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  1. Zamia integrifolia L.f. (Cycadales), a threatened cycad native to Florida, depends on 2 native beetle species for pollination: Rhopalotria slossoni (Chevrolat; Coleoptera: Belidae) and Pharaxanotha floridana (Casey; Coleoptera: Erotylidae). Both insects are brood-site pollina- tion mutualists, known to live and feed within the pollen (male) cone. However, for pollination to occur, beetles must also visit ovulate (fe- male) cones, which have been assumed to offer no benefits to them as food or nurseries. We tested the potential for beetle pollinator use of ovulate cones by performing no-choice behavior and feeding trials for adults of both beetle species on both ovulate cones and pollen cones of Z. integrifolia. Rhopalotria slossoni beetles showed greater survival on ovulate cone tissues despite showing no significant difference in to- tal tissue mass consumed between cone sexes. Conversely, P. floridana consumed more tissue mass from ovulate cone scales yet showed no difference in survivorship on ovulate vs. pollen cone scales. Although neither beetle species is found in large numbers on ovulate cones in the field, our laboratory study suggests that both species could po- tentially benefit from feeding on ovulate cone tissues, questioning the standing hypothesis that Z. integrifolia pollination occurs by deceit. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available September 1, 2024
  2. Abstract

    Identifying along which lineages shifts in diversification rates occur is a central goal of comparative phylogenetics; these shifts may coincide with key evolutionary events such as the development of novel morphological characters, the acquisition of adaptive traits, polyploidization or other structural genomic changes, or dispersal to a new habitat and subsequent increase in environmental niche space. However, while multiple methods now exist to estimate diversification rates and identify shifts using phylogenetic topologies, the appropriate use and accuracy of these methods are hotly debated. Here we test whether five Bayesian methods—Bayesian Analysis of Macroevolutionary Mixtures (BAMM), two implementations of the Lineage-Specific Birth–Death–Shift model (LSBDS and PESTO), the approximate Multi-Type Birth–Death model (MTBD; implemented in BEAST2), and the Cladogenetic Diversification Rate Shift model (ClaDS2)—produce comparable results. We apply each of these methods to a set of 65 empirical time-calibrated phylogenies and compare inferences of speciation rate, extinction rate, and net diversification rate. We find that the five methods often infer different speciation, extinction, and net-diversification rates. Consequently, these different estimates may lead to different interpretations of the macroevolutionary dynamics. The different estimates can be attributed to fundamental differences among the compared models. Therefore, the inference of shifts in diversification rates is strongly method dependent. We advise biologists to apply multiple methods to test the robustness of the conclusions or to carefully select the method based on the validity of the underlying model assumptions to their particular empirical system.

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  3. Abstract

    Geological events such as mountain uplift affect how, when, and where species diversify, but measuring those effects is a longstanding challenge. Andean orogeny impacted the evolution of regional biota by creating barriers to gene flow, opening new habitats, and changing local climate. B⁢o⁢m⁢a⁢r⁢e⁢a (Alstroemeriaceae) are tropical plants with (often) small, isolated ranges; in total, B⁢o⁢m⁢a⁢r⁢e⁢a species occur from central Mexico to central Chile. This genus appears to have evolved rapidly and quite recently, and rapid radiations are often challenging to resolve with traditional phylogenetic inference. In this study, we apply phylogenomics—with hundreds of loci, gene-tree-based data curation, and a multispecies-coalescent approach—to infer the phylogeny of B⁢o⁢m⁢a⁢r⁢e⁢a. We use this phylogeny to untangle the potential drivers of diversification and biogeographic history. In particular, we test if Andean orogeny contributed to the diversification of B⁢o⁢m⁢a⁢r⁢e⁢a. We find that B⁢o⁢m⁢a⁢r⁢e⁢a originated in the central Andes during the mid-Miocene, then spread north, following the trajectory of mountain uplift. Furthermore, Andean lineages diversified faster than non-Andean relatives. B⁢o⁢m⁢a⁢r⁢e⁢a thus demonstrates that—at least in some cases—geological change rather than environmental stability has driven high species diversity in a tropical biodiversity hotspot. These results also demonstrate the utility (and danger) of genome-scale data for making macroevolutionary inferences.

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  4. Studies of pollination biology often focus on visual and olfactory aspects of attraction, with few studies ad- dressing behavioral responses and morphological adaptation to primary metabolic attributes. As part of an in-depth study of obligate nursery pollination of cycads, we find that Rhopalotria furfuracea weevils show a strong physiological response and behavioral orientation to the cone humidity of the host plant Zamia furfur- acea in an equally sensitive manner to their responses to Z. furfuracea-produced cone volatiles. Our results demonstrate that weevils can perceive fine-scale differences in relative humidity (RH) and that individuals exhibit a strong behavioral preference for higher RH in binary choice assays. Host plant Z. furfuracea pro- duces a localized cloud of higher than ambient humidity around both pollen and ovulate cones, and R. furfuracea weevils preferentially land at the zone of maximum humidity on ovulate cones, i.e., the cracks between rows of megasporophylls that provide access to the ovules. Moreover, R. furfuracea weevils exhibit striking antennal morphological traits associated with RH perception, suggesting the importance of humidity sensing in the evolution of this insect lineage. Results from this study suggest that humidity functions in a signal-like fashion in this highly specialized pollination system and help to characterize a key pollination- mediating trait in an ancient plant lineage. 
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  5. Abstract

    Grass leaves develop from a ring of primordial initial cells within the periphery of the shoot apical meristem, a pool of organogenic stem cells that generates all of the organs of the plant shoot. At maturity, the grass leaf is a flattened, strap-like organ comprising a proximal supportive sheath surrounding the stem and a distal photosynthetic blade. The sheath and blade are partitioned by a hinge-like auricle and the ligule, a fringe of epidermally derived tissue that grows from the adaxial (top) leaf surface. Together, the ligule and auricle comprise morphological novelties that are specific to grass leaves. Understanding how the planar outgrowth of grass leaves and their adjoining ligules is genetically controlled can yield insight into their evolutionary origins. Here we use single-cell RNA-sequencing analyses to identify a ‘rim’ cell type present at the margins of maize leaf primordia. Cells in the leaf rim have a distinctive identity and share transcriptional signatures with proliferating ligule cells, suggesting that a shared developmental genetic programme patterns both leaves and ligules. Moreover, we show that rim function is regulated by genetically redundant Wuschel-like homeobox3 (WOX3) transcription factors. Higher-order mutations in maizeWox3genes greatly reduce leaf width and disrupt ligule outgrowth and patterning. Together, these findings illustrate the generalizable use of a rim domain during planar growth of maize leaves and ligules, and suggest a parsimonious model for the homology of the grass ligule as a distal extension of the leaf sheath margin.

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  6. Abstract

    As the global climate crisis continues, predictions concerning how wild populations will respond to changing climate conditions are informed by an understanding of how populations have responded and/or adapted to climate variables in the past. Changes in the local biotic and abiotic environment can drive differences in phenology, physiology, morphology and demography between populations leading to local adaptation, yet the molecular basis of adaptive evolution in wild non‐model organisms is poorly understood. We leverage comparisons between two lineages ofCalochortus venustusoccurring along parallel transects that allow us to identify loci under selection and measure clinal variation in allele frequencies as evidence of population‐specific responses to selection along climatic gradients. We identify targets of selection by distinguishing loci that are outliers to population structure and by using genotype–environment associations across transects to detect loci under selection from each of nine climatic variables. Despite gene flow between individuals of different floral phenotypes and between populations, we find evidence of ecological specialization at the molecular level, including genes associated with key plant functions linked to plant adaptation to California's Mediterranean climate. Single‐nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) present in both transects show similar trends in allelic similarity across latitudes indicating parallel adaptation to northern climates. Comparisons between eastern and western populations across latitudes indicate divergent genetic evolution between transects, suggesting local adaptation to either coastal or inland habitats. Our study is among the first to show repeated allelic variation across climatic clines in a non‐model organism.

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  7. Abstract

    Abstract.—Testing adaptive hypotheses about how continuous traits evolve in association with developmentally structured discrete traits, while accounting for the confounding influence of other, hidden, evolutionary forces, remains a challenge in evolutionary biology. For example, geophytes are herbaceous plants—with underground buds—that use underground storage organs (USOs) to survive extended periods of unfavorable conditions. Such plants have evolved multiple times independently across all major vascular plant lineages. Even within closely related lineages, however, geophytes show impressive variation in the morphological modifications and structures (i.e.,“types” of USOs) that allow them to survive underground. Despite the developmental and structural complexity of USOs, the prevailing hypothesis is that they represent convergent evolutionary “solutions” to a common ecological problem, though some recent research has drawn this conclusion into question. We extend existing phylogenetic comparative methods to test for links between the hierarchical discrete morphological traits associated with USOs and adaptation to environmental variables, using a phylogeny of 621 species in Liliales. We found that plants with different USO types do not differ in climatic niche more than expected by chance, with the exception of root morphology, where modified roots are associated with lower temperature seasonality. These findings suggest that root tubers may reflect adaptations to different climatic conditions than those represented by other types of USOs. Thus, the tissue type and developmental origin of the USO structure may influence the way it mediates ecological relationships, which draws into question the appropriateness of ascribing broad ecological patterns uniformly across geophytic taxa. This work provides a new framework for testing adaptive hypotheses and for linking ecological patterns across morphologically varying taxa while accounting for developmental (non-independent) relationships in morphological data. [Climatic niche evolution; geophytes; imperfect correspondence; macroevolution.].

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  8. No abstract available. 
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