobacterium made a relatively minor (albeit important) contribution to the process. We also tested the hypothesis that the bacterium-derived hexose-phosphate transporter UhpC might have been the primordial sugar transporter in the Archaeplastida ancestor. Bioinformatic and protein localization studies demonstrate that this protein in the extremophilic red algae Galdieria sulphuraria and Cyanidioschyzon merolae are plastid targeted. Given this protein is also localized in plastids in the glaucophyte algaCyanophora paradoxa, we suggest it played a crucial role in early plastid endosymbiosis by connecting the endosymbiont and host carbon storage networks. In summary, our work significantly advances understanding of plastid integration and favors a host-centric view of endosymbiosis. Under this view, nuclear genes of either eukaryotic or bacterial (noncyanobacterial) origin provided key elements of the toolkit needed for establishing metabolic connections in the primordial Archaeplastida lineage.
Fungi are an omnipresent and highly diverse group of organisms, making up a significant part of eukaryotic diversity. Little is currently known about the drivers of fungal population differentiation and subsequent divergence of species, particularly in symbiotic, mycorrhizal fungi. Here we investigate the population structure and environmental adaptation in Suillus brevipes (Peck) Kuntze, a wind-dispersed soil fungus that is symbiotic with pine trees. We assembled and annotated the reference genome for S. brevipes and re-sequenced the whole genomes of 28 individuals from coastal and montane sites in California. We detected two clearly delineated coast and mountain populations with very low divergence. Genomic divergence was restricted to few regions, including a region of extreme divergence containing a gene encoding for a membrane Na+/H+ exchanger known for enhancing salt tolerance in plants and yeast. Our results are consistent with a very recent split between the montane and coastal S. brevipes populations, with few small genomic regions under positive selection and a pattern of dispersal and/or establishment limitation. Furthermore, we identify a putatively adaptive gene that motivates further functional analyses to link genotypes and phenotypes and shed light on the genetic basis of adaptive traits.
Males and females often have marked phenotypic differences, and the expression of these dissimilarities invariably involves sex differences in gene expression. Sex-biased gene expression has been well characterized in animal species, where a high proportion of the genome may be differentially regulated in males and females during development. Male-biased genes tend to evolve more rapidly than female-biased genes, implying differences in the strength of the selective forces acting on the two sexes. Analyses of sex-biased gene expression have focused on organisms that exhibit separate sexes during the diploid phase of the life cycle (diploid sexual systems), but the genetic nature of the sexual system is expected to influence the evolutionary trajectories of sex-biased genes. We analyse here the patterns of sex-biased gene expression in Ectocarpus,a brown alga with haploid sex determination (dioicy) and a low level of phenotypic sexual dimorphism. In Ectocarpus, female-biased genes were found to be evolving as rapidly as male-biased genes. Moreover, genes expressed at fertility showed faster rates of evolution than genes expressed in immature gametophytes. Both male- and female-biased genes had a greater proportion of sites experiencing positive selection, suggesting that their accelerated evolution is at least partly driven by adaptive evolution. Gene duplication appears to have played a significant role in the generation of sex-biased genes in Ectocarpus, expanding previous models that propose this mechanism for the resolution of sexual antagonism in diploid systems. The patterns of sex-biased gene expression in Ectocarpus are consistent both with predicted characteristics of UV (haploid) sexual systems and with the distinctive aspects of this organism's reproductive biology.
The exchange of genetic material between cellular organelles through intracellular gene transfer (IGT) or between species by horizontal gene transfer (HGT) has played an important role in plant mitochondrial genome evolution. The mitochondrial genomes of Geraniaceae display a number of unusual phenomena including highly accelerated rates of synonymous substitutions, extensive gene loss and reduction in RNA editing.Mitochondrial DNA sequences assembled for 17 species of Geranium revealed substantial reduction in gene and intron content relative to the ancestor of the Geranium lineage. Comparative analyses of nuclear transcriptome data suggest that a number of these sequences have been functionally relocated to the nucleus via IGT.Evidence for rampant HGT was detected in several Geranium species containing foreign organellar DNA from diverse eudicots, including many transfers from parasitic plants. One lineage has experienced multiple, independent HGT episodes, many of which occurred within the past 5.5 Myr.Both duplicative and recapture HGT were documented in Geranium lineages. The mitochondrial genome of Geranium brycei contains at least four independent HGT tracts that are absent in its nearest relative. Furthermore, G. brycei mitochondria carry two copies of thecox1 gene that differ in intron content, providing insight into contrasting hypotheses on cox1 intron evolution.
India’s air pollution, ranked among the world’s worst, is reducing the life expectancy of over half of the country’s population by more than three years, according to a new study. Researchers from the University of Chicago, Harvard and Yale wrote in this month’s Economic & Political Weekly that more than 660 million Indians live in areas where fine-particulate matter pollution exceeds levels considered safe by Indian standards. If India reverses this trend to meet standards, those 660 million people would gain about 3.2 years onto their lives—saving a total of 2.1 billion life-years. “India’s focus is necessarily on growth. However for too long, the conventional definition of growth has ignored the health consequences of air pollution,” said Michael Greenstone, an author of the study and director of the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago. “This study demonstrates that air pollution retards growth by causing people to die prematurely. Other studies have also shown that air pollution reduces productivity at work, increases the incidence of sick days and raises health care expenses that could be devoted to other goods.” The new figures come after World Health Organization estimates showed 13 of the 20 most polluted cities in the world were in India, including the worst-ranked city, Delhi. India has the highest rate of death caused by chronic respiratory diseases anywhere in the world. Rohini Pande, a study co-author and director of Evidence for Policy Design at the Harvard Kennedy School, said, “The loss of more than two billion life years is a substantial price to pay for air pollution. It is in India’s power to change this in cost-effective ways that allow hundreds of millions of its citizens to live longer, healthier and more productive lives. Reforms of the current form of regulation would allow for health improvements that lead to increased growth.”
Highlights Pathogen recognition leads to the production of many similar interferons.Interferons signal through the same receptor but can have different effects.Viruses antagonize interferon induction and signaling.Innate immune activators are effective vaccine adjuvants. Over half a century has passed since interferons (IFNs) were discovered and shown to inhibit virus infection in cultured cells. Since then, researchers have steadily brought to light the molecular details of IFN signaling, catalogued their pleiotropic effects on cells, and harnessed their therapeutic potential for a variety of maladies. While advances have been plentiful, several fundamental questions have yet to be answered and much complexity remains to be unraveled. We explore the current knowledge surrounding four main questions: are type I IFN subtypes differentially produced in response to distinct pathogens? How are IFN subtypes distinguished by cells? What are the mechanisms and consequences of viral antagonism? Lastly, how can the IFN response be harnessed to improve vaccine efficacy?
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