Indian Hills Cherokee Section, United States
Indian Hills Cherokee Section, United States

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Kultz D.,University of California at Davis | Robinson G.E.,University of Illinois at Urbana - Champaign | Albertson C.,University of Massachusetts Amherst | Carey H.V.,University of Wisconsin - Madison | And 13 more authors.
BioScience | Year: 2013

Understanding how complex organisms function as integrated units that constantly interact with their environment is a long-standing challenge in biology. To address this challenge, organismal biology reveals general organizing principles of physiological systems and behavior-in particular, in complex multicellular animals. Organismal biology also focuses on the role of individual variability in the evolutionary maintenance of diversity. To broadly advance these frontiers, cross-compatibility of experimental designs, methodological approaches, and data interpretation pipelines represents a key prerequisite. It is now possible to rapidly and systematically analyze complete genomes to elucidate genetic variation associated with traits and conditions that define individuals, populations, and species. However, genetic variation alone does not explain the varied individual physiology and behavior of complex organisms. We propose that such emergent properties of complex organisms can best be explained through a renewed emphasis on the context and life-history dependence of individual phenotypes to complement genetic data. © 2013 by American Institute of Biological Sciences.

Nelesen S.,Calvin College | Liu K.,Rice University | Wang L.-S.,University of Pennsylvania | Randal Linder C.,Section of Integrative Biology | Warnow T.,University of Texas at Austin
Bioinformatics | Year: 2012

Motivation: While phylogenetic analyses of datasets containing 1000-5000 sequences are challenging for existing methods, the estimation of substantially larger phylogenies poses a problem of much greater complexity and scale. Methods: We present DACTAL, a method for phylogeny estimation that produces trees from unaligned sequence datasets without ever needing to estimate an alignment on the entire dataset. DACTAL combines iteration with a novel divide-and-conquer approach, so that each iteration begins with a tree produced in the prior iteration, decomposes the taxon set into overlapping subsets, estimates trees on each subset, and then combines the smaller trees into a tree on the full taxon set using a new supertree method. We prove that DACTAL is guaranteed to produce the true tree under certain conditions. We compare DACTAL to SATé and maximum likelihood trees on estimated alignments using simulated and real datasets with 1000-27 643 taxa. Results: Our studies show that on average DACTAL yields more accurate trees than the two-phase methods we studied on very large datasets that are difficult to align, and has approximately the same accuracy on the easier datasets. The comparison to SATé shows that both have the same accuracy, but that DACTAL achieves this accuracy in a fraction of the time. Furthermore, DACTAL can analyze larger datasets than SATé, including a dataset with almost 28 000 sequences. © The Author(s) 2012. Published by Oxford University Press.

Santos J.C.,Section of Integrative Biology | Santos J.C.,University of Texas at Austin | Santos J.C.,National Evolutionary Synthesis Center | Cannatella D.C.,Section of Integrative Biology | Cannatella D.C.,University of Texas at Austin
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America | Year: 2011

Complex phenotypes can be modeled as networks of component traits connected by genetic, developmental, or functional interactions. Aposematism, which has evolved multiple times in poison frogs (Dendrobatidae), links a warning signal to a chemical defense against predators. Other traits are involved in this complex phenotype. Most aposematic poison frogs are ant specialists, from which they sequester defensive alkaloids. We found that aposematic species have greater aerobic capacity, also related to diet specialization. To characterize the aposematic trait network more fully, we analyzed phylogenetic correlations among its hypothesized components: conspicuousness, chemical defense, diet specialization, body mass, active and resting metabolic rates, and aerobic scope. Conspicuous coloration was correlated with all components except resting metabolism. Structural equation modeling on the basis of trait correlations recovered "aposematism" as one of two latent variables in an integrated phenotypic network, the other being scaling with body mass and physiology ("scale"). Chemical defense and diet specialization were uniquely tied to aposematism whereas conspicuousness was related to scale. The phylogenetic distribution of the aposematic syndrome suggests two scenarios for its evolution: (i) chemical defense and conspicuousness preceded greater aerobic capacity, which supports the increased resource- gathering abilities required of ant-mite diet specialization; and (ii) assuming that prey are patchy, diet specialization and greater aerobic capacity evolved in tandem, and both traits subsequently facilitated the evolution of aposematism.

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