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  1. Free, publicly-accessible full text available July 1, 2023
  2. Free, publicly-accessible full text available August 1, 2023
  3. Palli, Subba Reddy (Ed.)
    The transformer ( tra ) gene is essential for female development in many insect species, including the Australian sheep blow fly, Lucilia cuprina . Sex-specific tra RNA splicing is controlled by Sex lethal ( Sxl ) in Drosophila melanogaster but is auto-regulated in L . cuprina . Sxl also represses X chromosome dosage compensation in female D . melanogaster . We have developed conditional Lctra RNAi knockdown strains using the tet-off system. Four strains did not produce females on diet without tetracycline and could potentially be used for genetic control of L . cuprina . In one strain, which showed both maternal and zygotic tTA expression, most XX transformed males died at the pupal stage. RNAseq and qRT-PCR analyses of mid-stage pupae showed increased expression of X-linked genes in XX individuals. These results suggest that Lctra promotes somatic sexual differentiation and inhibits X chromosome dosage compensation in female L . cuprina . However, XX flies homozygous for a loss-of-function Lctra knockin mutation were fully transformed and showed high pupal eclosion. Two of five X-linked genes examined showed a significant increase in mRNA levels in XX males. The stronger phenotype in the RNAi knockdown strain could indicate that maternal Lctra expressionmore »may be essential for initiation of dosage compensation suppression in female embryos.« less
  4. Abstract The evolution of obligate ectoparasitism in blowflies (Diptera: Calliphoridae) has intrigued scientists for over a century, and surprisingly, the genetics underlying this lifestyle remain largely unknown. Blowflies use odors to locate food and oviposition sites; therefore, olfaction might have played a central role in niche specialization within the group. In insects, the coreceptor Orco is a required partner for all odorant receptors (ORs), a major gene family involved in olfactory-evoked behaviors. Hence, we characterized the Orco gene in the New World screwworm, Cochliomyia hominivorax , a blowfly that is an obligate ectoparasite of warm-blooded animals. In contrast, most of the closely related blowflies are scavengers that lay their eggs on dead animals. We show that the screwworm Orco orthologue ( ChomOrco ) is highly conserved within Diptera, showing signals of strong purifying selection. Expression of ChomOrco is broadly detectable in chemosensory appendages, and is related to morphological, developmental, and behavioral aspects of the screwworm biology. We used CRISPR/Cas9 to disrupt ChomOrco and evaluate the consequences of losing the OR function on screwworm behavior. In two-choice assays, Orco mutants displayed an impaired response to floral-like and animal host-associated odors, suggesting that OR-mediated olfaction is involved in foraging and host-seeking behaviorsmore »in C . hominivorax . These results broaden our understanding of the chemoreception basis of niche occupancy by blowflies.« less
  5. Abstract The fields of viral ecology and evolution are rapidly expanding, motivated in part by concerns around emerging zoonoses. One consequence is the proliferation of host–virus association data, which underpin viral macroecology and zoonotic risk prediction but remain fragmented across numerous data portals. In the present article, we propose that synthesis of host–virus data is a central challenge to characterize the global virome and develop foundational theory in viral ecology. To illustrate this, we build an open database of mammal host–virus associations that reconciles four published data sets. We show that this offers a substantially richer view of the known virome than any individual source data set but also that databases such as these risk becoming out of date as viral discovery accelerates. We argue for a shift in practice toward the development, incremental updating, and use of synthetic data sets in viral ecology, to improve replicability and facilitate work to predict the structure and dynamics of the global virome.