Integrative and Comparative Biology (Integr Comp Biol )

Publisher: Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology, Oxford University Press


Integrative and Comparative Biology (ICB), formerly American Zoologist, is one of the most highly respected and cited journals in the field of biology. The journal's primary focus is to integrate the varying disciplines in this broad field, while maintaining the highest scientific quality. ICB's peer-reviewed symposia provide first class syntheses of the top research in a field, perfect for classes or a quick update. ICB also publishes book reviews, reports, and special bulletins.

Impact factor 2.97

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  • Website
    Integrative and Comparative Biology website
  • Other titles
    Integrative and comparative biology (Online), Integrative and comparative biology
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  • Material type
    Document, Periodical, Internet resource
  • Document type
    Internet Resource, Computer File, Journal / Magazine / Newspaper

Publisher details

Oxford University Press

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Publications in this journal

  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Flows driven by surface tension are both ubiquitous and diverse, involving the drinking of birds and bees, the flow of xylem in plants, the impact of raindrops on animals, respiration in humans, and the transmission of diseases in plants and animals, including humans. The fundamental physical principles underlying such flows provide a unifying framework to interpret the adaptations of the microorganisms, animals, and plants that rely upon them. The symposium on "Surface-Tension Phenomena in Organismal Biology" assembled an interdisciplinary group of researchers to address a large spectrum of topics, all articulated around the role of surface tension in shaping biology, health, and ecology. The contributions to the symposium and the papers in this issue are meant to be a starting point for novices to familiarize themselves with the fundamentals of flows driven by surface tension; to understand how they can play a governing role in many settings in organismal biology; and how such understanding of nature's use of surface tension can, in turn, inspire humans to innovate.
    Integrative and Comparative Biology 09/2014;
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    ABSTRACT: The nutritional demands of the immune system may result in tradeoffs with competing processes such as growth and reproduction. The magnitude of the nutritional costs of immunity is largely unknown. Thus, we examine the lysine content of the systemic components of the immune system in adult male chickens (Gallus gallus domesticus) in a healthy condition (maintenance) and following a robust Escherichia coli-specific immune response. Lysine was used as a metric, because it is found both in leukocytes and in protective proteins. The dynamics of subsets of leukocytes were monitored in primary and secondary immune tissues (thymus, bone marrow, and spleen) that would be expected to be involved in the response following iv injection of E. coli. The systemic immune system at maintenance has the same lysine content as 332 average-sized feathers, 16% of an egg, or 5.4% of a pectoralis muscle from an adult chicken. During the acute-phase response to E. coli, the additional lysine needed would equal 355 feathers, 17% of an egg, or 5.5% of a pectoralis muscle. The acute-phase proteins accounted for the greatest proportion of lysine in the immune system at maintenance and the proportion increased substantially during an acute-phase response. Hypertrophy of the liver required more lysine than all of the leukocytes and protective proteins that were produced during the acute-phase response. Size of the liver and levels of protein during the acute phase returned to normal during the time when the adaptive response began to utilize significant quantities of lysine. The catabolism would release a surfeit of lysine to provision the anabolic processes of the adaptive response, thus making proliferation of lymphocytes and production of immunoglobulins very cheap.
    Integrative and Comparative Biology 09/2014;
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    ABSTRACT: The ability to regenerate extensive portions of the body is widespread among the phylum Annelida and this group includes some of the most highly regenerative animals known. Knowledge of the cellular and molecular basis of regeneration in this group is thus important for understanding how regenerative processes have evolved both within the group and across animal phyla. Here, the cellular basis of annelid regeneration is reviewed, with a focus on the earliest steps of regeneration, namely wound-healing and formation of the blastema. Information from a wide range of annelids is compiled in order to identify common and variable elements. There is a large body of valuable older literature on the cellular basis of regeneration in annelids and an effort is made to review this literature in addition to more recent studies. Annelids typically seal the wound through muscular contraction and undergo some autolysis of tissue at the site of the wound. Bodily injury elicits extensive cell migration toward the wound, involving several different types of cells. Some migrating cells form a tissue-clot and phagocytize damaged tissues, whereas others are inferred to contribute to regenerated tissue, specifically mesodermal tissue. In one annelid subgroup, the clitellates, a group of mesodermal cells, sometimes referred to as neoblasts, is inferred to migrate over considerable distances, with cells moving to the wound from several segments away. Epidermis and gut epithelia severed upon amputation typically heal by fusing with like tissue, although not always. After amputation, cellular contacts with the extracellular matrix are disrupted and major changes in cell morphology and adhesion occur within tissues near the wound. Interactions of tissues at the wound appear key for initiating a blastema, with a particularly important role suggested for the ventral nerve cord, although species are variable in this regard; longer-distance effects mediated by the brain are also reported. The anterior-posterior polarity of the blastema can be mis-assigned, leading most commonly to double-headed worms, and the dorsal-ventral polarity of the blastema appears to be induced by the ventral nerve cord. The blastema is thought to arise from contributions of all three tissue layers, with each layer replacing itself in a tissue-specific manner. Blastemal cells originate mostly locally, although some long-distance migration of source-cells is suggested in clitellates. A number of important questions remain about the cellular basis of regeneration in annelids and addressing many of these would be greatly aided by developing approaches to identify and isolate specific cell types and techniques to image and trace cells in vivo.
    Integrative and Comparative Biology 08/2014;
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    ABSTRACT: An adult animal's form is shaped by the collective behavior of cells during embryonic development. To understand the forces that drove the divergence of animal body-plans, evolutionary developmental biology has focused largely on studying genetic networks operating during development. However, it is less well understood how these networks modulate characteristics at the cellular level, such as the shape, polarity, or migration of cells. We organized the "Cell's view of animal body plan evolution" symposium for the 2014 The Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology meeting with the explicit goal of bringing together researchers studying the cell biology of embryonic development in diverse animal taxa. Using a broad range of established and emerging technologies, including live imaging, single-cell analysis, and mathematical modeling, symposium participants revealed mechanisms underlying cells' behavior, a few of which we highlight here. Shape, adhesion, and movements of cells can be modulated over the course of evolution to alter adult body-plans and a major theme explored during the symposium was the role of actomyosin in coordinating diverse behaviors of cells underlying morphogenesis in a myriad of contexts. Uncovering whether conserved or divergent genetic mechanisms guide the contractility of actomyosin in these systems will be crucial to understanding the evolution of the body-plans of animals from a cellular perspective. Many speakers presented research describing developmental phenomena in which cell division and tissue growth can control the form of the adult, and other presenters shared work on studying cell-fate specification, an important source of novelty in animal body-plans. Participants also presented studies of regeneration in annelids, flatworms, acoels, and cnidarians, and provided a unifying view of the regulation of cellular behavior during different life-history stages. Additionally, several presentations highlighted technological advances that glean mechanistic insights from new and emerging model systems, thereby providing the phylogenetic breadth so essential for studying animal evolution. Thus, we propose that an explicit study of cellular phenomena is now possible for a wide range of taxa, and that it will be highly informative for understanding the evolution of animal body-plans.
    Integrative and Comparative Biology 08/2014;
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    ABSTRACT: Stable-isotope analysis (SIA) has revolutionized animal ecology by providing time-integrated estimates of the use of resources and/or habitats. SIA is based on the premise that the isotopic composition of a consumer's tissues originates from its food, but is offset by trophic-discrimination (enrichment) factors controlled by metabolic processes associated with the assimilation of nutrients and the biosynthesis of tissues. Laboratory preparation protocols dictate that tissues both of consumers and of their potential prey be lipid-extracted prior to analysis, because (1) lipids have carbon isotope (δ(13)C) values that are lower by approximately 3-8‰ than associated proteins and (2) amino acids in consumers' proteinaceous tissues are assumed to be completely routed from dietary protein. In contrast, models of stable-isotope mixing assume that dietary macromolecules are broken into their elemental constituents from which non-essential amino acids are resynthesized to build tissues. Here, we show that carbon from non-protein dietary macromolecules, namely lipids, was used to synthesize muscle tissue in an omnivorous rodent (Mus musculus). We traced the influence of dietary lipids on the synthesis of consumers' tissues by inversely varying the dietary proportion of C4-based lipids and C3-based protein while keeping carbohydrate content constant in four dietary treatments, and analyzing the δ(13)C values of amino acids in mouse muscle after 4 months of feeding. The influence of dietary lipids on non-essential amino acids varied as function of biosynthetic pathway. The source of carbon in ketogenic amino acids synthesized through the Krebs cycle was highly sensitive to dietary lipid content, with significant increases of approximately 2-4‰ in Glutamate and Aspartate δ(13)C values from the 5% to 15% dietary lipid treatment. Glucogenic amino acids (Glycine and Serine) were less sensitive to dietary lipid, but increased by approximately 3-4‰ from the 25% to 40% lipid diet. As expected, the δ(13)C values of essential amino acids did not vary significantly among diets. Although lipids provide a calorie-rich resource that fuels energy requirements, our results show that they also can be an important elemental source of carbon that contributes to the non-essential amino acids used to build structural tissue like muscle. As such, the calculation of trophic-discrimination factors for animals that consume a lipid-rich diet should consider lipid carbon as a building block for proteinaceous tissues. Careful consideration of the macromolecular composition in the diet of the consumer of interest will help to further refine the use of SIA to study animal ecology and physiology.
    Integrative and Comparative Biology 08/2014;
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    ABSTRACT: Bubbles are ubiquitous in biological environments, emerging during the complex dynamics of waves breaking in the open oceans or being intentionally formed in bioreactors. From formation, through motion, until death, bubbles play a critical role in the oxygenation and mixing of natural and artificial ecosystems. However, their life is also greatly influenced by the environments in which they emerge. This interaction between bubbles and microorganisms is a subtle affair in which surface tension plays a critical role. Indeed, it shapes the role of bubbles in mixing or oxygenating microorganisms, but also determines how microorganisms affect every stage of the bubble's life. In this review, we guide the reader through the life of a bubble from birth to death, with particular attention to the microorganism-bubble interaction as viewed through the lens of fluid dynamics.
    Integrative and Comparative Biology 08/2014;
  • Integrative and Comparative Biology 07/2014;
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    ABSTRACT: The sea urchin larva is shaped by a calcite endoskeleton. That skeleton is built by 64 primary mesenchyme cells (PMCs) in Lytechinus variegatus. The PMCs originate as micromeres due to an unequal fourth cleavage in the embryo. Micromeres are specified in a well-described molecular sequence and enter the blastocoel at a precise time using a classic epithelial-mesenchymal transition. To make the skeleton, the PMCs receive signaling inputs from the overlying ectoderm, which provides positional information as well as control of the growth of initial skeletal tri-radiates. The patterning of the skeleton is the result both of autonomous inputs from PMCs, including production of proteins that are included in the skeletal matrix, and of non-autonomous dynamic information from the ectoderm. Here, we summarize the wealth of information known about how a PMC contributes to the skeletal structure. The larval skeleton is a model for understanding how information encoded in DNA is translated into a three-dimensional crystalline structure.
    Integrative and Comparative Biology 07/2014;
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    ABSTRACT: The gastropod Lymnaea has unique features, that is, chirality, sinistrality, or dextrality, is displayed externally as well as internally, and is hereditary, being determined by a single-locus that functions maternally at the very early embryonic stage. Both sinistral and dextral snails exist in nature with the dextral one being dominant. Thus, the genus Lymnaea is an ideal target for studying chiromorphogenesis. This article gives a brief overview of the current state of research on chiromorphogenesis of Lymnaea (L.) stagnalis, mainly focusing on our own studies. Breeding experiments were performed and embryonic development was closely observed for the both chiralities. By fluorescently labeling filamentous actin and microtubules, cytoskeletal dynamics of spiral cleavages for the sinistral and dextral embryos were shown not to be mirror images of each other at the critical third-cleavage. The spiral deformation and spindle inclination were uniquely observed only in the dominant dextral embryos, and they were shown to be strongly linked to the gene determining the direction of chirality. Based on these findings, we created fertile snails of situs inversus by micromanipulation at the third-cleavage. Surprisingly, the arrangement of the blastomere regulates asymmetric expression of nodal-Pitx genes in later development. The expression patterns display interesting similarity and dissimilarity with those of the vertebrates. Thus, study of L. stagnalis has given an insight into "how a single gene twists a snail."
    Integrative and Comparative Biology 07/2014;
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    ABSTRACT: Diverse subfields of biology have addressed phenotypic plasticity, but have emphasized different aspects of the definition, thereby shaping the questions that are asked and the methodological approaches that are employed. A key difference between studies of plasticity in the fields of evolutionary biology and physiology is the degree of focus upon the contribution of genetic variance to plastic traits. Although evolutionary biology is generally focused on the heritability and adaptive value of plastic traits and therefore the potential for plasticity to impact changes in traits across generations, physiological studies have historically focused on the timing and reversibility of plastic change across seasons or ages and the mechanisms underlying traits' plasticity. In this review and the symposium from which it emerged, we aimed to highlight ways that integrative biologists can better communicate about their research and design better studies to address phenotypic plasticity. Evolutionary theory clarifies the need to assess fitness using reliable measures, such as survival and reproductive success, and to consider the heritability and genetic variance underlying plasticity. Reciprocally, physiological research demonstrates that understanding the mechanisms that permit, or limit, plasticity, whether through pleiotropic effects, developmental, or functional linkages between traits, or epigenetic modifications, will shed light on limitations to phenotypic plasticity. Uniting the fields of evolution and physiology to address all aspects of phenotypic plasticity will be increasingly important as the rate of anthropogenic environmental change increases and biologists must predict the responses of wild populations to novel environments, as well as determine the most effective conservation interventions.
    Integrative and Comparative Biology 06/2014;
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    ABSTRACT: When a bubble oscillates in an acoustically driven pressure field, its oscillations result in an attractive force on micro-sized objects in the near field. At the same time, the objects are subject to a viscous drag force due to the streaming flow that is generated by the oscillating bubble. Based on these secondary effects, oscillating bubbles have recently been implemented in biological applications to control and manipulate micron-sized objects. These objects include live microorganisms, such as Caenorhabditis elegans and Daphnia (water flea), as well as cells and vesicles. Oscillating bubbles are also used in delivering drugs or genes inside human blood vessels. In this review paper, we explain the underlying physical mechanism behind oscillating bubbles and discuss some of their key applications in biology, with the focus on the manipulation of microorganisms and cells.
    Integrative and Comparative Biology 06/2014;
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    ABSTRACT: This collection of articles is focused on the evolutionary dynamics of heterothermy in mammals, specifically torpor and hibernation. Topics cover a wide range from evolutionary genetics, physiology, ecology, and applications to human health.
    Integrative and Comparative Biology 06/2014;
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    ABSTRACT: Ecoimmunology utilizes techniques from traditionally laboratory-based disciplines-for example, immunology, genomics, proteomics, neuroendocrinology, and cell biology-to reveal how the immune systems of wild organisms both shape and respond to ecological and evolutionary pressures. Immunological phenotypes are embedded within a mechanistic pathway leading from genotype through physiology to shape higher-order biological phenomena. As such, "mechanisms" in ecoimmunology can refer to both the within-host processes that shape immunological phenotypes, or it can refer the ways in which different immunological phenotypes alter between-organism processes at ecological and evolutionary scales. The mechanistic questions ecoimmunologists can ask, both within-organisms and between-organisms, however, often have been limited by techniques that do not easily transfer to wild, non-model systems. Thus, a major focus in ecoimmunology has been developing and refining the available toolkit. Recently, this toolkit has been expanding at an unprecedented rate, bringing new challenges to choosing techniques and standardizing protocols across studies. By confronting these challenges, we will be able to enhance ecoimmunological inquiries into the physiological basis of life-history trade-offs; the development of low-cost biomarkers for susceptibility to disease; and the investigation of the ecophysiological underpinnings of disease ecology, behavior, and the coevolution of host-parasite systems. The technical advances in, and crossover technologies from, disciplines associated with ecoimmunology and how these advances can help us understand the mechanistic basis of immunological variability in wild species were the focus of the symposium, Methods and Mechanisms in Ecoimmunology.
    Integrative and Comparative Biology 06/2014;
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    ABSTRACT: The gecko adhesive system is dependent on weak van der Waals interactions that are multiplied across thousands of fine hair-like structures (setae) on geckos' toe pads. Due to the requirements of van der Waals forces, we expect that any interruption between the setae and substrate, such as a water layer, will compromise adhesion. Our recent results suggest, however, that the air layer (plastron) surrounding the superhydrophobic toe pads aid in expelling water at the contact interface and create strong shear adhesion in water when in contact with hydrophobic surfaces. To test the function of the air plastron, we reduced the surface tension of water using two surfactants, a charged anionic surfactant and a neutral nonionic surfactant. We tested geckos on three substrates: hydrophilic glass and two hydrophobic surfaces, glass with a octadecyl trichlorosilane self-assembled monolayer (OTS-SAM) and polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE). We found that the anionic surfactant inhibited the formation of the air plastron layer and significantly reduced shear adhesion to all three substrates. Interestingly, the air plastron was more stable in the nonionic surfactant treatments than the anionic surfactant treatments and we found that geckos adhered better in the nonionic surfactant than in the anionic surfactant on OTS-SAM and PTFE but not on glass. Our results have implications for the evolution of a superhydrophobic toe pad and highlight some of the challenges faced in designing synthetic adhesives that mimic geckos' toes.
    Integrative and Comparative Biology 06/2014;