• Using electroretinograms and multi-model inference to identify spectral classes of photoreceptors and relative opsin expression levels

      Lessios, Nicolas; Univ Arizona, Dept Neurosci; School of Life Sciences, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ, USA (PEERJ INC, 2017-07-21)
      Understanding how individual photoreceptor cells factor in the spectral sensitivity of a visual system is essential to explain how they contribute to the visual ecology of the animal in question. Existing methods that model the absorption of visual pigments use templates which correspond closely to data from thin cross-sections of photoreceptor cells. However, few modeling approaches use a single framework to incorporate physical parameters of real photoreceptors, which can be fused, and can form vertical tiers. Akaike’s information criterion (AIC c ) was used here to select absorptance models of multiple classes of photoreceptor cells that maximize information, given visual system spectral sensitivity data obtained using extracellular electroretinograms and structural parameters obtained by histological methods. This framework was first used to select among alternative hypotheses of photoreceptor number. It identified spectral classes from a range of dark-adapted visual systems which have between one and four spectral photoreceptor classes. These were the velvet worm, Principapillatus hitoyensis , the branchiopod water flea, Daphnia magna , normal humans, and humans with enhanced S-cone syndrome, a condition in which S-cone frequency is increased due to mutations in a transcription factor that controls photoreceptor expression. Data from the Asian swallowtail, Papilio xuthus , which has at least five main spectral photoreceptor classes in its compound eyes, were included to illustrate potential effects of model over-simplification on multi-model inference. The multi-model framework was then used with parameters of spectral photoreceptor classes and the structural photoreceptor array kept constant. The goal was to map relative opsin expression to visual pigment concentration. It identified relative opsin expression differences for two populations of the bluefin killifish, Lucania goodei . The modeling approach presented here will be useful in selecting the most likely alternative hypotheses of opsin-based spectral photoreceptor classes, using relative opsin expression and extracellular electroretinography.
    • Within-host competition drives energy allocation trade-offs in an insect parasitoid

      Wilson, J Keaton; Ruiz, Laura; Davidowitz, Goggy; Univ Arizona, Dept Entomol; Univ Arizona, Dept Neurosci (PEERJ INC, 2020-04-21)
      Organismal body size is an important biological trait that has broad impacts across scales of biological organization, from cells to ecosystems. Size is also deeply embedded in life history theory, as the size of an individual is one factor that governs the amount of available resources an individual is able to allocate to different structures and systems. A large body of work examining resource allocation across body sizes (allometry) has demonstrated patterns of allocation to different organismal systems and morphologies, and extrapolated rules governing biological structure and organization. However, the full scope of evolutionary and ecological ramifications of these patterns have yet to be realized. Here, we show that density-dependent larval competition in a natural population of insect parasitoids (Drino rhoeo: Tachinidae) results in a wide range of body sizes (largest flies are more than six times larger (by mass) than the smallest flies). We describe strong patterns of trade-offs between different body structures linked to dispersal and reproduction that point to life history strategies that differ between both males and females and individuals of different sizes. By better understanding the mechanisms that generate natural variation in body size and subsequent effects on the evolution of life history strategies, we gain better insight into the evolutionary and ecological impacts of insect parasitoids in tri-trophic systems.