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  1. Abstract

    The mitochondrial genomes (mitogenomes) of bilaterian animals are highly conserved structures that usually consist of a single circular chromosome. However, several species of parasitic lice (Insecta: Phthiraptera) possess fragmented mitogenomes, where the mitochondrial genes are present on separate, circular chromosomes. Nevertheless, the extent, causes, and consequences of this structural variation remain poorly understood. Here, we combined new and existing data to better understand the evolution of mitogenome fragmentation in major groups of parasitic lice. We found strong evidence that fragmented mitogenomes evolved many times within parasitic lice and that the level of fragmentation is highly variable, including examples of heteroplasmic arrangements. We also found a significant association between mitochondrial fragmentation and signatures of relaxed selection. Mitochondrial fragmentation was also associated with changes to a lower AT%, possibly due to differences in mutation biases. Together, our results provide a significant advance in understanding the process of mitogenome fragmentation and provide an important perspective on mitochondrial evolution in eukaryotes.

  2. Abstract
    <p>PLEASE CONTACT AUTHORS IF YOU CONTRIBUTE AND WOULD LIKE TO BE LISTED AS A CO-AUTHOR. (this message will be removed some time weeks/months after the first publication)</p> <p>Terrestrial Parasite Tracker indexed biotic interactions and review summary.</p> <p>The Terrestrial Parasite Tracker (TPT) project began in 2019 and is funded by the National Science foundation to mobilize data from vector and ectoparasite collections to data aggregators (e.g., iDigBio, GBIF) to help build a comprehensive picture of arthropod host-association evolution, distributions, and the ecological interactions of disease vectors which will assist scientists, educators, land managers, and policy makers. Arthropod parasites often are important to human and wildlife health and safety as vectors of pathogens, and it is critical to digitize these specimens so that they, and their biotic interaction data, will be available to help understand and predict the spread of human and wildlife disease.</p> <p>This data publication contains versioned TPT associated datasets and related data products that were tracked, reviewed and indexed by Global Biotic Interactions (GloBI) and associated tools. GloBI provides open access to finding species interaction data (e.g., predator-prey, pollinator-plant, pathogen-host, parasite-host) by combining existing open datasets using open source software.</p> <p>If you have questions or comments about thisMore>>
  3. Most animals have a conserved mitochondrial genome structure composed of a single chromosome. However, some organisms have their mitochondrial genes separated on several smaller circular or linear chromosomes. Highly fragmented circular chromosomes (“minicircles”) are especially prevalent in parasitic lice (Insecta: Phthiraptera), with 16 species known to have between nine and 20 mitochondrial minicircles per genome. All of these species belong to the same clade (mammalian lice), suggesting a single origin of drastic fragmentation. Nevertheless, other work indicates a lesser degree of fragmentation (2–3 chromosomes/genome) is present in some avian feather lice (Ischnocera: Philopteridae). In this study, we tested for minicircles in four species of the feather louse genus Columbicola (Philopteridae). Using whole genome shotgun sequence data, we applied three different bioinformatic approaches for assembling the Columbicola mitochondrial genome. We further confirmed these approaches by assembling the mitochondrial genome of Pediculus humanus from shotgun sequencing reads, a species known to have minicircles. Columbicola spp. genomes are highly fragmented into 15–17 minicircles between ∼1,100 and ∼3,100 bp in length, with 1–4 genes per minicircle. Subsequent annotation of the minicircles indicated that tRNA arrangements of minicircles varied substantially between species. These mitochondrial minicircles for species of Columbicola represent the first feather lice (Philopteridae)more »for which minicircles have been found in a full mitochondrial genome assembly. Combined with recent phylogenetic studies of parasitic lice, our results provide strong evidence that highly fragmented mitochondrial genomes, which are otherwise rare across the Tree of Life, evolved multiple times within parasitic lice.« less
  4. Hemipteroid insects (Paraneoptera), with over 10% of all known insect diversity, are a major component of terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. Previous phylogenetic analyses have not consistently resolved the relationships among major hemipteroid lineages. We provide maximum likelihood-based phylogenomic analyses of a taxonomically comprehensive dataset comprising sequences of 2,395 single-copy, protein-coding genes for 193 samples of hemipteroid insects and outgroups. These analyses yield a well-supported phylogeny for hemipteroid insects. Monophyly of each of the three hemipteroid orders (Psocodea, Thysanoptera, and Hemiptera) is strongly supported, as are most relationships among suborders and families. Thysanoptera (thrips) is strongly supported as sister to Hemiptera. However, as in a recent large-scale analysis sampling all insect orders, trees from our data matrices support Psocodea (bark lice and parasitic lice) as the sister group to the holometabolous insects (those with complete metamorphosis). In contrast, four-cluster likelihood mapping of these data does not support this result. A molecular dating analysis using 23 fossil calibration points suggests hemipteroid insects began diversifying before the Carboniferous, over 365 million years ago. We also explore implications for understanding the timing of diversification, the evolution of morphological traits, and the evolution of mitochondrial genome organization. These results provide a phylogenetic framework for futuremore »studies of the group.

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