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  1. 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.
  2. Abstract Background

    Ambitious initiatives to coordinate genome sequencing of Earth's biodiversity mean that the accumulation of genomic data is growing rapidly. In addition to cataloguing biodiversity, these data provide the basis for understanding biological function and evolution. Accurate and complete genome assemblies offer a comprehensive and reliable foundation upon which to advance our understanding of organismal biology at genetic, species, and ecosystem levels. However, ever-changing sequencing technologies and analysis methods mean that available data are often heterogeneous in quality. To guide forthcoming genome generation efforts and promote efficient prioritization of resources, it is thus essential to define and monitor taxonomic coverage and quality of the data.


    Here we present an automated analysis workflow that surveys genome assemblies from the United States NCBI, assesses their completeness using the relevant BUSCO datasets, and collates the results into an interactively browsable resource. We apply our workflow to produce a community resource of available assemblies from the phylum Arthropoda, the Arthropoda Assembly Assessment Catalogue. Using this resource, we survey current taxonomic coverage and assembly quality at the NCBI, examine how key assembly metrics relate to gene content completeness, and compare results from using different BUSCO lineage datasets.


    These results demonstrate how the workflow can bemore »used to build a community resource that enables large-scale assessments to survey species coverage and data quality of available genome assemblies, and to guide prioritizations for ongoing and future sampling, sequencing, and genome generation initiatives.

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  3. Evolutionary transitions to a social lifestyle in insects are associated with lineage-specific changes in gene expression, but the key nodes that drive these regulatory changes are unknown. We examined the relationship between social organization and lineage-specific microRNAs (miRNAs). Genome scans across 12 bee species showed that miRNA copy-number is mostly conserved and not associated with sociality. However, deep sequencing of small RNAs in six bee species revealed a substantial proportion (20–35%) of detected miRNAs had lineage-specific expression in the brain, 24–72% of which did not have homologues in other species. Lineage-specific miRNAs disproportionately target lineage-specific genes, and have lower expression levels than shared miRNAs. The predicted targets of lineage-specific miRNAs are not enriched for genes with caste-biased expression or genes under positive selection in social species. Together, these results suggest that novel miRNAs may coevolve with novel genes, and thus contribute to lineage-specific patterns of evolution in bees, but do not appear to have significant influence on social evolution. Our analyses also support the hypothesis that many new miRNAs are purged by selection due to deleterious effects on mRNA targets, and suggest genome structure is not as influential in regulating bee miRNA evolution as has been shown for mammalian miRNAs.
  4. Abstract Background

    The stable fly,Stomoxys calcitrans, is a major blood-feeding pest of livestock that has near worldwide distribution, causing an annual cost of over $2 billion for control and product loss in the USA alone. Control of these flies has been limited to increased sanitary management practices and insecticide application for suppressing larval stages. Few genetic and molecular resources are available to help in developing novel methods for controlling stable flies.


    This study examines stable fly biology by utilizing a combination of high-quality genome sequencing and RNA-Seq analyses targeting multiple developmental stages and tissues. In conjunction, 1600 genes were manually curated to characterize genetic features related to stable fly reproduction, vector host interactions, host-microbe dynamics, and putative targets for control. Most notable was characterization of genes associated with reproduction and identification of expanded gene families with functional associations to vision, chemosensation, immunity, and metabolic detoxification pathways.


    The combined sequencing, assembly, and curation of the male stable fly genome followed by RNA-Seq and downstream analyses provide insights necessary to understand the biology of this important pest. These resources and new data will provide the groundwork for expanding the tools available to control stable fly infestations. The close relationship ofStomoxysto other blood-feeding (hornmore »flies andGlossina) and non-blood-feeding flies (house flies, medflies,Drosophila) will facilitate understanding of the evolutionary processes associated with development of blood feeding among the Cyclorrhapha.

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  5. Abstract Background The western flower thrips, Frankliniella occidentalis (Pergande), is a globally invasive pest and plant virus vector on a wide array of food, fiber, and ornamental crops. The underlying genetic mechanisms of the processes governing thrips pest and vector biology, feeding behaviors, ecology, and insecticide resistance are largely unknown. To address this gap, we present the F. occidentalis draft genome assembly and official gene set. Results We report on the first genome sequence for any member of the insect order Thysanoptera. Benchmarking Universal Single-Copy Ortholog (BUSCO) assessments of the genome assembly (size = 415.8 Mb, scaffold N50 = 948.9 kb) revealed a relatively complete and well-annotated assembly in comparison to other insect genomes. The genome is unusually GC-rich (50%) compared to other insect genomes to date. The official gene set (OGS v1.0) contains 16,859 genes, of which ~ 10% were manually verified and corrected by our consortium. We focused on manual annotation, phylogenetic, and expression evidence analyses for gene sets centered on primary themes in the life histories and activities of plant-colonizing insects. Highlights include the following: (1) divergent clades and large expansions in genes associated with environmental sensing (chemosensory receptors) and detoxification (CYP4, CYP6, and CCE enzymes) of substances encountered in agricultural environments; (2) amore »comprehensive set of salivary gland genes supported by enriched expression; (3) apparent absence of members of the IMD innate immune defense pathway; and (4) developmental- and sex-specific expression analyses of genes associated with progression from larvae to adulthood through neometaboly, a distinct form of maturation differing from either incomplete or complete metamorphosis in the Insecta. Conclusions Analysis of the F. occidentalis genome offers insights into the polyphagous behavior of this insect pest that finds, colonizes, and survives on a widely diverse array of plants. The genomic resources presented here enable a more complete analysis of insect evolution and biology, providing a missing taxon for contemporary insect genomics-based analyses. Our study also offers a genomic benchmark for molecular and evolutionary investigations of other Thysanoptera species.« less
  6. Hemipteroid insects (Paraneoptera), with over 10% of all known insect diversity, are a major component of terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. Previous phylogenetic analyses have not consistently resolved the relationships among major hemipteroid lineages. We provide maximum likelihood-based phylogenomic analyses of a taxonomically comprehensive dataset comprising sequences of 2,395 single-copy, protein-coding genes for 193 samples of hemipteroid insects and outgroups. These analyses yield a well-supported phylogeny for hemipteroid insects. Monophyly of each of the three hemipteroid orders (Psocodea, Thysanoptera, and Hemiptera) is strongly supported, as are most relationships among suborders and families. Thysanoptera (thrips) is strongly supported as sister to Hemiptera. However, as in a recent large-scale analysis sampling all insect orders, trees from our data matrices support Psocodea (bark lice and parasitic lice) as the sister group to the holometabolous insects (those with complete metamorphosis). In contrast, four-cluster likelihood mapping of these data does not support this result. A molecular dating analysis using 23 fossil calibration points suggests hemipteroid insects began diversifying before the Carboniferous, over 365 million years ago. We also explore implications for understanding the timing of diversification, the evolution of morphological traits, and the evolution of mitochondrial genome organization. These results provide a phylogenetic framework for futuremore »studies of the group.

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