Project description:Size is a fundamental feature of biological systems that affects physiology at all levels. For example, the dynamic, microtubule-based spindle that mediates chromosome segregation scales to a wide range of cell sizes across different organisms and cell types. Xenopus frog species possess a variety of egg and meiotic spindle sizes, and differences in activities or levels of microtubule-associated proteins in the egg cytoplasm between Xenopus laevis and Xenopus tropicalis have been shown to account for spindle scaling . Increased activity of the microtubule severing protein katanin scales the X. tropicalis spindle smaller compared to X. laevis , as do elevated levels of TPX2, a protein that enriches the cross-linking kinesin-5 motor Eg5 at spindle poles . To examine the conservation of spindle scaling mechanisms more broadly across frog species, we have utilized the tiny, distantly related Pipid frog Hymenochirus boettgeri. We find that egg extracts from H. boettgeri form meiotic spindles similar in size to X. tropicalis but that TPX2 and katanin-mediated scaling is not conserved. Instead, the microtubule depolymerizing motor protein kif2a functions to modulate spindle size. H. boettgeri kif2a possesses an activating phosphorylation site that is absent from X. laevis. Comparison of katanin and kif2a phosphorylation sites across a variety of species revealed strong evolutionary conservation, with X. laevis and X. tropicalis possessing distinct and unique alterations. Our study highlights the diversity and complexity of spindle assembly and scaling mechanisms, indicating that there is more than one way to assemble a spindle of a particular size.
Project description:The pattern and sequence of the decomposition of the Pipidae African dwarf frog (Hymenochirus boettgeri) is tracked in an experiment with microbial mats in order to explore soft tissue preservation over three years. Frog decay in microbial mats is preceded by rapid entombment (25-30 days) and mediated by the formation of a sarcophagus, which is built by a complex microbial community. The frog carcasses maintained a variety of soft tissues for years. Labile organic structures show greater durability within the mat, cells maintain their general shape (bone marrow cells and adipocytes), and muscles and connective tissues (adipose and fibrous tendons) exhibit their original organic structures. In addition, other soft tissues are promptly mineralized (day 540) in a Ca-rich carbonate phase (encephalic tectum) or enriched in sulphur residues (integumentary system). The result is coherent with a bias in soft-tissue preservation, as some tissues are more likely to be conserved than others. The outcomes support observations of exceptionally preserved fossil anurans (adults and tadpoles). Decomposition in mats shows singular conditions of pH and dissolved oxygen. Mineralization processes could be more diverse than in simple heterotrophic biofilms, opening new taphonomic processes that have yet to be explored.
Project description:Competition between genotypes is likely to be a key driver of pathogen evolution, particularly following a geographical invasion by distant strains. Theory predicts that competition between disease strains will result in the most virulent strain persisting. Despite its evolutionary implications, the role of strain competition in shaping populations remains untested for most pathogens. We experimentally investigated the in vivo competitive differences between two divergent lineages of the amphibian-killing chytrid fungus ( Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, Bd). These Bd lineages are hypothesized to have diverged in allopatry but been recently brought back into secondary contact by human introduction. Prior studies indicate that a panzootically-distributed, global lineage of Bd was recently introduced into southern Brazil, and is competitively excluding enzootic lineages in the southern Atlantic Forest. To test for differences in competitive ability between invasive and enzootic Brazilian Bd isolates, we coinfected a model host frog system which we developed for this study ( Hymenochirus curtipes). We tracked isolate-specific zoospore production over the course of the coinfection experiment with chip-based digital PCR (dPCR). The globally invasive panzootic lineage had a competitive advantage in spore production especially during the first one to four weeks of infection, and on frogs that eventually succumbed to Bd infection. Our study provides new evidence that competitive pressure resulting from the human movement of pathogen strains can rapidly alter the genetics, community dynamics and spatial epidemiology of pathogens in the wild.