A study led by IBE researcher Ignacio Ribera confirms that hypersaline environments do not prevent aquatic beetle species from surviving, diversifying and even adapting to other environments.
The analysis, which includes more than 40 mitochondrial genomes of beetles of the genus Ochthebius, has revealed that they have acquired their tolerance to high salt concentrations gradually and repeatedly in different lineages during their 90 million years of evolution.
The posthumous work by Ignacio Ribera, published in the journal Molecular Ecology, could help understand the impact that climate change will have on aquatic species exposed to the increasing salinization and aridity of their habitats.
Article: Villastrigo, A., Arribas, P., Ribera, I. (2020). Irreversible habitat specialization does not constrain diversification in hypersaline water beetles. Molecular Ecology 29, 3637-3648. DOI: 10.1111/mec.15593
Phylogeny depicting the diversification and occupation of the habitat of the beetles of the genus Ochthebius, according to the data of the study.
Credit: Adrián Villastrigo, Paula Arribas and Ignacio Ribera.
An IBE research team led by Roger Vila has discovered that the males of an Iberian butterfly, the Cupido lorquinii, have changed colour, from blue to brown, to be able to distinguish themselves from another blue species in places where they share their habitat.
According to the genomic analysis, these two forms belong to the same species and have evolved extremely fast. The authors propose that females of these Cupido lorquinii populations have developed the ability to identify and choose brown males as their own species to reproduce successfully.
The identified mechanism could be key to understand how colours arise and how new species are generated in the entire subfamily of butterflies Polyommatinae, which represent one hundred of the 500 European species.
Article: Hinojosa, JC., Koubínová, D., Dincă, V., Hernández-Roldán, J., Munguira, ML., García-Barros, E., Vila, M., Alvarez, N., Mutanen, M. & Vila, R. (2020). Rapid colour shift by reproductive character displacement in Cupido butterflies. Molecular Ecology 29: 4942-4955. DOI: 10.1111/mec.15682
Male of the brown subspecies of Cupido lorquinii. The selective pressure due to competition between males of two blue species in the territory has positively reinforced the variant with the brown-colour male butterfly.
Credit: Vlad Dincă.
A new article published in Nature Communications examines cancer from the evolutionary point of view. The IBE research team led by Arcadi Navarro has shown that the genomic distribution of mutations in human tumours is more similar to that of healthy chimpanzees and gorillas than that of humans.
The study has important evolutionary implications and, additionally, it suggests that the conservation and study of the great apes could be highly relevant to understanding human health.
Article: Heredia-Genestar, J.M., Marquès-Bonet, T., Juan, D., Navarro, A. (2020). Extreme differences between human germline and tumor mutation densities are driven by ancestral human-specific deviations. Nature Communications 11(1):2512. DOI: 10.1038/s41467-020-16296-4.
Credit: Txema Heredia-Genestar
Researchers from the Institute of Evolutionary Biology led by Carles Lalueza-Fox have generated the complete genomic sequence of the extinct Carolina parakeet from a female specimen held in a private collection in Espinelves (Girona, Spain).
Published in Current Biology, the study reveals the evolutionary history underlying this paradigmatic North American bird declared extinct at the beginning of the 20th century.
The lack of signals of population decline found on its genome points to a human-mediated, abrupt extinction.
Article: Gelabert, P., Sandoval-Velasco, M., Serres, A., de Manuel, M., Renom, P., Margaryan, A., Stiller, J., de-Dios, T., Fang, Q., Feng, S., Mañosa, S., Pacheco, G., Ferrando-Bernal, M., Shi, G., Hao, F., Chen, X., Petersen, B., Olsen, R.A., Navarro, A., Deng, Y., Dalén, L., Marquès-Bonet, T., Zhang, G., Antunes, A., Gilbert, M.T.P., Lalueza-Fox, C. (2020). Evolutionary history, genomic adaptation to toxic diet and extinction of the Carolina parakeet. Current Biology 30:108-114.e5 DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2019.10.066
The Carolina parakeet specimen.
Credit: Marc Durà.
A research team from the Institute of Evolutionary Biology led by Sergi Valverde has developed a mathematical model that combines ecology and evolution for the first time to explain the impact of the environment on viral infections in plants.
In the study, the team has validated the model's predictions against an extensive database that includes the effect of eleven viruses on different ecosystems in the Mediterranean climate over three years.
The research, published in the journal Nature Ecology and Evolution, sheds light on the effects that climate change and global warming can have on the spread of infections and epidemics in vegetables.
Article: Valverde, S., Vidiella, B., Montañez, R., Fraile, A., Sacristán, S. and Garcí-Arenal, F. (2020). Coexistence of nestedness and modularity in host–pathogen infection networks; Nature Ecology and Evolution 4, 568–577 DOI: 10.1038/s41559-020-1130-9
Representation of the network of interactions between viruses and analysed plants incorporating the effect of the environment.
Credit: Sergi Valverde
What is the potential for synthetic biology as a way of engineering, on a large scale, complex ecosystems?
In this work IBE researchers led by Ricard Solé consider the requirements for terraformation, i.e., for changing a given environment to make it hospitable to some given class of life forms.
Although the standard use of this term involved strategies for planetary terraformation, in this study published in Life researchers propose that this approach could be applied to different ecological communities at multiple scales, from the gut microbiome to the entire biosphere.
Article: Conde-Pueyo, N., Vidiella, B., Sardanyés, J., Berdugo, M., Maestre, FT., de Lorenzo, V. and Solé, R. (2020); Synthetic biology for terraformation lessons from Mars, Earth, and the microbiome; Life 10 (2), 14 DOI: 10.3390/life10020014
Image of terraformed Mars by Daein Ballard edited
by Ella Alderson, with cc by-sa 3.0 licence.
A research team from the Institute of Evolutionary Biology led by Xavier Franch and David Martin has discovered a key mechanism in determining the adult size of insects after metamorphosis.
The study reveals how the production of steroid hormones responsible for initiating metamorphosis in the model organism Drosophila melanogaster is regulated.
Published in the journal Current Biology, the research could help better understand the molecular mechanisms that trigger puberty.
Article: Cruz, J., Martín, D., Franch-Marro, X. (2020); Egfr Signaling is a Major Regulator of Ecdysone Biosynthesis in the Drosophila Prothoracic Gland. Current Biology, 30(8): 1547-1554.e4 DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2020.01.092
The size of the Drosophila larva is dependent on the production of high levels of steroids. The lack of steroids or their reduction increases the size of the organism.
Credit: Xavier Franch.
An IBE research team led by Xavier Bellés has discovered the mechanism that makes insects stop molting once they finish metamorphosis.
The study identifies the mechanism that triggers the destruction of the prothoracic gland, responsible for molting, when insects reach adulthood.
Published in the journal Development, the research could be used to study to what extent a previously determined cellular program, such as metamorphosis, is reversible.
Article: Kamsoi, O., Belles, X. 2020. E93-depleted adult insects preserve the prothoracic gland and molt again. Development 147: dev190066 DOI: 10.1242/dev.190066
In insects, the prothoracic gland becomes destroyed (left) when the last nymphal instar molts to the adult stage. If E93 is depleted, the prothoracic gland is preserved (right) after molting to the adult, so this adult can molt again.
Credit: Orathai Kamsoi.
An IBE research team led by David Comas has revealed that Romani populations carry in their genomes the signature of their early founder ancestors, prior to their diaspora from 2,000 years ago.
Published in Molecular Biology and Evolution, the team analyses the whole-genome sequence of 46 Roma individuals pertaining to four migrant groups in six European countries to find a strong, early founder effect followed by a drastic reduction of ~44% in effective population size.
The study highlights that despite the strong admixture Roma had during their diaspora, the signature of the initial bottleneck and the subsequent endogamy is still present in Roma genomes.
Article: Bianco, E., Laval, G., Font-Porterias, N., García-Fernández, C., Dobon, B., Sabido-Vera, R., Sukarova Stefanovska, E., Kučinskas, V., Makukh, H., Pamjav, H., Quintana-Murci, L., Netea, MG., Bertranpetit, J., Calafell, F. and Comas, D. (2020); Recent Common Origin, Reduced Population Size, and Marked Admixture Have Shaped European Roma Genomes. Molecular Biology and Evolution 1;37(11):3175-3187. DOI: 10.1093/molbev/msaa156.
Credit: Dbachmann, with CC BY-SA 3.0
licence via Wikimedia Commons.
An IBE research team led by Francesc Calafell confirms that the majority of French people are genetically very similar to the Western Europe populations, with the exception of the inhabitants of the periphery of the Hexagone.
In the study, the team analysed more than half a million genome points in more than 300 modern French people to characterize their genetic history.
Published in the journal Human Genetics, the research confirms that France's geographic borders have resulted in a gene flow with neighbouring populations that has shaped the country's current genetic mosaic.
Article: Biagini, SA., Ramos-Luis, E., Comas, D., Calafell, F. (2020). The place of Metropolitan France in the European genomic landscape. Human Genetics, 139:1091-1105 DOI: 10.1007/s00439-020-02158-y
Both modern and ancient DNA analysis shows a clear
separation of Basques, Gascons and Bretons from
the rest of French populations.
Credit: Simone A. Biagini.