Special Issue "Feature Papers 2019"

A special issue of Biology (ISSN 2079-7737).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 December 2019).

Special Issue Editor

Prof. Dr. Chris O'Callaghan
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Guest Editor
Centre for Cellular and Molecular Physiology, Nuffield Department of Clinical Medicine, University of Oxford, Roosevelt Drive, Oxford, OX3 7BN, UK
Interests: immunity; inflammation; vascular disease; gene regulation; protein structure; function
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Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

This is a Special Issue of high-quality papers by the editorial board members, or those invited by the editorial office. Topics include but are not limited to the following items:

Behavior biology

Biochemistry and molecular biology

Bioinformatics

Biological engineering

Biophysics

Cell biology

Conservation biology and biodiversity

Developmental biology

Ecology

Evolutionary biology

Genetics and genomics

Immunology

Marine biology

Microbiology

Neuroscience

Pharmacology

Physiology

Plant science

Proteomics

Structural biology

Systems biology

Theoretical biology

Zoology

Prof. Dr. Chris O'Callaghan
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

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Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1400 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Published Papers (4 papers)

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Open AccessArticle
Phylogenetic Analyses of Sites in Different Protein Structural Environments Result in Distinct Placements of the Metazoan Root
Biology 2020, 9(4), 64; https://doi.org/10.3390/biology9040064 - 28 Mar 2020
Abstract
Phylogenomics, the use of large datasets to examine phylogeny, has revolutionized the study of evolutionary relationships. However, genome-scale data have not been able to resolve all relationships in the tree of life; this could reflect, at least in part, the poor-fit of the [...] Read more.
Phylogenomics, the use of large datasets to examine phylogeny, has revolutionized the study of evolutionary relationships. However, genome-scale data have not been able to resolve all relationships in the tree of life; this could reflect, at least in part, the poor-fit of the models used to analyze heterogeneous datasets. Some of the heterogeneity may reflect the different patterns of selection on proteins based on their structures. To test that hypothesis, we developed a pipeline to divide phylogenomic protein datasets into subsets based on secondary structure and relative solvent accessibility. We then tested whether amino acids in different structural environments had distinct signals for the topology of the deepest branches in the metazoan tree. We focused on a dataset that appeared to have a mixture of signals and we found that the most striking difference in phylogenetic signal reflected relative solvent accessibility. Analyses of exposed sites (residues located on the surface of proteins) yielded a tree that placed ctenophores sister to all other animals whereas sites buried inside proteins yielded a tree with a sponge+ctenophore clade. These differences in phylogenetic signal were not ameliorated when we conducted analyses using a set of maximum-likelihood profile mixture models. These models are very similar to the Bayesian CAT model, which has been used in many analyses of deep metazoan phylogeny. In contrast, analyses conducted after recoding amino acids to limit the impact of deviations from compositional stationarity increased the congruence in the estimates of phylogeny for exposed and buried sites; after recoding amino acid trees estimated using the exposed and buried site both supported placement of ctenophores sister to all other animals. Although the central conclusion of our analyses is that sites in different structural environments yield distinct trees when analyzed using models of protein evolution, our amino acid recoding analyses also have implications for metazoan evolution. Specifically, our results add to the evidence that ctenophores are the sister group of all other animals and they further suggest that the placozoa+cnidaria clade found in some other studies deserves more attention. Taken as a whole, these results provide striking evidence that it is necessary to achieve a better understanding of the constraints due to protein structure to improve phylogenetic estimation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Papers 2019)
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Open AccessArticle
Effects of Fish Predators on the Mass-Related Energetics of a Keystone Freshwater Crustacean
Biology 2020, 9(3), 40; https://doi.org/10.3390/biology9030040 - 25 Feb 2020
Cited by 1
Abstract
Little is known about how predators or their cues affect the acquisition and allocation of energy throughout the ontogeny of prey organisms. To address this question, we have been comparing the ontogenetic body-mass scaling of various traits related to energy intake and use [...] Read more.
Little is known about how predators or their cues affect the acquisition and allocation of energy throughout the ontogeny of prey organisms. To address this question, we have been comparing the ontogenetic body-mass scaling of various traits related to energy intake and use between populations of a keystone amphipod crustacean inhabiting freshwater springs, with versus without fish predators. In this progress report, we analyze new and previously reported data to develop a synthetic picture of how the presence/absence of fish predators affects the scaling of food assimilation, fat content, metabolism, growth and reproduction in populations of Gammarus minus located in central Pennsylvania (USA). Our analysis reveals two major clusters of ‘symmorphic allometry’ (parallel scaling relationships) for traits related to somatic versus reproductive investment. In the presence of fish predators, the scaling exponents for somatic traits tend to decrease, whereas those for reproductive traits tend to increase. This divergence of scaling exponents reflects an intensified trade-off between somatic and reproductive investments resulting from low adult survival in the face of size-selective predation. Our results indicate the value of an integrated view of the ontogenetic size-specific energetics of organisms and its response to both top-down (predation) and bottom-up (resource supply) effects. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Papers 2019)
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Open AccessArticle
The Interacting Head Motif Structure Does Not Explain the X-Ray Diffraction Patterns in Relaxed Vertebrate (Bony Fish) Skeletal Muscle and Insect (Lethocerus) Flight Muscle
Biology 2019, 8(3), 67; https://doi.org/10.3390/biology8030067 - 14 Sep 2019
Cited by 4
Abstract
Unlike electron microscopy, which can achieve very high resolution but to date can only be used to study static structures, time-resolved X-ray diffraction from contracting muscles can, in principle, be used to follow the molecular movements involved in force generation on a millisecond [...] Read more.
Unlike electron microscopy, which can achieve very high resolution but to date can only be used to study static structures, time-resolved X-ray diffraction from contracting muscles can, in principle, be used to follow the molecular movements involved in force generation on a millisecond timescale, albeit at moderate resolution. However, previous X-ray diffraction studies of resting muscles have come up with structures for the head arrangements in resting myosin filaments that are different from the apparently ubiquitous interacting head motif (IHM) structures found by single particle analysis of electron micrographs of isolated myosin filaments from a variety of muscle types. This head organization is supposed to represent the super-relaxed state of the myosin filaments where adenosine triphosphate (ATP) usage is minimized. Here we have tested whether the interacting head motif structures will satisfactorily explain the observed low-angle X-ray diffraction patterns from resting vertebrate (bony fish) and invertebrate (insect flight) muscles. We find that the interacting head motif does not, in fact, explain what is observed. Previous X-ray models fit the observations much better. We conclude that the X-ray diffraction evidence has been well interpreted in the past and that there is more than one ordered myosin head state in resting muscle. There is, therefore, no reason to question some of the previous X-ray diffraction results on myosin filaments; time-resolved X-ray diffraction should be a reliable way to follow crossbridge action in active muscle and may be one of the few ways to visualise the molecular changes in myosin heads on a millisecond timescale as force is actually produced. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Papers 2019)
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Open AccessCommentary
A Perspective on Body Size and Abundance Relationships across Ecological Communities
Biology 2020, 9(3), 42; https://doi.org/10.3390/biology9030042 - 26 Feb 2020
Abstract
Recently, several studies have reported relationships between the abundance of organisms in an ecological community and their mean body size (called cross-community scaling relationships: CCSRs) that can be described by simple power functions. A primary focus of these studies has been on the [...] Read more.
Recently, several studies have reported relationships between the abundance of organisms in an ecological community and their mean body size (called cross-community scaling relationships: CCSRs) that can be described by simple power functions. A primary focus of these studies has been on the scaling exponent (slope) and whether it approximates −3/4, as predicted by Damuth’s rule and the metabolic theory in ecology. However, some CCSR studies have reported scaling exponents significantly different from the theoretical value of −3/4. Why this variation occurs is still largely unknown. The purpose of our commentary is to show the value of examining both the slopes and elevations of CCSRs and how various ecological factors may affect them. As a heuristic exercise, we reanalyzed three published data sets based on phytoplankton, rodent, and macroinvertebrate assemblages that we subdivided according to three distinctly different ecological factors (i.e., climate zone, season, and trophic level). Our analyses reveal significant variation in either or both the CCSR slopes and elevations for marine phytoplankton communities across climate zones, a desert rodent community across seasons, and saltwater lagoon macroinvertebrate communities across trophic levels. We conclude that achieving a comprehensive understanding of abundance-size relationships at the community level will require consideration of both slopes and elevations of these relationships and their possible variation in different ecological contexts. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Papers 2019)
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