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How Are Autism and Schizotypy Related? Evidence from a Non-Clinical Population

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2013
Abstract: 

Both autism spectrum conditions (ASCs) and schizophrenia spectrum conditions (SSCs) involve altered or impaired social and communicative functioning, but whether these shared features indicate overlapping or different etiological factors is unknown. We outline three hypotheses (overlapping, independent, and diametric) for the possible relationship between ASCs and SSCs, and compare their predictions for the expected relationships between autistic and schizotypal phenotypes using the Autism Spectrum Quotient and the Schizotypal Personality Questionnaire-Brief Revised from a large non-clinical sample of undergraduate students. Consistent with previous research, autistic features were positively associated with several schizotypal features, with the most overlap occurring between interpersonal schizotypy and autistic social and communication phenotypes. The first component of a principal components analysis (PCA) of subscale scores reflected these positive correlations, and suggested the presence of an axis (PC1) representing general social interest and aptitude. By contrast, the second principal component (PC2) exhibited a pattern of positive and negative loadings indicative of an axis from autism to positive schizotypy, such that positive schizotypal features loaded in the opposite direction to core autistic features. These overall PCA patterns were replicated in a second data set from a Japanese population. To evaluate the validity of our interpretation of the PCA results, we measured handedness and mental rotation ability, as these are established correlates of SSCs and ASCs, respectively. PC2 scores were significantly associated with hand preference, such that increasingly ‘schizotypal’ scores predicted reduced strength of handedness, which is consistent with previous research. PC1 scores were positively related to performance on the mental rotation task, suggesting trade-offs between social skills and visual-spatial ability. These results provide novel evidence for an autism-positive schizotypy axis, and highlight the importance of recognizing that psychological variation involving reduced social interest and functioning may have diverse causes.

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Pregnancy Associated Plasma Protein A2 (PAPP-A2) Affects Bone Size and Shape and Contributes to Natural Variation in Postnatal Growth in Mice

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2013
Abstract: 

Pregnancy associated plasma protein A2 (PAPP-A2) is a protease of insulin-like growth factor binding protein 5 and is receiving increasing attention for its roles in pregnancy and postnatal growth. The goals of the present study were to characterize the effects of PAPP-A2 deletion on bone size and shape in mice at 10 weeks of age, and to determine whether Pappa2 is the gene responsible for a previously-identified quantitative trait locus (QTL) contributing to natural variation in postnatal growth in mice. Mice homozygous for constitutive PAPP-A2 deletion were lighter than wild-type littermates, and had smaller mandible dimensions and shorter skull, humerus, femur, tibia, pelvic girdle, and tail bone. Furthermore, PAPP-A2 deletion reduced mandible dimensions and the lengths of the skull, femur, pelvic girdle, and tail bone more than would be expected due to the effect on body mass. In addition to its effects on bone size, PAPP-A2 deficiency also altered the shape of the mandible and pelvic girdle, as assessed by geometric morphometrics. Mice homozygous for the PAPP-A2 deletion had less deep mandibles, and pelvic girdles with a more feminine shape. Using a quantitative complementation test, we confirmed that Pappa2 is responsible for the effects of the previously-identified QTL, demonstrating that natural variation in the Pappa2 gene contributes to variation in postnatal growth in mice. If similar functional variation in the Pappa2 gene exists in other species, effects of this variation on the shape of the pelvic girdle might explain the previously-reported associations between Pappa2 SNPs and developmental dysplasia of the hip in humans, and birthing in cattle.

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Article
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Hydrocarbon Divergence And Reproductive Isolation In Timema Stick Insects

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2013
Abstract: 

Background

Individuals commonly prefer certain trait values over others when choosing their mates. If such preferences diverge between populations, they can generate behavioral reproductive isolation and thereby contribute to speciation. Reproductive isolation in insects often involves chemical communication, and cuticular hydrocarbons, in particular, serve as mate recognition signals in many species. We combined data on female cuticular hydrocarbons, interspecific mating propensity, and phylogenetics to evaluate the role of cuticular hydrocarbons in diversification of Timema walking-sticks.

Results

Hydrocarbon profiles differed substantially among the nine analyzed species, as well as between partially reproductively-isolated T. cristinae populations adapted to different host plants. In no-choice trials, mating was more likely between species with similar than divergent hydrocarbon profiles, even after correcting for genetic divergences. The macroevolution of hydrocarbon profiles, along a Timema species phylogeny, fits best with a punctuated model of phenotypic change concentrated around speciation events, consistent with change driven by selection during the evolution of reproductive isolation.

Conclusion

Altogether, our data indicate that cuticular hydrocarbon profiles vary among Timema species and populations, and that most evolutionary change in hydrocarbon profiles occurs in association with speciation events. Similarities in hydrocarbon profiles between species are correlated with interspecific mating propensities, suggesting a role for cuticular hydrocarbon profiles in mate choice and speciation in the genus Timema.

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Genetic Mapping Of The Female Mimic Morph Locus In The Ruff

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2013
Abstract: 

Background

Ruffs (Aves: Philomachus pugnax) possess a genetic polymorphism for male mating behaviour resulting in three permanent alternative male reproductive morphs: (i) territorial ‘Independents’, (ii) non-territorial ‘Satellites’, and (iii) female-mimicking ‘Faeders’. Development into independent or satellite morphs has previously been shown to be due to a single-locus, two-allele autosomal Mendelian mode of inheritance at the Satellite locus. Here, we use linkage analysis to map the chromosomal location of the Faeder locus, which controls development into the Faeder morph, and draw further conclusions about candidate genes, assuming shared synteny with other birds.

Results

Segregation data on the Faeder locus were obtained from captive-bred pedigrees comprising 64 multi-generation families (N = 381). There was no evidence that the Faeder locus was linked to the Satellite locus, but it was linked with microsatellite marker Ppu020. Comparative mapping of ruff microsatellite markers against the chicken (Gallus gallus) and zebra finch (Taeniopygia guttata) genomes places the Ppu020 and Faeder loci on a region of chromosome 11 that includes the Melanocortin-1 receptor (MC1R) gene, which regulates colour polymorphisms in numerous birds and other vertebrates. Melanin-based colouration varies with life-history strategies in ruffs and other species, thus the MC1R gene is a strong candidate to play a role in alternative male morph determination.

Conclusion

Two unlinked loci appear to control behavioural development in ruffs. The Faeder locus is linked to Ppu020, which, assuming synteny, is located on avian chromosome 11. MC1R is a candidate gene involved in alternative male morph determination in ruffs.

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Developmental Heterochrony And The Evolution Of Autistic Perception, Cognition And Behavior

Author: 
Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2013
Abstract: 

Background

Autism is usually conceptualized as a disorder or disease that involves fundamentally abnormal neurodevelopment. In the present work, the hypothesis that a suite of core autism-related traits may commonly represent simple delays or non-completion of typical childhood developmental trajectories is evaluated.

Discussion

A comprehensive review of the literature indicates that, with regard to the four phenotypes of (1) restricted interests and repetitive behavior, (2) short-range and long-range structural and functional brain connectivity, (3) global and local visual perception and processing, and (4) the presence of absolute pitch, the differences between autistic individuals and typically developing individuals closely parallel the differences between younger and older children.

Summary

The results of this study are concordant with a model of ‘developmental heterochrony’, and suggest that evolutionary extension of child development along the human lineage has potentiated and structured genetic risk for autism and the expression of autistic perception, cognition and behavior.

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Article
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Differential Expression of Apoptosis Related Genes in Selected Strains of Aedes aegypti with Different Susceptibilities to Dengue Virus

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2013
Abstract: 

Aedes aegypti is the principal vector of Dengue viruses worldwide. We identified field collected insects with differential susceptibility to Dengue-2 virus (DENv-2) and used isofemale selection to establish susceptible and refractory strains based on midgut infection barriers. Previous experiments had identified higher expression of apoptosis-related genes in the refractory strain. To identify potential molecular mechanisms associated with DENv susceptibility, we evaluated the differential expression of Caspase-16, Aedronc, Aedredd, Inhibitor of apoptosis (AeIAP1) and one member of the RNAi pathway, Argonaute-2 in the midguts and fat body tissues of the selected strains at specific times post blood feeding or infection with DENv-2. In the refractory strain there was significantly increased expression of caspases in midgut and fatbody tissues in the presence of DENv-2, compared to exposure to blood alone, and significantly higher caspase expression in the refractory strain compared with the susceptible strain at timepoints when DENv was establishing in these tissues. We used RNAi to knockdown gene expression; knockdown of AeIAP1 was lethal to the insects. In the refractory strain, knockdown of the pro-apoptotic gene Aedronc increased the susceptibility of refractory insects to DENv-2 from 53% to 78% suggesting a contributing role of this gene in the innate immune response of the refractory strain.

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Article
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Native Predators Do Not Influence Invasion Success of Pacific Lionfish on Caribbean Reefs

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2013
Abstract: 

Biotic resistance, the process by which new colonists are excluded from a community by predation from and/or competition with resident species, can prevent or limit species invasions. We examined whether biotic resistance by native predators on Caribbean coral reefs has influenced the invasion success of red lionfishes (Pterois volitans and Pterois miles), piscivores from the Indo-Pacific. Specifically, we surveyed the abundance (density and biomass) of lionfish and native predatory fishes that could interact with lionfish (either through predation or competition) on 71 reefs in three biogeographic regions of the Caribbean. We recorded protection status of the reefs, and abiotic variables including depth, habitat type, and wind/wave exposure at each site. We found no relationship between the density or biomass of lionfish and that of native predators. However, lionfish densities were significantly lower on windward sites, potentially because of habitat preferences, and in marine protected areas, most likely because of ongoing removal efforts by reserve managers. Our results suggest that interactions with native predators do not influence the colonization or post-establishment population density of invasive lionfish on Caribbean reefs.

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Article
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The Conservation and Management of Tunas and Their Relatives: Setting Life History Research Priorities

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2013
Abstract: 

Scombrids (tunas, bonitos, Spanish mackerels and mackerels) support important fisheries in tropical, subtropical and temperate waters around the world, being one of the most economically- and socially-important marine species globally. Their sustainable exploitation, management and conservation depend on accurate life history information for the development of quantitative fisheries stock assessments, and in the fishery data-poor situations for the identification of vulnerable species. Here, we assemble life history traits (maximum size, growth, longevity, maturity, fecundity, spawning duration and spawning interval) for the 51 species of scombrids globally. We identify major biological gaps in knowledge and prioritize life history research needs in scombrids based on their biological gaps in knowledge, the importance of their fisheries and their current conservation status according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List. We find that the growth and reproductive biology of tunas and mackerel species have been more extensively studied than for Spanish mackerels and bonitos, although there are notable exceptions in all groups. We also reveal that reproductive biology of species, particular fecundity, is the least studied biological aspect in scombrids. We identify two priority groups, including 32 species of scombrids, and several populations of principal market tunas, for which life history research should be prioritized following the species-specific life history gaps identified in this study in the coming decades. By highlighting the important gaps in biological knowledge and providing a priority setting for life history research in scombrid species this study provides guidance for management and conservation and serves as a guide for biologists and resource managers interested in the biology, ecology, and management of scombrid species.

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Article
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Evaluating Social and Ecological Vulnerability of Coral Reef Fisheries to Climate Change

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2013
Abstract: 

There is an increasing need to evaluate the links between the social and ecological dimensions of human vulnerability to climate change. We use an empirical case study of 12 coastal communities and associated coral reefs in Kenya to assess and compare five key ecological and social components of the vulnerability of coastal social-ecological systems to temperature induced coral mortality [specifically: 1) environmental exposure; 2) ecological sensitivity; 3) ecological recovery potential; 4) social sensitivity; and 5) social adaptive capacity]. We examined whether ecological components of vulnerability varied between government operated no-take marine reserves, community-based reserves, and openly fished areas. Overall, fished sites were marginally more vulnerable than community-based and government marine reserves. Social sensitivity was indicated by the occupational composition of each community, including the importance of fishing relative to other occupations, as well as the susceptibility of different fishing gears to the effects of coral bleaching on target fish species. Key components of social adaptive capacity varied considerably between the communities. Together, these results show that different communities have relative strengths and weaknesses in terms of social-ecological vulnerability to climate change.

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Article
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Evolutionarily Conserved Histone Methylation Dynamics during Seed Life-Cycle Transitions

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2012
Abstract: 

Plants have a remarkable ability to react to seasonal changes by synchronizing life-cycle transitions with environmental conditions. We addressed the question of how transcriptional re-programming occurs in response to an environmental cue that triggers the major life cycle transition from seed dormancy to germination and seedling growth. We elucidated an important mechanistic aspect of this process by following the chromatin dynamics of key regulatory genes with a focus on the two antagonistic marks, H3K4me3 and H3K27me3. Histone methylation patterns of major dormancy regulators changed during the transition to germination and seedling growth. We observed a switch from H3K4me3 and high transcription levels to silencing by the repressive H3K27me3 mark when dormancy was broken through exposure to moist chilling, underscoring that a functional PRC2 complex is necessary for this transition. Moreover, this reciprocal regulation by H3K4me3 and H3K27me3 is evolutionarily conserved from gymnosperms to angiosperms.

Document type: 
Article