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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    Warmer temperatures reduce chemical tolerance in the redlegged earth mite (Halotydeus destructor), an invasive winter-active pest
    Thia, JA ; Cheng, X ; Maino, J ; Umina, PA ; Hoffmann, AA (JOHN WILEY & SONS LTD, 2022-04-29)
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    Australian Bryobia mites (Trombidiformes: Tetranychidae) form a complex of cryptic taxa with unique climatic niches and insecticide responses
    Umina, PA ; Weeks, AR ; Maino, JL ; Hoffmann, AA ; Song, SV ; Thia, J ; Severtson, D ; Cheng, X ; van Rooyen, A ; Arthur, AA (JOHN WILEY & SONS LTD, 2022-04-22)
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    A wMel Wolbachia variant in Aedes aegypti from field-collected Drosophila melanogaster with increased phenotypic stability under heat stress.
    Gu, X ; Ross, PA ; Rodriguez-Andres, J ; Robinson, KL ; Yang, Q ; Lau, M-J ; Hoffmann, AA (Wiley, 2022-04)
    Mosquito-borne diseases remain a major cause of morbidity and mortality. Population replacement strategies involving the wMel strain of Wolbachia are being used widely to control mosquito-borne diseases. However, these strategies may be influenced by temperature because wMel is vulnerable to heat. wMel infections in Drosophila melanogaster are genetically diverse, but few transinfections of wMel variants have been generated in Aedes aegypti. Here, we successfully transferred a wMel variant (termed wMelM) originating from a field-collected D. melanogaster into Ae. aegypti. The new wMelM variant (clade I) is genetically distinct from the original wMel transinfection (clade III), and there are no genomic differences between wMelM in its original and transinfected host. We compared wMelM with wMel in its effects on host fitness, temperature tolerance, Wolbachia density, vector competence, cytoplasmic incompatibility and maternal transmission under heat stress in a controlled background. wMelM showed a higher heat tolerance than wMel, likely due to higher overall densities within the mosquito. Both wMel variants had minimal host fitness costs, complete cytoplasmic incompatibility and maternal transmission, and dengue virus blocking under laboratory conditions. Our results highlight phenotypic differences between Wolbachia variants and wMelM shows potential as an alternative strain in areas with strong seasonal temperature fluctuations.
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    Chromosome Comparisons of Australian Scaptodrosophila Species
    Stocker, AJ ; Schiffer, M ; Gorab, E ; Hoffmann, A (MDPI, 2022-04-01)
    The Scaptodrosophila represent a diverse group of Diptera closely related to Drosophila. Although they have radiated extensively in Australia, they have been the focus of few studies. Here, we characterized the karyotypes of 12 Scaptodrosophila species from several species groups and showed that they have undergone similar types of karyotypic change to those seen in Drosophila. This includes heterochromatin amplification involved in length changes of the sex and 'dot' chromosomes as well as the autosomes, particularly in the coracina group of species. Numerous weak points along the arms of the polytene chromosomes suggest the presence of internal repetitive sequence DNA, but these regions did not C-band in mitotic chromosomes, and their analysis will depend on DNA sequencing. The nucleolar organizing regions (NORs) are at the same chromosome positions in Scaptodrosophila as in Drosophila, and the various mechanisms responsible for changing arm configurations also appear to be the same. These chromosomal studies provide a complementary resource to other investigations of this group, with several species currently being sequenced.
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    Endosymbionts Reduce Microbiome Diversity and Modify Host Metabolism and Fecundity in the Planthopper Sogatella furcifera.
    Li, T-P ; Zhou, C-Y ; Wang, M-K ; Zha, S-S ; Chen, J ; Bing, X-L ; Hoffmann, AA ; Hong, X-Y ; Milligan-McClellan, KC (American Society for Microbiology, 2022-04-26)
    Endosymbionts can strongly affect bacterial microbiota in pests. The white-backed planthopper Sogatella furcifera, a notorious pest in rice, is usually co-infected with Cardinium and Wolbachia, but the effects of these endosymbionts together or individually on the host microbiome and fecundity are unclear. Here, we established three S. furcifera lines (Cardinium and Wolbachia double-infected, Cardinium single-infected, and both-uninfected lines) backcrossed to a common nuclear background and found that single and double infections reduced bacterial diversity and changed bacterial community structure across nymph and adult stages and across adult tissues. The endosymbionts differed in densities between adults and nymphs as well as across adult tissues, with the distribution of Cardinium affected by Wolbachia. Both the single infection and particularly the double infection reduced host fecundity. Lines also differed in levels of metabolites, some of which may influence fecundity (e.g., arginine biosynthesis and nicotinamide metabolism). Cardinium in the single-infected line upregulated metabolic levels, while Wolbachia in the double-infected line appeared to mainly downregulate them. Association analysis pointed to possible connections between various bacteria and differential metabolites. These results reveal that Cardinium by itself and in combination with Wolbachia affect bacterial microbiota and levels of metabolites, with likely effects on host fecundity. Many of the effects of these metabolically limited endosymbionts that are dependent on the hosts may be exerted through manipulation of the microbiome. IMPORTANCE Endosymbionts can profoundly affect the nutrition, immunity, development, and reproduction of insect hosts, but the effects of multiple endosymbiont infections on microbiota and the interaction of these effects with insect host fitness are not well known. By establishing S. furcifera lines with different endosymbiont infection status, we found that Cardinium and the combined Cardinium + Wolbachia infections differentially reduced bacterial diversity as well as changing bacterial community structure and affecting metabolism, which may connect to negative fitness effects of the endosymbionts on their host. These results established the connections between reduced bacterial diversity, decreased fecundity and metabolic responses in S. furcifera.
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    Sex-specific distribution and classification of Wolbachia infections and mitochondrial DNA haplogroups in Aedes albopictus from the Indo-Pacific.
    Yang, Q ; Chung, J ; Robinson, KL ; Schmidt, TL ; Ross, PA ; Liang, J ; Hoffmann, AA ; Kittayapong, P (Public Library of Science (PLoS), 2022-04)
    The arbovirus vector Aedes albopictus (Asian tiger mosquito) is common throughout the Indo-Pacific region, where most global dengue transmission occurs. We analysed population genomic data and tested for cryptic species in 160 Ae. albopictus sampled from 16 locations across this region. We found no evidence of cryptic Ae. albopictus but found multiple intraspecific COI haplotypes partitioned into groups representing three Asian lineages: East Asia, Southeast Asia and Indonesia. Papua New Guinea (PNG), Vanuatu and Christmas Island shared recent coancestry, and Indonesia and Timor-Leste were likely invaded from East Asia. We used a machine learning trained on morphologically sexed samples to classify sexes using multiple genetic features and then characterized the wAlbA and wAlbB Wolbachia infections in 664 other samples. The wAlbA and wAlbB infections as detected by qPCR showed markedly different patterns in the sexes. For females, most populations had a very high double infection incidence, with 67% being the lowest value (from Timor-Leste). For males, the incidence of double infections ranged from 100% (PNG) to 0% (Vanuatu). Only 6 females were infected solely by the wAlbA infection, while rare uninfected mosquitoes were found in both sexes. The wAlbA and wAlbB densities varied significantly among populations. For mosquitoes from Torres Strait and Vietnam, the wAlbB density was similar in single-infected and superinfected (wAlbA and wAlbB) mosquitoes. There was a positive association between wAlbA and wAlbB infection densities in superinfected Ae. albopictus. Our findings provide no evidence of cryptic species of Ae. albopictus in the region and suggest site-specific factors influencing the incidence of Wolbachia infections and their densities. We also demonstrate the usefulness of ddRAD tag depths as sex-specific mosquito markers. The results provide baseline data for the exploitation of Wolbachia-induced cytoplasmic incompatibility (CI) in dengue control.
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    Increasing Frequency of G275E Mutation in the Nicotinic Acetylcholine Receptor alpha 6 Subunit Conferring Spinetoram Resistance in Invading Populations of Western Flower Thrips in China
    Sun, L-N ; Shen, X-J ; Cao, L-J ; Chen, J-C ; Ma, L-J ; Wu, S-A ; Hoffmann, AA ; Wei, S-J (MDPI, 2022-04-01)
    The western flower thrips Frankliniella occidentalis (Pergande) (Thysanoptera: Thripidae) is an important invasive pest worldwide. Field-evolved resistance to the pesticide spinetoram is an increasing problem in the chemical control of this pest. Here, we examined changes in the frequency of a genetic mutation associated with spinetoram resistance, the G275E mutation in the acetylcholine receptor Foα6, in 62 field populations collected from 2009 to 2021 across areas of China invaded by this pest. We found a low frequency of the G275E mutation in populations collected at the early invasion stage, in contrast to a high frequency in native USA populations. However, the frequency of the G275E mutation has increased to a high level in recently collected populations, with the mutation becoming fixed in some populations. There was a correlation between the frequency of the G275E mutation and resistance to spinetoram as characterized by median lethal concentration, although two populations were outliers. These results showed that G275E mutation is one of the mechanisms conferring spinetoram resistance in many invading populations in China. Ongoing dispersal of the WFT may have facilitated a rapid increase in the G275E mutation across China. Our study highlights the rapid evolution of pesticide resistance in an invasive species and points to a useful marker for molecular diagnostics of spinetoram resistance.