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  1. The major histocompatibility complex (MHC) is an important genomic region for adaptive immunity and has long been studied in ecological and evolutionary contexts, such as disease resistance and mate and kin selection. The MHC has been investigated extensively in mammals and birds but far less so in squamate reptiles, the third major radiation of amniotes. We localized the core MHC genomic region in two squamate species, the green anole ( Anolis carolinensis ) and brown anole ( A. sagrei ), and provide the first detailed characterization of the squamate MHC, including the presence and ordering of known MHC genes in these species and comparative assessments of genomic structure and composition in MHC regions. We find that the Anolis MHC, located on chromosome 2 in both species, contains homologs of many previously-identified mammalian MHC genes in a single core MHC region. The repetitive element composition in anole MHC regions was similar to those observed in mammals but had important distinctions, such as higher proportions of DNA transposons. Moreover, longer introns and intergenic regions result in a much larger squamate MHC region (11.7 Mb and 24.6 Mb in the green and brown anole, respectively). Evolutionary analyses of MHC homologs of anoles and othermore »representative amniotes uncovered generally monophyletic relationships between species-specific homologs and a loss of the peptide-binding domain exon 2 in one of two mhc2β gene homologs of each anole species. Signals of diversifying selection in each anole species was evident across codons of mhc1 , many of which appear functionally relevant given known structures of this protein from the green anole, chicken, and human. Altogether, our investigation fills a major gap in understanding of amniote MHC diversity and evolution and provides an important foundation for future squamate-specific or vertebrate-wide investigations of the MHC.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available November 8, 2023
  2. Natural history collections are invaluable repositories of biological information that provide an unrivaled record of Earth's biodiversity. Museum genomics—genomics research using traditional museum and cryogenic collections and the infrastructure supporting these investigations—has particularly enhanced research in ecology and evolutionary biology, the study of extinct organisms, and the impact of anthropogenic activity on biodiversity. However, leveraging genomics in biological collections has exposed challenges, such as digitizing, integrating, and sharing collections data; updating practices to ensure broadly optimal data extraction from existing and new collections; and modernizing collections practices, infrastructure, and policies to ensure fair, sustainable, and genomically manifold uses of museum collections by increasingly diverse stakeholders. Museum genomics collections are poised to address these challenges and, with increasingly sensitive genomics approaches, will catalyze a future era of reproducibility, innovation, and insight made possible through integrating museum and genome sciences.
  3. Abstract Facultative parthenogenesis (FP) is widespread in the animal kingdom. In vertebrates it was first described in poultry nearly 70 years ago, and since then reports involving other taxa have increased considerably. In the last two decades, numerous reports of FP have emerged in elasmobranch fishes and squamate reptiles (lizards and snakes), including documentation in wild populations of both clades. When considered in concert with recent evidence of reproductive competence, the accumulating data suggest that the significance of FP in vertebrate evolution has been largely underestimated. Several fundamental questions regarding developmental mechanisms, nonetheless, remain unanswered. Specifically, what is the type of automixis that underlies the production of progeny and how does this impact the genomic diversity of the resulting parthenogens? Here, we addressed these questions through the application of next-generation sequencing to investigate a suspected case of parthenogenesis in a king cobra ( Ophiophagus hannah ). Our results provide the first evidence of FP in this species, and provide novel evidence that rejects gametic duplication and supports terminal fusion as a mechanism underlying parthenogenesis in snakes. Moreover, we precisely estimated heterozygosity in parthenogenetic offspring and found appreciable retained genetic diversity that suggests that FP in vertebrates has underappreciated evolutionary significance.
  4. Abstract Background

    The increasing number of chromosome-level genome assemblies has advanced our knowledge and understanding of macroevolutionary processes. Here, we introduce the genome of the desert horned lizard, Phrynosoma platyrhinos, an iguanid lizard occupying extreme desert conditions of the American southwest. We conduct analysis of the chromosomal structure and composition of this species and compare these features across genomes of 12 other reptiles (5 species of lizards, 3 snakes, 3 turtles, and 1 bird).

    Findings

    The desert horned lizard genome was sequenced using Illumina paired-end reads and assembled and scaffolded using Dovetail Genomics Hi-C and Chicago long-range contact data. The resulting genome assembly has a total length of 1,901.85 Mb, scaffold N50 length of 273.213 Mb, and includes 5,294 scaffolds. The chromosome-level assembly is composed of 6 macrochromosomes and 11 microchromosomes. A total of 20,764 genes were annotated in the assembly. GC content and gene density are higher for microchromosomes than macrochromosomes, while repeat element distributions show the opposite trend. Pathway analyses provide preliminary evidence that microchromosome and macrochromosome gene content are functionally distinct. Synteny analysis indicates that large microchromosome blocks are conserved among closely related species, whereas macrochromosomes show evidence of frequent fusion and fission events among reptiles, even between closelymore »related species.

    Conclusions

    Our results demonstrate dynamic karyotypic evolution across Reptilia, with frequent inferred splits, fusions, and rearrangements that have resulted in shuffling of chromosomal blocks between macrochromosomes and microchromosomes. Our analyses also provide new evidence for distinct gene content and chromosomal structure between microchromosomes and macrochromosomes within reptiles.

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  5. Abstract Convergent evolution is often documented in organisms inhabiting isolated environments with distinct ecological conditions and similar selective regimes. Several Central America islands harbor dwarf Boa populations that are characterized by distinct differences in growth, mass, and craniofacial morphology, which are linked to the shared arboreal and feast-famine ecology of these island populations. Using high-density RADseq data, we inferred three dwarf island populations with independent origins and demonstrate that selection, along with genetic drift, has produced both divergent and convergent molecular evolution across island populations. Leveraging whole-genome resequencing data for 20 individuals and a newly annotated Boa genome, we identify four genes with evidence of phenotypically relevant protein-coding variation that differentiate island and mainland populations. The known roles of these genes involved in body growth (PTPRS, DMGDH, and ARSB), circulating fat and cholesterol levels (MYLIP), and craniofacial development (DMGDH and ARSB) in mammals link patterns of molecular evolution with the unique phenotypes of these island forms. Our results provide an important genome-wide example for quantifying expectations of selection and convergence in closely related populations. We also find evidence at several genomic loci that selection may be a prominent force of evolutionary change—even for small island populations for which drift ismore »predicted to dominate. Overall, while phenotypically convergent island populations show relatively few loci under strong selection, infrequent patterns of molecular convergence are still apparent and implicate genes with strong connections to convergent phenotypes.« less