In the last few years, improved analytical tools and the integration of genetic data with multiple sources of information have shown that temperate species exhibited more complex responses to ice ages than previously thought. In this study, we investigated how Pleistocene climatic changes affected the current distribution and genetic diversity of European populations of the tick Ixodes ricinus, an ectoparasite with high ecological plasticity. We first used mitochondrial and nuclear genetic markers to investigate the phylogeographic structure of the species and its Pleistocene history using coalescent-based methods; then we used species distribution modelling to infer the climatic niche of the species at last glacial maximum; finally, we reviewed the literature on the I. ricinus hosts to identify the locations of their glacial refugia. Our results support the scenario that during the last glacial phase, I. ricinus never experienced a prolonged allopatric divergence in separate glacial refugia, but persisted with interconnected populations across Southern and Central Europe. The generalist behaviour in host choice of I. ricinus would have played a major role in maintaining connections between its populations. Although most of the hosts persisted in separate refugia, from the point of view of I. ricinus, they represented a continuity of 'bridges' among populations. Our study highlights the importance of species-specific ecology in affecting responses to Pleistocene glacial-interglacial cycles. Together with other cases in Europe and elsewhere, it contributes to setting new hypotheses on how species with wide ecological plasticity coped with Pleistocene climatic changes.
"In the last decades advances in molecular techniques have greatly improved our tools to investigate the dynamics of vector populations and of pesticide resistance insurgence
[43, 49–53]. More recently, next-generation sequencing technologies have offered unprecedented opportunities to investigate the molecular basis of the interaction between cellular defenses and insecticides
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Background:
Proteins from the ABC family (ATP-binding cassette) represent the largest known group of efflux pumps, responsible for transporting specific molecules across lipid membranes in both prokaryotic and eukaryotic organisms. In arthropods they have been shown to play a role in insecticide defense/resistance. The presence of ABC transporters and their possible association with insecticide transport have not yet been investigated in the mosquito Anopheles stephensi, the major vector of human malaria in the Middle East and South Asian regions. Here we investigated the presence and role of ABCs in transport of permethrin insecticide in a susceptible strain of this mosquito species.
To identify ABC transporter genes we obtained a transcriptome from untreated larvae of An. stephensi and then compared it with the annotated transcriptome of Anopheles gambiae. To analyse the association between ABC transporters and permethrin we conducted bioassays with permethrin alone and in combination with an ABC inhibitor, and then we investigated expression profiles of the identified genes in larvae exposed to permethrin.
Bioassays showed an increased mortality of mosquitoes when permethrin was used in combination with the ABC-transporter inhibitor. Genes for ABC transporters were detected in the transcriptome, and five were selected (AnstABCB2, AnstABCB3, AnstABCB4, AnstABCmember6 and AnstABCG4). An increased expression in one of them (AnstABCG4) was observed in larvae exposed to the LD50 dose of permethrin. Contrary to what was found in other insect species, no up-regulation was observed in the AnstABCB genes.
Our results show for the first time the involvement of ABC transporters in larval defense against permethrin in An. stephensi and, more in general, confirm the role of ABC transporters in insecticide defense. The differences observed with previous studies highlight the need of further research as, despite the growing number of studies on ABC transporters in insects, the heterogeneity of the results available at present does not allow us to infer general trends in ABC transporter-insecticide interactions.
"In some cases, the trade movements of livestock introduced and spread species far away from the original ranges . We demonstrated that the covariates derived from the harmonic regression better captured the abiotic niche of several species of ticks than did the monthly raw set of descriptors or interpolated gridded climate, which have been traditionally used for this purpose [52-54]. We are aware that the nominal spatial resolution of 0.1° may be too coarse for some applications focusing on local or regional issues, which could require a higher resolution. "
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Background
Correlative modelling combines observations of species occurrence with environmental variables to capture the niche of organisms. It has been argued for the use of predictors that are ecologically relevant to the target species, instead of the automatic selection of variables. Without such biological background, the forced inclusion of numerous variables can produce models that are highly inflated and biologically irrelevant. The tendency in correlative modelling is to use environmental variables that are interpolated from climate stations, or monthly estimates of remotely sensed features.
We produced a global dataset of abiotic variables based on the transformation by harmonic regression (time series Fourier transform) of monthly data derived from the MODIS series of satellites at a nominal resolution of 0.1°. The dataset includes variables, such as day and night temperature or vegetation and water availability, which potentially could affect physiological processes and therefore are surrogates in tracking the abiotic niche. We tested the capacities of the dataset to describe the abiotic niche of parasitic organisms, applying it to discriminate five species of the globally distributed tick subgenus Boophilus and using more than 9,500 published records.
With an average reliability of 82%, the Fourier-transformed dataset outperformed the raw MODIS-derived monthly data for temperature and vegetation stress (62% of reliability) and other popular interpolated climate datasets, which had variable reliability (56%–65%). The transformed abiotic variables always had a collinearity of less than 3 (as measured by the variance inflation factor), in contrast with interpolated datasets, which had values as high as 300.
The new dataset of transformed covariates could address the tracking of abiotic niches without inflation of the models arising from internal issues with the descriptive variables, which appear when variance inflation is higher than 10. The coefficients of the harmonic regressions can also be used to reconstruct the complete original time series, being an adequate complement for ecological, epidemiological, or phylogenetic studies. We provide the dataset as a free download under the GNU general public license as well as the scripts necessary to integrate other time series of data into the calculations of the harmonic coefficients.
"Identifying the factors influencing the dispersal and genetic connectivity among tick populations of different geographic origin is thus not a trivial exercise and several hypotheses have been proposed. Key to the discussions are host specificity and the mobility of the hosts of adult ticks [1,6,7], the number and type of host species needed to complete the life cycle [8,9], sex-biased dispersal of different life stages [6,10], parasite-host immunity interactions  and abiotic factors associated with biogeographic barriers and other environmental changes [12–16]. "
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: A comparative phylogeographic study on two economically important African tick species, Amblyomma hebraeum and Hyalomma rufipes was performed to test the influence of host specificity and host movement on dispersion. Pairwise AMOVA analyses of 277 mtDNA COI sequences supported significant population differentiation among the majority of sampling sites. The geographic mitochondrial structure was not supported by nuclear ITS-2 sequencing, probably attributed to a recent divergence. The three-host generalist, A. hebraeum, showed less mtDNA geographic structure, and a lower level of genetic diversity, while the more host-specific H. rufipes displayed higher levels of population differentiation and two distinct mtDNA assemblages (one predominantly confined to South Africa/Namibia and the other to Mozambique and East Africa). A zone of overlap is present in southern Mozambique. A mechanistic climate model suggests that climate alone cannot be responsible for the disruption in female gene flow. Our findings furthermore suggest that female gene dispersal of ticks is more dependent on the presence of juvenile hosts in the environment than on the ability of adult hosts to disperse across the landscape. Documented interspecific competition between the juvenile stages of H. rufipes and H. truncatum is implicated as a contributing factor towards disrupting gene flow between the two southern African H. rufipes genetic assemblages.
PLoS ONE 10/2013; 8(10):e76930. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0076930 · 3.23 Impact Factor
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