Gene expression patterns in the head horns, thoracic horns, and legs of the horned beetles Onthophagus taurus
ABSTRACT: This series examines gene expression patterns in the head horns, thoracic horns, and legs of the horned beetles Onthophagus taurus. Expression in each of these tissues was compared to that in common non-appendage reference - abdominal epithelium. The series consists of three pair-wise comparisons: head horn versus abdominal epithelium, thoracic horn versus abdominal epithelium and legs versus abdominal epithelium. Each tissue sample was obtained by pooling tissue dissected from four pupae. Samples compared on the same array were derived from tissues dissected from the same four animals. Five independent biological replicates were performed for each comparison with dye flips (three in one direction and two in the opposite direction).
Project description:This series examines gene expression patterns in the head horns, thoracic horns, and legs of the horned beetles Onthophagus taurus. Expression in each of these tissues was compared to that in common non-appendage reference - abdominal epithelium. Overall design: The series consists of three pair-wise comparisons: head horn versus abdominal epithelium, thoracic horn versus abdominal epithelium and legs versus abdominal epithelium. Each tissue sample was obtained by pooling tissue dissected from four pupae. Samples compared on the same array were derived from tissues dissected from the same four animals. Five independent biological replicates were performed for each comparison with dye flips (three in one direction and two in the opposite direction).
Project description:Animal horns play an important role during intraspecific combat. This work investigates the microstructure and mechanical properties of horns from four representative ruminant species: the bighorn sheep (Ovis canadensis), domestic sheep (Ovis aries), mountain goat (Oreamnos americanus) and pronghorn (Antilocapra americana), aiming to understand the relation between evolved microstructures and mechanical properties. Microstructural similarity is found where disc-shaped keratin cells attach edge-to-edge along the growth direction of the horn core (longitudinal direction) forming a lamella; multiple lamellae are layered face to face along the impact direction (radial direction, perpendicular to horn core growth direction), forming a wavy pattern surrounding a common feature, the tubules. Differences among species include the number and shape of the tubules, the orientation of aligned lamellae and the shape of keratin cells. Water absorption tests reveal that the pronghorn horn has the largest water-absorbing ability due to the presence of nanopores in the keratin cells. The loading direction (compressive and tensile) and level of hydration vary among the horns from different species. The differences in mechanical properties among species may relate to their different fighting behaviours: high stiffness and strength in mountain goat to support the forces during stabbing; high tensile strength in pronghorn for interlocked pulling; impact energy absorption properties in domestic and bighorn sheep to protect the skull during butting. These design rules based on evolutionary modifications among species can be applied in synthetic materials to meet different mechanical requirements.
Project description:Male-specific exaggerated horns are an evolutionary novelty and have diverged rapidly via intrasexual selection. Here, we investigated the function of the conserved sex-determination gene doublesex (dsx) in the Japanese rhinoceros beetle (Trypoxylus dichotomus) using RNA interference (RNAi). Our results show that the sex-specific T. dichotomus dsx isoforms have an antagonistic function for head horn formation and only the male isoform has a role for thoracic horn formation. These results indicate that the novel sex-specific regulation of dsx during horn morphogenesis might have been the key evolutionary developmental event at the transition from sexually monomorphic to sexually dimorphic horns.
Project description:Developmental mechanisms play an important role in determining the costs, limits, and evolutionary consequences of phenotypic plasticity. One issue central to these claims is the metaphor of developmental “decoupling,” where alternate morphs result from evolutionarily independent developmental pathways. We test this assumption through a microarray study that explores differences in gene expression between alternate morphs relative to differences between sexes, a classic example of developmental decoupling. We then examine whether morph-biased genes are less conserved, relative to morph-shared genes, as predicted if developmental decoupling relaxes pleiotropic constraints on divergence. We focus on the developing horns and brains of two species of horned beetles with spectacular sexual- and morph-dimorphism in the expression of horns and fighting behavior. We find that patterns of gene expression were as divergent between morphs as they were between sexes. However, overall patterns of gene expression were also highly correlated across morphs and sexes. Morph-biased genes were more evolutionarily divergent, suggesting a role of relaxed pleiotropic constraints or relaxed selection. Together these results suggest that alternate morphs are somewhat developmentally decoupled, and that this decoupling has significant evolutionary consequences. However, alternative morphs may not be as developmentally decoupled as sometimes assumed and such hypotheses of development should be revisited and refined. We compared gene expression in three focal epidermal tissues (head, prothorax, legs) relative to a "control" tissue (dorsal abdominal epidermis) without any outgrowths. We also surveyed gene expression in the brain, relative to ganglionic neural tissue. We compared such patterns of gene expression between two male morphs (horned, fighter and hornless, sneaker males) and between males and females. We focused our array analyses (N = 48 arrays) on Onthophagus taurus (the species for which the array was designed), but also ran 19 arrays on thoracic tissue of Onthophagus nigriventris, a species which expresses thoracic horns as adults (O. taurus expresses head horns). Finally, we included a small subset of arrays (N = 4) directly hybridizing head epidermis tissue of O. taurus male morphs to validate our overall estimates of morph-biased expression. For more detail, refer to Snell-Rood et al. 2010, Evolution.
Project description:Morphological diversity arises during development through the actions and interactions of diverse developmental pathways. Among those, the Wnt pathway is known to contribute to diverse developmental processes such as segmentation and the morphogenesis of appendages. Here, we characterize a transcription factor in the Wnt pathway, pangolin (pan), to investigate the role of Wnt signaling in the development of evolutionarily novel body structures: the horns of beetles. Beetle horns are highly diverse in size, shape, and number and develop principally from two major body regions: the head and prothorax. We investigate horns in two species of the genus Onthophagus using comparative in situ hybridization, larval RNA interference, and allometric measurements to analyze whether horn formation is regulated by pan and by extension the Wnt pathway. Our results illustrate that pan expression affects beetle horn growth in a species-, sex-, and location-specific manner in two morphologically distinct, yet closely-related, Onthophagus species.
Project description:The origins of novel complex phenotypes represent one of the most fundamental, yet largely unresolved, issues in evolutionary biology. Here we explore the developmental genetic regulation of beetle horns, a class of traits that lacks obvious homology to traits in other insects. Furthermore, beetle horns are remarkably diverse in their expression, including sexual dimorphisms, male dimorphisms, and interspecific differences in location of horn expression. At the same time, beetle horns share aspects of their development with that of more traditional appendages. We used larval RNA interference-mediated gene function analysis of 3 cardinal insect appendage patterning genes, dachshund, homothorax, and Distal-less, to investigate their role in development and diversification of beetle horns within and between species. Transcript depletion of all 3 patterning genes generated phenotypic effects very similar to those documented in previous studies that focused on general insect development. In addition, we found that Distal-less and homothorax, but not dachshund, regulate horn expression in a species-, sex-, body region-, and body size-dependent manner. Our results demonstrate differential co-option of appendage patterning genes during the evolution and radiation of beetle horns. Furthermore, our results illustrate that regulatory genes whose functions are otherwise highly conserved nevertheless retain the capacity to acquire additional functions, and that little phylogenetic distance appears necessary for the evolution of sex- and species-specific differences in these functions.
Project description:Sex-specific trait expression is frequently associated with highly variable, condition-dependent expression within sexes and rapid divergence among closely related species. Horned beetles are an excellent example for studying the molecular basis of these phenomena because horn morphology varies markedly among species, between sexes, and among alternative, nutritionally-cued morphs within sexes. In addition, horns lack obvious homology to other insect traits and provide a good opportunity to explore the molecular basis of the rapid diversification of a novel trait within and between species. Here we show that the sex-determination gene doublesex (dsx) underlies important aspects of horn development, including differences between sexes, morphs, and species. In male Onthophagus taurus, dsx transcripts were preferentially expressed in the horns of the large, horned morph, and RNAi-mediated knockdown of dsx dramatically altered male horn allometry by massively reducing horn development in large males, but not in smaller males. Conversely, dsx RNAi induced ectopic, nutrition-sensitive horn development in otherwise hornless females. Finally, in a closely related species (Onthophagus sagittarius) that has recently evolved a rare reversed sexual dimorphism, dsx RNAi revealed reversed as well as novel dsx functions despite an overall conservation of dsx expression. This suggests that rapid evolution of dsx functions has facilitated the transition from a regular sexual dimorphism to a reversed sexual dimorphism in this species. Our findings add beetle horns to existing examples of a close relationship between dsx and sexual trait development, and suggest that dsx function has been coopted to facilitate both the evolution of environmentally-cued intrasexual dimorphisms and rapid species divergences in a novel trait.
Project description:A method is described for solving the inverse problem of determining the profile of an acoustic horn when time-domain reflectance (TDR) is known only at the entrance. The method involves recasting Webster's horn equation in terms of forward and backward propagating wave variables. An essential feature of this method is a requirement that the backward propagating wave be continuous at the wave-front at all locations beyond the entrance. Derivation of the inverse solution raises questions about the meaning of causality in the context of wave propagation in non-uniform tubes. Exact reflectance expressions are presented for infinite exponential, conical and parabolic horns based on exact solutions of the horn equation. Diameter functions obtained with the inverse solution are a good match to all three horn profiles.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Meniscal horns are important structures of meniscus, and longitudinal tears of these places could significantly change the load distribution among the knee joint. Few studies concerned the stress concentrated on bones, which may induce the osteonecrosis of subchondral bone. The goal of this study was to construct a finite element (FE) model with high fidelity of the knee joint and evaluate the biomechanical changes of load distribution of components after longitudinal tears of the horns of meniscus. METHODS:Computed tomography and magnetic resonance images were used to develop the FE model, and two different kinds of simulations, the vertical and the anterior load, mimicking the static stance and slight flexion simulations, were applied after longitudinal tears of the horns of meniscus. RESULTS:Significantly elevated peak compressive and shear stress was observed on the menisci, cartilages, and subchondral bones, and enlarged meniscus extrusion was noticed. Between all the four types of longitudinal tears investigated in this study, longitudinal tears at the posterior horn of the medial meniscus were found to be the most significant. CONCLUSIONS:These findings showed that longitudinal tears of the meniscal horns lead to increased magnitude and changed distribution of stress and indicated the important role of posterior horn of medial meniscus. This may contribute to the mechanism between meniscal tears and spontaneous subchondral bone osteonecrosis.
Project description:Beetle horns are attractive models for studying the evolution of novel traits, as they display diverse shapes, sizes, and numbers among closely related species within the family Scarabaeidae. Horns radiated prolifically and independently in two distant subfamilies of scarabs, the dung beetles (Scarabaeinae), and the rhinoceros beetles (Dynastinae). However, current knowledge of the mechanisms underlying horn diversification remains limited to a single genus of dung beetles, Onthophagus. Here we unveil 11 horn formation genes in a rhinoceros beetle, Trypoxylus dichotomus. These 11 genes are mostly categorized as larval head- and appendage-patterning genes that also are involved in Onthophagus horn formation, suggesting the same suite of genes was recruited in each lineage during horn evolution. Although our RNAi analyses reveal interesting differences in the functions of a few of these genes, the overwhelming conclusion is that both head and thoracic horns develop similarly in Trypoxylus and Onthophagus, originating in the same developmental regions and deploying similar portions of appendage patterning networks during their growth. Our findings highlight deep parallels in the development of rhinoceros and dung beetle horns, suggesting either that both horn types arose in the common ancestor of all scarabs, a surprising reconstruction of horn evolution that would mean the majority of scarab species (~35,000) actively repress horn growth, or that parallel origins of these extravagant structures resulted from repeated co-option of the same underlying developmental processes.