2021 Vol. 42, No. 1

Full issue
2021, 42(1): 1-1.
Phylogenetic relationships within the sinica-group of macaques based on morphological, behavioral, and molecular characteristics have remained controversial. The Nepal population of Assam macaques (Macaca assamensis) (NPAM), the westernmost population of the species, is morphologically distinct but has never been used in phylogenetic analyses. Here, the phylogenetic relationship of NPAM with other congeners was tested using multiple mitochondrial and Y-chromosomal loci. The divergence times and evolutionary genetic distances among macaques were also estimated. Results revealed two major mitochondrial DNA clades of macaques under the sinica-group: the first clade included M. thibetana, M. sinica, and eastern subspecies of Assam macaque (M. assamensis assamensis); the second clade included M. radiata together with species from the eastern and central Himalaya, namely, M. leucogenys, M. munzala, and NPAM. Among the second-clade species, NPAM was the first to diverge from the other members of the clade around 1.9 million years ago. Our results revealed that NPAM is phylogenetically distinct from the eastern Assam macaques and closer to other species and hence may represent a separate species. Because of its phylogenetic distinctiveness, isolated distribution, and small population size, the Nepal population of sinica-group macaques warrants detailed taxonomic revision and high conservation priority.
Double sex and mab-3-related transcription factor 1 (Dmrt1), which is expressed in goat male germline stem cells (mGSCs) and Sertoli cells, is one of the most conserved transcription factors involved in sex determination. In this study, we highlighted the role of Dmrt1 in balancing the innate immune response in goat mGSCs. Dmrt1 recruited promyelocytic leukemia zinc finger (Plzf), also known as zinc finger and BTB domain-containing protein 16 (Zbtb16), to repress the Toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4)-dependent inflammatory signaling pathway and nuclear factor (NF)-κB. Knockdown of Dmrt1 in seminiferous tubules resulted in widespread degeneration of germ and somatic cells, while the expression of proinflammatory factors were significantly enhanced. We also demonstrated that Dmrt1 stimulated proliferation of mGSCs, but repressed apoptosis caused by the immune response. Thus, Dmrt1 is sufficient to reduce inflammation in the testes, thereby establishing the stability of spermatogenesis and the testicular microenvironment.
Depression is a prevalent mental disorder that is associated with aging and contributes to increased mortality and morbidity. The overall prevalence of geriatric depression with clinically significant symptoms is currently on the rise. Recent studies have demonstrated that altered expressions of long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs) in the brain affect neurodevelopment and manifest modulating functions during the depression. However, most lncRNAs have not yet been studied. Herein, we analyzed the transcriptome of dysregulated lncRNAs to reveal their expressions in a mouse model exhibiting depressive-like behaviors, as well as their corresponding response following antidepressant fluoxetine treatment. A chronic unpredictable mild stress (CUMS) mouse model was applied. A six-week fluoxetine intervention in CUMS-induced mice attenuated depressive-like behaviors. In addition, differential expression analysis of lncRNAs was performed following RNA-sequencing. A total of 282 lncRNAs (134 up-regulated and 148 down-regulated) were differentially expressed in CUMS-induced mice relative to non-stressed counterparts (P<0.05). Moreover, 370 differentially expressed lncRNAs were identified in CUMS-induced mice after fluoxetine intervention. Gene Ontology (GO) analyses showed an association between significantly dysregulated lncRNAs and protein binding, oxygen binding, and transport activity, while the Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes (KEGG) analysis indicated that these dysregulated lncRNAs might be involved in inflammatory response pathways. Fluoxetine effectively ameliorated the symptoms of depression in CUMS-induced mice by regulating the expression of lncRNAs in the hippocampus. The findings herein provide valuable insights into the potential mechanism underlying depression in elderly people.
Although domestic ducks have been important poultry species throughout human history, their origin remains enigmatic, with mallards and/or Chinese spot-billed ducks being proposed as the direct wild ancestor(s) of domestic ducks. Here, we analyzed 118 whole genomes from mallard, Chinese spot-billed, and domestic ducks to reconstruct their evolutionary history. We found pervasive introgression patterns among these duck populations. Furthermore, we showed that domestic ducks separated from mallard and Chinese spot-billed ducks nearly 38 thousand years ago (kya) and 54 kya, respectively, which is considerably outside the time period of presumed duck domestication. Thus, our results suggest that domestic ducks may have originated from another wild duck population that is currently undefined or unsampled, rather than from present-day mallard and/or Chinese spot-billed ducks, as previously thought. Overall, this study provides new insight into the complex evolution of ducks.
Palaeognathae includes ratite and tinamou species that are important for understanding early avian evolution. Here, we analyzed the whole-genome sequences of 15 paleognathous species to infer their demographic histories, which are presently unknown. We found that most species showed a reduction of population size since the beginning of the last glacial period, except for those species distributed in Australasia and in the far south of South America. Different degrees of contraction and expansion of transposable elements (TE) have shaped the paleognathous genome architecture, with a higher transposon removal rate in tinamous than in ratites. One repeat family, AviRTE, likely underwent horizontal transfer from tropical parasites to the ancestor of little and undulated tinamous about 30 million years ago. Our analysis of gene families identified rapid turnover of immune and reproduction-related genes but found no evidence of gene family changes underlying the convergent evolution of flightlessness among ratites. We also found that mitochondrial genes have experienced a faster evolutionary rate in tinamous than in ratites, with the former also showing more degenerated W chromosomes. This result can be explained by the Hill-Robertson interference affecting genetically linked W chromosomes and mitochondria. Overall, we reconstructed the evolutionary history of the Palaeognathae populations, genes, and TEs. Our findings of co-evolution between mitochondria and W chromosomes highlight the key difference in genome evolution between species with ZW sex chromosomes and those with XY sex chromosomes.
While considerable progress has been made in the taxonomic studies of the genus Lycodon in Asia, questions remain to be clarified regarding the taxonomy of certain groups, particularly those containing species in China. Not only do many regions in China remain overlooked by herpetologists, resulting in the possibility of undiscovered new species, but the surveyed areas also have suspicious records of recognized congeners that require taxonomic confirmations. Combining both morphological and genetic data, we tackle these outstanding issues in the taxonomy of Lycodon in China. In particular, we discover two new species of Lycodon: one from the previously neglected hot-dry valley in the northern Hengduan Mountain Region close to Tibet, and another recluse and cryptic species from the L. fasciatus complex in the downtown park of a major city in southern Sichuan Province. Additionally, we clarify the distribution of L. septentrionalis in China and resurrect and elevate its junior synonym subspecies, Dinodon septentrionale chapaense, as a full, valid species, and we synonymize the recently described L. namdongensis to the resurrected L. chapaensis comb. nov .. Lycodon chapaensis comb. nov . thus represents a new national record of reptilian fauna of China. Lastly, based on literature review, we also correct some of the erroneous records of L. fasciatus and L. ruhstrati in China, point out remaining taxonomic issues of the genus for future research, and update the dichotomous key and distribution of the 20 species of Lycodon currently recorded from China.
Letters to the editor
Analysis of SARS-CoV-2 genome variation using a minimal number of selected informative sites conforming a genetic barcode presents several drawbacks. We show that purely mathematical procedures for site selection should be supervised by known phylogeny (i) to ensure that solid tree branches are represented instead of mutational hotspots with poor phylogeographic proprieties, and (ii) to avoid phylogenetic redundancy. We propose a procedure that prevents information redundancy in site selection by considering the cumulative informativeness of previously selected sites (as a proxy for phylogenetic-based criteria). This procedure demonstrates that, for short barcodes (e.g., 11 sites), there are thousands of informative site combinations that improve previous proposals. We also show that barcodes based on worldwide databases inevitably prioritize variants located at the basal nodes of the phylogeny, such that most representative genomes in these ancestral nodes are no longer in circulation. Consequently, coronavirus phylodynamics cannot be properly captured by universal genomic barcodes because most SARS-CoV-2 variation is generated in geographically restricted areas by the continuous introduction of domestic variants.
The disk-footed bat Eudiscopus denticulus (Osgood, 1932) is a rare species in Southeast Asia. During two chiropteran surveys in the summer of 1981 and 2019, eight and three small Myotis-like bats with distinct disk-like hindfeet were collected from Yunnan Province, China, respectively. External, craniodental, and phylogenetic evidence confirmed these specimens as E. denticulus, representing a new genus in China. The complete mitochondrial genome consistently showed robust support for E. denticulus as a basal lineage within Myotinae. The coding patterns and characteristics of its mitochondrial genome were similar to that of other published genomes from Myotis. The echolocation signals of the newly collected individuals were analyzed. The potential distribution range of Eudiscopus in Southeast Asia inferred using the MaxEnt model indicated its potential occurrence along the southern border region of Yunnan, China.
In this study, we reassessed the taxonomic position of Typhlomys (Rodentia: Platacanthomyidae) from Huangshan, Anhui, China, based on morphological and molecular evidence. Results suggested that Typhlomys is comprised of up to six species, including four currently recognized species (Typhlomys cinereus, T. chapensis, T. daloushanensis, and T. nanus), one unconfirmed candidate species, and one new species (Typhlomys huangshanensis sp. nov. ). Morphological analyses further supported the designation of the Huangshan specimens found at mid-elevations in the southern Huangshan Mountains (600 m to 1 200 m a.s.l.) as a new species.
Previous work based on molecular evidence has shown that most socially monogamous birds follow a genetic polyandrous mating system. However, our knowledge about avian mating systems is heavily biased toward the north temperate zone, with data on tropical birds remaining relatively scarce. This uneven distribution of both phylogenetic and spatial sampling has hampered our understanding and interpretation of results. In this study, we investigated the frequency of extra-pair paternity (EPP) in a tropical population of yellow-bellied prinias (Prinia flaviventris) in Guangxi, southern China. A total of 129 individuals belonging to 24 nests were sampled, among which 12 out of 83 chicks (14.46%) in seven nests were found to be EPP offspring. In nests in which all nestlings were sampled, only five out of 56 chicks were EPP offspring, accounting for an unbiased EPP rate of 8.93%. This rate is below the average rate of EPP in the family Sylviidae. The possible causes of EPP in prinias and the occurrence of EPP in birds with high resource investment and intensive parental care are discussed. This study highlights the value of genome-wide markers in determining relatedness in a wild bird species without a reference genome.
Currently, the genus Polypedates comprises 26 species distributed in South, Southeast, and East Asia. Because of their relatively low dispersal capability and intolerance to seawater, this genus is ideal for the study of terrestrial range evolution that extends into the island archipelagos of southeastern Asia. In this study, based on data compiled for Polypedates from previous studies and partial mitochondrial and nuclear genes collected in this study, we performed systematic biogeographical analysis. We confirmed a Sundaland origin for the extant genus and showed northward dispersal into mainland Southeast Asia and Asia, which coincided with the timing of paleoclimatic change from the Oligocene to Middle Miocene. Climate fluctuations had a profound impact on species diversification within the genus Polypedates. Furthermore, the Red River did not mediate species exchange between Southeast Asia and mainland Asia until the end of the Miocene, with the sudden onset of northward dispersal in several clades independently at that time. Alternatively, the lineage of widespread insular P. leucomystax strongly supports the hypothesis of terrestrial connection between island archipelagos of Southeast Asia during the Mid-Pleistocene paleoclimate fluctuations. Our biogeographical analysis also supports the recent introduction of P. leucomystax to the Philippines and Ryukyus, as previously suggested.
The Antarctic toothfish, Dissostichus mawsoni, belongs to the Nototheniidae family and is distributed in sub-zero temperatures below S60° latitude in the Southern Ocean. Therefore, it is an attractive model species to study the stenothermal cold-adapted character state. In this study, we successfully generated highly contiguous genome sequences of D. mawsoni, which contained 1 062 scaffolds with a N50 length of 36.98 Mb and longest scaffold length of 46.82 Mb. Repetitive elements accounted for 40.87% of the genome. We also inferred 32 914 protein-coding genes using in silico gene prediction and transcriptome sequencing and detected splicing variants using Isoform-Sequencing (Iso-Seq), which will be invaluable resource for further exploration of the adaptation mechanisms of Antarctic toothfish. This new high-quality reference genome of D. mawsoni provides a fundamental resource for a deeper understanding of cold adaptation and conservation of species.
The Atlantic sea nettle (Chrysaora quinquecirrha) has an important evolutionary position due to its high ecological value. However, due to limited sequencing technologies and complex jellyfish genomic sequences, the current C. quinquecirrha genome assembly is highly fragmented. Here, we used the most advanced high-throughput chromosome conformation capture (Hi-C) technology to obtain high-coverage sequencing data of the C. quinquecirrha genome. We then anchored these data to the previously published contig-level assembly to improve the genome. Finally, a high-continuity genome sequence of C. quinquecirrha was successfully assembled, which contained 1 882 scaffolds with a N50 length of 3.83 Mb. The N50 length of the genome assembly was 5.23 times longer than the previously released one, and additional analysis revealed that it had a high degree of genomic continuity and accuracy. Acquisition of the high-continuity genome sequence of C. quinquecirrha not only provides a basis for the study of jellyfish evolution through comparative genomics but also provides an important resource for studies on jellyfish growth and development.