Scielo RSS <![CDATA[Genetics and Molecular Biology]]> vol. 38 num. 3 lang. en <![CDATA[SciELO Logo]]> <![CDATA[A joint effort of the Brazilian Evo-Devo community]]> <![CDATA[Evolution of flatworm central nervous systems: Insights from polyclads]]> The nervous systems of flatworms have diversified extensively as a consequence of the broad range of adaptations in the group. Here we examined the central nervous system (CNS) of 12 species of polyclad flatworms belonging to 11 different families by morphological and histological studies. These comparisons revealed that the overall organization and architecture of polyclad central nervous systems can be classified into three categories (I, II, and III) based on the presence of globuli cell masses -ganglion cells of granular appearance-, the cross-sectional shape of the main nerve cords, and the tissue type surrounding the nerve cords. In addition, four different cell types were identified in polyclad brains based on location and size. We also characterize the serotonergic and FMRFamidergic nervous systems in the cotylean Boninia divae by immunocytochemistry. Although both neurotransmitters were broadly expressed, expression of serotonin was particularly strong in the sucker, whereas FMRFamide was particularly strong in the pharynx. Finally, we test some of the major hypothesized trends during the evolution of the CNS in the phylum by a character state reconstruction based on current understanding of the nervous system across different species of Platyhelminthes and on up-to-date molecular phylogenies. <![CDATA[A putative RA-like region in the brain of the scale-backed antbird, <em>Willisornis poecilinotus</em> (Furnariides, Suboscines, Passeriformes, Thamnophilidae)]]> The memorization and production of song in songbirds share important parallels with the process of speech acquisition in humans. In songbirds, these processes are dependent on a group of specialized telencephalic nuclei known as the song system: HVC (used as a proper name), RA (robust nucleus of arcopallium), LMAN (lateral magnocellular nucleus of the nidopallium) and striatal Area X. A recent study suggested that the arcopallium of the Sayornis phoebe, a non vocal learner suboscine species, contains a nucleus with some properties similar to those of songbird RA, suggesting that the song system may have been present in the last common ancestor of these groups. Here we report morphological and gene expression evidence that a region with some properties similar to RA is present in another suboscine, the Amazonian endemic Willisornis poecilinotus. Specifically, a discrete domain with a distinct Nissl staining pattern and that expresses the RA marker RGS4 was found in the arcopallium where the oscine RA is localized. Our findings, combined with the previous report on the S. phoebe, suggest that an arcopallial region with some RA-like properties was present in the ancestor of both Suboscines infraorders Tyranni and Furnarii, and is possibly an ancestral feature of Passeriformes. <![CDATA[Molecular evolution of <em>HoxA13</em> and the multiple origins of limbless morphologies in amphibians and reptiles]]> Developmental processes and their results, morphological characters, are inherited through transmission of genes regulating development. While there is ample evidence that cis-regulatory elements tend to be modular, with sequence segments dedicated to different roles, the situation for proteins is less clear, being particularly complex for transcription factors with multiple functions. Some motifs mediating protein-protein interactions may be exclusive to particular developmental roles, but it is also possible that motifs are mostly shared among different processes. Here we focus on HoxA13, a protein essential for limb development. We asked whether the HoxA13 amino acid sequence evolved similarly in three limbless clades: Gymnophiona, Amphisbaenia and Serpentes. We explored variation in ω (dN/dS) using a maximum-likelihood framework and HoxA13sequences from 47 species. Comparisons of evolutionary models provided low ω global values and no evidence that HoxA13 experienced relaxed selection in limbless clades. Branch-site models failed to detect evidence for positive selection acting on any site along branches of Amphisbaena and Gymnophiona, while three sites were identified in Serpentes. Examination of alignments did not reveal consistent sequence differences between limbed and limbless species. We conclude that HoxA13 has no modules exclusive to limb development, which may be explained by its involvement in multiple developmental processes. <![CDATA[Insights into the dynamics of hind leg development in honey bee (<em>Apis mellifera</em> L.) queen and worker larvae - A morphology/differential gene expression analysis]]> Phenotypic plasticity is a hallmark of the caste systems of social insects, expressed in their life history and morphological traits. These are best studied in bees. In their co-evolution with angiosperm plants, the females of corbiculate bees have acquired a specialized structure on their hind legs for collecting pollen. In the highly eusocial bees (Apini and Meliponini), this structure is however only present in workers and absent in queens. By means of histological sections and cell proliferation analysis we followed the developmental dynamics of the hind legs of queens and workers in the fourth and fifth larval instars. In parallel, we generated subtractive cDNA libraries for hind leg discs of queen and worker larvae by means of a Representational Difference Analysis (RDA). From the total of 135 unique sequences we selected 19 for RT-qPCR analysis, where six of these were confirmed as differing significantly in their expression between the two castes in the larval spinning stage. The development of complex structures such as the bees’ hind legs, requires diverse patterning mechanisms and signaling modules, as indicated by the set of differentially expressed genes related with cell adhesion and signaling pathways. <![CDATA[small ORFs: A new class of essential genes for development]]> Genes that contain small open reading frames (smORFs) constitute a new group of eukaryotic genes and are expected to represent 5% of the Drosophila melanogaster transcribed genes. In this review we provide a historical perspective of their recent discovery, describe their general mechanism and discuss the importance of smORFs for future genomic and transcriptomic studies. Finally, we discuss the biological role of the most studied smORF so far, the Mlpt/Pri/Tal gene in arthropods. The pleiotropic action of Mlpt/Pri/Tal in D. melanogaster suggests a complex evolutionary scenario that can be used to understand the origins, evolution and integration of smORFs into complex gene regulatory networks. <![CDATA[Evo-devo of non-bilaterian animals]]> The non-bilaterian animals comprise organisms in the phyla Porifera, Cnidaria, Ctenophora and Placozoa. These early-diverging phyla are pivotal to understanding the evolution of bilaterian animals. After the exponential increase in research in evolutionary development (evo-devo) in the last two decades, these organisms are again in the spotlight of evolutionary biology. In this work, I briefly review some aspects of the developmental biology of nonbilaterians that contribute to understanding the evolution of development and of the metazoans. The evolution of the developmental genetic toolkit, embryonic polarization, the origin of gastrulation and mesodermal cells, and the origin of neural cells are discussed. The possibility that germline and stem cell lineages have the same origin is also examined. Although a considerable number of non-bilaterian species are already being investigated, the use of species belonging to different branches of non-bilaterian lineages and functional experimentation with gene manipulation in the majority of the non-bilaterian lineages will be necessary for further progress in this field. <![CDATA[Exploring the role of auxin in the androgynophore movement in <em>Passiflora</em>]]> The flowers of the species belonging to the genus Passiflorashow a range of features that are thought to have arisen as adaptations to different pollinators. Some Passiflora species belonging to the subgenus Decaloba sect. Xerogona, show touch-sensitive motile androgynophores. We tested the role of auxin polar transport in the modulation of the androgynophore movement by applying auxin (IAA) or an inhibitor of auxin polar transport (NPA) in the flowers. We recorded the movement of the androgynophore during mechano-stimulation and analyzed the duration, speed, and the angle formed by the androgynophore before and after the movement, and found that both IAA and NPA increase the amplitude of the movement in P. sanguinolenta. We hypothesize that auxin might have a role in modulating the fitness of these Decaloba species to different pollination syndromes and demonstrate that an interspecific hybrid between insect- and hummingbird-pollinated Xerogona species present a heterosis effect on the speed of the androgynophore movement. <![CDATA[Occupational exposure of workers to pesticides: Toxicogenetics and susceptibility gene polymorphisms]]> Farm workers are often exposed to pesticides, which are products belonging to a specific chemical group that affects the health of agricultural workers and is mostly recognized as genotoxic and carcinogenic. The exposure of workers from Piauí, Brazil, to these hazardous chemicals was assessed and cytogenetic alterations were evaluated using the buccal micronucleus assay, hematological and lipid parameters, butyrylcholinesterase (BChE) activity and genetic polymorphisms of enzymes involved in the metabolism of pesticides, such as PON1, as well as of the DNA repair system (OGG1, XRCC1 and XRCC4). Two groups of farm workers exposed to different types of pesticides were evaluated and compared to matched non-exposed control groups. A significant increase was observed in the frequencies of micronuclei, kariorrhexis, karyolysis and binucleated cells in the exposed groups (n = 100) compared to controls (n = 100). No differences were detected regarding the hematological parameters, lipid profile and BChE activity. No significant difference was observed either regarding DNA damage or nuclear fragmentation when specific metabolizing and DNA repair genotypes were investigated in the exposed groups. <![CDATA[Prevalence of β<sup>S</sup>-globin gene haplotypes, α-thalassemia (3.7 kb deletion) and redox status in patients with sickle cell anemia in the state of Paraná, Brazil]]> The aim of this study was to determine the frequency of beta S-globin gene (βS globin) haplotypes and alpha thalassemia with 3.7 kb deletion (−α3.7kb thalassemia) in the northwest region of Paraná state, and to investigate the oxidative and clinical-hematological profile of βS globin carriers in this population. Of the 77 samples analyzed, 17 were Hb SS, 30 were Hb AS and 30 were Hb AA. The βSglobin haplotypes and −α3.7kb thalassemia were identified using polymerase chain reaction.Trolox equivalent antioxidant capacity (TEAC) and lipid peroxidation (LPO) were assessed spectophotometrically. Serum melatonin levels were determined using high-performance liquid chromatography coupled to coulometric electrochemical detection. The haplotype frequencies in the SS individuals were as follows: Bantu- 21 (62%), Benin - 11 (32%) and Atypical- 2 (6%). Bantu/Benin was the most frequent genotype. Of the 47 SS and AS individuals assessed, 17% (n = 8) had the −α3.7kb mutation. Clinical manifestations, as well as serum melatonin, TEAC and LPO levels did not differ between Bantu/Bantu and Bantu/Benin individuals (p &gt; 0.05). Both genotypes were associated with high LPO and TEAC levels and decreased melatonin concentration. These data suggest that the level of oxidative stress in patients with Bantu/Bantu and Bantu/Benin genotypes may overload the antioxidant capacity. <![CDATA[High interpopulation homogeneity in Central Argentina as assessed by Ancestry Informative Markers (AIMs)]]> The population of Argentina has already been studied with regard to several genetic markers, but much more data are needed for the appropriate definition of its genetic profile. This study aimed at investigating the admixture patterns and genetic structure in Central Argentina, using biparental markers and comparing the results with those previously obtained by us with mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) in the same samples. A total of 521 healthy unrelated individuals living in 13 villages of the Córdoba and San Luis provinces were tested. The individuals were genotyped for ten autosomal ancestry informative markers (AIMs). Allele frequencies were compared with those of African, European and Native American populations, chosen to represent parental contributions. The AIM estimates indicated a greater influence of the Native American ancestry as compared to previous studies in the same or other Argentinean regions, but smaller than that observed with the mtDNA tests. These differences can be explained, respectively, by different genetic contributions between rural and urban areas, and asymmetric gene flow occurred in the past. But a most unexpected finding was the marked interpopulation genetic homogeneity found in villages located in diverse geographic environments across a wide territory, suggesting considerable gene flow. <![CDATA[Costs of genetic testing: Supporting Brazilian Public Policies for the incorporating of molecular diagnostic technologies]]> This study identifies and describes the operating costs associated with the molecular diagnosis of diseases, such as hereditary cancer. To approximate the costs associated with these tests, data informed by Standard Operating Procedures for various techniques was collected from hospital software and a survey of market prices. Costs were established for four scenarios of capacity utilization to represent the possibility of suboptimal use in research laboratories. Cost description was based on a single site. The results show that only one technique was not impacted by rising costs due to underutilized capacity. Several common techniques were considerably more expensive at 30% capacity, including polymerase chain reaction (180%), microsatellite instability analysis (181%), gene rearrangement analysis by multiplex ligation probe amplification (412%), non-labeled sequencing (173%), and quantitation of nucleic acids (169%). These findings should be relevant for the definition of public policies and suggest that investment of public funds in the establishment of centralized diagnostic research centers would reduce costs to the Public Health System. <![CDATA[Characterization of the complete mitochondrial genome and a set of polymorphic microsatellite markers through next-generation sequencing for the brown brocket deer <em>Mazama gouazoubira</em>]]> The complete mitochondrial genome of the brown brocket deer Mazama gouazoubira and a set of polymorphic microsatellite markers were identified by 454-pyrosequencing. De novo genome assembly recovered 98% of the mitochondrial genome with a mean coverage of 9-fold. The mitogenome consisted of 16,356 base pairs that included 13 protein-coding genes, two ribosomal subunit genes, 22 transfer RNAs and the control region, as found in other deer. The genetic divergence between the mitogenome described here and a previously published report was ∼0.5%, with the control region and ND5 gene showing the highest intraspecific variation. Seven polymorphic loci were characterized using 15 unrelated individuals; there was moderate genetic variation across most loci (mean of 5.6 alleles/locus, mean expected heterozygosity = 0.70), with only one locus deviating significantly from Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium, probably because of null alleles. Marker independence was confirmed with tests for linkage disequilibrium. The genetic variation of the mitogenome and characterization of microsatellite markers will provide useful tools for assessing the phylogeography and population genetic patterns in M. gouazoubira, particularly in the context of habitat fragmentation in South America. <![CDATA[Green turtle (<em>Chelonia mydas</em>) genetic diversity at Paranaguá Estuarine Complex feeding grounds in Brazil]]> Sea turtles are marine reptiles that undertake long migrations through their life, with limited information regarding juvenile stages. Feeding grounds (FGs), where they spend most of their lives, are composed by individuals from different natal origins, known as mixed stock populations. The aim of this study was to assess genetic composition, natal origins and demographic history of juvenile green turtles (Chelonia mydas) at the Paranaguá Estuarine Complex (PEC), Brazil, considered a Natural World Heritage site. Tissue samples of stranded animals were collected (n = 60), and 700 bp mitochondrial DNA sequences were generated and compared to shorter sequences from previously published studies. Global exact tests of differentiation revealed significant differences among PEC and the other FGs, except those at the South Atlantic Ocean. Green turtles at PEC present genetic signatures similar to those of nesting females from Ascension Island, Guinea Bissau and Aves Island/Surinam. Population expansion was evidenced to have occurred 20–25 kYA, reinforcing the hypothesis of recovery from Southern Atlantic refugia after the last Glacial Maximum. These results contribute to a better understanding of the dynamics of green turtle populations at a protected area by providing knowledge on the dispersion patterns and reinforcing the importance of the interconnectivity between nesting and foraging populations. <![CDATA[Successful crosses between fungal-resistant wild species of <em>Arachis</em> (section <em>Arachis</em>) and <em>Arachis hypogaea</em>]]> Peanut (Arachis hypogaea) is the fifth most produced oil crop worldwide. Besides lack of water, fungal diseases are the most limiting factors for the crop. Several species of Arachis are resistant to certain pests and diseases. This study aimed to successfully cross the A-genome with B-K-A genome wild species previously selected for fungal disease resistance, but that are still untested. We also aimed to polyplodize the amphihaploid chromosomes; cross the synthetic amphidiploids and A. hypogaea to introgress disease resistance genes into the cultivated peanut; and analyze pollen viability and morphological descriptors for all progenies and their parents. We selected 12 A-genome accessions as male parents and three B-genome species, one K-genome species, and one A-genome species as female parents. Of the 26 distinct cross combinations, 13 different interspecific AB-genome and three AA-genome hybrids were obtained. These sterile hybrids were polyploidized and five combinations produced tetraploid flowers. Next, 16 combinations were crossed between A. hypogaea and the synthetic amphidiploids, resulting in 11 different hybrid combinations. Our results confirm that it is possible to introgress resistance genes from wild species into the peanut using artificial hybridization, and that more species than previously reported can be used, thus enhancing the genetic variability in peanut genetic improvement programs. <![CDATA[The chitinase C gene <em>PsChiC</em> from <em>Pseudomonas</em> sp. and its synergistic effects on larvicidal activity]]> Pseudomonas sp. strain TXG6-1, a chitinolytic gram-negative bacterium, was isolated from a vegetable field in Taixing city, Jiangsu Province, China. In this study, a Pseudomonas chitinase C gene (PsChiC) was isolated from the chromosomal DNA of this bacterium using a pair of specific primers. The PsChiC gene consisted of an open reading frame of 1443 nucleotides and encoded 480 amino acid residues with a calculated molecular mass of 51.66 kDa. The deduced PsChiC amino acid sequence lacked a signal sequence and consisted of a glycoside hydrolase family 18 catalytic domain responsible for chitinase activity, a fibronectin type III-like domain (FLD) and a C-terminal chitin-binding domain (ChBD). The amino acid sequence of PsChiCshowed high sequence homology (&gt; 95%) with chitinase C from Serratia marcescens. SDS-PAGE showed that the molecular mass of chitinase PsChiC was 52 kDa. Chitinase assays revealed that the chitobiosidase and endochitinase activities of PsChiCwere 51.6- and 84.1-fold higher than those of pET30a, respectively. Although PsChiC showed little insecticidal activity towards Spodoptera litura larvae, an insecticidal assay indicated that PsChiC increased the insecticidal toxicity of SpltNPV by 1.78-fold at 192 h and hastened death. These results suggest that PsChiC from Pseudomonas sp. could be useful in improving the pathogenicity of baculoviruses. <![CDATA[High-throughput nucleotide sequence analysis of diverse bacterial communities in leachates of decomposing pig carcasses]]> The leachate generated by the decomposition of animal carcass has been implicated as an environmental contaminant surrounding the burial site. High-throughput nucleotide sequencing was conducted to investigate the bacterial communities in leachates from the decomposition of pig carcasses. We acquired 51,230 reads from six different samples (1, 2, 3, 4, 6 and 14 week-old carcasses) and found that sequences representing the phylum Firmicutes predominated. The diversity of bacterial 16S rRNA gene sequences in the leachate was the highest at 6 weeks, in contrast to those at 2 and 14 weeks. The relative abundance of Firmicutes was reduced, while the proportion of Bacteroidetes and Proteobacteria increased from 3–6 weeks. The representation of phyla was restored after 14 weeks. However, the community structures between the samples taken at 1–2 and 14 weeks differed at the bacterial classification level. The trend in pH was similar to the changes seen in bacterial communities, indicating that the pH of the leachate could be related to the shift in the microbial community. The results indicate that the composition of bacterial communities in leachates of decomposing pig carcasses shifted continuously during the study period and might be influenced by the burial site. <![CDATA[Cloning and expression analysis of the chitinase gene <em>Ifu-chit2</em> from <em>Isaria fumosorosea</em>]]> Entomopathogenic fungi can produce a series of chitinases, some of which function synergistically with proteases and other hydrolytic enzymes to degrade the insect cuticle. In the present study, the chitinase gene Ifu-chit2 from Isaria fumosorosea was investigated. The Ifu-chit2 gene is 1,435-bp long, interrupted by three short introns, and encodes a predicted protein of 423 amino acids with a 22 residue signal peptide. The predicted Ifu-Chit2 protein is highly homologous to Beauveria bassiana chitinase Bbchit2 and belongs to the glycohydrolase family 18. Ifu-Chit2 was expressed in Escherichia coli to verify chitinase activity, and the recombinant enzyme exhibited activity with a colloidal chitin substrate. Furthermore, the expression profiles of Ifu-chit2 were analyzed at different induction times under in vivo conditions. Quantitative real-time PCR analysis revealed that Ifu-chit2 expression peaked at two days post-induction. The expression of chitinase Ifu-chit2 in vivo suggests that the chitinase may play a role in the early stage of pathogenesis. <![CDATA[Phylogenetic incongruence inferred with two mitochondrial genes in <em>Mepraia</em> spp. and <em>Triatoma eratyrusiformis</em>(Hemiptera, Reduviidae)]]> Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) is widely used to clarify phylogenetic relationships among and within species, and to determine population structure. Due to the linked nature of mtDNA genes it is expected that different genes will show similar results. Phylogenetic incongruence using mtDNA genes may result from processes such as heteroplasmy, nuclear integration of mitochondrial genes, polymerase errors, contamination, and recombination. In this study we used sequences from two mitochondrial genes (cytochrome b and cytochrome oxidase subunit I) from the wild vectors of Chagas disease, Triatoma eratyrusiformis and Mepraia species to test for topological congruence. The results showed some cases of phylogenetic incongruence due to misplacement of four haplotypes of four individuals. We discuss the possible causes of such incongruence and suggest that the explanation is an intra-individual variation likely due to heteroplasmy. This phenomenon is an independent evidence of common ancestry between these taxa. <![CDATA[The best of both worlds: Phylogenetic eigenvector regression and mapping]]> Eigenfunction analyses have been widely used to model patterns of autocorrelation in time, space and phylogeny. In a phylogenetic context, Diniz-Filho et al. (1998) proposed what they called Phylogenetic Eigenvector Regression (PVR), in which pairwise phylogenetic distances among species are submitted to a Principal Coordinate Analysis, and eigenvectors are then used as explanatory variables in regression, correlation or ANOVAs. More recently, a new approach called Phylogenetic Eigenvector Mapping (PEM) was proposed, with the main advantage of explicitly incorporating a model-based warping in phylogenetic distance in which an Ornstein-Uhlenbeck (O-U) process is fitted to data before eigenvector extraction. Here we compared PVR and PEM in respect to estimated phylogenetic signal, correlated evolution under alternative evolutionary models and phylogenetic imputation, using simulated data. Despite similarity between the two approaches, PEM has a slightly higher prediction ability and is more general than the original PVR. Even so, in a conceptual sense, PEM may provide a technique in the best of both worlds, combining the flexibility of data-driven and empirical eigenfunction analyses and the sounding insights provided by evolutionary models well known in comparative analyses.