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Ranomafana, Madagascar

Jacobs R.L.,George Washington University | Jacobs R.L.,State University of New York at Stony Brook | Jacobs R.L.,Center ValBio Research Station | Bradley B.,George Washington University
PLoS ONE | Year: 2016

Color vision in primates is variable across species, and it represents a rare trait in which the genetic mechanisms underlying phenotypic variation are fairly well-understood. Research on primate color vision has largely focused on adaptive explanations for observed variation, but it remains unclear why some species have trichromatic or polymorphic color vision while others are red-green color blind. Lemurs, in particular, are highly variable. While some species are polymorphic, many closely-related species are strictly dichromatic. We provide the first characterization of color vision in a wild population of red-bellied lemurs (Eulemur rubriventer, Ranomafana National Park, Madagascar) with a sample size (87 individuals; NX chromosomes = 134) large enough to detect even rare variants (0.95 probability of detection at ≥ 3% frequency). By sequencing exon 5 of the X-linked opsin gene we identified opsin spectral sensitivity based on known diagnostic sites and found this population to be dichromatic and monomorphic for a long wavelength allele. Apparent fixation of this long allele is in contrast to previously published accounts of Eulemur species, which exhibit either polymorphic color vision or only the medium wavelength opsin. This unexpected result may represent loss of color vision variation, which could occur through selective processes and/or genetic drift (e.g., genetic bottleneck). To indirectly assess the latter scenario, we genotyped 55 adult red-bellied lemurs at seven variable microsatellite loci and used heterozygosity excess and M-ratio tests to assess if this population may have experienced a recent genetic bottleneck. Results of heterozygosity excess but not M-ratio tests suggest a bottleneck might have occurred in this red-bellied lemur population. Therefore, while selection may also play a role, the unique color vision observed in this population might have been influenced by a recent genetic bottleneck. These results emphasize the need to consider adaptive and nonadaptive mechanisms of color vision evolution in primates. ©2016 Jacobs, Bradley. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. Source

Zohdy S.,University of Helsinki | Zohdy S.,Center ValBio Research Station | Zohdy S.,Emory University | Gerber B.D.,Colorado State University | And 8 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2014

Mouse lemurs (Microcebus spp.) are an exciting new primate model for understanding human aging and disease. In captivity, Microcebus murinus develops human-like ailments of old age after five years (e.g., neurodegeneration analogous to Alzheimer's disease) but can live beyond 12 years. It is believed that wild Microcebus follow a similar pattern of senescence observed in captive animals, but that predation limits their lifespan to four years, thus preventing observance of these diseases in the wild. Testing whether this assumption is true is informative about both Microcebus natural history and environmental influences on senescence, leading to interpretation of findings for models of human aging. Additionally, the study of Microcebus longevity provides an opportunity to better understand mechanisms of sex-biased longevity. Longevity is often shorter in males of species with high male-male competition, such as Microcebus, but mouse lemurs are sexually monomorphic, suggesting similar lifespans. We collected individual-based observations of wild brown mouse lemurs (Microcebus rufus) from 2003-2010 to investigate sex-differences in survival and longevity. Fecal testosterone was measured as a potential mechanism of sex-based differences in survival. We used a combination of high-resolution tooth wear techniques, mark-recapture, and hormone enzyme immunoassays. We found no dental or physical signs of senescence in M. rufus as old as eight years (N = 189, ages 1-8, mean = 2.59±1.63 SE), three years older than captive, senescent congeners (M. murinus). Unlike other polygynandrous vertebrates, we found no sex difference in age-dependent survival, nor sex or age differences in testosterone levels. While elevated male testosterone levels have been implicated in shorter lifespans in several species, this is one of the first studies to show equivalent testosterone levels accompanying equivalent lifespans. Future research on captive aged individuals can determine if senescence is partially a condition of their captive environment, and studies controlling for various environmental factors will further our understanding of senescence. Copyright: © 2014 Varanda et al. Source

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