Project description:Ancient origins, profound ecological divergence, and extensive hybridization make the fire-bellied toads Bombina bombina and B. variegata (Anura: Bombinatoridae) an intriguing test case of ecological speciation. Previous modeling has proposed that the narrow Bombina hybrid zones represent strong barriers to neutral introgression. We test this prediction by inferring the rate of gene exchange between pure populations on either side of the intensively studied Kraków transect. We developed a method to extract high confidence sets of orthologous genes from de novo transcriptome assemblies, fitted a range of divergence models to these data and assessed their relative support with analytic likelihood calculations. There was clear evidence for postdivergence gene flow, but, as expected, no perceptible signal of recent introgression via the nearby hybrid zone. The analysis of two additional Bombina taxa (B. v. scabra and B. orientalis) validated our parameter estimates against a larger set of prior expectations. Despite substantial cumulative introgression over millions of years, adaptive divergence of the hybridizing taxa is essentially unaffected by their lack of reproductive isolation. Extended distribution ranges also buffer them against small-scale environmental perturbations that have been shown to reverse the speciation process in other, more recent ecotypes.
Project description:The role of adaptive divergence in the formation of new species has been the subject of much recent debate. The most direct evidence comes from traits that can be shown to have diverged under natural selection and that now contribute to reproductive isolation. Here, we investigate differential adaptation of two fire-bellied toads (Anura, Bombinatoridae) to two types of aquatic habitat. Bombina bombina and B. variegata are two anciently diverged taxa that now reproduce in predator-rich ponds and ephemeral aquatic sites, respectively. Nevertheless, they hybridise extensively wherever their distribution ranges adjoin. We show in laboratory experiments that, as expected, B. variegata tadpoles are at relatively greater risk of predation from dragonfly larvae, even when they display a predator-induced phenotype. These tadpoles spent relatively more time swimming and so prompted more attacks from the visually hunting predators. We argue in the discussion that genomic regions linked to high activity in B. variegata should be barred from introgression into the B. bombina gene pool and thus contribute to gene flow barriers that keep the two taxa from merging into one.
Project description:The first amphibian skin antimicrobial peptide (AMP) to be identified was named bombinin, reflecting its origin from the skin of the European yellow-bellied toad (Bombina variegata). Bombinins and their related peptides, the bombinin Hs, were subsequently reported from other bombinid toads. Molecular cloning of bombinin-encoding cDNAs from skin found that bombinins and bombinin Hs were coencoded on the same precursor proteins. Here, we report the molecular cloning of two novel cDNAs from a skin secretion-derived cDNA library of B. variegata whose open-reading frames each encode a novel bombinin (GIGGALLNVGKVALKGLAKGLAEHFANamide) and a C-terminally located single copy of a novel nonapeptide (FLGLLGGLLamide or FLGLIGSLLamide). These novel nonapeptides were named feleucin-BV1 and feleucin-BV2, respectively. The novel bombinin exhibited 89% identity to homologues from the toads, B. microdeladigitora and B. maxima. The feleucins exhibited no identity with any amphibian AMP archived in databases. Synthetic feleucins exhibited a weak activity against Staphylococcus aureus (128-256 mg/L) but feleucin-BV1 exhibited a synergistic action with the novel bombinin. The present report clearly demonstrates that the skin secretions of bombinid toads continue to represent a source of peptides of novel structure that could provide templates for the design of therapeutics.
Project description:OBJECTIVES:The objectives were to determine if the skin secretion of the European yellow-bellied toad (Bombina variegata), in common with other related species, contains a bradykinin inhibitor peptide and to isolate and structurally characterize this peptide. MATERIALS AND METHODS:Lyophilized skin secretion obtained from this toad was subjected to reverse phase HPLC fractionation with subsequent bioassay of fractions for antagonism of the bradykinin activity using an isolated rat tail artery smooth muscle preparation. Subsequently, the primary structure of the peptide was established by a combination of microsequencing, mass spectroscopy, and molecular cloning, following which a synthetic replicate was chemically synthesised for bioassay. RESULTS:A single peptide of molecular mass 2300.92 Da was resolved in HPLC fractions of skin secretion and its primary structure determined as IYNAIWP-KH-NK-KPGLL-. Database interrogation with this sequence indicated that this peptide was encoded by skin kininogen-1 previously cloned from B. variegata. The blank cycles were occupied by cysteinyl (C) residues and the peptide was located toward the C-terminus of the skin kininogen, and flanked N-terminally by a classical -KR- propeptide convertase processing site. The peptide was named IC-20 in accordance (I = N-terminal isoleucine, C = C-terminal cysteine, 20 = number of residues). Like the natural peptide, its synthetic replicate displayed an antagonism of bradykinin-induced arterial smooth muscle relaxation. CONCLUSION:IC-20 represents a novel bradykinin antagonizing peptide from amphibian skin secretions and is the third such peptide found to be co-encoded with bradykinins within skin kininogens.
Project description:Yellow-bellied toad populations (Bombina variegata) show a wide fast-slow continuum of the life-history trait longevity ranging from 5 to 23 years. We investigated populations in Germany (n = 8) and Austria (n = 1) to determine their position within the continuum of longevity and the potential drivers of adult survival at the local and the continental scale. Intrinsic and extrinsic factors considered were local weather, nutritional state, allocation of ingested energy to somatic growth, pathogen prevalence, and geographical clines (latitude, altitude, and longitude). Capture-mark-recapture (CMR) monitoring and direct age assessment by skeletochronology allowed for reliable estimates of longevity and adult survival. Raw and corrected recapture rates as well as a probabilistic estimate of the lifespan of the eldest 1% adults of a cohort (CMR data) were used as surrogates for adult survival and thus longevity in a population. Additionally, survival rates were calculated from static life tables based on the age structure (skeletochronological data) of eight populations. Populations in Germany were short-lived with a maximum lifespan of annual cohorts varying from 5 to 8 years, whereas the population in Austria was long-lived with a cohort longevity of 13 to 23 years. We provide evidence that annual survival rates and longevity differ among years and between short- and long-lived populations, but there was no decrease of survival in older toads (i.e. absence of senescence). Variation of weather among years accounted for 90.7% of variance in annual survival rates of short-lived populations, whereas the sources of variation in the long-lived population remained unidentified. At the continental scale, longevity variation among B. variegata populations studied so far did not correspond to geographical clines or climate variation. Therefore, we propose that a population's position within the fast-slow continuum integrates the response to local environmental stochasticity (extrinsic source of variation) and the efficiency of chemical antipredator protection determining the magnitude of longevity (intrinsic source of variation).
Project description:Amphibians occupy a key phylogenetic position in vertebrates and evolution of the immune system. But, the resources of its transcriptome or genome are still little now. Bombina maxima possess strong ability to survival in very harsh environment with a more mature immune system. We obtained a comprehensive transcriptome by RNA-sequencing technology. 14.3% of transcripts were identified to be skin-specific genes, most of which were not isolated from skin secretion in previous works or novel non-coding RNAs. 27.9% of transcripts were mapped into 242 predicted KEGG pathways and 6.16% of transcripts related to human disease and cancer. Of 39 448 transcripts with the coding sequence, at least 1501 transcripts (570 genes) related to the immune system process. The molecules of immune signalling pathway were almost presented, several transcripts with high expression in skin and stomach. Experiments showed that lipopolysaccharide or bacteria challenge stimulated pro-inflammatory cytokine production and activation of pro-inflammatory caspase-1. These frog's data can remarkably expand the existing genome or transcriptome resources of amphibians, especially immunity data. The entity of the data provides a valuable platform for further investigation on more detailed immune response in B. maxima and a comparative study with other amphibians.
Project description:From skin secretions of the European frog Bombina bombina, a new peptide has been isolated that contains 60 amino acids, including 10 cysteine residues. Its sequence was determined by automated Edman degradation and confirmed by analysis of the cDNA encoding the precursor. A search in the databanks demonstrated that the pattern of cysteine residues in this skin peptide is similar to the ones found in protease inhibitors from Ascaris and in a segment of human von Willebrand factor. The 3D structure of the trypsin inhibitor from Ascaris suum could be used as a template to build a model of the amphibian peptide. In addition, we have demonstrated that this constituent of skin secretion is indeed an inhibitor of trypsin and thrombin, with K(i) values in the range of 0.1 to 1 microM. The new peptide was thus named BSTI for Bombina skin trypsin/thrombin inhibitor.