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Title: Legitimate visitors and nectar robbers of Aquilegia formosa have different effects on nectar bacterial communities
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Article No. e02459
Wiley Blackwell (John Wiley & Sons)
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National Science Foundation
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  1. The evolution of novel features, such as eyes or wings, that allow organisms to exploit their environment in new ways can lead to increased diversification rates. Therefore, understanding the genetic and developmental mechanisms involved in the origin of these key innovations has long been of interest to evolutionary biologists. In flowering plants, floral nectar spurs are a prime example of a key innovation, with the independent evolution of spurs associated with increased diversification rates in multiple angiosperm lineages due to their ability to promote reproductive isolation via pollinator specialization. As none of the traditional plant model taxa have nectar spurs, little is known about the genetic and developmental basis of this trait. Nectar spurs are a defining feature of the columbine genusAquilegia(Ranunculaceae), a lineage that has experienced a relatively recent and rapid radiation. We use a combination of genetic mapping, gene expression analyses, and functional assays to identify a gene crucial for nectar spur development,POPOVICH(POP), which encodes a C2H2 zinc-finger transcription factor.POPplays a central role in regulating cell proliferation in theAquilegiapetal during the early phase (phase I) of spur development and also appears to be necessary for the subsequent development of nectaries. The identification ofPOPopens up numerous avenues for continuedmore »scientific exploration, including further elucidating of the genetic pathway of which it is a part, determining its role in the initial evolution of theAquilegianectar spur, and examining its potential role in the subsequent evolution of diverse spur morphologies across the genus.

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    Abstract Black-throated Flowerpiercers (Diglossa brunneiventris) are one species representing a phenotypically specialized group of tanagers (Thraupidae) that have hooked bills which allow them to feed by stealing nectar from the base of flowers. Members of the genus are widely distributed in montane regions from Mexico to northern Argentina, and previous studies of Diglossa have focused on their systematics, phylogenetics, and interesting natural history. Despite numerous studies of species within the genus, no genome assembly exists to represent these nectivorous tanagers. We described the assembly of a genome sequence representing a museum-vouchered, wild, female D. brunneiventris collected in Peru. By combining Pacific Biosciences Sequel long-read technology with 10× linked-read and reference-based scaffolding, we produced a 1.08 Gbp pseudochromosomal assembly including 600 scaffolds with a scaffold N50 of 67.3 Mbp, a scaffold L50 of 6, and a BUSCO completeness score of 95%. This new assembly improves representation of the diverse species that comprise the tanagers, improves on scaffold lengths and contiguity when compared to existing genomic resources for tanagers, and provides another avenue of research into the genetic basis of adaptations common to a nectivorous lifestyle among vertebrates.