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16 novembre 2017

The deep conservation of the Lepidoptera Z chromosome suggests a non-canonical origin of the W [Nature Communications]

Keywords : comparative genomics, evolutionary genetics, genome evolution

Moths and butterflies (Lepidoptera) usually have a pair of differentiated WZ sex chromosomes. However, in most lineages outside of the division Ditrysia, as well as in the sister order Trichoptera, females lack a W chromosome. The W is therefore thought to have been acquired secondarily. Here we compare the genomes of three Lepidoptera species (one Dytrisia and two non-Dytrisia) to test three models accounting for the origin of the W : (1) a Z-autosome fusion ; (2) a sex chromosome turnover ; and (3) a non-canonical mechanism (e.g., through the recruitment of a B chromosome).(...)

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16 novembre 2017

Species pool distributions along functional trade-offs shape plant productivity–diversity relationships [Scientific Reports]

Grasslands deliver the resources for food production and are among the most biologically diverse ecosystems. These characteristics are often in conflict as increasing yield through fertilization can lead to biodiversity loss. Thus, the challenge in grassland management is to sustain both yield and diversity. Biodiversity–ecosystem functioning experiments typically reveal a positive relationship between manipulated species diversity and productivity. In contrast, observations of the effect of increasing productivity via fertilization suggest a negative association with biodiversity. Using a mathematical model simulating species co-existence along a resource gradient, we show that trade-offs and species pool structure (size and trait distribution) determines the shape of the productivity-diversity relationship.(...)

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16 novembre 2017

Conservation demands safe gene drive [PLOS Biology]

Subject Areas : invasive species, CRISPR, New Zealand, ecosystems, malaria, islands, population genetics, opossums

Interest in developing gene drive systems to control invasive species is growing, with New Zealand reportedly considering the nascent technology as a way to locally eliminate the mammalian pests that threaten its unique flora and fauna. If gene drives successfully eradicated these invasive populations, many would rejoice, but what are the possible consequences ? Here, we explore the risk of accidental spread posed by self-propagating gene drive technologies, highlight new gene drive designs that might achieve better outcomes, and explain why we need open and international discussions concerning a technology that could have global ramifications.(...)

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15 novembre 2017

The North American bullfrog draft genome provides insight into hormonal regulation of long noncoding RNA [Nature Communications]

Keywords : genomics, herpetology, long non-coding RNAs, sequence annotation

Frogs play important ecological roles, and several species are important model organisms for scientific research. The globally distributed Ranidae (true frogs) are the largest frog family, and have substantial evolutionary distance from the model laboratory Xenopus frog species. Unfortunately, there are currently no genomic resources for the former, important group of amphibians. More widely applicable amphibian genomic data is urgently needed as more than two-thirds of known species are currently threatened or are undergoing population declines. We report a 5.8 Gbp (NG50 = 69 kbp) genome assembly of a representative North American bullfrog (Rana [Lithobates] catesbeiana). The genome contains over 22,000 predicted protein-coding genes and 6,223 candidate long noncoding RNAs (lncRNAs). RNA-Seq experiments show thyroid hormone causes widespread transcriptional change among protein-coding and putative lncRNA genes. This initial bullfrog draft genome will serve as a key resource with broad utility including amphibian research, developmental biology, and environmental research.

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15 novembre 2017

Recurrent sublethal warming reduces embryonic survival, inhibits juvenile growth, and alters species distribution projections under climate change [Ecology Letters]

Keywords : vlimate change, distribution, embryo, growth, ontogeny, sublethal, survival, temperature

The capacity to tolerate climate change often varies across ontogeny in organisms with complex life cycles. Recently developed species distribution models incorporate traits across life stages ; however, these life-cycle models primarily evaluate effects of lethal change. Here, we examine impacts of recurrent sublethal warming on development and survival in ecological projections of climate change. We reared lizard embryos in the laboratory under temperature cycles that simulated contemporary conditions and warming scenarios. We also artificially warmed natural nests to mimic laboratory treatments.(...)

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