School of BioSciences - Research Publications

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    Intraspecific genetic lineages of a marine mussel show behavioural divergence and spatial segregation over a tropical/subtropical biogeographic transition
    Zardi, GI ; Nicastro, KR ; McQuaid, CD ; Castilho, R ; Costa, J ; Serrao, EA ; Pearson, GA (BMC, 2015-05-31)
    BACKGROUND: Intraspecific variability is seen as a central component of biodiversity. We investigated genetic differentiation, contemporary patterns of demographic connectivity and intraspecific variation of adaptive behavioural traits in two lineages of an intertidal mussel (Perna perna) across a tropical/subtropical biogeographic transition. RESULTS: Microsatellite analyses revealed clear genetic differentiation between western (temperate) and eastern (subtropical/tropical) populations, confirming divergence previously detected with mitochondrial (COI) and nuclear (ITS) markers. Gene flow between regions was predominantly east-to-west and was only moderate, with higher heterozygote deficiency where the two lineages co-occur. This can be explained by differential selection and/or oceanographic dynamics acting as a barrier to larval dispersal. Common garden experiments showed that gaping (periodic closure and opening of the shell) and attachment to the substratum differed significantly between the two lineages. Western individuals gaped more and attached less strongly to the substratum than eastern ones. CONCLUSIONS: These behavioural differences are consistent with the geographic and intertidal distributions of each lineage along sharp environmental clines, indicating their strong adaptive significance. We highlight the functional role of diversity below the species level in evolutionary trends and the need to understand this when predicting biodiversity responses to environmental change.
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    When Ontogeny Matters: A New Japanese Species of Brittle Star Illustrates the Importance of Considering both Adult and Juvenile Characters in Taxonomic Practice
    Martynov, A ; Ishida, Y ; Irimura, S ; Tajiri, R ; O'Hara, T ; Fujita, T ; Schubert, M (PUBLIC LIBRARY SCIENCE, 2015-10-28)
    Current taxonomy offers numerous approaches and methods for species delimitation and description. However, most of them are based on the adult characters and rarely suggest a dynamic representation of developmental transformations of taxonomically important features. Here we show how the underestimation of ontogenetic changes may result in long term lack of recognition of a new species of one of the most common ophiacanthid brittle stars (Echinodermata: Ophiuroidea) from the North Pacific. Based on vast material collected predominantly by various Japanese expeditions in the course of more than 50 years, and thorough study of appropriate type material, we revise the complex of three common species of the ophiuroid genus Ophiacantha which have been persistently confused with each other. The present study thus reveals the previously unrecognized new species Ophiacantha kokusai sp.nov. which is commonly distributed off the Pacific coast of Japan. The new species shows developmental differentiation from the closely related species Ophiacantha rhachophora H. L. Clark, 1911 and retains clearly expressed early juvenile features in the adult morphology. Another species, Ophiacantha clypeata Kyte, 1977, which had been separated from O. rhachophora, is in turn shown to be just a juvenile stage of another North Pacific species, Ophiacantha trachybactra H.L. Clark, 1911. For every species, detailed morphological data from both adult and juvenile specimens based on scanning electron microscopy are presented. A special grinding method showing complex internal features has been utilized for the first time. For all three species in this complex, a clear bathymetric differentiation is revealed: O. rhachophora predominantly inhabits shallow waters, 0-250 m, the new species O. kokusai lives deeper, at 250-600 m, and the third species, O. trachybactra, is found at 500-2,000 m. The present case clearly highlights the importance of considering developmental transformations, not only for a limited number of model organisms, but as part of the taxonomic process.
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    A hybrid modeling approach to simulating foot-and-mouth disease outbreaks in Australian livestock
    Bradhurst, RA ; Roche, SE ; East, IJ ; Kwan, P ; Garner, MG (Frontiers Media, 2015)
    Foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) is a highly contagious and economically important viral disease of cloven-hoofed animals. Australia's freedom from FMD underpins a valuable trade in live animals and animal products. An outbreak of FMD would result in the loss of export markets and cause severe disruption to domestic markets. The prevention of, and contingency planning for, FMD are of key importance to government, industry, producers and the community. The spread and control of FMD is complex and dynamic due to a highly contagious multi-host pathogen operating in a heterogeneous environment across multiple jurisdictions. Epidemiological modeling is increasingly being recognized as a valuable tool for investigating the spread of disease under different conditions and the effectiveness of control strategies. Models of infectious disease can be broadly classified as: population-based models that are formulated from the top-down and employ population-level relationships to describe individual-level behavior; individual-based models that are formulated from the bottom-up and aggregate individual-level behavior to reveal population-level relationships; and hybrid models which combine the two approaches into a single model. The Australian Animal Disease Spread (AADIS) hybrid model employs a deterministic equation-based model (EBM) to model within-herd spread of FMD, and a stochastic, spatially-explicit agent-based model (ABM) to model between-herd spread and control. The EBM provides concise and computationally efficient predictions of herd prevalence and clinical signs over time. The ABM captures the complex, stochastic and heterogeneous environment in which an FMD epidemic operates. The AADIS event-driven hybrid EBM/ABM architecture is a flexible, efficient and extensible framework for modeling the spread and control of disease in livestock on a national scale. We present an overview of the AADIS hybrid approach, a description of the model's epidemiological capabilities, and a sample case study comparing two strategies for the control of FMD that illustrates some of AADIS's functionality.
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    A revision of infrageneric classification in Astelia Banks & Sol. ex R.Br. (Asteliaceae) (vol 52, pg 105, 2015)
    Birch, JL (PENSOFT PUBL, 2015)
    [This corrects the article DOI: 10.3897/phytokeys.52.4768.].
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    Annual Reproductive Cycle and Unusual Embryogenesis of a Temperate Coral in the Mediterranean Sea.
    Marchini, C ; Airi, V ; Fontana, R ; Tortorelli, G ; Rocchi, M ; Falini, G ; Levy, O ; Dubinsky, Z ; Goffredo, S ; Chen, CA (Public Library of Science (PLoS), 2015)
    The variety of reproductive processes and modes among coral species reflects their extraordinary regeneration ability. Scleractinians are an established example of clonal animals that can exhibit a mixed strategy of sexual and asexual reproduction to maintain their populations. This study provides the first description of the annual reproductive cycle and embryogenesis of the temperate species Caryophyllia inornata. Cytometric analyses were used to define the annual development of germ cells and embryogenesis. The species was gonochoric with three times more male polyps than female. Polyps were sexually mature from 6 to 8 mm length. Not only females, but also sexually inactive individuals (without germ cells) and males were found to brood their embryos. Spermaries required 12 months to reach maturity, while oogenesis seemed to occur more rapidly (5-6 months). Female polyps were found only during spring and summer. Furthermore, the rate of gamete development in both females and males increased significantly from March to May and fertilization was estimated to occur from April to July, when mature germ cells disappeared. Gametogenesis showed a strong seasonal influence, while embryos were found throughout the year in males and in sexually inactive individuals without a defined trend. This unusual embryogenesis suggests the possibility of agamic reproduction, which combined with sexual reproduction results in high fertility. This mechanism is uncommon and only four other scleractinians (Pocillopora damicornis, Tubastraea diaphana, T. coccinea and Oulastrea crispata) have been shown to generate their broods asexually. The precise nature of this process is still unknown.
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    Comparative GO: A Web Application for Comparative Gene Ontology and Gene Ontology-Based Gene Selection in Bacteria (vol 8, e58759, 2013)
    Fruzangohar, M ; Ebrahimie, E ; Ogunniyi, AD ; Mandi, LK ; Paton, JC ; Adelson, DL (PUBLIC LIBRARY SCIENCE, 2015-04-17)
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    Machine Learning Based Classification of Microsatellite Variation: An Effective Approach for Phylogeographic Characterization of Olive Populations
    Torkzaban, B ; Kayvanjoo, AH ; Ardalan, A ; Mousavi, S ; Mariotti, R ; Baldoni, L ; Ebrahimie, E ; Ebrahimi, M ; Hosseini-Mazinani, M ; Kalaitzis, P (PUBLIC LIBRARY SCIENCE, 2015-11-24)
    Finding efficient analytical techniques is overwhelmingly turning into a bottleneck for the effectiveness of large biological data. Machine learning offers a novel and powerful tool to advance classification and modeling solutions in molecular biology. However, these methods have been less frequently used with empirical population genetics data. In this study, we developed a new combined approach of data analysis using microsatellite marker data from our previous studies of olive populations using machine learning algorithms. Herein, 267 olive accessions of various origins including 21 reference cultivars, 132 local ecotypes, and 37 wild olive specimens from the Iranian plateau, together with 77 of the most represented Mediterranean varieties were investigated using a finely selected panel of 11 microsatellite markers. We organized data in two '4-targeted' and '16-targeted' experiments. A strategy of assaying different machine based analyses (i.e. data cleaning, feature selection, and machine learning classification) was devised to identify the most informative loci and the most diagnostic alleles to represent the population and the geography of each olive accession. These analyses revealed microsatellite markers with the highest differentiating capacity and proved efficiency for our method of clustering olive accessions to reflect upon their regions of origin. A distinguished highlight of this study was the discovery of the best combination of markers for better differentiating of populations via machine learning models, which can be exploited to distinguish among other biological populations.
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    Characterization of Pneumococcal Genes Involved in Bloodstream Invasion in a Mouse Model
    Mahdi, LK ; Van der Hoek, MB ; Ebrahimie, E ; Paton, JC ; Ogunniyi, AD ; Metzger, DW (PUBLIC LIBRARY SCIENCE, 2015-11-05)
    Streptococcus pneumoniae (the pneumococcus) continues to account for significant morbidity and mortality worldwide, causing life-threatening diseases such as pneumonia, bacteremia and meningitis, as well as less serious infections such as sinusitis, conjunctivitis and otitis media. Current polysaccharide vaccines are strictly serotype-specific and also drive the emergence of non-vaccine serotype strains. In this study, we used microarray analysis to compare gene expression patterns of either serotype 4 or serotype 6A pneumococci in the nasopharynx and blood of mice, as a model to identify genes involved in invasion of blood in the context of occult bacteremia in humans. In this manner, we identified 26 genes that were significantly up-regulated in the nasopharynx and 36 genes that were significantly up-regulated in the blood that were common to both strains. Gene Ontology classification revealed that transporter and DNA binding (transcription factor) activities constitute the significantly different molecular functional categories for genes up-regulated in the nasopharynx and blood. Targeted mutagenesis of selected genes from both niches and subsequent virulence and pathogenesis studies identified the manganese-dependent superoxide dismutase (SodA) as most likely to be essential for colonization, and the cell wall-associated serine protease (PrtA) as important for invasion of blood. This work extends our previous analyses and suggests that both PrtA and SodA warrant examination in future studies aimed at prevention and/or control of pneumococcal disease.
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    Differential expression of seven conserved microRNAs in response to abiotic stress and their regulatory network in Helianthus annuus
    Khaksefidi, RE ; Mirlohi, S ; Khalaji, F ; Fakhari, Z ; Shiran, B ; Fallahi, H ; Rafiei, F ; Budak, H ; Ebrahimie, E (FRONTIERS MEDIA SA, 2015-09-17)
    Biotic and abiotic stresses affect plant development and production through alternation of the gene expression pattern. Gene expression itself is under the control of different regulators such as miRNAs and transcription factors (TFs). MiRNAs are known to play important roles in regulation of stress responses via interacting with their target mRNAs. Here, for the first time, seven conserved miRNAs, associated with drought, heat, salt and cadmium stresses were characterized in sunflower. The expression profiles of miRNAs and their targets were comparatively analyzed between leaves and roots of plants grown under the mentioned stress conditions. Gene ontology analysis of target genes revealed that they are involved in several important pathways such as auxin and ethylene signaling, RNA mediated silencing and DNA methylation processes. Gene regulatory network highlighted the existence of cross-talks between these stress-responsive miRNAs and the other stress responsive genes in sunflower. Based on network analysis, we suggest that some of these miRNAs in sunflower such as miR172 and miR403 may play critical roles in epigenetic responses to stress. It seems that depending on the stress type, theses miRNAs target several pathways and cellular processes to help sunflower to cope with drought, heat, salt and cadmium stress conditions in a tissue-associated manner.
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    2015: an eventful year for the Metabolomics Society
    Roessner, U ; Bearden, D (SPRINGER, 2015-12)