Open AccessArticle
How Doth the Little Crocodilian: Analyzing the Influence of Environmental Viscosity on Feeding Performance of Juvenile Alligator mississippiensis
Biology 2016, 5(4), 36; doi:10.3390/biology5040036 (registering DOI) -
Abstract
Wetland habitats are used as nursery sites for hatchling and juvenile alligators (Alligator mississippiensis), where they utilize prey from aquatic and terrestrial settings. However, little is known about how viscosity of the medium influences feeding performance. We hypothesized that timing [...] Read more.
Wetland habitats are used as nursery sites for hatchling and juvenile alligators (Alligator mississippiensis), where they utilize prey from aquatic and terrestrial settings. However, little is known about how viscosity of the medium influences feeding performance. We hypothesized that timing and linear excursion feeding kinematic variables would be different for individuals feeding on prey above the water compared with the same individuals feeding underwater. Individuals were fed immobile fish prey and feeding events were recorded using a high speed video camera. Feeding performance was summarized by analyzing three feeding kinematic variables (maximum gape, maximum gape velocity, duration of feeding bout) and success of strike. Results of a series of paired t-tests indicated no significant difference in kinematic variables between feeding events above water compared with underwater. Similarity in feeding performance could indicate that prey-capture is not altered by environmental viscosity or that feeding behavior can mitigate its influence. Behavioral differences were observed during feeding events with alligators approaching underwater prey having their mouths partially opened versus fully closed when feeding above water. This behavior could be an indication of a strategy used to overcome water viscosity. Full article
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Open AccessReview
Giraffe Stature and Neck Elongation: Vigilance as an Evolutionary Mechanism
Biology 2016, 5(3), 35; doi:10.3390/biology5030035 -
Abstract
Giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis), with their long neck and legs, are unique amongst mammals. How these features evolved is a matter of conjecture. The two leading ideas are the high browse and the sexual-selection hypotheses. While both explain many of the [...] Read more.
Giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis), with their long neck and legs, are unique amongst mammals. How these features evolved is a matter of conjecture. The two leading ideas are the high browse and the sexual-selection hypotheses. While both explain many of the characteristics and the behaviour of giraffe, neither is fully supported by the available evidence. The extended viewing horizon afforded by increased height and a need to maintain horizon vigilance, as a mechanism favouring the evolution of increased height is reviewed. In giraffe, vigilance of predators whilst feeding and drinking are important survival factors, as is the ability to interact with immediate herd members, young and male suitors. The evidence regarding giraffe vigilance behaviour is sparse and suggests that over-vigilance has a negative cost, serving as a distraction to feeding. In woodland savannah, increased height allows giraffe to see further, allowing each giraffe to increase the distance between its neighbours while browsing. Increased height allows the giraffe to see the early approach of predators, as well as bull males. It is postulated that the wider panorama afforded by an increase in height and longer neck has improved survival via allowing giraffe to browse safely over wider areas, decreasing competition within groups and with other herbivores. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Individual Differences in the Post-Illumination Pupil Response to Blue Light: Assessment without Mydriatics
Biology 2016, 5(3), 34; doi:10.3390/biology5030034 -
Abstract
Melanopsin-containing retinal ganglion cells play an important role in the non-image forming effects of light, through their direct projections on brain circuits involved in circadian rhythms, mood and alertness. Individual differences in the functionality of the melanopsin-signaling circuitry can be reliably quantified [...] Read more.
Melanopsin-containing retinal ganglion cells play an important role in the non-image forming effects of light, through their direct projections on brain circuits involved in circadian rhythms, mood and alertness. Individual differences in the functionality of the melanopsin-signaling circuitry can be reliably quantified using the maximum post-illumination pupil response (PIPR) after blue light. Previous protocols for acquiring PIPR relied on the use of mydriatics to dilate the light-exposed eye. However, pharmacological pupil dilation is uncomfortable for the participants and requires ophthalmological expertise. Hence, we here investigated whether an individual’s maximum PIPR can be validly obtained in a protocol that does not use mydriatics but rather increases the intensity of the light stimulus. In 18 participants (5 males, mean age ± SD: 34.6 ± 13.6 years) we evaluated the PIPR after exposure to intensified blue light (550 µW/cm2) provided to an undilated dynamic pupil. The test-retest reliability of the primary PIPR outcome parameter was very high, both between day-to-day assessments (Intraclass Correlation Coefficient (ICC) = 0.85), as well as between winter and summer assessments (ICC = 0.83). Compared to the PIPR obtained with the use of mydriatics and 160 µW/cm2 blue light exposure, the method with intensified light without mydriatics showed almost zero bias according to Bland-Altman plots and had moderate to strong reliability (ICC = 0.67). In conclusion, for PIPR assessments, increasing the light intensity is a feasible and reliable alternative to pupil dilation to relieve the participant’s burden and to allow for performance outside the ophthalmological clinic. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Quantifying Mosaic Development: Towards an Evo-Devo Postmodern Synthesis of the Evolution of Development via Differentiation Trees of Embryos
Biology 2016, 5(3), 33; doi:10.3390/biology5030033 -
Abstract
Embryonic development proceeds through a series of differentiation events. The mosaic version of this process (binary cell divisions) can be analyzed by comparing early development of Cionaintestinalis and Caenorhabditis elegans. To do this, we reorganize lineage trees into differentiation trees [...] Read more.
Embryonic development proceeds through a series of differentiation events. The mosaic version of this process (binary cell divisions) can be analyzed by comparing early development of Cionaintestinalis and Caenorhabditis elegans. To do this, we reorganize lineage trees into differentiation trees using the graph theory ordering of relative cell volume. Lineage and differentiation trees provide us with means to classify each cell using binary codes. Extracting data characterizing lineage tree position, cell volume, and nucleus position for each cell during early embryogenesis, we conduct several statistical analyses, both within and between taxa. We compare both cell volume distributions and cell volume across developmental time within and between single species and assess differences between lineage tree and differentiation tree orderings. This enhances our understanding of the differentiation events in a model of pure mosaic embryogenesis and its relationship to evolutionary conservation. We also contribute several new techniques for assessing both differences between lineage trees and differentiation trees, and differences between differentiation trees of different species. The results suggest that at the level of differentiation trees, there are broad similarities between distantly related mosaic embryos that might be essential to understanding evolutionary change and phylogeny reconstruction. Differentiation trees may therefore provide a basis for an Evo-Devo Postmodern Synthesis. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Dissociation and Re-Aggregation of Multicell-Ensheathed Fragments Responsible for Rapid Production of Massive Clumps of Leptothrix Sheaths
Biology 2016, 5(3), 32; doi:10.3390/biology5030032 -
Abstract
Species of the Fe/Mn-oxidizing bacteria Leptothrix produce tremendous amounts of microtubular, Fe/Mn-encrusted sheaths within a few days in outwells of groundwater that can rapidly clog water systems. To understand this mode of rapid sheath production and define the timescales involved, behaviors of [...] Read more.
Species of the Fe/Mn-oxidizing bacteria Leptothrix produce tremendous amounts of microtubular, Fe/Mn-encrusted sheaths within a few days in outwells of groundwater that can rapidly clog water systems. To understand this mode of rapid sheath production and define the timescales involved, behaviors of sheath-forming Leptothrix sp. strain OUMS1 were examined using time-lapse video at the initial stage of sheath formation. OUMS1 formed clumps of tangled sheaths. Electron microscopy confirmed the presence of a thin layer of bacterial exopolymer fibrils around catenulate cells (corresponding to the immature sheath). In time-lapse videos, numerous sheath filaments that extended from the periphery of sheath clumps repeatedly fragmented at the apex of the same fragment, the fragments then aggregated and again elongated, eventually forming a large sheath clump comprising tangled sheaths within two days. In this study, we found that fast microscopic fragmentation, dissociation, re-aggregation and re-elongation events are the basis of the rapid, massive production of Leptothrix sheaths typically observed at macroscopic scales. Full article
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Open AccessReview
Circadian Regulation of Synaptic Plasticity
Biology 2016, 5(3), 31; doi:10.3390/biology5030031 -
Abstract
Circadian rhythms refer to oscillations in biological processes with a period of approximately 24 h. In addition to the sleep/wake cycle, there are circadian rhythms in metabolism, body temperature, hormone output, organ function and gene expression. There is also evidence of circadian [...] Read more.
Circadian rhythms refer to oscillations in biological processes with a period of approximately 24 h. In addition to the sleep/wake cycle, there are circadian rhythms in metabolism, body temperature, hormone output, organ function and gene expression. There is also evidence of circadian rhythms in synaptic plasticity, in some cases driven by a master central clock and in other cases by peripheral clocks. In this article, I review the evidence for circadian influences on synaptic plasticity. I also discuss ways to disentangle the effects of brain state and rhythms on synaptic plasticity. Full article
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Open AccessConcept Paper
Phenotype as Agent for Epigenetic Inheritance
Biology 2016, 5(3), 30; doi:10.3390/biology5030030 -
Abstract
The conventional understanding of phenotype is as a derivative of descent with modification through Darwinian random mutation and natural selection. Recent research has revealed Lamarckian inheritance as a major transgenerational mechanism for environmental action on genomes whose extent is determined, in significant [...] Read more.
The conventional understanding of phenotype is as a derivative of descent with modification through Darwinian random mutation and natural selection. Recent research has revealed Lamarckian inheritance as a major transgenerational mechanism for environmental action on genomes whose extent is determined, in significant part, by germ line cells during meiosis and subsequent stages of embryological development. In consequence, the role of phenotype can productively be reconsidered. The possibility that phenotype is directed towards the effective acquisition of epigenetic marks in consistent reciprocation with the environment during the life cycle of an organism is explored. It is proposed that phenotype is an active agent in niche construction for the active acquisition of epigenetic marks as a dominant evolutionary mechanism rather than a consequence of Darwinian selection towards reproductive success. The reproductive phase of the life cycle can then be appraised as a robust framework in which epigenetic inheritance is entrained to affect growth and development in continued reciprocal responsiveness to environmental stresses. Furthermore, as first principles of physiology determine the limits of epigenetic inheritance, a coherent justification can thereby be provided for the obligate return of all multicellular eukaryotes to the unicellular state. Full article
Open AccessCommentary
Evolution of Microbial Quorum Sensing to Human Global Quorum Sensing: An Insight into How Gap Junctional Intercellular Communication Might Be Linked to the Global Metabolic Disease Crisis
Biology 2016, 5(2), 29; doi:10.3390/biology5020029 -
Abstract
The first anaerobic organism extracted energy for survival and reproduction from its source of nutrients, with the genetic means to ensure protection of its individual genome but also its species survival. While it had a means to communicate with its community via [...] Read more.
The first anaerobic organism extracted energy for survival and reproduction from its source of nutrients, with the genetic means to ensure protection of its individual genome but also its species survival. While it had a means to communicate with its community via simple secreted molecules (“quorum sensing”), the eventual shift to an aerobic environment led to multi-cellular metazoan organisms, with evolutionary-selected genes to form extracellular matrices, stem cells, stem cell niches, and a family of gap junction or “connexin” genes. These germinal and somatic stem cells responded to extracellular signals that triggered intra-cellular signaling to regulate specific genes out of the total genome. These extra-cellular induced intra-cellular signals also modulated gap junctional intercellular communication (GJIC) in order to regulate the new cellular functions of symmetrical and asymmetrical cell division, cell differentiation, modes of cell death, and senescence. Within the hierarchical and cybernetic concepts, differentiated by neurons organized in the brain of the Homo sapiens, the conscious mind led to language, abstract ideas, technology, myth-making, scientific reasoning, and moral decision–making, i.e., the creation of culture. Over thousands of years, this has created the current collision between biological and cultural evolution, leading to the global “metabolic disease” crisis. Full article
Open AccessConcept Paper
Cryptic Genetic Variation in Evolutionary Developmental Genetics
Biology 2016, 5(2), 28; doi:10.3390/biology5020028 -
Abstract
Evolutionary developmental genetics has traditionally been conducted by two groups: Molecular evolutionists who emphasize divergence between species or higher taxa, and quantitative geneticists who study variation within species. Neither approach really comes to grips with the complexities of evolutionary transitions, particularly in [...] Read more.
Evolutionary developmental genetics has traditionally been conducted by two groups: Molecular evolutionists who emphasize divergence between species or higher taxa, and quantitative geneticists who study variation within species. Neither approach really comes to grips with the complexities of evolutionary transitions, particularly in light of the realization from genome-wide association studies that most complex traits fit an infinitesimal architecture, being influenced by thousands of loci. This paper discusses robustness, plasticity and lability, phenomena that we argue potentiate major evolutionary changes and provide a bridge between the conceptual treatments of macro- and micro-evolution. We offer cryptic genetic variation and conditional neutrality as mechanisms by which standing genetic variation can lead to developmental system drift and, sheltered within canalized processes, may facilitate developmental transitions and the evolution of novelty. Synthesis of the two dominant perspectives will require recognition that adaptation, divergence, drift and stability all depend on similar underlying quantitative genetic processes—processes that cannot be fully observed in continuously varying visible traits. Full article
Open AccessReview
Nothing in Evolution Makes Sense Except in the Light of Genomics: Read–Write Genome Evolution as an Active Biological Process
Biology 2016, 5(2), 27; doi:10.3390/biology5020027 -
Abstract
The 21st century genomics-based analysis of evolutionary variation reveals a number of novel features impossible to predict when Dobzhansky and other evolutionary biologists formulated the neo-Darwinian Modern Synthesis in the middle of the last century. These include three distinct realms of cell [...] Read more.
The 21st century genomics-based analysis of evolutionary variation reveals a number of novel features impossible to predict when Dobzhansky and other evolutionary biologists formulated the neo-Darwinian Modern Synthesis in the middle of the last century. These include three distinct realms of cell evolution; symbiogenetic fusions forming eukaryotic cells with multiple genome compartments; horizontal organelle, virus and DNA transfers; functional organization of proteins as systems of interacting domains subject to rapid evolution by exon shuffling and exonization; distributed genome networks integrated by mobile repetitive regulatory signals; and regulation of multicellular development by non-coding lncRNAs containing repetitive sequence components. Rather than single gene traits, all phenotypes involve coordinated activity by multiple interacting cell molecules. Genomes contain abundant and functional repetitive components in addition to the unique coding sequences envisaged in the early days of molecular biology. Combinatorial coding, plus the biochemical abilities cells possess to rearrange DNA molecules, constitute a powerful toolbox for adaptive genome rewriting. That is, cells possess “Read–Write Genomes” they alter by numerous biochemical processes capable of rapidly restructuring cellular DNA molecules. Rather than viewing genome evolution as a series of accidental modifications, we can now study it as a complex biological process of active self-modification. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Abiotic Deposition of Fe Complexes onto Leptothrix Sheaths
Biology 2016, 5(2), 26; doi:10.3390/biology5020026 -
Abstract
Bacteria classified in species of the genus Leptothrix produce extracellular, microtubular, Fe-encrusted sheaths. The encrustation has been previously linked to bacterial Fe oxidases, which oxidize Fe(II) to Fe(III) and/or active groups of bacterial exopolymers within sheaths to attract and bind aqueous-phase inorganics. [...] Read more.
Bacteria classified in species of the genus Leptothrix produce extracellular, microtubular, Fe-encrusted sheaths. The encrustation has been previously linked to bacterial Fe oxidases, which oxidize Fe(II) to Fe(III) and/or active groups of bacterial exopolymers within sheaths to attract and bind aqueous-phase inorganics. When L. cholodnii SP-6 cells were cultured in media amended with high Fe(II) concentrations, Fe(III) precipitates visibly formed immediately after addition of Fe(II) to the medium, suggesting prompt abiotic oxidation of Fe(II) to Fe(III). Intriguingly, these precipitates were deposited onto the sheath surface of bacterial cells as the population was actively growing. When Fe(III) was added to the medium, similar precipitates formed in the medium first and were abiotically deposited onto the sheath surfaces. The precipitates in the Fe(II) medium were composed of assemblies of globular, amorphous particles (ca. 50 nm diameter), while those in the Fe(III) medium were composed of large, aggregated particles (≥3 µm diameter) with a similar amorphous structure. These precipitates also adhered to cell-free sheaths. We thus concluded that direct abiotic deposition of Fe complexes onto the sheath surface occurs independently of cellular activity in liquid media containing Fe salts, although it remains unclear how this deposition is associated with the previously proposed mechanisms (oxidation enzyme- and/or active group of organic components-involved) of Fe encrustation of the Leptothrix sheaths. Full article
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Open AccessConcept Paper
The Unicellular State as a Point Source in a Quantum Biological System
Biology 2016, 5(2), 25; doi:10.3390/biology5020025 -
Abstract
A point source is the central and most important point or place for any group of cohering phenomena. Evolutionary development presumes that biological processes are sequentially linked, but neither directed from, nor centralized within, any specific biologic structure or stage. However, such [...] Read more.
A point source is the central and most important point or place for any group of cohering phenomena. Evolutionary development presumes that biological processes are sequentially linked, but neither directed from, nor centralized within, any specific biologic structure or stage. However, such an epigenomic entity exists and its transforming effects can be understood through the obligatory recapitulation of all eukaryotic lifeforms through a zygotic unicellular phase. This requisite biological conjunction can now be properly assessed as the focal point of reconciliation between biology and quantum phenomena, illustrated by deconvoluting complex physiologic traits back to their unicellular origins. Full article
Open AccessEssay
Epigenetic Inheritance and Its Role in Evolutionary Biology: Re-Evaluation and New Perspectives
Biology 2016, 5(2), 24; doi:10.3390/biology5020024 -
Abstract
Epigenetics increasingly occupies a pivotal position in our understanding of inheritance, natural selection and, perhaps, even evolution. A survey of the PubMed database, however, reveals that the great majority (>93%) of epigenetic papers have an intra-, rather than an inter-generational focus, primarily [...] Read more.
Epigenetics increasingly occupies a pivotal position in our understanding of inheritance, natural selection and, perhaps, even evolution. A survey of the PubMed database, however, reveals that the great majority (>93%) of epigenetic papers have an intra-, rather than an inter-generational focus, primarily on mechanisms and disease. Approximately ~1% of epigenetic papers even mention the nexus of epigenetics, natural selection and evolution. Yet, when environments are dynamic (e.g., climate change effects), there may be an “epigenetic advantage” to phenotypic switching by epigenetic inheritance, rather than by gene mutation. An epigenetically-inherited trait can arise simultaneously in many individuals, as opposed to a single individual with a gene mutation. Moreover, a transient epigenetically-modified phenotype can be quickly “sunsetted”, with individuals reverting to the original phenotype. Thus, epigenetic phenotype switching is dynamic and temporary and can help bridge periods of environmental stress. Epigenetic inheritance likely contributes to evolution both directly and indirectly. While there is as yet incomplete evidence of direct permanent incorporation of a complex epigenetic phenotype into the genome, doubtlessly, the presence of epigenetic markers and the phenotypes they create (which may sort quite separately from the genotype within a population) will influence natural selection and, so, drive the collective genotype of a population. Full article
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Open AccessReview
The Function of Fish Cytokines
Biology 2016, 5(2), 23; doi:10.3390/biology5020023 -
Abstract
What is known about the biological activity of fish cytokines is reviewed. Most of the functional studies performed to date have been in teleost fish, and have focused on the induced effects of cytokine recombinant proteins, or have used loss- and gain-of-function [...] Read more.
What is known about the biological activity of fish cytokines is reviewed. Most of the functional studies performed to date have been in teleost fish, and have focused on the induced effects of cytokine recombinant proteins, or have used loss- and gain-of-function experiments in zebrafish. Such studies begin to tell us about the role of these molecules in the regulation of fish immune responses and whether they are similar or divergent to the well-characterised functions of mammalian cytokines. This knowledge will aid our ability to determine and modulate the pathways leading to protective immunity, to improve fish health in aquaculture. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Effect of Different Broad Waveband Lights on Membrane Lipids of a Cyanobacterium, Synechococcus sp., as Determined by UPLC-QToF-MS and Vibrational Spectroscopy
Biology 2016, 5(2), 22; doi:10.3390/biology5020022 -
Abstract
Differential profile of membrane lipids and pigments of a Synechococcus sp. cyanobacterial strain cells exposed to blue, green, red and white light are determined by means of liquid chromatography and mass spectrometry or diode array detection. Raman and ATR-IR spectra of intact [...] Read more.
Differential profile of membrane lipids and pigments of a Synechococcus sp. cyanobacterial strain cells exposed to blue, green, red and white light are determined by means of liquid chromatography and mass spectrometry or diode array detection. Raman and ATR-IR spectra of intact cells under the diverse light wavebands are also reported. Blue light cells exhibited an increased content of photosynthetic pigments as well as specific species of membrane glycerolipids as compared to cells exposed to other wavebands. The A630/A680 ratio indicated an increased content of phycobilisomes (PBS) in the blue light-exposed cells. Some differences in the protein conformation between the four light waveband-exposed cells were deduced from the variable absorbance at specific wavenumbers in the FT-Raman and ATR-FTIR spectra, in particular bands assigned to amide I and amide II. Bands from 1180 to 950 cm−1 in the ATR-FTIR spectrum suggest degraded outer membrane polysaccharide in the blue light-exposed cells. Full article
Open AccessConcept Paper
Cognition, Information Fields and Hologenomic Entanglement: Evolution in Light and Shadow
Biology 2016, 5(2), 21; doi:10.3390/biology5020021 -
Abstract
As the prime unification of Darwinism and genetics, the Modern Synthesis continues to epitomize mainstay evolutionary theory. Many decades after its formulation, its anchor assumptions remain fixed: conflict between macro organic organisms and selection at that level represent the near totality of [...] Read more.
As the prime unification of Darwinism and genetics, the Modern Synthesis continues to epitomize mainstay evolutionary theory. Many decades after its formulation, its anchor assumptions remain fixed: conflict between macro organic organisms and selection at that level represent the near totality of any evolutionary narrative. However, intervening research has revealed a less easily appraised cellular and microbial focus for eukaryotic existence. It is now established that all multicellular eukaryotic organisms are holobionts representing complex collaborations between the co-aligned microbiome of each eukaryote and its innate cells into extensive mixed cellular ecologies. Each of these ecological constituents has demonstrated faculties consistent with basal cognition. Consequently, an alternative hologenomic entanglement model is proposed with cognition at its center and conceptualized as Pervasive Information Fields within a quantum framework. Evolutionary development can then be reconsidered as being continuously based upon communication between self-referential constituencies reiterated at every scope and scale. Immunological reactions support and reinforce self-recognition juxtaposed against external environmental stresses. Full article
Open AccessReview
Genetic Approaches to Study Plant Responses to Environmental Stresses: An Overview
Biology 2016, 5(2), 20; doi:10.3390/biology5020020 -
Abstract
The assessment of gene expression levels is an important step toward elucidating gene functions temporally and spatially. Decades ago, typical studies were focusing on a few genes individually, whereas now researchers are able to examine whole genomes at once. The upgrade of [...] Read more.
The assessment of gene expression levels is an important step toward elucidating gene functions temporally and spatially. Decades ago, typical studies were focusing on a few genes individually, whereas now researchers are able to examine whole genomes at once. The upgrade of throughput levels aided the introduction of systems biology approaches whereby cell functional networks can be scrutinized in their entireties to unravel potential functional interacting components. The birth of systems biology goes hand-in-hand with huge technological advancements and enables a fairly rapid detection of all transcripts in studied biological samples. Even so, earlier technologies that were restricted to probing single genes or a subset of genes still have their place in research laboratories. The objective here is to highlight key approaches used in gene expression analysis in plant responses to environmental stresses, or, more generally, any other condition of interest. Northern blots, RNase protection assays, and qPCR are described for their targeted detection of one or a few transcripts at a once. Differential display and serial analysis of gene expression represent non-targeted methods to evaluate expression changes of a significant number of gene transcripts. Finally, microarrays and RNA-seq (next-generation sequencing) contribute to the ultimate goal of identifying and quantifying all transcripts in a cell under conditions or stages of study. Recent examples of applications as well as principles, advantages, and drawbacks of each method are contrasted. We also suggest replacing the term “Next-Generation Sequencing (NGS)” with another less confusing synonym such as “RNA-seq”, “high throughput sequencing”, or “massively parallel sequencing” to avoid confusion with any future sequencing technologies. Full article
Open AccessCommentary
The Cell as the First Niche Construction
Biology 2016, 5(2), 19; doi:10.3390/biology5020019 -
Abstract
Niche construction nominally describes how organisms can form their own environments, increasing their capacity to adapt to their surroundings. It is hypothesized that the formation of the first cell as ‘internal’ Niche Construction was the foundation for life, and that subsequent niche [...] Read more.
Niche construction nominally describes how organisms can form their own environments, increasing their capacity to adapt to their surroundings. It is hypothesized that the formation of the first cell as ‘internal’ Niche Construction was the foundation for life, and that subsequent niche constructions were iterative exaptations of that event. The first instantation of niche construction has been faithfully adhered to by returning to the unicellular state, suggesting that the life cycle is zygote to zygote, not adult to adult as is commonly held. The consequent interactions between niche construction and epigenetic inheritance provide a highly robust, interactive, mechanistic way of thinking about evolution being determined by initial conditions rather than merely by chance mutation and selection. This novel perspective offers an opportunity to reappraise the processes involved in evolution mechanistically, allowing for scientifically testable hypotheses rather than relying on metaphors, dogma, teleology and tautology. Full article
Open AccessConcept Paper
Life Is Simple—Biologic Complexity Is an Epiphenomenon
Biology 2016, 5(2), 17; doi:10.3390/biology5020017 -
Abstract
Life originated from unicellular organisms by circumventing the Second Law of Thermodynamics using the First Principles of Physiology, namely negentropy, chemiosmosis and homeostatic regulation of calcium and lipids. It is hypothesized that multicellular organisms are merely contrivances or tools, used by unicellular [...] Read more.
Life originated from unicellular organisms by circumventing the Second Law of Thermodynamics using the First Principles of Physiology, namely negentropy, chemiosmosis and homeostatic regulation of calcium and lipids. It is hypothesized that multicellular organisms are merely contrivances or tools, used by unicellular organisms as agents for the acquisition of epigenetic inheritance. The First Principles of Physiology, which initially evolved in unicellular organisms are the exapted constraints that maintain, sustain and perpetuate that process. To ensure fidelity to this mechanism, we must return to the first principles of the unicellular state as the determinants of the primary level of selection pressure during the life cycle. The power of this approach is reflected by examples of its predictive value. This perspective on life is a “game changer”, mechanistically rendering transparent many dogmas, teleologies and tautologies that constrain the current descriptive view of Biology. Full article
Open AccessArticle
The Contributions of the Amino and Carboxy Terminal Domains of Flightin to the Biomechanical Properties of Drosophila Flight Muscle Thick Filaments
Biology 2016, 5(2), 16; doi:10.3390/biology5020016 -
Abstract
Flightin is a myosin binding protein present in Pancrustacea. In Drosophila, flightin is expressed in the indirect flight muscles (IFM), where it is required for the flexural rigidity, structural integrity, and length determination of thick filaments. Comparison of flightin sequences from [...] Read more.
Flightin is a myosin binding protein present in Pancrustacea. In Drosophila, flightin is expressed in the indirect flight muscles (IFM), where it is required for the flexural rigidity, structural integrity, and length determination of thick filaments. Comparison of flightin sequences from multiple Drosophila species revealed a tripartite organization indicative of three functional domains subject to different evolutionary constraints. We use atomic force microscopy to investigate the functional roles of the N-terminal domain and the C-terminal domain that show different patterns of sequence conservation. Thick filaments containing a C-terminal domain truncated flightin (flnΔC44) are significantly shorter (2.68 ± 0.06 μm; p < 0.005) than thick filaments containing a full length flightin (fln+; 3.21 ± 0.05 μm) and thick filaments containing an N-terminal domain truncated flightin (flnΔN62; 3.21 ± 0.06 μm). Persistence length was significantly reduced in flnΔN62 (418 ± 72 μm; p < 0.005) compared to fln+ (1386 ± 196μm) and flnΔC44(1128 ± 193 μm). Statistical polymer chain analysis revealed that the C-terminal domain fulfills a secondary role in thick filament bending propensity. Our results indicate that the flightin amino and carboxy terminal domains make distinct contributions to thick filament biomechanics. We propose these distinct roles arise from the interplay between natural selection and sexual selection given IFM’s dual role in flight and courtship behaviors. Full article