2015 Vol. 36, No. 6
：Revealing how molecular mechanisms influence higher brain circuits in primates will be essential for understanding how genetic insults lead to increased risk of cognitive disorders. Traditionally, modulatory influences on higher cortical circuits have been examined using lesion techniques, where a brain region is depleted of a particular transmitter to determine how its loss impacts cognitive function. For example, depletion of catecholamines or acetylcholine from the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex produces striking deficits in working memory abilities. More directed techniques have utilized direct infusions of drug into a specific cortical site to try to circumvent compensatory changes that are common following transmitter depletion. The effects of drug on neuronal firing patterns are often studied using iontophoresis, where a minute amount of drug is moved into the brain using a tiny electrical current, thus minimizing the fluid flow that generally disrupts neuronal recordings. All of these approaches can be compared to systemic drug administration, which remains a key arena for the development of effective therapeutics for human cognitive disorders. Most recently, viral techniques are being developed to be able to manipulate proteins for which there is no developed pharmacology, and to allow optogenetic manipulations in primate cortex. As the association cortices greatly expand in brain evolution, research in nonhuman primates is particularly important for understanding the modulatory regulation of our highest order cognitive operations.
Comparative genomics is a powerful approach that comprehensively interprets the genome. Herein, we performed whole genome comparative analysis of 16 Diptera genomes, including four mosquitoes and 12 Drosophilae. We found more than 540 000 constraint elements (CEs) in the Diptera genome, with the majority found in the intergenic, coding and intronic regions. Accelerated elements (AEs) identified in mosquitoes were mostly in the protein-coding regions (>93%), which differs from vertebrates in genomic distribution. Some genes functionally enriched in blood digestion, body temperature regulation and insecticide resistance showed rapid evolution not only in the lineage of the recent common ancestor of mosquitoes (RCAM), but also in some mosquito lineages. This may be associated with lineage-specific traits and/or adaptations in comparison with other insects. Our findings revealed that although universally fast evolution acted on biological systems in RCAM, such as hematophagy, same adaptations also appear to have occurred through distinct degrees of evolution in different mosquito species, enabling them to be successful blood feeders in different environments.
Inter-species variability in morphological traits creates a need to know the range of variability of characteristics in the species for taxonomic and ecological tasks. Copepoda Arctodiaptomus salinus, which inhabits water bodies across Eurasia and North Africa, plays a dominant role in plankton of different water bodies-from fresh to hypersaline. This work assesses the intra- and inter-population morphometric variability of A. salinus in the Mediterranean-Black Sea region and discusses some observed regularities. The variability of linear body parameters and proportions was studied. The impacts of salinity, temperature, and population density on morphological characteristics and their variability can manifest themselves in different ways at the intra- and inter-population levels. A significant effect of salinity, pH and temperature on the body proportions was not found. Their intra-population variability is dependent on temperature and salinity. Sexual dimorphism of A. salinus manifests in different linear parameters, proportions, and their variability. There were no effects of temperature, pH and salinity on the female/male parameter ratio. There were significant differences in the body proportions of males and females in different populations. The influence of temperature, salinity, and population density can be attributed to 80%-90% of intra-population variability of A. salinus. However, these factors can explain less than 40% of inter-population differences. Significant differences in the body proportions of males and females from different populations may suggest that some local populations of A. salinus in the Mediterranean-Black Sea region are in the initial stages of differentiation.
Stress from dominance ranks in human societies, or that of other social animals, especially nonhuman primates, can have negative influences on health. Individuals holding different social status may be burdened with various stress levels. The middle class experiences a special stress situation within the dominance hierarchy due to its position between the higher and lower classes. Behaviorally, questions about where middle-class stress comes from and how individuals adapt to middle-class stress remain poorly understood in nonhuman primates. In the present study, social interactions, including aggression, avoidance, grooming and mounting behaviors, between beta males, as well as among group members holding higher or lower social status, were analyzed in captive male-only cynomolgus monkey groups. We found that aggressive tension from the higher hierarchy members was the main origin of stress for middle-class individuals. However, behaviors such as attacking lower hierarchy members immediately after being the recipient of aggression, as well as increased avoidance, grooming and mounting toward both higher and lower hierarchy members helped alleviate middle-class stress and were particular adaptations to middle-class social status.
Faunal species richness is traditionally assumed to decrease with increasing elevation and decreasing primary productivity. Species richness is reported to peak at mid-elevation. This survey examines the herpetofaunal diversity and distribution in Mt. Kenya (central Kenya) by testing the hypothesis that changes in species richness with elevation relate to elevation-dependent changes in climate. Sampling along transects from an elevation of approximately 1 700 m in Chogoria forest block (wind-ward side) and approximately 2 600 m in Sirimon block (rain shadow zone) upwards in March 2009. This starts from the forest to montane alpine zones. Sampling of reptiles and amphibians uses pitfall traps associated with drift fences, time-limited searches and visual encounter surveys. The results show that herpetofaunal richness differs among three vegetation zones along the elevation gradient. Chogoria has higher biodiversity than Sirimon. More species occur at low and middle elevations and few exist at high elevations. The trends are consistent with expected optimum water and energy variables. The lower alpine montane zone has high species richness but low diversity due to dominance of some high elevations species. Unambiguous data do not support a mid-domain effect (mid-elevation peak) because the observed trend better fits a model in which climatic variables (rainfall and temperature) control species richness, which indirectly measures productivity. It is important to continue protection of all indigenous forests, especially at low to mid elevations. These areas are vulnerable to human destruction yet are home to some endemic species. Firebreaks can limit the spread of the perennial wildfires, especially on the moorlands.
It is practically difficult to differentiate Placocheilus robustus and Placocheilus caudofasciatus from Red River drainage of China. Without stated reasons, P. robustus has been assumed as the synonyms of P. caudofasciatus. The present study aims to decipher the morphological differences between two species so as to provide reliable clues for their classification by multivariate morphometry. A total of 72 specimens of two species in genus Placocheilus were examined. Besides morphological character comparisons, 10 anatomic landmarks were utilized and 23 frame structures and 15 general characters measured. The scatter plot results of principal component analysis showed that all specimens were clustered together and could not be defined as two distinct species. No significant morphological differences existed in four diagnostic characters between P. robustus and P. caudofasciatus. Thus the results of the present study fail to support P. robustus as a valid and independent species.