skip to main content

Search for: All records

Creators/Authors contains: "Johnson, Kevin P."

Note: When clicking on a Digital Object Identifier (DOI) number, you will be taken to an external site maintained by the publisher. Some full text articles may not yet be available without a charge during the embargo (administrative interval).
What is a DOI Number?

Some links on this page may take you to non-federal websites. Their policies may differ from this site.

  1. Next-generation sequencing technologies are revolutionizing the fields of genomics, phylogenetics, and population genetics. These new genomic approaches have been extensively applied to a major group of parasites, the lice (Insecta: Phthiraptera) of birds and mammals. Two louse genomes have been assembled and annotated to date, and these have opened up new resources for the study of louse biology. Whole genome sequencing has been used to assemble large phylogenomic datasets for lice, incorporating sequences of thousands of genes. These datasets have provided highly supported trees at all taxonomic levels, ranging from relationships among the major groups of lice to those among closely related species. Such approaches have also been applied at the population scale in lice, revealing patterns of population subdivision and inbreeding. Finally, whole genome sequence datasets can also be used for additional study beyond that of the louse nuclear genome, such as in the study of mitochondrial genome fragmentation or endosymbiont function.
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available September 1, 2023
  2. Mammals host a wide diversity of parasites. Lice, comprising more than 5,000 species, are one group of ectoparasites whose major lineages have a somewhat patchwork distribution across the major groups of mammals. Here we explored patterns in the diversification of mammalian lice by reconstructing a higher-level phylogeny of these lice, leveraging whole genome sequence reads to assemble single-copy orthologue genes across the genome. The evolutionary tree of lice indicated that three of the major lineages of placental mammal lice had a single common ancestor. Comparisons of this parasite phylogeny with that for their mammalian hosts indicated that the common ancestor of elephants, elephant shrews and hyraxes (that is, Afrotheria) was the ancestral host of this group of lice. Other groups of placental mammals obtained their lice via host-switching out of these Afrotherian ancestors. In addition, reconstructions of the ancestral host group (bird versus mammal) for all parasitic lice supported an avian ancestral host, indicating that the ancestor of Afrotheria acquired these parasites via host-switching from an ancient avian host. These results shed new light on the long-standing question of why the major groups of parasitic lice are not uniformly distributed across mammals and reveal the origins of mammalian lice.
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available July 4, 2023
  3. Free, publicly-accessible full text available September 1, 2023
  4. 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.

  5. Yoshizawa, Kazunori (Ed.)
    Abstract The order Psocodea includes the two historically recognized groups Psocoptera (free-living bark lice) and Phthiraptera (parasitic lice) that were once considered separate orders. Psocodea is divided in three suborders: Trogiomorpha, Troctomorpha, and Psocomorpha, the latter being the largest within the free-living groups. Despite the increasing number of transcriptomes and whole genome sequence (WGS) data available for this group, the relationships among the six known infraorders within Psocomorpha remain unclear. Here, we evaluated the utility of a bait set designed specifically for parasitic lice belonging to suborder Troctomorpha to extract UCE loci from transcriptome and WGS data of 55 bark louse species and explored the phylogenetic relationships within Psocomorpha using these UCE loci markers. Taxon sampling was heavily focused on the families Lachesillidae and Elipsocidae, whose relationships have been problematic in prior phylogenetic studies. We successfully recovered a total of 2,622 UCE loci, with a 40% completeness matrix containing 2,081 UCE loci and an 80% completeness matrix containing 178 UCE loci. The average number of UCE loci recovered for the 55 species was 1,401. The WGS data sets produced a larger number of UCE loci (1,495) on average than the transcriptome data sets (972). Phylogenetic relationships reconstructed with Maximum Likelihoodmore »and coalescent-based analysis were concordant regarding the paraphyly of Lachesillidae and Elipsocidae. Branch support values were generally lower in analyses that used a fewer number of loci, even though they had higher matrix completeness.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available July 1, 2023
  6. Abstract Background Feather feeding lice are abundant and diverse ectoparasites that complete their entire life cycle on an avian host. The principal or sole source of nutrition for these lice is feathers. Feathers appear to lack four amino acids that the lice would require to complete development and reproduce. Several insect groups have acquired heritable and intracellular bacteria that can synthesize metabolites absent in an insect’s diet, allowing insects to feed exclusively on nutrient-poor resources. Multiple species of feather feeding lice have been shown to harbor heritable and intracellular bacteria. We expected that these bacteria augment the louse’s diet with amino acids and facilitated the evolution of these diverse and specialized parasites. Heritable symbionts of insects often have small genomes that contain a minimal set of genes needed to maintain essential cell functions and synthesize metabolites absent in the host insect’s diet. Therefore, we expected the genome of a bacterial endosymbiont in feather lice would be small, but encode pathways for biosynthesis of amino acids. Results We sequenced the genome of a bacterial symbiont from a feather feeding louse ( Columbicola wolffhuegeli ) that parasitizes the Pied Imperial Pigeon ( Ducula bicolor ) and used its genome to predict metabolismmore »of amino acids based on the presence or absence of genes. We found that this bacterial symbiont has a small genome, similar to the genomes of heritable symbionts described in other insect groups. However, we failed to identify many of the genes that we expected would support metabolism of amino acids in the symbiont genome. We also evaluated other gene pathways and features of the highly reduced genome of this symbiotic bacterium. Conclusions Based on the data collected in this study, it does not appear that this bacterial symbiont can synthesize amino acids needed to complement the diet of a feather feeding louse. Our results raise additional questions about the biology of feather chewing lice and the roles of symbiotic bacteria in evolution of diverse avian parasites.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 1, 2022
  7. null (Ed.)
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 1, 2022
  8. Free, publicly-accessible full text available January 1, 2023
  9. Adaptive radiation is an important mechanism of organismal diversification and can be triggered by new ecological opportunities. Although poorly studied in this regard, parasites are an ideal group in which to study adaptive radiations because of their close associations with host species. Both experimental and comparative studies suggest that the ectoparasitic wing lice of pigeons and doves have adaptively radiated, leading to differences in body size and overall coloration. Here, we show that long-distance dispersal by dove hosts was central to parasite diversification because it provided new ecological opportunities for parasites to speciate after host-switching. We further show that among extant parasite lineages host-switching decreased over time, with cospeciation becoming the more dominant mode of parasite speciation. Taken together, our results suggest that host dispersal, followed by host-switching, provided novel ecological opportunities that facilitated adaptive radiation by parasites.
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available March 9, 2023