[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The very labile (decay-prone), non-biomineralized, tissues of organisms are rarely fossilized. Occurrences thereof are invaluable supplements to a body fossil record dominated by biomineralized tissues, which alone are extremely unrepresentative of diversity in modern and ancient ecosystems. Fossil examples of extremely labile tissues (e.g. muscle) that exhibit a high degree of morphological fidelity are almost invariably replicated by inorganic compounds such as calcium phosphate. There is no consensus as to whether such tissues can be preserved with similar morphological fidelity as organic remains, except when enclosed inside amber. Here, we report fossilized musculature from an approximately 18 Myr old salamander from lacustrine sediments of Ribesalbes, Spain. The muscle is preserved organically, in three dimensions, and with the highest fidelity of morphological preservation yet documented from the fossil record. Preserved ultrastructural details include myofilaments, endomysium, layering within the sarcolemma, and endomysial circulatory vessels infilled with blood. Slight differences between the fossil tissues and their counterparts in extant amphibians reflect limited degradation during fossilization. Our results provide unequivocal evidence that high-fidelity organic preservation of extremely labile tissues is not only feasible, but likely to be common. This is supported by the discovery of similarly preserved tissues in the Eocene Grube Messel biota.
Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 10/2009; 277(1680):423-7. · 5.68 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Molecular phylogenetics is the study of evolution and relatedness of organisms or genes. Mass spectrometry is used routinely for bacterial identification and has also been used for phylogenetic analysis, for instance from bone material. Unfortunately, only a small fraction of the acquired tandem mass spectra allow direct interpretation.
We describe a new algorithm and software for molecular phylogenetics using pairwise comparisons of tandem mass spectra from enzymatically digested proteins. The spectra need not be annotated and all acquired data is used in the analysis. To demonstrate the method, we analyzed tryptic digests of sera from four great apes and two other primates.
The distribution of spectra dot products for thousands of tandem mass spectra collected from two samples provides a measure on the fraction of shared peptides between the two samples. When inverted, this becomes a distance metric. By pairwise comparison between species and averaging over four individuals per species, it was possible to reconstruct the unique correct phylogenetic tree for the great apes and other primates.
The new method described here has several attractive features compared with existing methods, among them simplicity, the unbiased use of all acquired data rather than a small subset of spectra, and the potential use of heavily degraded proteins or proteins with a priori unknown modifications.
Rapid Communications in Mass Spectrometry 04/2012; 26(7):728-32. · 2.51 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The identification of fur origins from the 5300-year-old Tyrolean Iceman's accoutrement is not yet complete, although definite identification is essential for the socio-cultural context of his epoch. Neither have all potential samples been identified so far, nor there has a consensus been reached on the species identified using the classical methods. Archaeological hair often lacks analyzable hair scale patterns in microscopic analyses and polymer chain reaction (PCR)-based techniques are often inapplicable due to the lack of amplifiable ancient DNA. To overcome these drawbacks, a matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization time-of-flight mass spectrometry (MALDI-TOF MS) method was used exclusively based on hair keratins. Thirteen fur specimens from his accoutrement were analyzed after tryptic digest of native hair. Peptide mass fingerprints (pmfs) from ancient samples and from reference species mostly occurring in the Alpine surroundings at his lifetime were compared to each other using multidimensional scaling and binary hierarchical cluster tree analysis. Both statistical methods highly reflect spectral similarities among pmfs as close zoological relationships. While multidimensional scaling was useful to discriminate specimens on the zoological order level, binary hierarchical cluster tree reached the family or subfamily level. Additionally, the presence and/or absence of order, family and/or species-specific diagnostic masses in their pmfs allowed the identification of mammals mostly down to single species level. Red deer was found in his shoe vamp, goat in the leggings, cattle in his shoe sole and at his quiver's closing flap as well as sheep and chamois in his coat. Canid species, like grey wolf, domestic dog or European red fox, were discovered in his leggings for the first time, but could not be differentiated to species level. This is widening the spectrum of processed fur-bearing species to at least one member of the Canidae family. His fur cap was allocated to a carnivore species, but differentiation between brown bear and a canid species could not be made with certainty.
Rapid Communications in Mass Spectrometry 08/2012; 26(16):1735-45. · 2.51 Impact Factor
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