Evolution

  • Article
    | Open Access

    The virulence of some infectious diseases seems to depend on the sex of the host the infection came from, as well as that of the current host. Here, McLeod et al. develop an epidemiological model to investigate the evolution of virulence when pathogens can retain epigenetic memories of their previous host.

    • David V. McLeod
    • , Geoff Wild
    •  & Francisco Úbeda
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Welwitschia mirabilis is a unique plant that only has two leaves, but it can survive in hostile conditions of the African desert. Here, the authors report its chromosome-level genome assembly and discuss how gene function and regulation have given rise to its unique morphology and environmental adaptions.

    • Tao Wan
    • , Zhiming Liu
    •  & Qingfeng Wang
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Multicellularity is a major evolutionary transition that remains poorly characterized at the ecological and genetic level. Exposing unicellular green algae to a rotifer predator showed that just 500 generations of predator selection were sufficient to lead to a convex trade-off and incorporate evolved changes into the prey genome.

    • Joana P. Bernardes
    • , Uwe John
    •  & Lutz Becks
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Increasing body and brain size constitutes a key pattern in human evolution, but the mechanisms driving these changes remain debated. Using a large fossil dataset combined with global paleoclimatic reconstructions, the authors show that different environmental variables influenced the evolution of brain and body size in Homo.

    • Manuel Will
    • , Mario Krapp
    •  & Andrea Manica
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Plasmodium vivax generally accounts for a low proportion of malaria cases in Africa, but population-level data on the distribution of infections is limited. Here, the authors use data from the Democratic Republic of the Congo and show that the prevalence is low (~3%) and diffusely spread.

    • Nicholas F. Brazeau
    • , Cedar L. Mitchell
    •  & Jonathan J. Juliano
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Despite the profound knowledge of sex pheromones, little is known about the coevolutionary mechanisms and constraints on their production and detection. Whole-genome sequences from 99 drosophilids, with chemical and behavioural data, show that sex pheromones and their cognate olfactory channels evolve rapidly and independently.

    • Mohammed A. Khallaf
    • , Rongfeng Cui
    •  & Markus Knaden
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Pecan is an important specialty crop that has experienced extensive interspecific hybridization and nearly-obligate outcrossing. Here, the authors assemble diploid genomes of four outbred genotypes, identify interspecific introgressions through comparative genomics analyses, and map QTLs associated with pest resistance.

    • John T. Lovell
    • , Nolan B. Bentley
    •  & Jennifer J. Randall
  • Article
    | Open Access

    How natural selection shapes the rate and molecular spectrum of mutations is debated. Yeast mutation accumulation experiments identify a gene promoting mutagenesis and show stabilizing selection maintaining the mutation rate above the drift barrier. Selection also preserves the mutation spectrum.

    • Haoxuan Liu
    •  & Jianzhi Zhang
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The authors show in Nematostella that the more orally expressed β-catenin targets repress the more aborally expressed β-catenin targets, thus patterning the oral-aboral axis. This likely represents the common mechanism of β-catenin-dependent axial patterning shared by Cnidaria and Bilateria.

    • Tatiana Lebedeva
    • , Andrew J. Aman
    •  & Grigory Genikhovich
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Population structure can influence the probability of and time to fixation of new mutants. Here, Tkadlec et al. demonstrate mathematically that structures that increase fixation probability necessarily slow fixation, but also identify amplifying structures with minimal reductions in fixation time.

    • Josef Tkadlec
    • , Andreas Pavlogiannis
    •  & Martin A. Nowak
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Many species learn through social transmission, which can alter co-evolutionary selection pressures. Experiments involving artificial prey and social networks show that wild birds can learn about unpalatable food by watching others, which helps explain the persistence of costly prey defences despite influxes of naïve juvenile predators.

    • Liisa Hämäläinen
    • , William Hoppitt
    •  & Rose Thorogood
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Pyrrolysine (Pyl) exists in nature as the 22nd proteinogenic amino acid, but studies of Pyl have been hindered by the difficulty and inefficiency of both its chemical and biological syntheses. Here, the authors developed an improved PANCE approach to evolve the pylBCD pathway for increased production of Pyl proteins in E. coli.

    • Joanne M. L. Ho
    • , Corwin A. Miller
    •  & Matthew R. Bennett
  • Article
    | Open Access

    In addition to major innovations in their locomotor system, early birds evolved highly derived skulls. Here, Wang et al. three dimensionally reconstruct the skull of a new enantiornithine bird from the Early Cretaceous that illustrates the early avialan transitions in skull morphology and function.

    • Min Wang
    • , Thomas A. Stidham
    •  & Zhonghe Zhou
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Obscuring knowledge of personal gains from individuals can theoretically maintain fairness in a cooperative group. Experiments show that wild, cooperatively breeding banded mongooses uncertain of kinship allocate postnatal care in a way that reduces inequality among offspring, suggesting a classic idea of moral philosophy can apply in biological systems.

    • H. H. Marshall
    • , R. A. Johnstone
    •  & M. A. Cant
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The metaphor of an adaptive landscape is presented quantitatively by looking at molecular adaptations and their catalytic consequences in a recently evolved bacterial enzyme. The study identifies both genotype-by-environment interactions and environment-dependent epistasis as factors that can alter the fitness of functional mutations.

    • Dave W. Anderson
    • , Florian Baier
    •  & Nobuhiko Tokuriki
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The parasite causing toxoplasmosis can manipulate prey to behave in ways that promote transmission to the parasite’s definitive feline hosts. The first study consistent with this extended phenotype in the wild finds that infected hyena cubs approach lions more closely than uninfected peers and have higher rates of lion mortality.

    • Eben Gering
    • , Zachary M. Laubach
    •  & Thomas Getty
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Beneficial plant-microbe interactions are common in nature, but direct evidence for the evolution of mutualism is scarce. Here, Li et al. experimentally evolve a rhizospheric bacterium and find that it can evolve into a mutualist on a relatively short timescale.

    • Erqin Li
    • , Ronnie de Jonge
    •  & Alexandre Jousset
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Resistance of Neisseria gonorrhoeae to extended spectrum cephalosporins is an increasing concern. Here, the authors conduct whole genome sequencing of isolates from the United States and find that most resistant isolates were associated with a persistent circulating lineage.

    • Jesse C. Thomas IV
    • , Sandeep J. Joseph
    •  & Zach Perry
  • Article
    | Open Access

    There are relatively few known extant adaptive radiations in Europe that predate the Pleistocene. Here, Borko et al. characterize the diversity and diversification of the subterranean amphipod genus Niphargus, showing evidence for a large adaptive radiation associated with massif uplift 15 million years ago.

    • Špela Borko
    • , Peter Trontelj
    •  & Cene Fišer
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The ‘invariant rate of ageing’ hypothesis suggests that the rate of ageing tends to be constant within species. Here, Colchero et al. find support for the hypothesis across primates, including humans, suggesting biological constraints on the rate of ageing.

    • Fernando Colchero
    • , José Manuel Aburto
    •  & Susan C. Alberts
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Here, the authors examine how altruism can emerge as people come to trust a public institution of moral assessment, which broadcasts whether individuals have good or bad reputations for reciprocity.

    • Arunas L. Radzvilavicius
    • , Taylor A. Kessinger
    •  & Joshua B. Plotkin
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Molecular phylogenies are traditionally based on sequence variation, but genome rearrangements also contain phylogenetic information. Here, Zhao et al. develop an approach to reconstruct phylogenies based on microsynteny and illustrate it with a reconstruction of the angiosperm phylogeny.

    • Tao Zhao
    • , Arthur Zwaenepoel
    •  & Yves Van de Peer
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Natural and sexual selection can be in opposition favouring different trait sizes, but disentangling these processes empirically is difficult. Here Okada et al. show that predation on males shifts the balance of selection in experimentally evolving beetle populations, disfavoring a sexually-selected male trait but increasing female fitness.

    • Kensuke Okada
    • , Masako Katsuki
    •  & David J. Hosken
  • Perspective
    | Open Access

    Effective biological engineering requires the acknowledgement of evolution and its consideration during the design process. In this perspective, the authors present the concept of the evotype to reason about and shape the evolutionary potential of natural and engineered biosystems.

    • Simeon D. Castle
    • , Claire S. Grierson
    •  & Thomas E. Gorochowski
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Dating early bacterial evolution is challenging due to the limited bacterial fossil record. Here Wang and Luo use the close evolutionary relationship between Alphaproteobacteria and mitochondria to leverage the eukaryotic fossil record in dating Alphaproteobacteria origin and diversification.

    • Sishuo Wang
    •  & Haiwei Luo
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Social interaction outcomes can depend on the type of information individuals possess and how it is used in decision-making. Here, Zhou et al. find that self-evaluation based decision-making rules lead to evolutionary outcomes that are robust to different population structures and ways of self-evaluation.

    • Lei Zhou
    • , Bin Wu
    •  & Long Wang
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Long-term infection of cystic fibrosis patients with Pseudomonas aeruginosa is often accompanied by a reduction in bacterial growth rate. Here, La Rosa et al. use adaptive laboratory evolution to increase the growth rate of clinical isolates, and identify mechanisms and evolutionary trajectories that, in reverse direction, may help the pathogen to adapt to the patients’ airways.

    • Ruggero La Rosa
    • , Elio Rossi
    •  & Søren Molin
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Natural selection may favor traits underlying aging-related diseases if they benefit the young. Wang et al. find that oxidative activation of CaMKII provides physiological benefits critical to the initial and continued success of vertebrates but at the cost of disease, frailty, and shortened lifespan.

    • Qinchuan Wang
    • , Erick O. Hernández-Ochoa
    •  & Mark E. Anderson
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Evolution selects for the fittest but must operate within the realm of the physically possible. Here, the authors present a theoretical framework that allows them to explore how ten abiotic constraints can shape the operation, regulation, and adaptation of metabolism in E. coli.

    • Amir Akbari
    • , James T. Yurkovich
    •  & Bernhard O. Palsson
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The interaction between hybridisation and polyploidisation is thought to play an important role in eukaryote speciation. Here the authors sequence yeast crosses and show associations between hybridisation, genome instability, and genome duplication, suggesting these may have roles in the establishment of new hybrids.

    • S. Marsit
    • , M. Hénault
    •  & C. R. Landry
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Comparative epigenomics has revealed principles underlying the evolution of gene expression regulation, and the integration of epigenomic data is important for a deeper understanding of this evolution. Here the authors report the evolutionary dynamics of the epigenomic regulatory landscape in primates and their impact in recent human evolution.

    • Raquel García-Pérez
    • , Paula Esteller-Cucala
    •  & Tomàs Marquès-Bonet
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Captive breeding could prevent species extinctions, but selection for captivity may decrease fitness. Here the authors analyse pedigree data on 15 long-running vertebrate breeding programs and find generational fitness changes that processes such as inbreeding depression cannot explain.

    • Katherine A. Farquharson
    • , Carolyn J. Hogg
    •  & Catherine E. Grueber
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Here, the authors report a large-scale comparative analysis of <30,000 Diversity-Generating Retroelements (DGRs) across ~9000 metagenomes (representing diverse taxa and biomes), to identify patterns in terms of prevalence and activity. Combined with examination of longitudinal data on <100 metagenomes part of time series, they demonstrate that DGRs are broadly and consistently active, implying an important role in microbiota ecology and evolution.

    • Simon Roux
    • , Blair G. Paul
    •  & Emiley A. Eloe-Fadrosh
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The genetic architecture underlying rapid adaptive responses to novel environments are poorly understood. A study of great tits from nine European cities finds that urban adaptation in a widespread songbird occurred through unique and shared selective sweeps in a core-set of behaviour-linked genes.

    • Pablo Salmón
    • , Arne Jacobs
    •  & Caroline Isaksson
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Without understanding the genetic architecture of inbreeding depression, its effects are hard to pinpoint. Long-term data from wild Soay sheep shows that inbreeding manifests in long runs of homozygosity, which made up nearly half of the genome in the most inbred individuals with severe fitness consequences.

    • M. A. Stoffel
    • , S. E. Johnston
    •  & J. M. Pemberton
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Age-richness rate (ARR) estimates of evolutionary diversification are widely used to study factors that influence species richness among clades. Here the authors show that ARR inference is based on problematic assumptions and recommend against its use in comparison of past diversity or diversification rates across clades.

    • Daniel L. Rabosky
    •  & Roger B. J. Benson
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The efficacy of the antibiotic trimethoprim, which inhibits bacterial dihydrofolate reductase (DHFR), is limited by the rapid emergence of resistant bacteria. Here, Manna et al. show that 4’-desmethyltrimethoprim inhibits DHFR and a common TMP-resistant variant, and impedes evolution of antibiotic resistance by selecting against the emergence of this variant.

    • Madhu Sudan Manna
    • , Yusuf Talha Tamer
    •  & Erdal Toprak
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Bacteria use the type 2 secretion system to secrete enzymes and toxins across the outer membrane to the environment. Here the authors analyse the T2SS pathway in three protist lineages and suggest that the early mitochondrion may have been capable of secreting proteins into the cytosol.

    • Lenka Horváthová
    • , Vojtěch Žárský
    •  & Pavel Doležal
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Many obligate symbionts, including parasites, have reduced genomes. A comparison of leaf-cutter ant genomes reveals parallel gene losses, particularly in olfactory receptors, in socially parasitic species compared to their closely-related hosts, consistent with relaxed selection for cooperative colony life in the parasites.

    • Lukas Schrader
    • , Hailin Pan
    •  & Christian Rabeling
  • Article
    | Open Access

    While there is strong evidence that many mutualisms evolved from antagonism, how or why remains unclear. A study combining theory and a data-based model sheds light on how mutualisms evolve without extremely tight host fidelity and how ecological context affects evolutionary outcomes and vice-versa.

    • Christopher A. Johnson
    • , Gordon P. Smith
    •  & Régis Ferrière
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Here, the authors show that the Hox genes Antennapedia (Antp) and Ultrabithorax (Ubx) control flight appendage morphology in Drosophila. This role is dependent on a particular spatial expression profile and dosage, which was also found in evolutionary distant four-winged insect species.

    • Rachel Paul
    • , Guillaume Giraud
    •  & Samir Merabet