School of BioSciences - Research Publications

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    Temperatures that sterilize males better match global species distributions than lethal temperatures
    Parratt, SR ; Walsh, BS ; Metelmann, S ; White, N ; Manser, A ; Bretman, AJ ; Hoffmann, AA ; Snook, RR ; Price, TAR (NATURE RESEARCH, 2021-05-24)
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    A phylogeny for the Drosophila montium species group: A model clade for comparative analyses
    Conner, WR ; Delaney, EK ; Bronski, MJ ; Ginsberg, PS ; Wheeler, TB ; Richardson, KM ; Peckenpaugh, B ; Kim, KJ ; Watada, M ; Hoffmann, AA ; Eisen, MB ; Kopp, A ; Cooper, BS ; Turelli, M (ACADEMIC PRESS INC ELSEVIER SCIENCE, 2021-03-05)
    The Drosophila montium species group is a clade of 94 named species, closely related to the model species D. melanogaster. The montium species group is distributed over a broad geographic range throughout Asia, Africa, and Australasia. Species of this group possess a wide range of morphologies, mating behaviors, and endosymbiont associations, making this clade useful for comparative analyses. We use genomic data from 42 available species to estimate the phylogeny and relative divergence times within the montium species group, and its relative divergence time from D. melanogaster. To assess the robustness of our phylogenetic inferences, we use 3 non-overlapping sets of 20 single-copy coding sequences and analyze all 60 genes with both Bayesian and maximum likelihood methods. Our analyses support monophyly of the group. Apart from the uncertain placement of a single species, D. baimaii, our analyses also support the monophyly of all seven subgroups proposed within the montium group. Our phylograms and relative chronograms provide a highly resolved species tree, with discordance restricted to estimates of relatively short branches deep in the tree. In contrast, age estimates for the montium crown group, relative to its divergence from D. melanogaster, depend critically on prior assumptions concerning variation in rates of molecular evolution across branches, and hence have not been reliably determined. We discuss methodological issues that limit phylogenetic resolution - even when complete genome sequences are available - as well as the utility of the current phylogeny for understanding the evolutionary and biogeographic history of this clade.
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    Differential toxicological effects of natural and synthetic sources and enantiomeric forms of limonene on mosquito larvae
    Ross, PA ; Nematollahi, N ; Steinemann, A ; Kolev, SD ; Hoffmann, AA (SPRINGER, 2021-10-20)
    Abstract Common fragranced consumer products, such as cleaning supplies and personal care products, emit chiral compounds such as limonene that have been associated with adverse effects on human health. However, those same compounds abound in nature, and at similar concentrations as in products, but without the same apparent adverse human health effects. We investigated whether different types of limonene may elicit different biological effects. In this study, we investigated the mortality rate of mosquito larvae in response to changes in their environment. Specifically, we tested different sources of naturally occurring R-limonene and chemically synthetized limonene, containing one of its enantiomeric forms (R-, S-) in mortality bioassays with Aedes aegypti mosquito larvae. We found that a natural source of limonene extracted from oranges induced lower mortality of mosquito larvae compared to synthetic sources at the same concentration. However, enantiomeric forms did not differ in their effects on mortality. Our results provide novel evidence that natural sources of a chemical can cause lower rates of mortality than synthetic sources.
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    Spatial population genomics of a recent mosquito invasion
    Schmidt, TL ; Swan, T ; Chung, J ; Karl, S ; Demok, S ; Yang, Q ; Field, MA ; Muzari, MO ; Ehlers, G ; Brugh, M ; Bellwood, R ; Horne, P ; Burkot, TR ; Ritchie, S ; Hoffmann, AA (WILEY, 2021-01-24)
    Population genomic approaches can characterize dispersal across a single generation through to many generations in the past, bridging the gap between individual movement and intergenerational gene flow. These approaches are particularly useful when investigating dispersal in recently altered systems, where they provide a way of inferring long-distance dispersal between newly established populations and their interactions with existing populations. Human-mediated biological invasions represent such altered systems which can be investigated with appropriate study designs and analyses. Here we apply temporally restricted sampling and a range of population genomic approaches to investigate dispersal in a 2004 invasion of Aedes albopictus (the Asian tiger mosquito) in the Torres Strait Islands (TSI) of Australia. We sampled mosquitoes from 13 TSI villages simultaneously and genotyped 373 mosquitoes at genome-wide single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs): 331 from the TSI, 36 from Papua New Guinea (PNG) and four incursive mosquitoes detected in uninvaded regions. Within villages, spatial genetic structure varied substantially but overall displayed isolation by distance and a neighbourhood size of 232-577. Close kin dyads revealed recent movement between islands 31-203 km apart, and deep learning inferences showed incursive Ae. albopictus had travelled to uninvaded regions from both adjacent and nonadjacent islands. Private alleles and a co-ancestry matrix indicated direct gene flow from PNG into nearby islands. Outlier analyses also detected four linked alleles introgressed from PNG, with the alleles surrounding 12 resistance-associated cytochrome P450 genes. By treating dispersal as both an intergenerational process and a set of discrete events, we describe a highly interconnected invasive system.
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    Large- and small-scale geographic structures affecting genetic patterns across populations of an Alpine butterfly
    Trense, D ; Hoffmann, AA ; Fischer, K (WILEY, 2021-09-28)
    Understanding factors influencing patterns of genetic diversity and the population genetic structure of species is of particular importance in the current era of global climate change and habitat loss. These factors include the evolutionary history of a species as well as heterogeneity in the environment it occupies, which in turn can change across time. Most studies investigating spatio-temporal genetic patterns have focused on patterns across wide geographic areas rather than local variation, but the latter can nevertheless be important particularly in topographically complex areas. Here, we consider these issues in the Sooty Copper butterfly (Lycaena tityrus) from the European Alps, using genome-wide SNPs identified through RADseq. We found strong genetic differentiation within the Alps with four genetic clusters, indicating western, central, and eastern refuges, and a strong reduction of genetic diversity from west to east. This reduction in diversity may suggest that the southwestern refuge was the largest one in comparison to other refuges. Also, the high genetic diversity in the west may result from (a) admixture of different western refuges, (b) more recent demographic changes, or (c) introgression of lowland L. tityrus populations. At small spatial scales, populations were structured by several landscape features and especially by high mountain ridges and large river valleys. We detected 36 outlier loci likely under altitudinal selection, including several loci related to membranes and cellular processes. We suggest that efforts to preserve alpine L. tityrus should focus on the genetically diverse populations in the western Alps, and that the dolomite populations should be treated as genetically distinct management units, since they appear to be currently more threatened than others. This study demonstrates the usefulness of SNP-based approaches for understanding patterns of genetic diversity, gene flow, and selection in a region that is expected to be particularly vulnerable to climate change.
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    Limonene Emissions: Do Different Types Have Different Biological Effects?
    Nematollahi, N ; Ross, PA ; Hoffmann, AA ; Kolev, SD ; Steinemann, A (MDPI, 2021-10-01)
    Limonene is one of the most abundant pollutants indoors, and it contributes to the formation of additional pollutants, such as formaldehyde and photochemical smog. Limonene is commonly used in fragranced consumer products, such as cleaning supplies and air fresheners, which have also been associated with health problems. Limonene can exist in different enantiomeric forms (R-limonene and S-limonene) and be derived from different sources. However, little is known about whether different forms and sources of limonene may have different effects. This research explored whether different types of limonene, at the same concentrations, could elicit different biological effects. To investigate this question, the study employed Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, which have sophisticated olfactory abilities, in olfactometer tests of repellency/attraction. The results indicate that a synthetic source of R-limonene is more repellent than a natural source of R-limonene. In addition, synthetic sources of both R-limonene and S-limonene are not significantly different in repellency. These findings can contribute to our understanding and further exploration of the effects of a common fragrance compound on air quality and health.
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    RNA virome diversity and Wolbachia infection in individual Drosophila simulans flies
    Ortiz-Baez, AS ; Shi, M ; Hoffmann, AA ; Holmes, EC (MICROBIOLOGY SOC, 2021-01-01)
    The endosymbiont bacteria of the genus Wolbachia are associated with multiple mutualistic effects on insect biology, including nutritional and antiviral properties. Members of the genus Wolbachia naturally occur in fly species of the genus Drosophila, providing an operational model host for studying how virome composition may be affected by its presence. Drosophila simulans populations can carry a variety of strains of members of the genus Wolbachia, with the wAu strain associated with strong antiviral protection under experimental conditions. We used D. simulans sampled from the Perth Hills, Western Australia, to investigate the potential virus protective effect of the wAu strain of Wolbachia on individual wild-caught flies. Our data revealed no appreciable variation in virus composition and abundance between individuals infected or uninfected with Wolbachia associated with the presence or absence of wAu. However, it remains unclear whether wAu might affect viral infection and host survival by increasing tolerance rather than inducing complete resistance. These data also provide new insights into the natural virome diversity of D. simulans. Despite the small number of individuals sampled, we identified a repertoire of RNA viruses, including nora virus, galbut virus, thika virus and La Jolla virus, that have been identified in other species of the genus Drosophila. Chaq virus-like sequences associated with galbut virus were also detected. In addition, we identified five novel viruses from the families Reoviridae, Tombusviridae, Mitoviridae and Bunyaviridae. Overall, this study highlights the complex interaction between Wolbachia and RNA virus infections and provides a baseline description of the natural virome of D. simulans.
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    Genetic stability of Aedes aegypti populations following invasion by wMel Wolbachia
    Lau, M-J ; Schmidt, TL ; Yang, Q ; Chung, J ; Sankey, L ; Ross, PA ; Hoffmann, AA (BMC, 2021-12-14)
    BACKGROUND: Wolbachia wMel is the most commonly used strain in rear and release strategies for Aedes aegypti mosquitoes that aim to inhibit the transmission of arboviruses such as dengue, Zika, Chikungunya and yellow fever. However, the long-term establishment of wMel in natural Ae. aegypti populations raises concerns that interactions between Wolbachia wMel and Ae. aegypti may lead to changes in the host genome, which could affect useful attributes of Wolbachia that allow it to invade and suppress disease transmission. RESULTS: We applied an evolve-and-resequence approach to study genome-wide genetic changes in Ae. aegypti from the Cairns region, Australia, where Wolbachia wMel was first introduced more than 10 years ago. Mosquito samples were collected at three different time points in Gordonvale, Australia, covering the phase before (2010) and after (2013 and 2018) Wolbachia releases. An additional three locations where Wolbachia replacement happened at different times across the last decade were also sampled in 2018. We found that the genomes of mosquito populations mostly remained stable after Wolbachia release, with population differences tending to reflect the geographic location of the populations rather than Wolbachia infection status. However, outlier analysis suggests that Wolbachia may have had an influence on some genes related to immune response, development, recognition and behavior. CONCLUSIONS: Ae. aegypti populations remained geographically distinct after Wolbachia wMel releases in North Australia despite their Wolbachia infection status. At some specific genomic loci, we found signs of selection associated with Wolbachia, suggesting potential evolutionary impacts can happen in the future and further monitoring is warranted.
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    A diagnostic primer pair to distinguish between wMel and wAlbB Wolbachia infections
    Lau, M-J ; Hoffmann, AA ; Endersby-Harshman, NM ; Moreira, LA (PUBLIC LIBRARY SCIENCE, 2021-09-23)
    Detection of the Wolbachia endosymbiont in Aedes aegypti mosquitoes through real-time polymerase chain reaction assays is widely used during and after Wolbachia releases in dengue reduction trials involving the wMel and wAlbB strains. Although several different primer pairs have been applied in current successful Wolbachia releases, they cannot be used in a single assay to distinguish between these strains. Here, we developed a new diagnostic primer pair, wMwA, which can detect the wMel or wAlbB infection in the same assay. We also tested current Wolbachia primers and show that there is variation in their performance when they are used to assess the relative density of Wolbachia. The new wMwA primers provide an accurate and efficient estimate of the presence and density of both Wolbachia infections, with practical implications for Wolbachia estimates in field collected Ae. aegypti where Wolbachia releases have taken place.