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  • 1
    Publication Date: 2013-04-16
    Description: The Australian numbat, Myrmecobius fasciatus , is the only marsupial that feeds almost exclusively on termites and that has a life following the diurnally restricted and dynamic geographical distribution of termites. The millions of years of this adaptation led to unique morphological and anatomical features, especially basicranial and dental characteristics, that make it difficult to identify a clear phylogenetic affiliation to other marsupials. From DNA sequence analyses, the family Myrmecobiidae is placed within the dasyuromorph marsupials, but the exact position varies from study to study, and support values are mostly rather modest. Here, we report the recovery and analysis of approximately 110,000 quasifossilized traces of mobile element insertions into the genome of a dasyurid marsupial (Tasmanian devil), 25 of which are phylogenetically informative for early dasyuromorphial evolution. Fourteen of these ancient retroposon insertions are shared by the 16 Dasyuromorphia species analyzed, including the numbat, but are absent in the outgroups. An additional 11 other insertions are present in all Dasyuridae but are absent in the numbat. These findings place numbats as the sister group to all living Dasyuridae and show that the investigated Dasyuromorphia, including the Myrmecobiidae, constitutes a monophyletic group that is separated from Peramelemorphia, Notoryctemorphia, and other marsupials.
    Print ISSN: 0737-4038
    Electronic ISSN: 1537-1719
    Topics: Biology
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  • 2
    Publication Date: 2015-04-01
    Description: Transposable elements, once described by Barbara McClintock as controlling genetic units, not only occupy the largest part of our genome but are also a prominent moving force of genomic plasticity and innovation. They usually replicate and reintegrate into genomes silently, sometimes causing malfunctions or misregulations, but occasionally millions of years later, a few may evolve into new functional units. Retrotransposons make their way into the genome following reverse transcription of RNA molecules and chromosomal insertion. In therian mammals, long interspersed elements 1 (LINE1s) self-propagate but also coretropose many RNAs, including mRNAs and small RNAs that usually exhibit an oligo(A) tail. The revitalization of specific LINE1 elements in the mammalian lineage about 150 Ma parallels the rise of many other nonautonomous mobilized genomic elements. We previously identified and described hundreds of tRNA-derived retropseudogenes missing characteristic oligo(A) tails consequently termed tailless retropseudogenes. Additional analyses now revealed hundreds of thousands of tailless retropseudogenes derived from nearly all types of RNAs. We extracted 2,402 perfect tailless sequences (with discernible flanking target site duplications) originating from tRNAs, spliceosomal RNAs, 5S rRNAs, 7SK RNAs, mRNAs, and others. Interestingly, all are truncated at one or more defined positions that coincide with internal single-stranded regions. 5S ribosomal and U2 spliceosomal RNAs were analyzed in the context of mammalian phylogeny to discern the origin of the therian LINE1 retropositional system that evolved in our 150-Myr-old ancestor.
    Electronic ISSN: 1759-6653
    Topics: Biology
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  • 3
    Publication Date: 2014-12-20
    Description: Our understanding of genome-wide and comparative sequence information has been broadened considerably by the databases available from the University of California Santa Cruz (UCSC) Genome Bioinformatics Department. In particular, the identification and visualization of genomic sequences, present in some species but absent in others, led to fundamental insights into gene and genome evolution. However, the UCSC tools currently enable one to visualize orthologous genomic loci for a range of species in only a single locus. For large-scale comparative analyses of such presence/absence patterns a multilocus view would be more desirable. Such a tool would enable us to compare thousands of relevant loci simultaneously and to resolve many different questions about, for example, phylogeny, specific aspects of genome and gene evolution, such as the gain or loss of exons and introns, the emergence of novel transposed elements, nonprotein-coding RNAs, and viral genomic particles. Here, we present the first tool to facilitate the parallel analysis of thousands of genomic loci for cross-species presence/absence patterns based on multiway genome alignments. This genome presence/absence compiler uses annotated or other compilations of coordinates of genomic locations and compiles all presence/absence patterns in a flexible, color-coded table linked to the individual UCSC Genome Browser alignments. We provide examples of the versatile information content of such a screening system especially for 7SL-derived transposed elements, nuclear mitochondrial DNA, DNA transposons, and miRNAs in primates ( http://www.bioinformatics.uni-muenster.de/tools/gpac , last accessed October 1, 2014).
    Print ISSN: 0737-4038
    Electronic ISSN: 1537-1719
    Topics: Biology
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  • 4
    Publication Date: 2015-01-24
    Description: Chicken repeat 1 (CR1) retroposons are long interspersed elements (LINEs) that are ubiquitous within amniote genomes and constitute the most abundant family of transposed elements in birds, crocodilians, turtles, and snakes. They are also present in mammalian genomes, where they reside as numerous relics of ancient retroposition events. Yet, despite their relevance for understanding amniote genome evolution, the diversity and evolution of CR1 elements has never been studied on an amniote-wide level. We reconstruct the temporal and quantitative activity of CR1 subfamilies via presence/absence analyses across crocodilian phylogeny and comparative analyses of 12 crocodilian genomes, revealing relative genomic stasis of retroposition during genome evolution of extant Crocodylia. Our large-scale phylogenetic analysis of amniote CR1 subfamilies suggests the presence of at least seven ancient CR1 lineages in the amniote ancestor; and amniote-wide analyses of CR1 successions and quantities reveal differential retention (presence of ancient relics or recent activity) of these CR1 lineages across amniote genome evolution. Interestingly, birds and lepidosaurs retained the fewest ancient CR1 lineages among amniotes and also exhibit smaller genome sizes. Our study is the first to analyze CR1 evolution in a genome-wide and amniote-wide context and the data strongly suggest that the ancestral amniote genome contained myriad CR1 elements from multiple ancient lineages, and remnants of these are still detectable in the relatively stable genomes of crocodilians and turtles. Early mammalian genome evolution was thus characterized by a drastic shift from CR1 prevalence to dominance and hyperactivity of L2 LINEs in monotremes and L1 LINEs in therians.
    Electronic ISSN: 1759-6653
    Topics: Biology
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  • 5
    Publication Date: 2015-11-20
    Description: Freed from the competition of large raptors, Paleocene carnivores could expand their newly acquired habitats in search of prey. Such changing conditions might have led to their successful distribution and rapid radiation. Today, molecular evolutionary biologists are faced, however, with the consequences of such accelerated adaptive radiations, because they led to sequential speciation more rapidly than phylogenetic markers could be fixed. The repercussions being that current genealogies based on such markers are incongruent with species trees. Our aim was to explore such conflicting phylogenetic zones of evolution during the early arctoid radiation, especially to distinguish diagnostic from misleading phylogenetic signals, and to examine other carnivore-related speciation events. We applied a combination of high-throughput computational strategies to screen carnivore and related genomes in silico for randomly inserted retroposed elements that we then used to identify inconsistent phylogenetic patterns in the Arctoidea group, which is well known for phylogenetic discordances. Our combined retrophylogenomic and in vitro wet lab approach detected hundreds of carnivore-specific insertions, many of them confirming well-established splits or identifying and solving conflicting species distributions. Our systematic genome-wide screens for Long INterspersed Elements detected homoplasy-free markers with insertion-specific truncation points that we used to distinguish phylogenetically informative markers from conflicting signals. The results were independently confirmed by phylogenetic diagnostic Short INterspersed Elements. As statistical analysis ruled out ancestral hybridization, these doubly verified but still conflicting patterns were statistically determined to be genomic remnants from a time of ancestral incomplete lineage sorting that especially accompanied large parts of Arctoidea evolution.
    Print ISSN: 0737-4038
    Electronic ISSN: 1537-1719
    Topics: Biology
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  • 6
    Publication Date: 2012-05-16
    Description: More than 150 Ma, the avian lineage separated from that of other dinosaurs and later diversified into the more than 10,000 species extant today. The early neoavian bird radiations most likely occurred in the late Cretaceous (more than 65 Ma) but left behind few if any molecular signals of their archaic evolutionary past. Retroposed elements, once established in an ancestral population, are highly valuable, virtually homoplasy-free markers of species evolution; after applying stringent orthology criteria, their phylogenetically informative presence/absence patterns are free of random noise and independent of evolutionary rate or nucleotide composition effects. We screened for early neoavian orthologous retroposon insertions and identified six markers with conflicting presence/absence patterns, whereas six additional retroposons established before or after the presumed major neoavian radiation show consistent phylogenetic patterns. The exceptionally frequent conflicting retroposon presence/absence patterns of neoavian orders are strong indicators of an extensive incomplete lineage sorting era, potentially induced by an early rapid successive speciation of ancestral Neoaves.
    Print ISSN: 0737-4038
    Electronic ISSN: 1537-1719
    Topics: Biology
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