Matching Items (13)

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Using Ancient DNA Methods to Examine Dire Wolf Population History

Description

Dire wolves have recently risen to fame as a result of the popular television program Game of Thrones, and thus many viewers know dire wolves as the sigil and loyal

Dire wolves have recently risen to fame as a result of the popular television program Game of Thrones, and thus many viewers know dire wolves as the sigil and loyal companions of the Stark house. Far fewer recognize dire wolves by their scientific name, Canis dirus, or understand the population history of this ‘fearsome wolf’ species that roamed the Americas until the megafaunal mass extinction event of the Late Pleistocene. Although numerous studies have examined the species using morphological and geographical methods, thus far their results have been either inconclusive or contradictory. Remaining questions include the relationships dire wolves share with other members of the Canis genus and the internal structure of their populations. Advancements in ancient DNA recovery methods may make it possible to study dire wolf specimens at the molecular level for the first time and may therefore prove useful in clarifying the answers to these questions. Eighteen dire wolf specimens were collected from across the United States and subjected to ancient DNA extraction, library preparation, amplification and purification, bait preparation and capture, and next-generation sequencing. There was an average of 76.9 unique reads and 5.73% coverage when mapped to the Canis familiaris reference genome in ultraconserved regions of the mitochondrial genome. The results indicate that endogenous ancient DNA was not successfully recovered and perhaps ancient DNA recovery methods have not advanced to the point of retrieving informative amounts of DNA from particularly old, thermally degraded specimens. Nevertheless, the ever-changing nature of ancient DNA research makes it vital to continually test the limitations of the field and suggests that ancient DNA recovery methods will prove useful in illuminating dire wolf population history at some point in the future.

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Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2018-05

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Genetic diversity across the pseudoautosomal boundary varies across human populations

Description

Unlike the autosomes, recombination on the sex chromosomes is limited to the pseudoautosomal regions (PARs) at each end of the chromosome. PAR1 spans approximately 2.7 Mb from the tip of

Unlike the autosomes, recombination on the sex chromosomes is limited to the pseudoautosomal regions (PARs) at each end of the chromosome. PAR1 spans approximately 2.7 Mb from the tip of the proximal arm of each sex chromosome, and a pseudoautosomal boundary between the PAR1 and non-PAR region is thought to have evolved from a Y-specific inversion that suppressed recombination across the boundary. In addition to the two PARs, there is also a human-specific X-transposed region (XTR) that was duplicated from the X to the Y chromosome. Genetic diversity is expected to be higher in recombining than nonrecombining regions, particularly because recombination reduces the effects of linked selection, allowing neutral variation to accumulate. We previously showed that diversity decreases linearly across the previously defined pseudoautosomal boundary (rather than drop suddenly at the boundary), suggesting that the pseudoautosomal boundary may not be as strict as previously thought. In this study, we analyzed data from 1271 genetic females to explore the extent to which the pseudoautosomal boundary varies among human populations (broadly, African, European, South Asian, East Asian, and the Americas). We found that, in all populations, genetic diversity was significantly higher in the PAR1 and XTR than in the non-PAR regions, and that diversity decreased linearly from the PAR1 to finally reach a non-PAR value well past the pseudoautosomal boundary in all populations. However, we also found that the location at which diversity changes from reflecting the higher PAR1 diversity to the lower nonPAR diversity varied by as much as 500 kb among populations. The lack of genetic evidence for a strict pseudoautosomal boundary and the variability in patterns of diversity across the pseudoautosomal boundary are consistent with two potential explanations: (1) the boundary itself may vary across populations, or (2) that population-specific demographic histories have shaped diversity across the pseudoautosomal boundary.

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Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2016-12

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Evaluating variant calling best practices

Description

Analyzing human DNA sequence data allows researchers to identify variants associated with disease, reconstruct the demographic histories of human populations, and further understand the structure and function of the genome.

Analyzing human DNA sequence data allows researchers to identify variants associated with disease, reconstruct the demographic histories of human populations, and further understand the structure and function of the genome. Identifying variants in whole genome sequences is a crucial bioinformatics step in sequence data processing and can be performed using multiple approaches. To investigate the consistency between different bioinformatics methods, we compared the accuracy and sensitivity of two genotyping strategies, joint variant calling and single-sample variant calling. Autosomal and sex chromosome variant call sets were produced by joint and single-sample calling variants for 10 female individuals. The accuracy of variant calls was assessed using SNP array genotype data collected from each individual. To compare the ability of joint and single-sample calling to capture low-frequency variants, folded site frequency spectra were constructed from variant call sets. To investigate the potential for these different variant calling methods to impact downstream analyses, we estimated nucleotide diversity for call sets produced using each approach. We found that while both methods were equally accurate when validated by SNP array sites, single-sample calling identified a greater number of singletons. However, estimates of nucleotide diversity were robust to these differences in the site frequency spectrum between call sets. Our results suggest that despite single-sample calling’s greater sensitivity for low-frequency variants, the differences between approaches have a minimal effect on downstream analyses. While joint calling may be a more efficient approach for genotyping many samples, in situations that preclude large sample sizes, our study suggests that single-sample calling is a suitable alternative.

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Created

Date Created
  • 2020-05

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Novel DNA Extraction Methods for Mollusks and the History and Significance of Bermuda Land Snails

Description

Bermuda Land Snails make up a genus called Poecilozonites that is endemic to Bermuda and is extensively present in its fossil record. These snails were also integral to the creation

Bermuda Land Snails make up a genus called Poecilozonites that is endemic to Bermuda and is extensively present in its fossil record. These snails were also integral to the creation of the theory of punctuated equilibrium. The DNA of mollusks is difficult to sequence because of a class of proteins called mucopolysaccharides that are present in high concentrations in mollusk tissue, and are not removed with standard DNA extraction methods. They inhibit Polymerase Chain Reactions (PCRs) and interfere with Next Generation Sequencing methods. This paper will discuss the DNA extraction methods that were designed to remove the inhibitory proteins that were tested on another gastropod species (Pomacea canaliculata). These were chosen because they are invasive and while they are not pulmonates, they are similar enough to Bermuda Land Snails to reliably test extraction methods. The methods that were tested included two commercially available kits: the Qiagen Blood and Tissue Kit and the Omega Biotek Mollusc Extraction Kit, and one Hexadecyltrimethylammonium Bromide (CTAB) Extraction method that was modified for use on mollusk tissue. The Blood and Tissue kit produced some DNA, the mollusk kit produced almost none, and the CTAB Extraction Method produced the highest concentrations on average, and may prove to be the most viable option for future extractions. PCRs attempted with the extracted DNA have all failed, though it is likely due to an issue with reagents. Further spectrographic analysis of the DNA from the test extractions has shown that they were successful at removing mucopolysaccharides. When the protocol is optimized, it will be used to extract DNA from the tissue from six individuals from each of the two extant species of Bermuda Land Snails. This DNA will be used in several experiments involving Next Generation Sequencing, with the goal of assembling a variety of genome data. These data will then be used to a construct reference genome for Bermuda Land Snails. The genomes generated by this project will be used in population genetic analyses between individuals of the same species, and between individuals of different species. These analyses will then be used to aid in conservation efforts for the species.

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Created

Date Created
  • 2021-05

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Natural and Anthropogenic Hybridization in Two Species of Eastern Brazilian Marmosets (Callithrix jacchus and C. penicillata)

Description

Animal hybridization is well documented, but evolutionary outcomes and conservation priorities often differ for natural and anthropogenic hybrids. Among primates, an order with many endangered species, the two contexts can

Animal hybridization is well documented, but evolutionary outcomes and conservation priorities often differ for natural and anthropogenic hybrids. Among primates, an order with many endangered species, the two contexts can be hard to disentangle from one another, which carries important conservation implications. Callithrix marmosets give us a unique glimpse of genetic hybridization effects under distinct natural and human-induced contexts. Here, we use a 44 autosomal microsatellite marker panel to examine genome-wide admixture levels and introgression at a natural C. jacchus and C. penicillata species border along the Sao Francisco River in NE Brazil and in an area of Rio de Janeiro state where humans introduced these species exotically. Additionally, we describe for the first time autosomal genetic diversity in wild C. penicillata and expand previous C. jacchus genetic data. We characterize admixture within the natural zone as bimodal where hybrid ancestry is biased toward one parental species or the other. We also show evidence that Sao Francisco River islands are gateways for bidirectional gene flow across the species border. In the anthropogenic zone, marmosets essentially form a hybrid swarm with intermediate levels of admixture, likely from the absence of strong physical barriers to interspecific breeding. Our data show that while hybridization can occur naturally, the presence of physical, even if leaky, barriers to hybridization is important for maintaining species genetic integrity. Thus, we suggest further study of hybridization under different contexts to set well informed conservation guidelines for hybrid populations that often fit somewhere between "natural" and "man-made."

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Created

Date Created
  • 2015-06-10

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HBS1L-MYB loci involvement in Fetal Hemoglobin Expression

Description

This project studies two single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) within the HBS1L-MYB loci. Both SNPs are associated with a heightened expression of fetal hemoglobin. DNA samples of NCAA athletes who have

This project studies two single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) within the HBS1L-MYB loci. Both SNPs are associated with a heightened expression of fetal hemoglobin. DNA samples of NCAA athletes who have sickle cell trait were genotyped to find the allele frequency of each SNP. When comparing all populations using information provided from the Human Genome Project on Ensembl, the minor A allele has a frequency of 22% and the major, G, allele has a frequency of 78%. The frequency distribution of the minor allele in the population data was higher than the frequency obtained from the sampled data by 15%. This means that the samples, which are heterozygous for sickle cell, display a lower frequency for the mutation than the global population.

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Created

Date Created
  • 2014-05

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Sequence Diversity of Pan troglodytes Subspecies and the Impact of WFDC6 Selective Constraints in Reproductive Immunity

Description

Recent efforts have attempted to describe the population structure of common chimpanzee, focusing on four subspecies: Pan troglodytes verus, P. t. ellioti, P. t. troglodytes, and P. t. schweinfurthii. However,

Recent efforts have attempted to describe the population structure of common chimpanzee, focusing on four subspecies: Pan troglodytes verus, P. t. ellioti, P. t. troglodytes, and P. t. schweinfurthii. However, few studies have pursued the effects of natural selection in shaping their response to pathogens and reproduction. Whey acidic protein (WAP) four-disulfide core domain (WFDC) genes and neighboring semenogelin (SEMG) genes encode proteins with combined roles in immunity and fertility. They display a strikingly high rate of amino acid replacement (dN/dS), indicative of adaptive pressures during primate evolution. In human populations, three signals of selection at the WFDC locus were described, possibly influencing the proteolytic profile and antimicrobial activities of the male reproductive tract. To evaluate the patterns of genomic variation and selection at the WFDC locus in chimpanzees, we sequenced 17 WFDC genes and 47 autosomal pseudogenes in 68 chimpanzees (15 P. t. troglodytes, 22 P. t. verus, and 31 P. t. ellioti). We found a clear differentiation of P. t. verus and estimated the divergence of P. t. troglodytes and P. t. ellioti subspecies in 0.173 Myr; further, at the WFDC locus we identified a signature of strong selective constraints common to the three subspecies in WFDC6—a recent paralog of the epididymal protease inhibitor EPPIN. Overall, chimpanzees and humans do not display similar footprints of selection across the WFDC locus, possibly due to different selective pressures between the two species related to immune response and reproductive biology.

Contributors

Created

Date Created
  • 2013-12-19

Validation of qPCR Methods for the Detection of Mycobacterium in New World Animal Reservoirs

Description

Zoonotic pathogens that cause leprosy (Mycobacterium leprae) and tuberculosis (Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex, MTBC) continue to impact modern human populations. Therefore, methods able to survey mycobacterial infection in potential animal hosts

Zoonotic pathogens that cause leprosy (Mycobacterium leprae) and tuberculosis (Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex, MTBC) continue to impact modern human populations. Therefore, methods able to survey mycobacterial infection in potential animal hosts are necessary for proper evaluation of human exposure threats. Here we tested for mycobacterial-specific single- and multi-copy loci using qPCR. In a trial study in which armadillos were artificially infected with M. leprae, these techniques were specific and sensitive to pathogen detection, while more traditional ELISAs were only specific. These assays were then employed in a case study to detect M. leprae as well as MTBC in wild marmosets. All marmosets were negative for M. leprae DNA, but 14 were positive for the mycobacterial rpoB gene assay. Targeted capture and sequencing of rpoB and other MTBC genes validated the presence of mycobacterial DNA in these samples and revealed that qPCR is useful for identifying mycobacterial-infected animal hosts.

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Created

Date Created
  • 2015-11-16

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Rapid evolution of BRCA1 and BRCA2in humans and other primates

Description

Background
The maintenance of chromosomal integrity is an essential task of every living organism and cellular repair mechanisms exist to guard against insults to DNA. Given the importance of this

Background
The maintenance of chromosomal integrity is an essential task of every living organism and cellular repair mechanisms exist to guard against insults to DNA. Given the importance of this process, it is expected that DNA repair proteins would be evolutionarily conserved, exhibiting very minimal sequence change over time. However, BRCA1, an essential gene involved in DNA repair, has been reported to be evolving rapidly despite the fact that many protein-altering mutations within this gene convey a significantly elevated risk for breast and ovarian cancers.
Results
To obtain a deeper understanding of the evolutionary trajectory of BRCA1, we analyzed complete BRCA1 gene sequences from 23 primate species. We show that specific amino acid sites have experienced repeated selection for amino acid replacement over primate evolution. This selection has been focused specifically on humans and our closest living relatives, chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) and bonobos (Pan paniscus). After examining BRCA1 polymorphisms in 7 bonobo, 44 chimpanzee, and 44 rhesus macaque (Macaca mulatta) individuals, we find considerable variation within each of these species and evidence for recent selection in chimpanzee populations. Finally, we also sequenced and analyzed BRCA2 from 24 primate species and find that this gene has also evolved under positive selection.
Conclusions
While mutations leading to truncated forms of BRCA1 are clearly linked to cancer phenotypes in humans, there is also an underlying selective pressure in favor of amino acid-altering substitutions in this gene. A hypothesis where viruses are the drivers of this natural selection is discussed.

Contributors

Created

Date Created
  • 2014-07-11

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A composite genome approach to identify phylogenetically informative data from next-generation sequencing

Description

Background
Improvements in sequencing technology now allow easy acquisition of large datasets; however, analyzing these data for phylogenetics can be challenging. We have developed a novel method to rapidly obtain

Background
Improvements in sequencing technology now allow easy acquisition of large datasets; however, analyzing these data for phylogenetics can be challenging. We have developed a novel method to rapidly obtain homologous genomic data for phylogenetics directly from next-generation sequencing reads without the use of a reference genome. This software, called SISRS, avoids the time consuming steps of de novo whole genome assembly, multiple genome alignment, and annotation.
Results
For simulations SISRS is able to identify large numbers of loci containing variable sites with phylogenetic signal. For genomic data from apes, SISRS identified thousands of variable sites, from which we produced an accurate phylogeny. Finally, we used SISRS to identify phylogenetic markers that we used to estimate the phylogeny of placental mammals. We recovered eight phylogenies that resolved the basal relationships among mammals using datasets with different levels of missing data. The three alternate resolutions of the basal relationships are consistent with the major hypotheses for the relationships among mammals, all of which have been supported previously by different molecular datasets.
Conclusions
SISRS has the potential to transform phylogenetic research. This method eliminates the need for expensive marker development in many studies by using whole genome shotgun sequence data directly. SISRS is open source and freely available at https://github.com/rachelss/SISRS/releases.

Contributors

Created

Date Created
  • 2015-06-11