DNA barcoding unravels contrasting evolutionary history of two widespread Asian tiger moth species during the Late Pleistocene.
ABSTRACT: Populations of widespread pest insects in tropical areas are characterized by a complex evolutionary history, with overlapping natural and human-mediated dispersal events, sudden expansions, and bottlenecks. Here, we provide biogeographic reconstructions for two widespread pest species in the tiger moth genus Creatonotos (Lepidoptera: Erebidae: Arctiinae) based on the mitochondrial cytochrome c oxidase subunit I (COI) gene. The Asian Creatonotos transiens reveals shallow genetic divergence between distant populations that does not support its current intraspecific systematics with several local subspecies. In contrast, the more widespread Creatonotos gangis comprises at least three divergent subclades corresponding to certain geographic areas, i.e. Australia, Arabia + South Asia and Southeast Asia. With respect to our approximate Bayesian computation (ABC) model, the expansion of Creatonotos gangis into Australia is placed in the Late Pleistocene (~65-63 ka). This dating coincide with an approximate time of the earliest human migration into the continent (~65-54 ka) and the period of intervisibility between Timor and Australia (~65-62 ka). Our findings highlight that the drying Sunda and Sahul shelf areas likely support successful migrations of Asian taxa into Australia during the Pleistocene. The phylogeographic patterns discovered in this study can be used to improve the effectiveness of integrated pest control programs that is a task of substantial practical importance to a broad range of agricultural stakeholders.
Project description:Anatomically modern humans (<i>Homo sapiens</i>, AMH) began spreading across Eurasia from Africa and adjacent Southwest Asia about 50,000-55,000 years ago (<i>ca</i> 50-55 ka). Some have argued that human genetic, fossil, and archaeological data indicate one or more prior dispersals, possibly as early as 120 ka. A recently reported age estimate of 65 ka for Madjedbebe, an archaeological site in northern Sahul (Pleistocene Australia-New Guinea), if correct, offers what might be the strongest support yet presented for a pre-55-ka African AMH exodus. We review evidence for AMH arrival on an arc spanning South China through Sahul and then evaluate data from Madjedbebe. We find that an age estimate of >50 ka for this site is unlikely to be valid. While AMH may have moved far beyond Africa well before 50-55 ka, data from the region of interest offered in support of this idea are not compelling.
Project description:DNA from ancient human remains provides perspectives on the origin of our species and the relationship between molecular and morphological variation. We report analysis of mtDNA from the remains of 10 ancient Australians. These include the morphologically gracile Lake Mungo 3 [ approximately 60 thousand years (ka) before present] and three other gracile individuals from Holocene deposits at Willandra Lakes (<10 ka), all within the skeletal range of living Australians, and six Pleistocene/early Holocene individuals (15 to <8 ka) from Kow Swamp with robust morphologies outside the skeletal range of contemporary indigenous Australians. Lake Mungo 3 is the oldest (Pleistocene) "anatomically modern" human from whom DNA has been recovered. His mtDNA belonged to a lineage that only survives as a segment inserted into chromosome 11 of the nuclear genome, which is now widespread among human populations. This lineage probably diverged before the most recent common ancestor of contemporary human mitochondrial genomes. This timing of divergence implies that the deepest known mtDNA lineage from an anatomically modern human occurred in Australia; analysis restricted to living humans places the deepest branches in East Africa. The other ancient Australian individuals we examined have mtDNA sequences descended from the most recent common ancestor of living humans. Our results indicate that anatomically modern humans were present in Australia before the complete fixation of the mtDNA lineage now found in all living people. Sequences from additional ancient humans may further challenge current concepts of modern human origins.
Project description:Explaining the Late Pleistocene demise of many of the world's larger terrestrial vertebrates is arguably the most enduring and debated topic in Quaternary science. Australia lost >90% of its larger species by around 40 thousand years (ka) ago, but the relative importance of human impacts and increased aridity remains unclear. Resolving the debate has been hampered by a lack of sites spanning the last glacial cycle. Here we report on an exceptional faunal succession from Tight Entrance Cave, southwestern Australia, which shows persistence of a diverse mammal community for at least 100 ka leading up to the earliest regional evidence of humans at 49 ka. Within 10 millennia, all larger mammals except the gray kangaroo and thylacine are lost from the regional record. Stable-isotope, charcoal, and small-mammal records reveal evidence of environmental change from 70 ka, but the extinctions occurred well in advance of the most extreme climatic phase. We conclude that the arrival of humans was probably decisive in the southwestern Australian extinctions, but that changes in climate and fire activity may have played facilitating roles. One-factor explanations for the Pleistocene extinctions in Australia are likely oversimplistic.
Project description:The Tasmanian devil (Sarcophilus harrisii) was widespread in Australia during the Late Pleistocene but is now endemic to the island of Tasmania. Low genetic diversity combined with the spread of devil facial tumour disease have raised concerns for the species' long-term survival. Here, we investigate the origin of low genetic diversity by inferring the species' demographic history using temporal sampling with summary statistics, full-likelihood and approximate Bayesian computation methods. Our results show extensive population declines across Tasmania correlating with environmental changes around the last glacial maximum and following unstable climate related to increased 'El Niño-Southern Oscillation' activity.
Project description:Despite much attention, history of sheep (Ovis aries) evolution, including its dating, demographic trajectory and geographic spread, remains controversial. To address these questions, we generated 45 complete and 875 partial mitogenomic sequences, and performed a meta-analysis of these and published ovine mitochondrial DNA sequences (n = 3,229) across Eurasia. We inferred that O. orientalis and O. musimon share the most recent female ancestor with O. aries at approximately 0.790 Ma (95% CI: 0.637-0.934 Ma) during the Middle Pleistocene, substantially predating the domestication event (?8-11 ka). By reconstructing historical variations in effective population size, we found evidence of a rapid population increase approximately 20-60 ka, immediately before the Last Glacial Maximum. Analyses of lineage expansions showed two sheep migratory waves at approximately 4.5-6.8 ka (lineages A and B: ?6.4-6.8 ka; C: ?4.5 ka) across eastern Eurasia, which could have been influenced by prehistoric West-East commercial trade and deliberate mating of domestic and wild sheep, respectively. A continent-scale examination of lineage diversity and approximate Bayesian computation analyses indicated that the Mongolian Plateau region was a secondary center of dispersal, acting as a "transportation hub" in eastern Eurasia: Sheep from the Middle Eastern domestication center were inferred to have migrated through the Caucasus and Central Asia, and arrived in North and Southwest China (lineages A, B, and C) and the Indian subcontinent (lineages B and C) through this region. Our results provide new insights into sheep domestication, particularly with respect to origins and migrations to and from eastern Eurasia.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Resolving the historical biogeography of the leopard (Panthera pardus) is a complex issue, because patterns inferred from fossils and from molecular data lack congruence. Fossil evidence supports an African origin, and suggests that leopards were already present in Eurasia during the Early Pleistocene. Analysis of DNA sequences however, suggests a more recent, Middle Pleistocene shared ancestry of Asian and African leopards. These contrasting patterns led researchers to propose a two-stage hypothesis of leopard dispersal out of Africa: an initial Early Pleistocene colonisation of Asia and a subsequent replacement by a second colonisation wave during the Middle Pleistocene. The status of Late Pleistocene European leopards within this scenario is unclear: were these populations remnants of the first dispersal, or do the last surviving European leopards share more recent ancestry with their African counterparts? RESULTS:In this study, we generate and analyse mitogenome sequences from historical samples that span the entire modern leopard distribution, as well as from Late Pleistocene remains. We find a deep bifurcation between African and Eurasian mitochondrial lineages (~?710 Ka), with the European ancient samples as sister to all Asian lineages (~?483 Ka). The modern and historical mainland Asian lineages share a relatively recent common ancestor (~?122 Ka), and we find one Javan sample nested within these. CONCLUSIONS:The phylogenetic placement of the ancient European leopard as sister group to Asian leopards suggests that these populations originate from the same out-of-Africa dispersal which founded the Asian lineages. The coalescence time found for the mitochondrial lineages aligns well with the earliest undisputed fossils in Eurasia, and thus encourages a re-evaluation of the identification of the much older putative leopard fossils from the region. The relatively recent ancestry of all mainland Asian leopard lineages suggests that these populations underwent a severe population bottleneck during the Pleistocene. Finally, although only based on a single sample, the unexpected phylogenetic placement of the Javan leopard could be interpreted as evidence for exchange of mitochondrial lineages between Java and mainland Asia, calling for further investigation into the evolutionary history of this subspecies.
Project description:The skeletal remains of Late Pleistocene-early Holocene humans are exceptionally rare in island Southeast Asia. As a result, the identity and physical adaptations of the early inhabitants of the region are poorly known. One archaeological locality that has historically been important for understanding the peopling of island Southeast Asia is the Niah Caves in the northeast of Borneo. Here we present the results of direct Uranium-series dating and the first published descriptions of three partial human mandibles from the West Mouth of the Niah Caves recovered during excavations by the Harrissons in 1957. One of them (mandible E/B1 100") is somewhat younger than the 'Deep Skull' with a best dating estimate of c30-28 ka (at 2?), while the other two mandibles (D/N5 42-48" and E/W 33 24-36") are dated to a minimum of c11.0-10.5 ka (at 2?) and c10.0-9.0 ka (at 2?). Jaw E/B1 100" is unusually small and robust compared with other Late Pleistocene mandibles suggesting that it may have been ontogenetically altered through masticatory strain under a model of phenotypic plasticity. Possible dietary causes could include the consumption of tough or dried meats or palm plants, behaviours which have been documented previously in the archaeological record of the Niah Caves. Our work suggests a long history back to before the LGM of economic strategies involving the exploitation of raw plant foods or perhaps dried and stored meat resources. This offers new insights into the economic strategies of Late Pleistocene-early Holocene hunter-gatherers living in, or adjacent to, tropical rainforests.
Project description:BACKGROUND:India is a patchwork of tribal and non-tribal populations that speak many different languages from various language families. Indo-European, spoken across northern and central India, and also in Pakistan and Bangladesh, has been frequently connected to the so-called "Indo-Aryan invasions" from Central Asia ~3.5 ka and the establishment of the caste system, but the extent of immigration at this time remains extremely controversial. South India, on the other hand, is dominated by Dravidian languages. India displays a high level of endogamy due to its strict social boundaries, and high genetic drift as a result of long-term isolation which, together with a very complex history, makes the genetic study of Indian populations challenging. RESULTS:We have combined a detailed, high-resolution mitogenome analysis with summaries of autosomal data and Y-chromosome lineages to establish a settlement chronology for the Indian Subcontinent. Maternal lineages document the earliest settlement ~55-65 ka (thousand years ago), and major population shifts in the later Pleistocene that explain previous dating discrepancies and neutrality violation. Whilst current genome-wide analyses conflate all dispersals from Southwest and Central Asia, we were able to tease out from the mitogenome data distinct dispersal episodes dating from between the Last Glacial Maximum to the Bronze Age. Moreover, we found an extremely marked sex bias by comparing the different genetic systems. CONCLUSIONS:Maternal lineages primarily reflect earlier, pre-Holocene processes, and paternal lineages predominantly episodes within the last 10 ka. In particular, genetic influx from Central Asia in the Bronze Age was strongly male-driven, consistent with the patriarchal, patrilocal and patrilineal social structure attributed to the inferred pastoralist early Indo-European society. This was part of a much wider process of Indo-European expansion, with an ultimate source in the Pontic-Caspian region, which carried closely related Y-chromosome lineages, a smaller fraction of autosomal genome-wide variation and an even smaller fraction of mitogenomes across a vast swathe of Eurasia between 5 and 3.5 ka.
Project description:Groundwater drawn daily from shallow alluvial sands by millions of wells over large areas of south and southeast Asia exposes an estimated population of over a hundred million people to toxic levels of arsenic. Holocene aquifers are the source of widespread arsenic poisoning across the region. In contrast, Pleistocene sands deposited in this region more than 12,000 years ago mostly do not host groundwater with high levels of arsenic. Pleistocene aquifers are increasingly used as a safe source of drinking water and it is therefore important to understand under what conditions low levels of arsenic can be maintained. Here we reconstruct the initial phase of contamination of a Pleistocene aquifer near Hanoi, Vietnam. We demonstrate that changes in groundwater flow conditions and the redox state of the aquifer sands induced by groundwater pumping caused the lateral intrusion of arsenic contamination more than 120 metres from a Holocene aquifer into a previously uncontaminated Pleistocene aquifer. We also find that arsenic adsorbs onto the aquifer sands and that there is a 16-20-fold retardation in the extent of the contamination relative to the reconstructed lateral movement of groundwater over the same period. Our findings suggest that arsenic contamination of Pleistocene aquifers in south and southeast Asia as a consequence of increasing levels of groundwater pumping may have been delayed by the retardation of arsenic transport.
Project description:Fire ants have long been known to be a major pest and have recently attracted renewed widespread attention due to the invasion of <i>Solenopsis</i> species, especially <i>S. invicta</i>, into many countries in Asia and Australia. Here, we surveyed fire ant specimens in Thailand with the aims of studying their colony biology and population structure. We sampled 38 colonies distributed in agricultural and urban areas throughout Thailand for species identification and found that all were <i>S. geminata</i>. We further genotyped 13 microsatellite loci from 576 workers from 23 of these colonies. Analysis of these genetic data revealed that all colonies were polygynous with only a few queens. Queens from the same colonies were highly genetically related. Population structure was partitioned into two clusters. Pairwise <i>F</i> <sub>ST</sub> values revealed very high genetic differentiation between colonies suggesting low gene flow among populations. This result suggests that queens were locally mated and founded colonies by a budding strategy. Isolation-by-distance among local populations was not significant.