Two ConvergeAnt talks presented at the virtual Evolution 2021 meeting
Updated: Oct 5, 2021
Chris and Frédéric presented talks at the Virtual Evolution 2021 meeting the annual meeting of the American Society of Naturalists, the Society for the Study of Evolution, and the Society of Systematic Biologists held online because of travel restrictions due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Chris presented his work on the molecular erosion of tooth-related genes in the xenarthran radiation (armadillos, anteaters, and sloths) showing that independent and distinct events of dental gene loss occurred in the major xenarthran subclades, including enamel loss in the common ancestor of sloths and anteaters, followed by the complete loss of dentition in anteaters. By contrast, genes pertaining to the gingival-tooth junction appear to have been independently inactivated in the two major armadillo clades prior to losing all or most enamel. These data provide evidence for multiple pathways and rates of anatomical regression and demonstrate that historical contingencies do not always fully constrain adaptive possibilities for lineages.
Frédéric reported results on comparative transcriptomic based on the master studies of Sophie and Dave co-directed with Rémi. We undertook the first comparative transcriptomic analysis of salivary glands in 23 species of placental mammals, including new ant-eating species and close relatives, together with complementary RNAseq data for the major digestive organs of the lesser anteater. Overall, our results demonstrate that divergent molecular mechanisms underlie convergent adaptation to the ant-eating diet in pangolins and anteaters, highlighting the role of historical contingency and molecular tinkering of the chitin-digestive enzyme toolkit in this classical example of convergent evolution.
Emerling C.A.*, Gibb G.C., Tilak M.-K., Kuch M., Hughes J., Poinar H.N., Nachman M.W., & Delsuc F. (2021). Genomic data suggest parallel dental vestigialization within the xenarthran radiation. Annual meeting of the American Society of Naturalists, the Society for the Study of Evolution, and the Society of Systematic Biologists (Online). [Oral communication]
Allio R., Teullet S., Lutgen D., Magdeleine A., Koual R., Tilak M.-K., Emerling C.A., Lefébure T., & Delsuc F.* (2021). Comparative transcriptomics reveals divergent paths of chitinase evolution underlying dietary convergence in ant-eating mammals. Annual meeting of the American Society of Naturalists, the Society for the Study of Evolution, and the Society of Systematic Biologists (Online). [Oral communication]