[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Plant development is remarkably plastic but how precisely can the plant customize its form to specific environments? When the plant adjusts its development to different environments, related traits can change in a coordinated fashion, such that two traits co-vary across many genotypes. Alternatively, traits can vary independently, such that a change in one trait has little predictive value for the change in a second trait. To characterize such ''tunability'' in developmental plasticity, we carried out a detailed phenotypic characterization of complex root traits among 96 accessions of the model Arabidopsis thaliana in two nitrogen environments. The results revealed a surprising level of independence in the control of traits to environment – a highly tunable form of plasticity. We mapped genetic architecture of plasticity using genome-wide association studies and further used gene expression analysis to narrow down gene candidates in mapped regions. Mutants in genes implicated by association and expression analysis showed precise defects in the predicted traits in the predicted environment, corroborating the independent control of plasticity traits. The overall results suggest that there is a pool of genetic variability in plants that controls traits in specific environments, with opportunity to tune crop plants to a given environment.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Plant development is remarkably plastic but how precisely can the plant customize its form to specific environments? When the plant adjusts its development to different environments, related traits can change in a coordinated fashion, such that two traits co-vary across many genotypes. Alternatively, traits can vary independently, such that a change in one trait has little predictive value for the change in a second trait. To characterize such "tunability" in developmental plasticity, we carried out a detailed phenotypic characterization of complex root traits among 96 accessions of the model Arabidopsis thaliana in two nitrogen environments. The results revealed a surprising level of independence in the control of traits to environment - a highly tunable form of plasticity. We mapped genetic architecture of plasticity using genome-wide association studies and further used gene expression analysis to narrow down gene candidates in mapped regions. Mutants in genes implicated by association and expression analysis showed precise defects in the predicted traits in the predicted environment, corroborating the independent control of plasticity traits. The overall results suggest that there is a pool of genetic variability in plants that controls traits in specific environments, with opportunity to tune crop plants to a given environment.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Phenotypic plasticity is presumed to be involved in adaptive change toward species diversification. We thus examined how candidate genes underlying natural variation across populations might also mediate plasticity within an individual. Our implementation of an integrative "plasticity space" approach revealed that the root plasticity of a single Arabidopsis accession exposed to distinct environments broadly recapitulates the natural variation "space." Genome-wide association mapping identified the known gene PHOSPHATE 1 (PHO1) and other genes such as Root System Architecture 1 (RSA1) associated with differences in root allometry, a highly plastic trait capturing the distribution of lateral roots along the primary axis. The response of mutants in the Columbia-0 background suggests their involvement in signaling key modulators of root development including auxin, abscisic acid, and nitrate. Moreover, genotype-by-environment interactions for the PHO1 and RSA1 genes in Columbia-0 phenocopy the root allometry of other natural variants. This finding supports a role for plasticity responses in phenotypic evolution in natural environments.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 08/2013; · 9.74 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Stochastic mechanisms are sometimes utilized to diversify cell fates, especially in nervous systems. In the Drosophila retina, stochastic expression of the PAS-bHLH transcription factor Spineless (Ss) controls photoreceptor subtype choice. In one randomly distributed subset of R7 photoreceptors, Ss activates Rhodopsin4 (Rh4) and represses Rhodopsin3 (Rh3); counterparts lacking Ss express Rh3 and repress Rh4. In the dorsal third region of the retina, the Iroquois Complex transcription factors induce Rh3 in Rh4-expressing R7s. Here, we show that Ss levels are controlled in a binary on/off manner throughout the retina yet are attenuated in the dorsal third region to allow Rh3 coexpression with Rh4. Whereas the sensitivity of rh3 repression to differences in Ss levels generates stochastic and regionalized patterns, the robustness of rh4 activation ensures its stochastic expression throughout the retina. Our findings show how stochastic and regional inputs are integrated to control photoreceptor subtype specification in the Drosophila retina.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The perennial, Oryza rufipogon distributed from Asia to Australia and the annual O. meridionalis indigenous to Australia are AA genome species in the Oryza. However, recent research has demonstrated that the Australian AA genome perennial populations have maternal genomes more closely related to those of O. meridionalis than to those found in Asian populations of O. rufipogon suggesting that the Australian perennials may represent a new distinct gene pool for rice.
Analysis of an Oryza core collection covering AA genome species from Asia to Oceania revealed that some Oceania perennials had organellar genomes closely related to that of O meridionalis (meridionalis-type). O. rufipogon accessions from New Guinea carried either the meridionalis-type or rufirpogon-type (like O. rufipogon) organellar genomes. Australian perennials carried only the meridionalis-type organellar genomes when accompanied by the rufipogon-type nuclear genome. New accessions were collected to better characterize the Australian perennials, and their life histories (annual or perennial) were confirmed by field observations. All of the material collected carried only meridionalis-type organellar genomes. However, there were two distinct perennial groups. One of them carried an rufipogon-type nuclear genome similar to the Australian O. rufipogon in the core collection and the other carried an meridionalis-type nuclear genome not represented in the existing collection. Morphologically the rufipogon-type shared similarity with Asian O. rufipogon. The meridionalis-type showed some similarities to O. meridionalis such as the short anthers usually characteristic of annual populations. However, the meridionalis-type perennial was readily distinguished from O. meridionalis by the presence of a larger lemma and higher number of spikelets.
Analysis of current accessions clearly indicated that there are two distinct types of Australian perennials. Both of them differed genetically from Asian O. rufipogon. One lineage is closely related to O. meridionalis and another to Asian O. rufipogon. The first was presumed to have evolved by divergence from O. meridionalis becoming differentiated as a perennial species in Australia indicating that it represents a new gene pool. The second, apparently derived from Asian O. rufipogon, possibly arrived in Australia later.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Introduced species frequently show geographic differentiation, and when differentiation mirrors the ancestral range, it is often taken as evidence of adaptive evolution. The mouse-ear cress (Arabidopsis thaliana) was introduced to North America from Eurasia 150-200 years ago, providing an opportunity to study parallel adaptation in a genetic model organism. Here, we test for clinal variation in flowering time using 199 North American (NA) accessions of A. thaliana, and evaluate the contributions of major flowering time genes FRI, FLC, and PHYC as well as potential ecological mechanisms underlying differentiation. We find evidence for substantial within population genetic variation in quantitative traits and flowering time, and putatively adaptive longitudinal differentiation, despite low levels of variation at FRI, FLC, and PHYC and genome-wide reductions in population structure relative to Eurasian (EA) samples. The observed longitudinal cline in flowering time in North America is parallel to an EA cline, robust to the effects of population structure, and associated with geographic variation in winter precipitation and temperature. We detected major effects of FRI on quantitative traits associated with reproductive fitness, although the haplotype associated with higher fitness remains rare in North America. Collectively, our results suggest the evolution of parallel flowering time clines through novel genetic mechanisms.
Ecology and Evolution 06/2012; 2(6):1162-80. · 1.18 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Asian wild rice (Oryza rufipogon) that ranges widely across the eastern and southern part of Asia is recognized as the direct ancestor of cultivated Asian rice (O. sativa). Studies of the geographic structure of O. rufipogon, based on chloroplast and low-copy nuclear markers, reveal a possible phylogeographic signal of subdivision in O. rufipogon. However, this signal of geographic differentiation is not consistently observed among different markers and studies, with often conflicting results. To more precisely characterize the phylogeography of O. rufipogon populations, a genome-wide survey of unlinked markers, intensively sampled from across the entire range of O. rufipogon is critical. In this study, we surveyed sequence variation at 42 genome-wide sequence tagged sites (STS) in 108 O. rufipogon accessions from throughout the native range of the species. Using Bayesian clustering, principal component analysis and amova, we conclude that there are two genetically distinct O. rufipogon groups, Ruf-I and Ruf-II. The two groups exhibit a clinal variation pattern generally from north-east to south-west. Different from many earlier studies, Ruf-I, which is found mainly in China and the Indochinese Peninsula, shows genetic similarity with one major cultivated rice variety, O. satvia indica, whereas Ruf-II, mainly from South Asia and the Indochinese Peninsula, is not found to be closely related to cultivated rice varieties. The other major cultivated rice variety, O. sativa japonica, is not found to be similar to either O. rufipogon groups. Our results support the hypothesis of a single origin of the domesticated O. sativa in China. The possible role of palaeoclimate, introgression and migration-drift balance in creating this clinal variation pattern is also discussed.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Species often harbour large amounts of phenotypic variation in ecologically important traits, and some of this variation is genetically based. Understanding how this genetic variation is spatially structured can help to understand species' ecological tolerances and range limits. We modelled the climate envelopes of Arabidopsis thaliana genotypes, ranging from early- to late-flowering, as a function of several climatic variables. We found that genotypes with contrasting alleles at individual flowering time loci differed significantly in potential range size and niche breadth. We also found that later flowering genotypes had more restricted range potentials and narrower niche breadths than earlier flowering genotypes, indicating that local selection on flowering can constrain or enhance the ability of populations to colonise other areas. Our study demonstrates how climate envelope models that incorporate ecologically important genetic variation can provide insights into the macroecology of a species, which is important to understand its responses to changing environments.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Recent studies have suggested that domestication was a slower evolutionary process than was previously thought. We address
this issue by quantifying rates of phenotypic change in crops undergoing domestication, including five crops from the Near
East (Triticum monococcum, T. dicoccum, Hordeum vulgare, Pisum sativum, Lens culinaris) and six crops from other regions (Oryza sativa, Pennisetum glaucum, Vigna radiata, Cucumis melo, Helianthus annus, Iva annua). We calculate rates using the metrics of darwin units and haldane units, which have been used in evolutionary biology, and
apply this to data on non-shattering cereal spikelets and seed size. Rates are calculated by considering data over a 4,000-year
period from archaeological sites in the region of origin, although we discuss the likelihood that a shorter period of domestication
(1,000–2,000) years may be more appropriate for some crops, such as pulses. We report broadly comparable rates of change across
all the crops and traits considered, and find that these are close to the averages and median values reported in various evolutionary
biological studies. Nevertheless, there is still variation in rates between domesticates, such as melon seeds increasing at
twice the rate of cereals, and between traits, such as non-shattering evolving faster than grain size. Such comparisons underline
the utility of a quantitative approach to domestication rates, and the need to develop larger datasets for comparisons between
crops and across regions.
KeywordsDomestication syndrome–Unconscious selection–Southwest Asia–Neolithic–Palaeoethnobotany
Vegetation History and Archaeobotany 04/2012; 21(2):131-145. · 1.83 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The domesticated species Oryza sativa or Asian rice evolved starting approximately 9,000years ago and from its centers of origin in China and India has subsequently
spread throughout the Old World (and in historical times in the New World as well). This species is one of the key domesticated
crop plants in the world and has emerged as a model for studying the origins and spread of domesticated taxa as well as in
investigating the genetic basis for plant variation under domestication. Archaeological data has been critical in dissecting
the origins and spread of rice throughout Asia, but molecular information has also provided a complementary approach to examining
the evolutionary dynamics of this species. The evolutionary history of a species can leave its footprints within its genome.
Moreover, genetic studies allow us to study the history of traits that do not leave an archaeological record—for example,
grain stickiness or flowering time—which can provide insights into how crop species are adopted by different cultures. In
this review, several molecular studies into the origin and spread of Asian rice are discussed and we explore the advances
these genetic studies offer in our understanding of the evolution of domesticated species. We also explore how archaeological
data can provide critical insights that can help refine genetic models of the origin and spread of domesticated species.
Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences 04/2012; 2(2):61-68.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Organisms in the wild are subject to multiple, fluctuating environmental factors, and it is in complex natural environments that genetic regulatory networks actually function and evolve. We assessed genome-wide gene expression patterns in the wild in two natural accessions of the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana and examined the nature of transcriptional variation throughout its life cycle and gene expression correlations with natural environmental fluctuations. We grew plants in a natural field environment and measured genome-wide time-series gene expression from the plant shoot every three days, spanning the seedling to reproductive stages. We find that 15,352 genes were expressed in the A. thaliana shoot in the field, and accession and flowering status (vegetative versus flowering) were strong components of transcriptional variation in this plant. We identified between ∼110 and 190 time-varying gene expression clusters in the field, many of which were significantly overrepresented by genes regulated by abiotic and biotic environmental stresses. The two main principal components of vegetative shoot gene expression (PC(veg)) correlate to temperature and precipitation occurrence in the field. The largest PC(veg) axes included thermoregulatory genes while the second major PC(veg) was associated with precipitation and contained drought-responsive genes. By exposing A. thaliana to natural environments in an open field, we provide a framework for further understanding the genetic networks that are deployed in natural environments, and we connect plant molecular genetics in the laboratory to plant organismal ecology in the wild.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Levels of nucleotide variability are frequently positively correlated with recombination rate and negatively associated with gene density due to the effects of selection on linked variation. These relationships are determined by properties that frequently differ among species, including the mating system, and aspects of genome organization such as how genes are distributed along chromosomes. In rice, genes are found at highest density in regions with frequent crossing-over. This association between gene density and recombination rate provides an opportunity to evaluate the effects of selection in a genomic context that differs from other model organisms. Using single-nucleotide polymorphism data from Asian domesticated rice Oryza sativa ssp. japonica and ssp. indica and their progenitor species O. rufipogon, we observe a significant negative association between levels of polymorphism and both gene and coding site density, but either no association, or a negative correlation, between nucleotide variability and recombination rate. We establish that these patterns are unlikely to be explained by neutral mutation rate biases and demonstrate that a model of background selection with variable rates of deleterious mutation is sufficient to account for the gene density effect in O. rufipogon. In O. sativa ssp. japonica, we report a strong negative correlation between polymorphism and recombination rate and greater losses of variation during domestication in the euchromatic chromosome arms than heterochromatin. This is consistent with Hill-Robertson interference in low-recombination regions, which may limit the efficacy of selection for domestication traits. Our results suggest that the physical distribution of selected mutations is a primary factor that determines the genomic pattern of polymorphism in wild and domesticated rice species.
Molecular Biology and Evolution 09/2011; 29(2):675-87. · 10.35 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Asian rice, Oryza sativa, is one of world's oldest and most important crop species. Rice is believed to have been domesticated ∼9,000 y ago, although debate on its origin remains contentious. A single-origin model suggests that two main subspecies of Asian rice, indica and japonica, were domesticated from the wild rice O. rufipogon. In contrast, the multiple independent domestication model proposes that these two major rice types were domesticated separately and in different parts of the species range of wild rice. This latter view has gained much support from the observation of strong genetic differentiation between indica and japonica as well as several phylogenetic studies of rice domestication. We reexamine the evolutionary history of domesticated rice by resequencing 630 gene fragments on chromosomes 8, 10, and 12 from a diverse set of wild and domesticated rice accessions. Using patterns of SNPs, we identify 20 putative selective sweeps on these chromosomes in cultivated rice. Demographic modeling based on these SNP data and a diffusion-based approach provide the strongest support for a single domestication origin of rice. Bayesian phylogenetic analyses implementing the multispecies coalescent and using previously published phylogenetic sequence datasets also point to a single origin of Asian domesticated rice. Finally, we date the origin of domestication at ∼8,200-13,500 y ago, depending on the molecular clock estimate that is used, which is consistent with known archaeological data that suggests rice was first cultivated at around this time in the Yangtze Valley of China.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 05/2011; 108(20):8351-6. · 9.74 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Social interactions, including cooperation and altruism, are characteristic of numerous species, but many aspects of the evolution, ecology and genetics of social behavior remain unclear. The microbial soil amoeba Dictyostelium discoideum is a model system for the study of social evolution and provides insights into the nature of social cooperation and its genetic basis. This species exhibits altruism during both asexual and sexual cycles of its life history, and recent studies have uncovered several possible genetic mechanisms associated with kin discrimination and cheating behavior during asexual fruiting-body formation. By contrast, the molecular and evolutionary mechanisms that underlie sexual macrocyst formation remain largely enigmatic. D. discoideum, given its utility in molecular genetic studies, should continue to help us address these and other relevant questions in sociobiology, and thereby contribute to a coherent theoretical framework for the nature of social cooperation.
Trends in Genetics 02/2011; 27(2):48-54. · 9.77 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Oryza sativa or Asian cultivated rice is one of the major cereal grass species domesticated for human food use during the Neolithic. Domestication of this species from the wild grass Oryza rufipogon was accompanied by changes in several traits, including seed shattering, percent seed set, tillering, grain weight, and flowering time. Quantitative trait locus (QTL) mapping has identified three genomic regions in chromosome 3 that appear to be associated with these traits. We would like to study whether these regions show signatures of selection and whether the same genetic basis underlies the domestication of different rice varieties. Fragments of 88 genes spanning these three genomic regions were sequenced from multiple accessions of two major varietal groups in O. sativa--indica and tropical japonica--as well as the ancestral wild rice species O. rufipogon. In tropical japonica, the levels of nucleotide variation in these three QTL regions are significantly lower compared to genome-wide levels, and coalescent simulations based on a complex demographic model of rice domestication indicate that these patterns are consistent with selection. In contrast, there is no significant reduction in nucleotide diversity in the homologous regions in indica rice. These results suggest that there are differences in the genetic and selective basis for domestication between these two Asian rice varietal groups.
PLoS ONE 01/2011; 6(6):e20670. · 3.73 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Domestication is an evolutionary process of species divergence in which morphological and physiological changes result from the cultivation/tending of plant or animal species by a mutualistic partner, most prominently humans. Darwin used domestication as an analogy to evolution by natural selection although there is strong debate on whether this process of species evolution by human association is an appropriate model for evolutionary study. There is a presumption that selection under domestication is strong and most models assume rapid evolution of cultivated species. Using archaeological data for 11 species from 60 archaeological sites, we measure rates of evolution in two plant domestication traits--nonshattering and grain/seed size increase. Contrary to previous assumptions, we find the rates of phenotypic evolution during domestication are slow, and significantly lower or comparable to those observed among wild species subjected to natural selection. Our study indicates that the magnitudes of the rates of evolution during the domestication process, including the strength of selection, may be similar to those measured for wild species. This suggests that domestication may be driven by unconscious selection pressures similar to that observed for natural selection, and the study of the domestication process may indeed prove to be a valid model for the study of evolutionary change.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Understanding how crop species spread and are introduced to new areas provides insights into the nature of species range expansions. The domesticated species Oryza sativa or Asian rice is one of the key domesticated crop species in the world. The island of Madagascar off the coast of East Africa was one of the last major Old World areas of introduction of rice after the domestication of this crop species and before extensive historical global trade in this crop. Asian rice was introduced in Madagascar from India, the Malay Peninsula and Indonesia approximately 800-1400 years ago. Studies of domestication traits characteristic of the two independently domesticated Asian rice subspecies, indica and tropical japonica, suggest two major waves of migrations into Madagascar. A population genetic analysis of rice in Madagascar using sequence data from 53 gene fragments provided insights into the dynamics of island founder events during the expansion of a crop species' geographic range and introduction to novel agro-ecological environments. We observed a significant decrease in genetic diversity in rice from Madagascar when compared to those in Asia, likely the result of a bottleneck on the island. We also found a high frequency of a unique indica type in Madagascar that shows clear population differentiation from most of the sampled Asian landraces, as well as differential exchange of alleles between Asia and Madagascar populations of the tropical japonica subspecies. Finally, despite partial reproductive isolation between japonica and indica, there was evidence of indica/japonica recombination resulting from their hybridization on the island.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Dictyostelium discoideum is a eukaryotic microbial model system for multicellular development, cell-cell signaling, and social behavior. Key models of social evolution require an understanding of genetic relationships between individuals across the genome or possibly at specific genes, but the nature of variation within D. discoideum is largely unknown. We re-sequenced 137 gene fragments in wild North American strains of D. discoideum and examined the levels and patterns of nucleotide variation in this social microbial species. We observe surprisingly low levels of nucleotide variation in D. discoideum across these strains, with a mean nucleotide diversity (pi) of 0.08%, and no strong population stratification among North American strains. We also do not find any clear relationship between nucleotide divergence between strains and levels of social dominance and kin discrimination. Kin discrimination experiments, however, show that strains collected from the same location show greater ability to distinguish self from non-self than do strains from different geographic areas. This suggests that a greater ability to recognize self versus non-self may arise among strains that are more likely to encounter each other in nature, which would lead to preferential formation of fruiting bodies with clonemates and may prevent the evolution of cheating behaviors within D. discoideum populations. Finally, despite the fact that sex has rarely been observed in this species, we document a rapid decay of linkage disequilibrium between SNPs, the presence of recombinant genotypes among natural strains, and high estimates of the population recombination parameter rho. The SNP data indicate that recombination is widespread within D. discoideum and that sex as a form of social interaction is likely to be an important aspect of the life cycle.