Model organisms: There's more to life than rats and flies

Department of Biological Sciences, University of New Hampshire, Durham 03824, New Hampshire, USA.
Nature (Impact Factor: 41.46). 11/2012; 491(7422):31-3. DOI: 10.1038/491031a
Source: PubMed


The tiny number of model organisms constrains research in ways that must
be acknowledged and addressed, warns Jessica Bolker.

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Available from: Jessica A Bolker, Oct 14, 2014
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    • "This is especially true when considering the large number of species and the plasticity of these organisms in terms of their biology, morphology , development in different hosts and infection and transmission modes (Rebello et al., 2011; Mutapi, 2012). Despite this biological variety, the murines are the current animal models of choice in the biological sciences; however, other biological systems in vivo can be promising study models and also to contribute to the elucidation of the host–parasite relationship (Bolker, 2012; Sotillo et al., 2012; Robinson et al., 2013). Herein we explore the parasitism of Ortleppascaris sp. "
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    ABSTRACT: The success of the helminth–host relationship depends on a biochemical molecular arsenal. Perhaps the proteome is the largest and most important set of this weaponry, in which the proteins have a crucial role in vital processes to the parasite/host relationship, from basic metabolism and energy production to complex immune responses. Nowadays, the bioproducts expressed by the parasites are under the “spotlight” of immunoassays and biochemical analysis in helminthology, especially in proteomic analysis, which has provided valuable information about the physiology of the infecting agent. Looking into this point of view, why not turn to the infected agent as well? This study characterised the proteomic profile of fluid-filled fibrous cysts of encapsulated Ortleppascaris sp. larvae in the hepatic parenchyma of their intermediate host, the amphibian Rhinella marina. The proteins were separated by two-dimensional electrophoresis and identified by MS with the aid of Peptide Mass Fingerprint. A total of 54 molecules were analysed in this system, revealing a complex protein profile with molecules related to basic metabolic processes of the parasite, energy production, oxi-reduction and oxidative stress processes as well as molecules related to the host response. This study contributes to proteomic studies of protein markers of the development, infectivity, virulence and co-existence of helminths and their hosts.
    International Journal for Parasitology: Parasites and Wildlife 08/2014; 3(2). DOI:10.1016/j.ijppaw.2014.05.004
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    • "We argue that animals with exaggerated sexually selected structures are a best fit for understanding condition-dependent growth because of the specific conditions under which they have evolved. How generalizable these mechanisms will be to other systems remains to be tested for most pathways but as long as the mechanisms remain unstudied, these data will never be available (Bolker 2012). However, in addition to the insulin-/IGF-signaling pathway, it is well known that the JH/ecdysteroid pathways have vital roles in modulating nutrition-sensitive patterns of plastic growth in beetles' weapons (Emlen and Nijhout 1999, 2001; Gotoh et al. 2011, 2014; Emlen et al. 2012). "
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    ABSTRACT: The exaggerated weapons and ornaments of sexual selection are condition-dependent traits that often grow to exaggerated proportions. The horns of male rhinoceros beetles are extremely sensitive to the larval nutritional environment and are used by rival males in combat over access to females. In contrast to horns, other parts of the body, such as wings, eyes, and legs, scale proportionally with body size, whereas others, such as males’ external genitalia, are invariant with body size, regardless of nutrition. We document how body parts of the Asian rhinoceros beetle, Trypoxylus dichotomus, exhibit plasticity and constraint in response to nutritional condition. We discuss the implications of these results for the evolution of condition-dependent and condition-independent traits in animals.
    Integrative and Comparative Biology 05/2014; 54(4). DOI:10.1093/icb/icu041 · 2.93 Impact Factor
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    • "The wealth of data and the power of molecular tools available for these species strongly contrast with the experimental amenability of most other organisms for molecular investigation, even where such organisms exhibit biological phenomena not covered by the standard models. It has therefore been argued that biologists need to start selecting and exploring new model systems [1], [2]. "
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    ABSTRACT: The advent of high-throughput sequencing technology facilitates the exploration of a variety of reference species outside the few established molecular genetic model systems. Bioinformatic and gene expression analyses provide new ways for comparative analyses between species, for instance, in the field of evolution and development. Despite these advances, a critical bottleneck for the exploration of new model species remains the establishment of functional tools, such as the ability to experimentally express genes in specific cells of an organism. We recently established a first transgenic strain of the annelid Platynereis, using a Tc1/mariner-type Mos1 transposon vector. Here, we compare Mos1 with Tol2, a member of the hAT family of transposons. In Platynereis, Tol2-based constructs showed a higher frequency of nuclear genome insertion and sustained gene expression in the G0 generation. However, in contrast to Mos1-mediated transgenes, Tol2-mediated insertions failed to retain fluorescence in the G1 generation, suggesting a germ line-based silencing mechanism. Furthermore, we present three novel expression constructs that were generated by a simple fusion-PCR approach and allow either ubiquitous or cell-specific expression of a reporter gene. Our study indicates the versatility of Tol2 for transient transgenesis, and provides a template for transgenesis work in other emerging reference species.
    PLoS ONE 04/2014; 9(4):e93076. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0093076 · 3.23 Impact Factor
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