And another Monday with some interesting reads I came along. That being said, please have a look at last Friday's post providing links to another special conference issue.
Molecular identification and phylogenetic analysis of the forensically important family Piophilidae (Diptera) from different European locations.
Species identification plays an important role in forensic entomology and is mandatory for an accurate calculation of the minimum post-mortem interval. Many important Diptera and Coleoptera taxa of the cadaver community can already be identified by common barcoding approaches, i.e., by sequencing a 658bp region in the mitochondrial cytochrome c oxidase subunit I (coI) gene. Nevertheless, there is still a lack of reference barcodes for species, in particular, that can be found on cadavers at later decomposition stages. Flies of the family Piophilidae illustrate this gap of knowledge perfectly. Due to the fact that a reliable morphological identification key for the immature stages of this flies is still missing and the immature stages of many piophilids cannot be assigned to a certain species, there is need for additional tools to identify forensically relevant taxa. We collected adult piophilid specimens at 10 locations in five European countries: Spain (n=3 locations), Germany (n=3), Portugal (n=2), Poland (n=1) and Switzerland (n=1). Apart from the coI barcoding region, we additionally analyzed a 398bp long region of the nuclear elongation factor 1 alpha (ef1a) and subsequently established the molecular identifier for nine piophilid species. In addition, we present the molecular phylogeny of the examined taxa.
Global patterns of pelagic dinoflagellate diversity across protist size classes unveiled by metabarcoding.
Dinoflagellates (Alveolata) are one of the ecologically most important groups of modern phytoplankton. Their biological complexity makes assessment of their global diversity and community structure difficult. We used massive V9 18S rDNA sequencing from 106 size-fractionated plankton communities collected across the world's surface oceans during the Tara Oceans expedition (2009-2012) to assess patterns of pelagic dinoflagellate diversity and community structuring over global taxonomic and ecological scales. Our data and analyses suggest that dinoflagellate diversity has been largely underestimated, representing overall ∼ 1/2 of protistan rDNA metabarcode richness assigned at ≥ 90% to a reference sequence in the world's surface oceans. Dinoflagellate metabarcode diversity and abundance display regular patterns across the global scale, with different order-level taxonomic compositions across organismal size fractions. While the pico to nano-planktonic communities are composed of an extreme diversity of metabarcodes assigned to Gymnodiniales or are simply undetermined, most micro-dinoflagellate metabarcodes relate to the well-referenced Gonyaulacales and Peridiniales orders, and a lower abundance and diversity of essentially symbiotic Peridiniales is unveiled in the meso-plankton. Our analyses could help future development of biogeochemical models of pelagic systems integrating the separation of dinoflagellates into functional groups according to plankton size classes.
Mitochondrial comparative genomics and phylogenetic signal assessment of mtDNA among arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi.
Mitochondrial (mt) genes, such as cytochrome C oxidase genes (cox), have been widely used for barcoding in many groups of organisms, although this approach has been less powerful in the fungal kingdom due to the rapid evolution of their mt genomes. The use of mt genes in phylogenetic studies of Dikarya has been met with success, while early diverging fungal lineages remain less studied, particularly the arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF). Advances in next-generation sequencing have substantially increased the number of publically available mtDNA sequences for the Glomeromycota. As a result, comparison of mtDNA across key AMF taxa can now be applied to assess the phylogenetic signal of individual mt coding genes, as well as concatenated subsets of coding genes. Here we show comparative analyses of publically available mt genomes of Glomeromycota, augmented with two mtDNA genomes that were newly sequenced for this study (Rhizophagus irregularis DAOM240159 and Glomus aggregatum DAOM240163), resulting in 16 complete mtDNA datasets. R. irregularis isolate DAOM240159 and G. aggregatum isolate DAOM240163 showed mt genomes measuring 72,293bp and 69,505bp with G+C contents of 37.1% and 37.3%, respectively. We assessed the phylogenies inferred from single mt genes and complete sets of coding genes, which are referred to as "supergenes" (16 concatenated coding genes), using Shimodaira-Hasegawa tests, in order to identify genes that best described AMF phylogeny. We found that rnl, nad5, cox1, and nad2 genes, as well as concatenated subset of these genes, provided phylogenies that were similar to the supergene set. This mitochondrial genomic analysis was also combined with principal coordinate and partitioning analyses, which helped to unravel certain evolutionary relationships in the Rhizophagus genus and for G. aggregatum within the Glomeromycota. We showed evidence to support the position of G. aggregatum within the R. irregularis 'species complex'.
How DNA barcoding can be more effective in microalgae identification: a case of cryptic diversity revelation in Scenedesmus (Chlorophyceae).
Microalgae identification is extremely difficult. The efficiency of DNA barcoding in microalgae identification involves ideal gene markers and approaches employed, which however, is still under the way. Although Scenedesmus has obtained much research in producing lipids its identification is difficult. Here we present a comprehensive coalescent, distance and character-based DNA barcoding for 118 Scenedesmus strains based on rbcL, tufA, ITS and 16S. The four genes, and their combined data rbcL + tufA + ITS + 16S, rbcL + tufA and ITS + 16S were analyzed by all of GMYC, P ID, PTP, ABGD, and character-based barcoding respectively. It was apparent that the three combined gene data showed a higher proportion of resolution success than the single gene. In comparison, the GMYC and PTP analysis produced more taxonomic lineages. The ABGD generated various resolution in discrimination among the single and combined data. The character-based barcoding was proved to be the most effective approach for species discrimination in both single and combined data which produced consistent species identification. All the integrated results recovered 11 species, five out of which were revealed as potential cryptic species. We suggest that the character-based DNA barcoding together with other approaches based on multiple genes and their combined data could be more effective in microalgae diversity revelation.
Diversification into novel habitats in the Africa clade of Dioscorea (Dioscoreaceae): erect habit and elephant's foot tubers.
Dioscorea is a widely distributed and highly diversified genus in tropical regions where it is represented by ten main clades, one of which diversified exclusively in Africa. In southern Africa it is characterised by a distinct group of species with a pachycaul or "elephant's foot" structure that is partially to fully exposed above the substrate. In contrast to African representatives of the genus from other clades, occurring mainly in forest or woodland, the pachycaul taxa and their southern African relatives occur in diverse habitats ranging from woodland to open vegetation. Here we investigate patterns of diversification in the African clade, time of transition from forest to more open habitat, and morphological traits associated with each habitat and evaluate if such transitions have led to modification of reproductive organs and mode of dispersal.
The Africa clade originated in the Oligocene and comprises four subclades. The Dioscorea buchananii subclade (southeastern tropical Africa and South Africa) is sister to the East African subclade, which is respectively sister to the recently evolved sister South African (e. g., Cape and Pachycaul) subclades. The Cape and Pachycaul subclades diversified in the east of the Cape Peninsula in the mid Miocene, in an area with complex geomorphology and climate, where the fynbos, thicket, succulent karoo and forest biomes meet.
Diversification out of forest is associated with major shifts in morphology of the perennial tuber (specifically an increase in size and orientation which presumably led them to become pachycaul) and rotation of stem (from twining to non-twining). The iconic elephant's foot morphology, observed in grasslands and thicket biomes, where its corky bark may offer protection against fire and herbivory, evolved since mid Miocene. A shift in pollination trait is observed within the forest, but entry into open habitat does not show association with reproductive morphology, except in the seed wing, which has switched from winged all round the seed margin to just at the base or at the apex of it, or has been even replaced by an elaiosome.