M. Thomas P. Gilbert's research while affiliated with Globe Institute of Technology and other places

Publications (617)

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The banteng (Bos javanicus) is an endangered species within the wild Asian Bos complex, that has traditionally been subdivided into three geographically isolated subspecies based on (i) mainland Southeast Asia (B. j. birmanicus), (ii) Java (B. j. javanicus), and (iii) Borneo (B. j. lowi). However, analysis of a single Bornean banteng mitochondrial...
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The contrast between the tiger's (Panthera tigris) 2-3 My age and extant tigers' coalescence approximately 110,000 years ago suggests an ancient demographic bottleneck. Here we collected over 60 extinct specimens across mainland Asia and generated whole genome sequences from a 10,600-year-old Russian Far East (RFE) specimen (RUSA21, 8x coverage), 1...
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Fast optimisation of farming practices is essential to meet environmental sustainability challenges. Hologenomics, the joint study of the genomic features of animals and the microbial communities associated with them, opens new avenues to obtain in-depth knowledge on how host-microbiota interactions affect animal performance and welfare, and in doi...
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Invasive species are a key driver of the global biodiversity crisis, but the drivers of invasiveness, including the role of pathogens, remain debated. We investigated the genomic basis of invasiveness in Ambrosia artemisiifolia (common ragweed), introduced to Europe in the late 19th century, by resequencing 655 ragweed genomes, including 308 herbar...
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Comparative whole-genome analyses hold great power to illuminate commonalities and differences in the evolution of related species that share similar ecologies. The mustelid subfamily Lutrinae includes 13 currently recognized extant species of otters,1, 2, 3, 4, 5 a semiaquatic group whose evolutionary history is incompletely understood. We assembl...
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Anticipating species’ responses to environmental change is a pressing mission in biodiversity conservation. Despite decades of research investigating how climate change may affect population sizes, historical context is lacking and the traits which mediate demographic sensitivity to changing climate remain elusive. We use whole-genome sequence data...
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As metagenomic studies continue to increase in size and complexity, they are often required to incorporate data from geographically isolated locations or longitudinal time samples. This represents a technical challenge, given that many of the commonly used methods used for sample collection, storage, and DNA extraction are sensitive to differences...
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High-quality reference genomes for non-model species can benefit conservation.
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Penguins lost the ability to fly more than 60 million years ago, subsequently evolving a hyper-specialized marine body plan. Within the framework of a genome-scale, fossil-inclusive phylogeny, we identify key geological events that shaped penguin diversification and genomic signatures consistent with widespread refugia/recolonization during major c...
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The grey wolf (Canis lupus) was the first species to give rise to a domestic population, and they remained widespread throughout the last Ice Age when many other large mammal species went extinct. Little is known, however, about the history and possible extinction of past wolf populations or when and where the wolf progenitors of the present-day do...
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The study of co-evolution between host and microbes has the potential to transform how we understand evolutionary adaptations, yet genuine co-evolutionary relationships are challenging to show. The host's intestinal environment shapes the gut microbiota through the co-existence of bacteria and host. This co-existence influences the fitness of both...
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The repeated, rapid and often pronounced patterns of evolutionary divergence observed in insular plants, or the ‘plant island syndrome’, include changes in leaf phenotypes, growth, as well as the acquisition of a perennial lifestyle. Here, we sequence and describe the genome of the critically endangered, Galápagos-endemic species Scalesia atractylo...
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The plant-associated microbiome has been shown to vary considerably between species and across environmental gradients. The effects of genomic variation on the microbiome within single species are less clearly understood, with results often confounded by the larger effects of climatic and edaphic variation. In this study, our objective was to confi...
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Retracing pathways of historical species introductions is fundamental to understanding the factors involved in the successful colonization and spread, centuries after a species’ establishment in an introduced range. Numerous plants have been introduced to regions outside their native ranges both intentionally and accidentally by European voyagers a...
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Significance The controversy over the taxonomic identity of the eggs exploited by Australia’s first people around 50,000 y ago is resolved. The birds that laid these eggs are extinct, and distinguishing between two main candidates, a giant flightless “mihirung” Genyornis and a large megapode Progura , had proven impossible using morphological and g...
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The 1918 influenza pandemic was the deadliest respiratory pandemic of the 20th century and determined the genomic make-up of subsequent human influenza A viruses (IAV). Here, we analyze both the first 1918 IAV genomes from Europe and the first from samples prior to the autumn peak. 1918 IAV genomic diversity is consistent with a combination of loca...
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Subzero temperatures are among the most significant factors defining the distribution of organisms, yet, certain taxa have evolved to overcome this barrier. The microscopic tardigrades are among the most freeze-tolerant animals, with selected species reported to survive milli-Kelvin temperatures. Here, we estimate survival of fully hydrated eutardi...
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Dogs are uniquely associated with human dispersal and bring transformational insight into the domestication process. Dingoes represent an intriguing case within canine evolution being geographically isolated for thousands of years. Here, we present a high-quality de novo assembly of a pure dingo (CanFam_DDS). We identified large chromosomal differe...
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Three principal methods are under discussion as possible pathways to “true” de-extinction; i.e., back-breeding, cloning, and genetic engineering.¹,² Of these, while the latter approach is most likely to apply to the largest number of extinct species, its potential is constrained by the degree to which the extinct species genome can be reconstructed...
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While invasive species are a key driver of the global biodiversity crisis, the drivers of invasiveness remain debated. To investigate the genomic basis of invasiveness in plants, we use the invasive weed Ambrosia artemisiifolia , introduced to Europe in the late 19 th century, resequencing 655 ragweed genomes, including 308 herbarium specimens coll...
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Tardigrades are renowned for their extreme stress tolerance, which includes the ability to endure complete desiccation, high levels of radiation and very low sub-zero temperatures. Nevertheless, tardigrades appear to be vulnerable to high temperatures and thus the potential effects of global warming. Here, we provide the first analysis of transcrip...
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Background: Animal protein production is increasingly looking towards microbiome-associated services such as the design of new and better probiotic solutions to further improve gut health and production sustainability. Here, we investigate the functional efects of bacteria-based pro- and synbiotic feed additives on microbiome-associated functions i...
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Oceanic archipelagos comprise multiple disparate environments over small geographic areas and are isolated from other biotas. These conditions have led to some of the most spectacular adaptive radiations, which have been key to our understanding of evolution, and offer a unique chance to characterise the genomic basis underlying rapid and pronounce...
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November 2020 marked 2 y since the launch of the Earth BioGenome Project (EBP), which aims to sequence all known eukaryotic species in a 10-y timeframe. Since then, significant progress has been made across all aspects of the EBP roadmap, as outlined in the 2018 article describing the project’s goals, strategies, and challenges (1). The launch phas...
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Although genetic diversity has been recognized as a key component of biodiversity since the first Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in 1993, it has rarely been included in conservation policies and regulations. Even less appreciated is the role that ancient and historical DNA (aDNA and hDNA, respectively) could play in unlocking the temporal...
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The Sicilian wolf represented the only population of wolves living on a Mediterranean island until the first half of the twentieth century (1930s-1960s) 1–7 . Previous studies hypothesised that they remained isolated from mainland wolves from the end of the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM) 8,9 , until human persecutions led them to extinction 1–7 . There...
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Temporal genomic studies that utilise museum insects are invaluable for understanding changes in ecological processes in which insects are essential, such as wild and agricultural pollination, seed dispersal, nutrient cycling, and food web architecture, to name a few. However, given such analyses come at the cost of physical damage to museum specim...
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Domestication of animals can lead to profound phenotypic modifications within short evolutionary time periods, and for many species behavioral selection is likely at the forefront of this process. Animal studies have strongly implicated that the gut microbiome plays a major role in host behavior and cognition through the microbiome–gut–brain axis....
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African swine fever virus (ASFV) has become widespread in Europe, Asia and elsewhere, thereby causing extensive economic losses. The viral genome includes nearly 200 genes, but their expression within infected pigs has not been well characterized previously. In this study, four pigs were infected with a genotype II strain (ASFV POL/2015/Podlaskie);...
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Background Due to its central role in animal nutrition, the gut microbiota is likely a relevant factor shaping dietary niche shifts. We analysed both the impact and contribution of the gut microbiota to the dietary niche expansion of the only four bat species that have incorporated fish into their primarily arthropodophage diet. Results We first c...
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Research on animal–microbiota interactions has become a central topic in biological sciences because of its relevance to basic eco-evolutionary processes and applied questions in agriculture and health. However, animal hosts and their associated microbial communities are still seldom studied in a systemic fashion. Hologenomics, the integrated study...
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The Seychelles Magpie-Robin Copsychus sechellarum is an IUCN Red-List Endangered species endemic to the Seychelles, whose population was reduced to eight individuals on a single island in the 1960s. Translocations from the remaining population to four additional islands have been an integral factor in their recovery, but the potential genetic conse...
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The Sardinian dhole (Cynotherium sardous) was an iconic and unique canid species that was endemic to Sardinia and Corsica until it became extinct at the end of the Late Pleistocene. Given its peculiar dental morphology, small body size, and high level of endemism, several extant canids have been proposed as possible relatives of the Sardinian dhole...
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Background Numerous Ebola virus outbreaks have occurred in Equatorial Africa over the past decades. Besides human fatalities, gorillas and chimpanzees have also succumbed to the fatal virus. The 2004 outbreak at the Odzala-Kokoua National Park (Republic of Congo) alone caused a severe decline in the resident western lowland gorilla (Gorilla gorilla...
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The evolution of the genera Bos and Bison and the nature of gene flow between wild and domestic species, is poorly understood, with genomic data of wild species being limited. We generated two genomes from the likely extinct Kouprey (Bos sauveli) and analysed them alongside other Bos and Bison genomes. We found that B. sauveli possessed genomic sig...
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Accurate quantification of biodiversity can be demanding and expensive. Although environmental DNA (eDNA) metabarcoding can facilitate biodiversity assessments through non‐invasive, cost‐efficient, and rapid surveys, the approach struggles to outperform traditional morphological approaches in providing reliable quantitative estimates for surveyed s...
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Runs of homozygosity (ROH) occur when offspring inherit haplotypes that are identical by descent from each parent. Length distributions of ROH are informative about population history; specifically, the probability of inbreeding mediated by mating system and/or population demography. Here, we investigate whether variation in killer whale (Orcinus o...
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Leeches play important roles in food webs due to their abundance, diversity and feeding habits. Studies using invertebrate‐derived DNA (iDNA) extracted from leech gut contents to target vertebrate DNA have focused on the Indo‐Pacific region and mainly leveraged the leech family Haemadipsidae, composed of bloodfeeding terrestrial leeches, while pred...
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Only five species of the once-diverse Rhinocerotidae remain, making the reconstruction of their evolutionary history a challenge to biologists since Darwin. We sequenced genomes from five rhinoceros species (three extinct and two living), which we compared to existing data from the remaining three living species and a range of outgroups. We identif...
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Significance Although today the rainforest is continuous in Central Africa, the scarce fossil record suggests that arid conditions during the ice ages might have reduced tree density. However, the vast majority of the fossil pollen cores preserved in Tropical Africa are too young to inform about this period. Investigating whether the climate change...
Preprint
Runs of homozygosity (ROH) occur when offspring inherit haplotypes that are identical by descent from each parent. Length distributions of ROH are informative about population history; specifically the probability of inbreeding mediated by mating system and/or population demography. Here, we investigate whether variation in killer whale (Orcinus or...
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Background and Aims The characterisation of plant microbiomes using metabarcoding strategies is expected to be progressively replaced by shotgun metagenomic (SMg) approaches. In the present report we explore the potential of applying SMg to grapevine leaf, rhizosphere and soil samples. Methods and Results Our strategy involved combining a single m...
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Background: The evolutionary relationships of Felidae during their Early–Middle Miocene radiation is contentious. Although the early common ancestors have been subsumed under the grade-group Pseudaelurus, this group is thought to be paraphyletic, including the early ancestors of both modern cats and extinct sabretooths. Methods: Here, we sequenced...
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Enigmatic phenomena have sparked the imagination of people around the globe into creating folkloric creatures. One prime example is Zana of Abkhazia (South Caucasus), a well-documented 19th century female who was captured living wild in the forest. Zana's appearance was sufficiently unusual, that she was referred to by locals as an Almasty—the anal...
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Large vertebrates are extremely sensitive to anthropogenic pressure, and their populations are declining fast. The white rhinoceros (Ceratotherium simum) is a paradigmatic case: this African megaherbivore suffered a remarkable decline in the last 150 years due to human activities. Its subspecies, the northern (NWR) and the southern white rhinoceros...
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Environmental DNA (eDNA) and invertebrate‐derived DNA (iDNA) are used to survey biodiversity non‐invasively to mitigate difficulties in obtaining wildlife samples, particularly in remote areas or for rare species. Recently, eDNA/iDNA were used to monitor known wildlife pathogens, however, most wildlife pathogens are unknown and often evolutionarily...
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Background: Numerous Ebola virus outbreaks have occurred in Equatorial Africa over the past decades. Besides human fatalities, gorillas and chimpanzees have also succumbed to the fatal virus. The 2004 outbreak at the Odzala-Kokoua National Park (Republic of Congo) alone caused a severe decline in the resident western lowland gorilla (Gorilla gorill...
Preprint
Full-text available
The 1918 influenza pandemic was the deadliest respiratory pandemic of the 20th century and determined the genomic make-up of subsequent human influenza A viruses (IAV). Here, we analyze the first 1918 IAV genomes from Europe and from the first, milder wave of the pandemic. 1918 IAV genomic diversity is consistent with local transmission and frequen...
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Salmonids are important sources of protein for a large proportion of the human population. Mycoplasma species are a major constituent of the gut microbiota of salmonids, often representing the majority of microbiota. Despite the frequent reported dominance of salmonid-related Mycoplasma species, little is known about the phylogenomic placement, fun...
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Background Animal protein production is increasingly looking towards microbiome associated services such as the design of new and better probiotic solutions to further improve gut health and production sustainability. Here, we investigate the functional effects of bacteria based pro- and synbiotic feed additives on microbiome associated functions i...
Preprint
Full-text available
Leeches play important roles in food webs due to their abundance, diversity and feeding habits. Studies using invertebrate-derived DNA (iDNA) extracted from leech gut contents to target vertebrate DNA have focused on the Indo-Pacific region and mainly leveraged the leech family Haemadipsidae, composed of haematophagous terrestrial leeches, while th...
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Full-text available
High-quality and complete reference genome assemblies are fundamental for the application of genomics to biology, disease, and biodiversity conservation. However, such assemblies are available for only a few non-microbial species1–4. To address this issue, the international Genome 10K (G10K) consortium5,6 has worked over a five-year period to evalu...
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A Correction to this paper has been published: https://doi.org/10.1038/s41586-021-03473-8.
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Background: Infectious diseases cause significant production losses in aquaculture every year. Since the gut microbiota plays an essential role in regulating the host immune system, health and physiology, altered gut microbiota compositions are often associated with a diseased status. However, few studies have examined the association between dise...
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A Correction to this paper has been published: https://doi.org/10.1038/s41586-021-03328-2.
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Full-text available
Background: The evolutionary relationships of Felidae during their Early–Middle Miocene radiation is contentious. Although the early common ancestors have been subsumed under the grade-group Pseudaelurus, this group is thought to be paraphyletic, including the early ancestors of both modern cats and extinct sabretooths. Methods: Here, we sequenced...
Preprint
Full-text available
The fungal plant pathogen Neonectria neomacrospora (C. Booth & Samuels) Mantiri & Samuels (Ascomycota, Hypocreales) is a bark parasite causing twig blight, canker, and in severe cases, dieback in fir ( Abies spp.). Although often described as a mild pathogen, foresty and phytosanitary agencies have expressed their concern for potential economic imp...
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Dire wolves are considered to be one of the most common and widespread large carnivores in Pleistocene America¹, yet relatively little is known about their evolution or extinction. Here, to reconstruct the evolutionary history of dire wolves, we sequenced five genomes from sub-fossil remains dating from 13,000 to more than 50,000 years ago. Our res...
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Adaptation is typically studied by comparing modern populations with contrasting environments. Individuals persisting in the ancestral habitat are typically used to represent the ancestral founding population; however, it has been questioned whether these individuals are good proxies for the actual ancestors.¹ To address this, we applied a paleogen...
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The suite of adaptations associated with the extreme stature of the giraffe has long interested biologists and physiologists. By generating a high-quality chromosome-level giraffe genome and a comprehensive comparison with other ruminant genomes, we identified a robust catalog of giraffe-specific mutations. These are primarily related to cardiovasc...