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  1. Abstract

    The field of genomics has ushered in new methods for studying molecular-genetic variation in natural populations. However, most population-genomic studies still rely on small sample sizes (typically, <100 individuals) from single time points, leaving considerable uncertainties with respect to the behavior of relatively young (and rare) alleles and, owing to the large sampling variance of measures of variation, to the specific gene targets of unusually strong selection. Genomic sequences of ∼1,700 haplotypes distributed over a 10-year period from a natural population of the microcrustacean Daphnia pulex reveal evolutionary-genomic features at a refined scale, including previously hidden information on the behavior of rare alleles predicted by recent theory. Background selection, resulting from the recurrent introduction of deleterious alleles, appears to strongly influence the dynamics of neutral alleles, inducing indirect negative selection on rare variants and positive selection on common variants. Temporally fluctuating selection increases the persistence of nonsynonymous alleles with intermediate frequencies, while reducing standing levels of variation at linked silent sites. Combined with the results from an equally large metapopulation survey of the study species, classes of genes that are under strong positive selection can now be confidently identified in this key model organism. Most notable among rapidly evolving Daphnia genes are those associated with ribosomes, mitochondrial functions, sensory systems, and lifespan determination.

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  2. Li, Jaimei (Ed.)
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available November 1, 2024
  3. Most aspects of the molecular biology of cells involve tightly coordinated intermolecular interactions requiring specific recognition at the nucleotide and/or amino acid levels. This has led to long-standing interest in the degree to which constraints on interacting molecules result in conserved vs. accelerated rates of sequence evolution, with arguments commonly being made that molecular coevolution can proceed at rates exceeding the neutral expectation. Here, a fairly general model is introduced to evaluate the degree to which the rate of evolution at functionally interacting sites is influenced by effective population sizes ( N e ), mutation rates, strength of selection, and the magnitude of recombination between sites. This theory is of particular relevance to matters associated with interactions between organelle- and nuclear-encoded proteins, as the two genomic environments often exhibit dramatic differences in the power of mutation and drift. Although genes within low N e environments can drive the rate of evolution of partner genes experiencing higher N e , rates exceeding the neutral expectation require that the former also have an elevated mutation rate. Testable predictions, some counterintuitive, are presented on how patterns of coevolutionary rates should depend on the relative intensities of drift, selection, and mutation. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available July 4, 2024
  4. Abstract

    Numerous organismal traits, particularly at the cellular level, are likely to be under persistent directional selection across phylogenetic lineages. Unless all mutations affecting such traits have large enough effects to be efficiently selected in all species, gradients in mean phenotypes are expected to arise as a consequence of differences in the power of random genetic drift, which varies by approximately five orders of magnitude across the Tree of Life. Prior theoretical work examining the conditions under which such gradients can arise focused on the simple situation in which all genomic sites affecting the trait have identical and constant mutational effects. Here, we extend this theory to incorporate the more biologically realistic situation in which mutational effects on a trait differ among nucleotide sites. Pursuit of such modifications leads to the development of semi-analytic expressions for the ways in which selective interference arises via linkage effects in single-effects models, which then extend to more complex scenarios. The theory developed clarifies the conditions under which mutations of different selective effects mutually interfere with each others’ fixation and shows how variance in effects among sites can substantially modify and extend the expected scaling relationships between mean phenotypes and effective population sizes.

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  5. Li, Jaimei (Ed.)

    Sex determination (SD) involves mechanisms that determine whether an individual will develop into a male, female, or in rare cases, hermaphrodite. Crustaceans harbor extremely diverse SD systems, including hermaphroditism, environmental sex determination (ESD), genetic sex determination (GSD), and cytoplasmic sex determination (e.g.,Wolbachiacontrolled SD systems). Such diversity lays the groundwork for researching the evolution of SD in crustaceans, i.e., transitions among different SD systems. However, most previous research has focused on understanding the mechanism of SD within a single lineage or species, overlooking the transition across different SD systems. To help bridge this gap, we summarize the understanding of SD in various clades of crustaceans, and discuss how different SD systems might evolve from one another. Furthermore, we review the genetic basis for transitions between different SD systems (i.e.,Dmrtgenes) and propose the microcrustaceanDaphnia(clade Branchiopoda) as a model to study the transition from ESD to GSD.

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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available February 1, 2024
  6. Wong, A (Ed.)
    Abstract Archaea are a major part of Earth’s microbiota and extremely diverse. Yet, we know very little about the process of mutation that drives such diversification. To expand beyond previous work with the moderate halophilic archaeal species Haloferax volcanii, we performed a mutation-accumulation experiment followed by whole-genome sequencing in the extremely halophilic archaeon Halobacterium salinarum. Although Hfx. volcanii and Hbt. salinarum have different salt requirements, both species have highly polyploid genomes and similar GC content. We accumulated mutations for an average of 1250 generations in 67 mutation accumulation lines of Hbt. salinarum, and revealed 84 single-base substitutions and 10 insertion-deletion mutations. The estimated base-substitution mutation rate of 3.99 × 10−10 per site per generation or 1.0 × 10−3 per genome per generation in Hbt. salinarum is similar to that reported for Hfx. volcanii (1.2 × 10−3 per genome per generation), but the genome-wide insertion-deletion rate and spectrum of mutations are somewhat dissimilar in these archaeal species. The spectra of spontaneous mutations were AT biased in both archaea, but they differed in significant ways that may be related to differences in the fidelity of DNA replication/repair mechanisms or a simple result of the different salt concentrations. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 15, 2023
  7. Abstract Data from nearly 1000 species reveal the upper bound to rates of biomass production achievable by natural selection across the Tree of Life. For heterotrophs, maximum growth rates scale positively with organism size in bacteria but negatively in eukaryotes, whereas for phototrophs, the scaling is negligible for cyanobacteria and weakly negative for eukaryotes. These results have significant implications for understanding the bioenergetic consequences of the transition from prokaryotes to eukaryotes, and of the expansion of some groups of the latter into multicellularity. The magnitudes of the scaling coefficients for eukaryotes are significantly lower than expected under any proposed physical-constraint model. Supported by genomic, bioenergetic, and population-genetic data and theory, an alternative hypothesis for the observed negative scaling in eukaryotes postulates that growth-diminishing mutations with small effects passively accumulate with increasing organism size as a consequence of associated increases in the power of random genetic drift. In contrast, conditional on the structural and functional features of ribosomes, natural selection has been able to promote bacteria with the fastest possible growth rates, implying minimal conflicts with both bioenergetic constraints and random genetic drift. If this extension of the drift-barrier hypothesis is correct, the interpretations of comparative studies of biological traits that have traditionally ignored differences in population-genetic environments will require revisiting. 
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  8. Germline mutations provide the raw material for all evolutionary processes and contribute to the occurrence of spontaneous human diseases and disorders. Yet despite the daily interaction of humans and other organisms with an increasing number of chemicals that are potentially mutagenic, precise measurements of chemically induced changes to the genome-wide rate and spectrum of germline mutation are lacking. A large-scale mutation-accumulation experiment was propagated in the presence and absence of an environmentally relevant cadmium concentration to quantify the influence of cadmium on germline mutation rates and spectra. Cadmium exposure dramatically changed the genome-wide rates and regional spectra of germline mutations. In comparison with those in control conditions, exposed to cadmium had a higher overall mutation rates and a lower overall mutation rate. exposed to cadmium had a higher intergenic mutation rate and a lower exonic mutation rate. The higher intergenic mutation rate under cadmium exposure was the result of an elevated intergenic rate, whereas the lower exon mutation rate in cadmium was the result of a complete loss of exonic mutations-mutations that are known to be enriched at 5-hydroxymethylcytosine. We experimentally show that cadmium exposure significantly reduced 5-hydroxymethylcytosine levels. These results provide evidence that cadmium changes regional mutation rates and can influence regional rates by interfering with an epigenetic process in the germline. We further suggest these observed cadmium-induced changes to the germline mutation rate may be explained by cadmium's inhibition of zinc-containing domains. The cadmium-induced changes to germline mutation rates and spectra we report provide a comprehensive view of the mutagenic perils of cadmium and give insight into its potential impact on human population health. 
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  9. Rogers, Rebekah (Ed.)
    Abstract Whole-genome duplications (WGDs) have shaped the gene repertoire of many eukaryotic lineages. The redundancy created by WGDs typically results in a phase of massive gene loss. However, some WGD–derived paralogs are maintained over long evolutionary periods, and the relative contributions of different selective pressures to their maintenance are still debated. Previous studies have revealed a history of three successive WGDs in the lineage of the ciliate Paramecium tetraurelia and two of its sister species from the Paramecium aurelia complex. Here, we report the genome sequence and analysis of 10 additional P. aurelia species and 1 additional out group, revealing aspects of post-WGD evolution in 13 species sharing a common ancestral WGD. Contrary to the morphological radiation of vertebrates that putatively followed two WGD events, members of the cryptic P. aurelia complex have remained morphologically indistinguishable after hundreds of millions of years. Biases in gene retention compatible with dosage constraints appear to play a major role opposing post-WGD gene loss across all 13 species. In addition, post-WGD gene loss has been slower in Paramecium than in other species having experienced genome duplication, suggesting that the selective pressures against post-WGD gene loss are especially strong in Paramecium. A near complete lack of recent single-gene duplications in Paramecium provides additional evidence for strong selective pressures against gene dosage changes. This exceptional data set of 13 species sharing an ancestral WGD and 2 closely related out group species will be a useful resource for future studies on Paramecium as a major model organism in the evolutionary cell biology. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available May 1, 2024
  10. Most creatures on Earth are single cell organisms. The tree of life comprises three domains, two of which – bacteria and archaea – are formed exclusively of creatures that spend their existence as independent cells. Yet even eukaryotes, the domain which include animals and plants, feature single cell species such as yeasts and algae. Regardless of which group they belong to, all single-celled organisms must find food in their environment. For this, many are equipped with flagella, whip-like structures that protrude from the cell and allow it to swim. In fact, archaea, bacteria and eukaryotes have all independently evolved these structures. However, flagella are also expensive for an organism to build, maintain and operate. They are only worth having if the advantages they bring to the cell compensate for their cost; many single-cell species do not carry flagella and obtain their food without having to swim. To explore this trade-off, Schavemaker and Lynch calculated the cost of building and using flagella for about 200 species across the tree of life. The analysis show that the amount of energy spent on flagella varied between 0.1% and 40% of the entire cell budget. This investment is only worthwhile if the cell is above a certain size. Smaller than this, and the organism is better off obtaining its food passively. The results also show that while eukaryotic flagella are much bigger and quite different than their bacterial counterpart, both appendages share the same patterns of cost effectiveness. However only eukaryotic cells, which are on average larger than bacteria, can afford to evolve such sizable and complex structures; making just one would cost more than the entire energy budget of a bacterial cell. Many single-cell species which are critical for the health of the planet are equipped with flagella, such as the microorganisms which recycle matter in the oceans and release carbon dioxide. Understanding the costs and benefits of flagella could explain more about this aspect of the carbon cycle, and therefore global warming. 
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