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  1. Abstract

    Color and pattern are often critical to survival and fitness, but we know little about their genetic architecture and heritability in groups like reptiles. We investigated the genetic architecture for the pattern of the dewlap—an extensible throat fan important for communication—in anole lizards. We studied the Hispaniolan bark anole (Anolis distichus)—a species that exhibits impressive intraspecific dewlap polymorphism across its range—by conducting multigenerational experimental crosses with 2 populations, one with a solid pale yellow dewlap and another with an orange dewlap surrounded by a yellow margin. Upon rejecting the hypothesis that the extent of the orange pattern is a quantitative trait resulting from many loci of minor effect, we used a maximum likelihood model-fitting framework to show that it is better explained as a simple Mendelian trait, with the solid yellow morph being dominant over the blush orange. The relatively simple genetic architecture underlying this important trait helps explain the complex distribution of dewlap color variation across the range of A. distichus and suggests that changes in dewlap color and pattern may evolve rapidly in response to natural selection.

     
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  2. Abstract

    Hoplodactylus delcourtiis a presumably extinct species of diplodactylid gecko known only from a single specimen of unknown provenance. It is by far the largest known gekkotan, approximately 50% longer than the next largest-known species. It has been considered a member of the New Zealand endemic genusHoplodactylusbased on external morphological features including shared toe pad structure. We obtained DNA from a bone sample of the only known specimen to generate high-throughput sequence data suitable for phylogenetic analysis of its evolutionary history. Complementary sequence data were obtained from a broad sample of diplodactylid geckos. Our results indicate that the species is not most closely related to extantHoplodactylusor any other New Zealand gecko. Instead, it is a member of a clade whose living species are endemic to New Caledonia. Phylogenetic comparative analyses indicate that the New Caledonian diplodactylid clade has evolved significantly more disparate body sizes than either the Australian or New Zealand clades. Toe pad structure has changed repeatedly across diplodactylids, including multiple times in the New Caledonia clade, partially explaining the convergence in form betweenH. delcourtiand New ZealandHoplodactylus. Based on the phylogenetic results, we placeH. delcourtiin a new genus.

     
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  3. Urbanization drastically transforms landscapes, resulting in fragmentation, degradation, and the loss of local biodiversity. Yet, urban environments also offer opportunities to observe rapid evolutionary change in wild populations that survive and even thrive in these novel habitats. In many ways, cities represent replicated “natural experiments” in which geographically separated populations adaptively respond to similar selection pressures over rapid evolutionary timescales. Little is known, however, about the genetic basis of adaptive phenotypic differentiation in urban populations nor the extent to which phenotypic parallelism is reflected at the genomic level with signatures of parallel selection. Here, we analyzed the genomic underpinnings of parallel urban-associated phenotypic change in Anolis cristatellus , a small-bodied neotropical lizard found abundantly in both urbanized and forested environments. We show that phenotypic parallelism in response to parallel urban environmental change is underlain by genomic parallelism and identify candidate loci across the Anolis genome associated with this adaptive morphological divergence. Our findings point to polygenic selection on standing genetic variation as a key process to effectuate rapid morphological adaptation. Identified candidate loci represent several functions associated with skeletomuscular development, morphology, and human disease. Taken together, these results shed light on the genomic basis of complex morphological adaptations, provide insight into the role of contingency and determinism in adaptation to novel environments, and underscore the value of urban environments to address fundamental evolutionary questions. 
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  4. Abstract

    The diversity among Drosophila species presents an opportunity to study the molecular mechanisms underlying the evolution of biological phenomena. A challenge to investigating these species is that, unlike the plethora of molecular and genetics tools available for D. melanogaster research, many other species do not have sequenced genomes; a requirement for employing these tools. Selecting transgenic flies through white (w) complementation has been commonly practiced in numerous Drosophila species. While tolerated, the disruption of w is associated with impaired vision, among other effects in D. melanogaster. The D. nebulosa fly has a unique mating behavior which requires vision, and is thus unable to successfully mate in dark conditions. Here, we hypothesized that the disruption of w will impede mating success. As a first step, using PacBio long-read sequencing, we assembled a high-quality annotated genome of D. nebulosa. Using these data, we employed CRISPR/Cas9 to successfully disrupt the w gene. As expected, D. nebulosa males null for w did not court females, unlike several other mutant strains of Drosophila species whose w gene has been disrupted. In the absence of mating, no females became homozygous null for w. We conclude that gene disruption via CRISPR/Cas9 genome engineering is a successful tool in D. nebulosa, and that the w gene is necessary for mating. Thus, an alternative selectable marker unrelated to vision is desirable.

     
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  5. Free, publicly-accessible full text available July 1, 2024
  6. A simple genetic switch controls a color pattern polymorphism, and in silico modeling supports a role for cell migration. 
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  7. Abstract

    Rapid technological improvements are democratizing access to high quality, chromosome-scale genome assemblies. No longer the domain of only the most highly studied model organisms, now non-traditional and emerging model species can be genome-enabled using a combination of sequencing technologies and assembly software. Consequently, old ideas built on sparse sampling across the tree of life have recently been amended in the face of genomic data drawn from a growing number of high-quality reference genomes. Arguably the most valuable are those long-studied species for which much is already known about their biology; what many term emerging model species. Here, we report a highly complete chromosome-scale genome assembly for the brown anole,Anolis sagrei– a lizard species widely studied across a variety of disciplines and for which a high-quality reference genome was long overdue. This assembly exceeds the vast majority of existing reptile and snake genomes in contiguity (N50 = 253.6 Mb) and annotation completeness. Through the analysis of this genome and population resequence data, we examine the history of repetitive element accumulation, identify the X chromosome, and propose a hypothesis for the evolutionary history of fusions between autosomes and the X that led to the sex chromosomes ofA. sagrei.

     
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