Rank orders have been studied in evolutionary biology for almost a hundred years. Constraints on the order in which mutations accumulate are known from cancer drug treatment, and order constraints for species invasions are important in ecology. However, current theory on rank orders in biology is somewhat fragmented. Here we show how our previous work on inferring genetic interactions from comparative fitness data (Crona et al., 2017) is related to an influential approach to rank orders based on sign epistasis. Our approach depends on order perturbations that indicate interactions. We apply our results to malaria parasites and find that order perturbations beyond sign epistasis are prevalent for the antimalarial drug resistance landscape. This finding agrees with the observation that reversed evolution back to the ancestral type is difficult. Another application concerns bacteria adapting to a methanol environment.
All data generated or analyzed during this study are included in the manuscript and supporting files.
No external funding was received for this work
- Joachim Krug, University of Cologne, Germany
© 2020, Crona
This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License permitting unrestricted use and redistribution provided that the original author and source are credited.
A predominantly fish-eating diet was envisioned for the sail-backed theropod dinosaur Spinosaurus aegyptiacus when its elongate jaws with subconical teeth were unearthed a century ago in Egypt. Recent discovery of the high-spined tail of that skeleton, however, led to a bolder conjecture that S. aegyptiacus was the first fully aquatic dinosaur. The ‘aquatic hypothesis’ posits that S. aegyptiacus was a slow quadruped on land but a capable pursuit predator in coastal waters, powered by an expanded tail. We test these functional claims with skeletal and flesh models of S. aegyptiacus. We assembled a CT-based skeletal reconstruction based on the fossils, to which we added internal air and muscle to create a posable flesh model. That model shows that on land S. aegyptiacus was bipedal and in deep water was an unstable, slow-surface swimmer (<1 m/s) too buoyant to dive. Living reptiles with similar spine-supported sails over trunk and tail are used for display rather than aquatic propulsion, and nearly all extant secondary swimmers have reduced limbs and fleshy tail flukes. New fossils also show that Spinosaurus ranged far inland. Two stages are clarified in the evolution of Spinosaurus, which is best understood as a semiaquatic bipedal ambush piscivore that frequented the margins of coastal and inland waterways.
Microbes have disproportionate impacts on the macroscopic world. This is in part due to their ability to grow to large populations that collectively secrete massive amounts of secondary metabolites and alter their environment. Yet, the conditions favoring secondary metabolism despite the potential costs for primary metabolism remain unclear. Here we investigated the biosurfactants that the bacterium Pseudomonas aeruginosa makes and secretes to decrease the surface tension of surrounding liquid. Using a combination of genomics, metabolomics, transcriptomics, and mathematical modeling we show that the ability to make surfactants from glycerol varies inconsistently across the phylogenetic tree; instead, lineages that lost this ability are also worse at reducing the oxidative stress of primary metabolism on glycerol. Experiments with different carbon sources support a link with oxidative stress that explains the inconsistent distribution across the P. aeruginosa phylogeny and suggests a general principle: P. aeruginosa lineages produce surfactants if they can reduce the oxidative stress produced by primary metabolism and have excess resources, beyond their primary needs, to afford secondary metabolism. These results add a new layer to the regulation of a secondary metabolite unessential for primary metabolism but important to change physical properties of the environments surrounding bacterial populations.