Photic niche invasions: phylogenetic history of the dim-light foraging augochlorine bees (Halictidae).
ABSTRACT: Most bees rely on flowering plants and hence are diurnal foragers. From this ancestral state, dim-light foraging in bees requires significant adaptations to a new photic environment. We used DNA sequences to evaluate the phylogenetic history of the most diverse clade of Apoidea that is adapted to dim-light environments (Augochlorini: Megalopta, Megaloptidia and Megommation). The most speciose lineage, Megalopta, is distal to the remaining dim-light genera, and its closest diurnal relative (Xenochlora) is recovered as a lineage that has secondarily reverted to diurnal foraging. Tests for adaptive protein evolution indicate that long-wavelength opsin shows strong evidence of stabilizing selection, with no more than five codons (2%) under positive selection, depending on analytical procedure. In the branch leading to Megalopta, the amino acid of the single positively selected codon is conserved among ancestral Halictidae examined, and is homologous to codons known to influence molecular structure at the chromophore-binding pocket. Theoretically, such mutations can shift photopigment ?(max) sensitivity and enable visual transduction in alternate photic environments. Results are discussed in light of the available evidence on photopigment structure, morphological specialization and biogeographic distributions over geological time.
Project description:The foraging activity of diurnal bees often relies on flower availability, light intensity and temperature. We do not know how nocturnal bees, which fly at night and twilight, cope with these factors, especially as light levels vary considerably from night to day and from night to night due to moon phase and cloud cover. Given that bee apposition compound eyes function at their limits in dim light, we expect a strong dependence of foraging activity on light intensity in nocturnal bees. Besides being limited by minimum light levels to forage, nocturnal bees should also avoid foraging at brighter intensities, which bring increased competition with other bees. We investigated how five factors (light intensity, flower availability, temperature, humidity, and wind) affect flower visitation by Neotropical nocturnal bees in cambuci (Campomanesia phaea, Myrtaceae). We counted visits per minute over 30 nights in 33 cambuci trees. Light intensity was the main variable explaining flower visitation of nocturnal bees, which peaked at intermediate light levels occurring 25 min before sunrise. The minimum light intensity threshold to visit flowers was 0.00024 cd/m2. Our results highlight the dependence of these nocturnal insects on adequate light levels to explore resources.
Project description:Drosophila melanogaster shows exquisite light sensitivity for modulation of circadian functions in vivo, yet the activities of the Drosophila circadian photopigment cryptochrome (CRY) have only been observed at high light levels. We studied intensity/duration parameters for light pulse induced circadian phase shifts under dim light conditions in vivo. Flies show far greater light sensitivity than previously appreciated, and show a surprising sensitivity increase with pulse duration, implying a process of photic integration active up to at least 6 hours. The CRY target timeless (TIM) shows dim light dependent degradation in circadian pacemaker neurons that parallels phase shift amplitude, indicating that integration occurs at this step, with the strongest effect in a single identified pacemaker neuron. Our findings indicate that CRY compensates for limited light sensitivity in vivo by photon integration over extraordinarily long times, and point to select circadian pacemaker neurons as having important roles.
Project description:Stingless bees constitute a species-rich tribe of tropical and subtropical eusocial Apidae that act as important pollinators for flowering plants. Many foraging tasks rely on vision, e.g. spatial orientation and detection of food sources and nest entrances. Meliponini workers are usually small, which sets limits on eye morphology and thus quality of vision. Limitations are expected both on acuity, and thus on the ability to detect objects from a distance, as well as on sensitivity, and thus on the foraging time window at dusk and dawn. In this study, we determined light intensity thresholds for flight under dim light conditions in eight stingless bee species in relation to body size in a Neotropical lowland rainforest. Species varied in body size (0.8-1.7 mm thorax-width), and we found a strong negative correlation with light intensity thresholds (0.1-79 lx). Further, we measured eye size, ocelli diameter, ommatidia number, and facet diameter. All parameters significantly correlated with body size. A disproportionately low light intensity threshold in the minute Trigonisca pipioli, together with a large eye parameter P eye suggests specific adaptations to circumvent the optical constraints imposed by the small body size. We discuss the implications of body size in bees on foraging behavior.
Project description:Photic and non-photic stimuli have been shown to shift the phase of the human circadian clock. We examined how photic and non-photic time cues may be combined by the human circadian system by assessing the phase advancing effects of one evening dose of exogenous melatonin, alone and in combination with one session of morning bright light exposure.Randomized placebo-controlled double-blind circadian protocol. The effects of four conditions, dim light (?1.9 lux, ?0.6 Watts/m(2))-placebo, dim light-melatonin (5 mg), bright light (?3000 lux, ?7 Watts/m(2))-placebo, and bright light-melatonin on circadian phase was assessed by the change in the salivary dim light melatonin onset (DLMO) prior to and following treatment under constant routine conditions. Melatonin or placebo was administered 5.75 h prior to habitual bedtime and 3 h of bright light exposure started 1 h prior to habitual wake time.Sleep and chronobiology laboratory environment free of time cues.Thirty-six healthy participants (18 females) aged 22 ± 4 y (mean ± SD).Morning bright light combined with early evening exogenous melatonin induced a greater phase advance of the DLMO than either treatment alone. Bright light alone and melatonin alone induced similar phase advances.Information from light and melatonin appear to be combined by the human circadian clock. The ability to combine circadian time cues has important implications for understanding fundamental physiological principles of the human circadian timing system. Knowledge of such principles is important for designing effective countermeasures for phase-shifting the human circadian clock to adapt to jet lag, shift work, and for designing effective treatments for circadian sleep-wakefulness disorders.
Project description:Phylogenetic inference typically invokes nocturnality as ancestral in primates; however, some recent studies posit that diurnality is. Here, through adaptive evolutionary analyses of phototransduction genes by using a variety of approaches (restricted branch/branch-site models and unrestricted branch-site-based models (BS-REL, BUSTED and RELAX)), our results consistently showed that ancestral primates were subjected to enhanced positive selection for bright-light vision and relatively weak selection for dim-light vision. These results suggest that ancestral primates were mainly diurnal with some crepuscularity and support diurnality as plesiomorphic from Euarchontoglires. Our analyses show relaxed selection on motion detection in ancestral primates, suggesting that ancestral primates decreased their emphasis on mobile prey (e.g., insects). However, within primates, the results show that ancestral Haplorrhini were likely nocturnal, suggesting that evolution of the retinal fovea occurred within ancestral primates rather than within haplorrhines as was previously hypothesized. Our findings offer a reassessment of the visual adaptation of ancestral primates. The evolution of the retinal fovea, trichromatic vision and orbital convergence in ancestral primates may have helped them to efficiently discriminate, target, and obtain edible fruits and/or leaves from a green foliage background instead of relying on mobile insect prey.
Project description:Nocturnality is a key evolutionary innovation of mammals that enables mammals to occupy relatively empty nocturnal niches. Invasion of ancestral mammals into nocturnality has long been inferred from the phylogenetic relationships of crown Mammalia, which is primarily nocturnal, and crown Reptilia, which is primarily diurnal, although molecular evidence for this is lacking. Here we used phylogenetic analyses of the vision genes involved in the phototransduction pathway to predict the diel activity patterns of ancestral mammals and reptiles. Our results demonstrated that the common ancestor of the extant Mammalia was dominated by positive selection for dim-light vision, supporting the predominate nocturnality of the ancestral mammals. Further analyses showed that the nocturnality of the ancestral mammals was probably derived from the predominate diurnality of the ancestral amniotes, which featured strong positive selection for bright-light vision. Like the ancestral amniotes, the common ancestor of the extant reptiles and various taxa in Squamata, one of the main competitors of the temporal niches of the ancestral mammals, were found to be predominate diurnality as well. Despite this relatively apparent temporal niche partitioning between ancestral mammals and the relevant reptiles, our results suggested partial overlap of their temporal niches during crepuscular periods.
Project description:In addition to rods and cones, the human retina contains light-sensitive ganglion cells that express melanopsin, a photopigment with signal transduction mechanisms similar to that of invertebrate rhabdomeric photopigments (IRP). Like fly rhodopsins, melanopsin acts as a dual-state photosensitive flip-flop in which light drives both phototransduction responses and chromophore photoregeneration that bestows independence from the retinoid cycle required by rods and cones to regenerate photoresponsiveness following bleaching by light. To explore the hypothesis that melanopsin in humans expresses the properties of a bistable photopigment in vivo we used the pupillary light reflex (PLR) as a tool but with methods designed to study invertebrate photoreceptors. We show that the pupil only attains a fully stabilized state of constriction after several minutes of light exposure, a feature that is consistent with typical IRP photoequilibrium spectra. We further demonstrate that previous exposure to long wavelength light increases, while short wavelength light decreases the amplitude of pupil constriction, a fundamental property of IRP difference spectra. Modelling these responses to invertebrate photopigment templates yields two putative spectra for the underlying R and M photopigment states with peaks at 481 nm and 587 nm respectively. Furthermore, this bistable mechanism may confer a novel form of "photic memory" since information of prior light conditions is retained and shapes subsequent responses to light. These results suggest that the human retina exploits fly-like photoreceptive mechanisms that are potentially important for the modulation of non-visual responses to light and highlights the ubiquitous nature of photoswitchable photosensors across living organisms.
Project description:Because visual genes likely evolved in response to their ambient photic environment, the dichotomy between closely related nocturnal moths and diurnal butterflies forms an ideal basis for investigating their evolution. To investigate whether the visual genes of moths are associated with nocturnal dim-light environments or not, we cloned long-wavelength (R), blue (B) and ultraviolet (UV) opsin genes from 12 species of wild-captured moths and examined their evolutionary functions. Strong purifying selection appeared to constrain the functions of the genes. Dark-treatment altered the levels of mRNA expression in Helicoverpa armigera such that R and UV opsins were up-regulated after dark-treatment, the latter faster than the former. In contrast, B opsins were not significantly up-regulated. Diel changes of opsin mRNA levels in both wild-captured and lab-reared individuals showed no significant fluctuation within the same group. However, the former group had significantly elevated levels of expression compared with the latter. Consequently, environmental conditions appeared to affect the patterns of expression. These findings and the proportional expression of opsins suggested that moths potentially possessed color vision and the visual system played a more important role in the ecology of moths than previously appreciated. This aspect did not differ much from that of diurnal butterflies.
Project description:Developmental plasticity may accelerate the evolution of phenotypic novelty through genetic accommodation, but studies of genetic accommodation often lack knowledge of the ancestral state to place selected traits in an evolutionary context. A promising approach for assessing genetic accommodation involves using a comparative framework to ask whether ancestral plasticity is related to the evolution of a particular trait. Bees are an excellent group for such comparisons because caste-based societies (eusociality) have evolved multiple times independently and extant species exhibit different modes of eusociality. We measured brain and abdominal gene expression in a facultatively eusocial bee, Megalopta genalis, and assessed whether plasticity in this species is functionally linked to eusocial traits in other bee lineages. Caste-biased abdominal genes in M. genalis overlapped significantly with caste-biased genes in obligately eusocial bees. Moreover, caste-biased genes in M. genalis overlapped significantly with genes shown to be rapidly evolving in multiple studies of 10 bee species, particularly for genes in the glycolysis pathway and other genes involved in metabolism. These results provide support for the idea that eusociality can evolve via genetic accommodation, with plasticity in facultatively eusocial species like M. genalis providing a substrate for selection during the evolution of caste in obligately eusocial lineages.
Project description:BACKGROUND: Ambient light levels are often considered to drive the evolution of eye form and function. Diel activity pattern is the main mechanism controlling the visual environment of teleost reef fish, with day-active (diurnal) fish active in well-illuminated conditions, whereas night-active (nocturnal) fish cope with dim light. Physiological optics predicts several specific evolutionary responses to dim-light vision that should be reflected in visual performance features of the eye. RESULTS: We analyzed a large comparative dataset on morphological traits of the eyes in 265 species of teleost reef fish in 43 different families. The eye morphology of nocturnal reef teleosts is characterized by a syndrome that indicates better light sensitivity, including large relative eye size, high optical ratio and large, rounded pupils. Improved dim-light image formation comes at the cost of reduced depth of focus and reduction of potential accommodative lens movement. Diurnal teleost reef fish, released from the stringent functional requirements of dim-light vision have much higher morphological and optical diversity than nocturnal species, with large ranges of optical ratio, depth of focus, and lens accommodation. CONCLUSIONS: Physical characteristics of the environment are an important factor in the evolution and diversification of the vertebrate eye. Both teleost reef fish and terrestrial amniotes meet the functional requirements of dim-light vision with a similar evolutionary response of morphological and optical modifications. The trade-off between improved dim-light vision and reduced optical diversity may be a key factor in explaining the lower trophic diversity of nocturnal reef teleosts.