skip to main content


Title: Plasmodium ouropretensis , n. sp., a new case of non-erythrocytic species within lizard malaria parasites
Abstract Delimiting and describing Plasmodium species in reptiles remains a pressing problem in Haemosporida taxonomy. The few morphological characters used can overlap, and the significance of some life-history traits is not fully understood. Morphologically identical lizard Plasmodium forms have been reported infecting different cell types (red and white blood cells) in the same host and have been considered the same species. An example is Plasmodium tropiduri tropiduri , a species known to infect erythrocytes, thrombocytes and lymphocyte-like cells. Here, both forms of P. t. tropiduri were analysed using light microscope-based morphological characteristics and phylogenetic inferences based on almost complete mitochondrial genomes of parasites naturally infecting lizards in southeastern Brazil. Although morphologically similar, two distinct phylogenetic lineages infecting erythrocytes and non-erythrocytic cells were found. The lineage found in the erythrocytes forms a monophyletic group with species from Colombia. However, the non-erythrocytic lineage shares a recent common ancestor with Plasmodium leucocytica , which infects leucocytes in lizards from the Caribbean islands. Here, Plasmodium ouropretensis n. sp. is described as a species that infects thrombocytes and lymphocyte-like cells.  more » « less
Award ID(s):
2001213
NSF-PAR ID:
10309629
Author(s) / Creator(s):
; ; ; ;
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Parasitology
Volume:
148
Issue:
12
ISSN:
0031-1820
Format(s):
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Abstract Morphological traits from blood stages have been the gold standard for determining haemosporidian parasite species. However, the status of some taxa and the value of such traits in parasites from reptiles remain contentious. The scarce sampling of these species worsens the situation, and several taxa lack molecular data. A survey was performed in the Magdalena Department in Colombia, where 16 species of reptiles were captured. A peculiar haemosporidian parasite was found in the Turnip-tailed gecko Thecadactylus rapicauda . This haemosporidian does not show malarial pigment in blood stages under light microscopy; thus, it fits the Garnia genus's characters belonging to the Garniidae . However, the phylogenetic analyses using a partial sequence of cytochrome b and the mitochondrial DNA placed it within the Plasmodium clade. Our findings suggest that many putative Garnia species belong to the genus Plasmodium , like the one reported here. This study either shows that visible malarial pigment in blood stages is not a diagnostic trait of the genus Plasmodium or malarial pigment might be present in an undetectable form under a light microscope. In any case, the current taxonomy of haemosporidian parasites in reptiles requires revision. This study highlights the importance of using molecular and morphological traits to address taxonomic questions at the species and genus levels in haemosporidian parasites from reptiles. 
    more » « less
  2. null (Ed.)
    Abstract Understanding diversity has been a pursuit in evolutionary biology since its inception. A challenge arises when sexual selection has played a role in diversification. Questions of what constitutes a ‘species’, homoplasy vs. synapomorphy, and whether sexually selected traits show phylogenetic signal have hampered work on many systems. Peacock spiders are famous for sexually selected male courtship dances and peacock-like abdominal ornamentation. This lineage of jumping spiders currently includes over 90 species classified into two genera, Maratus and Saratus. Most Maratus species have been placed into groups based on secondary sexual characters, but evolutionary relationships remain unresolved. Here we assess relationships in peacock spiders using phylogenomic data (ultraconserved elements and RAD-sequencing). Analyses reveal that Maratus and the related genus Saitis are paraphyletic. Many, but not all, morphological groups within a ‘core Maratus’ clade are recovered as genetic clades but we find evidence for undocumented speciation. Based on original observations of male courtship, our comparative analyses suggest that courtship behaviour and peacock-like abdominal ornamentation have evolved sequentially, with some traits inherited from ancestors and others evolving repeatedly and independently from ‘simple’ forms. Our results have important implications for the taxonomy of these spiders, and provide a much-needed evolutionary framework for comparative studies of the evolution of sexual signal characters. 
    more » « less
  3. ABSTRACT Relatively little is known about the phages that infect agriculturally important nitrogen-fixing rhizobial bacteria. Here we report the genome and cryo-electron microscopy structure of the Sinorhizobium meliloti -infecting T4 superfamily phage ΦM9. This phage and its close relative Rhizobium phage vB_RleM_P10VF define a new group of T4 superfamily phages. These phages are distinctly different from the recently characterized cyanophage-like S. meliloti phages of the ΦM12 group. Structurally, ΦM9 has a T=16 capsid formed from repeating units of an extended gp23-like subunit that assemble through interactions between one subunit and the adjacent E-loop insertion domain. Though genetically very distant from the cyanophages, the ΦM9 capsid closely resembles that of the T4 superfamily cyanophage Syn9. ΦM9 also has the same T=16 capsid architecture as the very distant phage SPO1 and the herpesviruses. Despite their overall lack of similarity at the genomic and structural levels, ΦM9 and S. meliloti phage ΦM12 have a small number of open reading frames in common that appear to encode structural proteins involved in interaction with the host and which may have been acquired by horizontal transfer. These proteins are predicted to encode tail baseplate proteins, tail fibers, tail fiber assembly proteins, and glycanases that cleave host exopolysaccharide. IMPORTANCE Despite recent advances in the phylogenetic and structural characterization of bacteriophages, only a small number of phages of plant-symbiotic nitrogen-fixing soil bacteria have been studied at the molecular level. The effects of phage predation upon beneficial bacteria that promote plant growth remain poorly characterized. First steps in understanding these soil bacterium-phage dynamics are genetic, molecular, and structural characterizations of these groups of phages. The T4 superfamily phages are among the most complex phages; they have large genomes packaged within an icosahedral head and a long, contractile tail through which the DNA is delivered to host cells. This phylogenetic and structural study of S. meliloti -infecting T4 superfamily phage ΦM9 provides new insight into the diversity of this family. The comparison of structure-related genes in both ΦM9 and S. meliloti -infecting T4 superfamily phage ΦM12, which comes from a completely different lineage of these phages, allows the identification of host infection-related factors. 
    more » « less
  4. Abstract Background and Aims Cycads are regarded as an ancient lineage of living seed plants, and hold important clues to understand the early evolutionary trends of seed plants. The molecular phylogeny and spatio-temporal diversification of one of the species-rich genera of cycads, Macrozamia, have not been well reconstructed. Methods We analysed a transcriptome dataset of 4740 single-copy nuclear genes (SCGs) of 39 Macrozamia species and two outgroup taxa. Based on concatenated (maximum parsimony, maximum likelihood) and multispecies coalescent analyses, we first establish a well-resolved phylogenetic tree of Macrozamia. To identify cyto-nuclear incongruence, the plastid protein coding genes (PCGs) from transcriptome data are extracted using the software HybPiper. Furthermore, we explore the biogeographical history of the genus and shed light on the pattern of floristic exchange between three distinct areas of Australia. Six key diagnostic characters are traced on the phylogenetic framework using two comparative methods, and infra-generic classification is investigated. Key Results The tree topologies of concatenated and multi-species coalescent analyses of SCGs are mostly congruent with a few conflicting nodes, while those from plastid PCGs show poorly supported relationships. The genus contains three major clades that correspond to their distinct distributional areas in Australia. The crown group of Macrozamia is estimated to around 11.80 Ma, with a major expansion in the last 5–6 Myr. Six morphological characters show homoplasy, and the traditional phenetic sectional division of the genus is inconsistent with this current phylogeny. Conclusions This first detailed phylogenetic investigation of Macrozamia demonstrates promising prospects of SCGs in resolving phylogenetic relationships within cycads. Our study suggests that Macrozamia, once widely distributed in Australia, underwent major extinctions because of fluctuating climatic conditions such as cooling and mesic biome disappearance in the past. The current close placement of morphologically distinct species in the phylogenetic tree may be related to neotenic events that occurred in the genus. 
    more » « less
  5. Abstract

    The symbiont “Candidatus Aquarickettsia rohweri” infects a diversity of aquatic hosts. In the threatened Caribbean coral, Acropora cervicornis, Aquarickettsia proliferates in response to increased nutrient exposure, resulting in suppressed growth and increased disease susceptibility and mortality of coral. This study evaluated the extent, as well as the ecology and evolution of Aquarickettsia infecting threatened corals, Ac. cervicornis, and Ac. palmata and their hybrid (“Ac. prolifera”). Aquarickettsia was found in all acroporids, with coral host and geographic location impacting the infection magnitude. Phylogenomic and genome-wide single-nucleotide variant analysis of Aquarickettsia found phylogenetic clustering by geographic region, not by coral taxon. Analysis of Aquarickettsia fixation indices suggests multiple sequential infections of the same coral colony are unlikely. Furthermore, relative to other Rickettsiales species, Aquarickettsia is undergoing positive selection, with Florida populations experiencing greater positive selection relative to other Caribbean locations. This may be due in part to Aquarickettsia proliferating in response to greater nutrient stress in Florida, as indicated by greater in situ replication rates in these corals. Aquarickettsia was not found to significantly codiversify with either the coral animal or the coral’s algal symbiont (Symbiodinium “fitti”). Quantitative PCR analysis showed that gametes, larvae, recruits, and juveniles from susceptible, captive-reared coral genets were not infected with Aquarickettsia. Thus, horizontal transmission of Aquarickettsia via coral mucocytes or an unidentified host is more likely. The prevalence of Aquarickettsia in Ac. cervicornis and its high abundance in the Florida coral population suggests that coral disease mitigation efforts focus on preventing early infection via horizontal transmission.

     
    more » « less