Friday, July 21, 2017

Weekend reads

It is Friday again - time for another batch of papers to read over the weekend. Thanks to a very active community there is never a shortage of studies to chose from.

Advances in detection of genetic material from species in aquatic ecosystems, including environmental DNA (eDNA), have improved species monitoring and management. eDNA from target species can readily move in streams and rivers and the goal is to measure it, and with that infer where and how abundant species are, adding great value to delimiting species invasions, monitoring and protecting rare species, and estimating biodiversity. To date, we lack an integrated framework that identifies environmental factors that control eDNA movement in realistic, complex, and heterogeneous flowing waters. To this end, using an empirical approach and a simple conceptual model, we propose a framework of how eDNA is transported, retained, and resuspended in stream systems. Such an understanding of eDNA dispersal in streams will be essential for designing optimized sampling protocols and subsequently estimating biomass or organismal abundance. We also discuss guiding principles for more effective use of eDNA methods, highlighting the necessity of understanding these parameters for use in future predictive modeling of eDNA transport.

DNA sequencing brings another dimension to exploration of biodiversity, and large-scale mitochondrial DNA cytochrome oxidase I barcoding has exposed many potential new cryptic species. Here, we add complete nuclear genome sequencing to DNA barcoding, ecological distribution, natural history, and subtleties of adult color pattern and size to show that a widespread neotropical skipper butterfly known as Udranomia kikkawai (Weeks) comprises three different species in Costa Rica. Full-length barcodes obtained from all three century-old Venezuelan syntypes of U. kikkawai show that it is a rainforest species occurring from Costa Rica to Brazil. The two new species are Udranomia sallydaleyae Burns, a dry forest denizen occurring from Costa Rica to Mexico, and Udranomia tomdaleyi Burns, which occupies the junction between the rainforest and dry forest and currently is known only from Costa Rica. Whereas the three species are cryptic, differing but slightly in appearance, their complete nuclear genomes totaling 15 million aligned positions reveal significant differences consistent with their 0.00065-Mbp (million base pair) mitochondrial barcodes and their ecological diversification. DNA barcoding of tropical insects reared by a massive inventory suggests that the presence of cryptic species is a widespread phenomenon and that further studies will substantially increase current estimates of insect species richness.

Over the past decade, DNA barcoding has become a staple of low-cost molecular systematic investigations. The availability of universal primers and subsidized sequencing projects (PolarBOL, SharkBOL, SpongeBOL) have driven this popularity, often without appropriate investigation into the utility of barcoding data for the taxonomic group of interest. Here, our primary aim is to determine the phylogenetic value of DNA barcoding (mitochondrial locus COI) within the gecko genus Cyrtodactylus. With >40 new species described since last systematic investigation, Cyrtodactylus represents one of the most diverse extant squamate genera, and their contemporary distribution spans the Indian subcontinent, eastward through Indochina, and into AustraloPapua. The complex biogeographic history of this group, and morphology-only designation of many species have complicated our phylogenetic understanding of Cyrtodactylus. To highlight the need for continued inclusive molecular assessment, we use Vietnamese Cyrtodactylus as a case study showing the geopolitically paraphyletic nature of their history. We compare COI to the legacy marker ND2, and discuss the value of COI as an interspecific marker, as well as its shortcomings at deeper evolutionary scales. We draw attention back to the Cold Code as a subsidized method for incorporating molecular methods into species descriptions in the effort to maintain accurate phylogenies.

One of the fundamental patterns in macroecology is the increase in the number of observed taxa with size of sampled area. For microbes, the shape of this relationship remains less clear. The current study assessed the diversity of aquatic fungi, by the traditional approach based on conidial morphology (captures reproducing aquatic hyphomycetes) and next generation sequencing (NGS; captures other fungi as well), on graded sizes of alder leaves (0.6 to 13.6 cm2). Leaves were submerged in two streams in geographically distant locations: the Oliveira Stream in Portugal and the Boss Brook in Canada. Decay rates of alder leaves and fungal sporulation rates did not differ between streams. Fungal biomass was higher in Boss Brook than in Oliveira Stream, and in both streams almost 100% of the reads belonged to active fungal taxa. In general, larger leaf areas tended to harbour more fungi, but these findings were not consistent between techniques. Morphospecies-based diversity increased with leaf area in Boss Brook, but not in Oliveira Stream; metabarcoding data showed an opposite trend. The higher resolution of metabarcoding resulted in steeper taxa-accumulation curves than morphospecies-based assessments (fungal conidia morphology). Fungal communities assessed by metabarcoding were spatially structured by leaf area in both streams. Metabarcoding promises greater resolution to assess biodiversity patterns in aquatic fungi and may be more accurate for assessing taxa-area relationships and local to global diversity ratios.

Bats are a highly successful, globally dispersed order of mammals that occupy a wide array of ecological niches. They are also intensely parasitized and implicated in multiple viral, bacterial and parasitic zoonosis. Trypanosomes are thought to be especially abundant and diverse in bats. In this study, we used 18S ribosomal RNA metabarcoding to probe bat trypanosome diversity in unprecedented detail.
Total DNA was extracted from the blood of 90 bat individuals (17 species) captured along Atlantic Forest fragments of EspĂ­rito Santo state, southeast Brazil. The 18S ribosomal RNA was amplified by standard and/or nested PCR, then deep sequenced to recover and identify Operational Taxonomic Units (OTUs) for phylogenetic analysis. Blood samples from 34 bat individuals (13 species) tested positive for infection by 18S rRNA amplification. Amplicon sequences clustered to 14 OTUs, of which five identified as Trypanosoma cruzi I, T. cruzi III/V, Trypanosoma cruzi marinkellei, Trypanosoma rangeli, and Trypanosoma dionisii, and seven identified as novel genotypes monophyletic to basal T. cruzi clade types of the New World. Another OTU was identified as a trypanosome like those found in reptiles. Surprisingly, the remaining OTU was identified as Bodo saltans-closest non-parasitic relative of the trypanosomatid order. While three blood samples featured just one OTU (T. dionisii), all others resolved as mixed infections of up to eight OTUs.
This study demonstrates the utility of next-generation barcoding methods to screen parasite diversity in mammalian reservoir hosts. We exposed high rates of local bat parasitism by multiple trypanosome species, some known to cause fatal human disease, others non-pathogenic, novel or yet little understood. Our results highlight bats as a long-standing nexus among host-parasite interactions of multiple niches, sustained in part by opportunistic and incidental infections of consequence to evolutionary theory as much as to public health.

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