The Scientific World Journal: Evolutionary Biology The latest articles from Hindawi Publishing Corporation © 2016 , Hindawi Publishing Corporation . All rights reserved. Ornamental Exterior versus Therapeutic Interior of Madagascar Periwinkle (Catharanthus roseus): The Two Faces of a Versatile Herb Thu, 15 Jan 2015 12:26:42 +0000 Catharanthus roseus (L.) known as Madagascar periwinkle (MP) is a legendary medicinal plant mostly because of possessing two invaluable antitumor terpenoid indole alkaloids (TIAs), vincristine and vinblastine. The plant has also high aesthetic value as an evergreen ornamental that yields prolific blooms of splendid colors. The plant possesses yet another unique characteristic as an amiable experimental host for the maintenance of the smallest bacteria found on earth, the phytoplasmas and spiroplasmas, and serves as a model for their study. Botanical information with respect to synonyms, vernacular names, cultivars, floral morphology, and reproduction adds to understanding of the plant while the geography and ecology of periwinkle illustrate the organism’s ubiquity. Good agronomic practices ensure generous propagation of healthy plants that serve as a source of bioactive compounds and multitudinous horticultural applications. The correlation between genetic diversity, variants, and TIA production exists. MP is afflicted with a whole range of diseases that have to be properly managed. The ethnobotanical significance of MP is exemplified by its international usage as a traditional remedy for abundant ailments and not only for cancer. TIAs are present only in micro quantities in the plant and are highly poisonous per se rendering a challenge for researchers to increase yield and reduce toxicity. Naghmeh Nejat, Alireza Valdiani, David Cahill, Yee-How Tan, Mahmood Maziah, and Rambod Abiri Copyright © 2015 Naghmeh Nejat et al. All rights reserved. Placenta-Specific Protein 1 Is Conserved throughout the Placentalia under Purifying Selection Thu, 07 Aug 2014 09:11:52 +0000 Placental mammals (Placentalia) are a very successful group that, today, comprise 94% of all mammalian species. Recent phylogenetic analyses, coupled with new, quite complete fossils, suggest that the crown orders were all established rapidly from a common ancestor just after the Cretaceous/Tertiary (K/T) boundary 65 million years ago. Extensive molecular and morphologic evidence has led to a description of the common ancestor of all Placentalia in which a two-horned uterus and a hemochorial placenta are present. Thus, the process of placentation in which the placenta invades and anchors to the uterine epithelium was already established. One factor that has been suggested as a crucial component of this process is placenta-specific protein 1 (PLAC1). A phylogenetic analysis of the PLAC1 protein in 25 placental mammal species, representing nine of the sixteen crown orders of the Placentalia, suggests that this protein was present in the placental common ancestor in the form we see it today, that it evolved in the Placentalia and has been subject to the effects of purifying selection since its appearance. Eric J. Devor Copyright © 2014 Eric J. Devor. All rights reserved. OsSLI1, a Homeodomain Containing Transcription Activator, Involves Abscisic Acid Related Stress Response in Rice (Oryza sativa L.) Wed, 25 Jun 2014 00:00:00 +0000 Homeodomain-leucine zipper type I (HD-Zip I) proteins are involved in the regulation of plant development and response to environmental stresses. In this study, OsSLI1 (Oryza sativa stress largely induced 1), encoding a member of the HD-Zip I subfamily, was isolated from rice. The expression of OsSLI1 was dramatically induced by multiple abiotic stresses and exogenous abscisic acid (ABA). In silico sequence analysis discovered several cis-acting elements including multiple ABREs (ABA-responsive element binding factors) in the upstream promoter region of OsSLI1. The OsSLI1-GFP fusion protein was localized in the nucleus of rice protoplast cells and the transcriptional activity of OsSLI1 was confirmed by the yeast hybrid system. Further, it was found that OsSLI1 expression was enhanced in an ABI5-Like1 (ABL1) deficiency rice mutant abl1 under stress conditions, suggesting that ABL1 probably negatively regulates OsSLI1 gene expression. Moreover, it was found that OsSLI1 was regulated in panicle development. Taken together, OsSLI1 may be a transcriptional activator regulating stress-responsive gene expression and panicle development in rice. Xi Huang, Min Duan, Jiakai Liao, Xi Yuan, Hui Chen, Jiejie Feng, Ji Huang, and Hong-Sheng Zhang Copyright © 2014 Xi Huang et al. All rights reserved. Differential Evolutionary Constraints in the Evolution of Chemoreceptors: A Murine and Human Case Study Thu, 23 Jan 2014 08:30:45 +0000 Chemoreception is among the most important sensory modalities in animals. Organisms use the ability to perceive chemical compounds in all major ecological activities. Recent studies have allowed the characterization of chemoreceptor gene families. These genes present strikingly high variability in copy numbers and pseudogenization degrees among different species, but the mechanisms underlying their evolution are not fully understood. We have analyzed the functional networks of these genes, their orthologs distribution, and performed phylogenetic analyses in order to investigate their evolutionary dynamics. We have modeled the chemosensory networks and compared the evolutionary constraints of their genes in Mus musculus, Homo sapiens, and Rattus norvegicus. We have observed significant differences regarding the constraints on the orthologous groups and network topologies of chemoreceptors and signal transduction machinery. Our findings suggest that chemosensory receptor genes are less constrained than their signal transducing machinery, resulting in greater receptor diversity and conservation of information processing pathways. More importantly, we have observed significant differences among the receptors themselves, suggesting that olfactory and bitter taste receptors are more conserved than vomeronasal receptors. Ricardo D’Oliveira Albanus, Rodrigo Juliani Siqueira Dalmolin, José Luiz Rybarczyk-Filho, Mauro Antônio Alves Castro, and José Cláudio Fonseca Moreira Copyright © 2014 Ricardo D’Oliveira Albanus et al. All rights reserved. Origins and Evolution of WUSCHEL-Related Homeobox Protein Family in Plant Kingdom Mon, 06 Jan 2014 13:06:39 +0000 WUSCHEL-related homeobox (WOX) is a large group of transcription factors specifically found in plants. WOX members contain the conserved homeodomain essential for plant development by regulating cell division and differentiation. However, the evolutionary relationship of WOX members in plant kingdom remains to be elucidated. In this study, we searched 350 WOX members from 50 species in plant kingdom. Linkage analysis of WOX protein sequences demonstrated that amino acid residues 141–145 and 153–160 located in the homeodomain are possibly associated with the function of WOXs during the evolution. These 350 members were grouped into 3 clades: the first clade represents the conservative WOXs from the lower plant algae to higher plants; the second clade has the members from vascular plant species; the third clade has the members only from spermatophyte species. Furthermore, among the members of Arabidopsis thaliana and Oryza sativa, we observed ubiquitous expression of genes in the first clade and the diversified expression pattern of WOX genes in distinct organs in the second clade and the third clade. This work provides insight into the origin and evolutionary process of WOXs, facilitating their functional investigations in the future. Gaibin Lian, Zhiwen Ding, Qin Wang, Dabing Zhang, and Jie Xu Copyright © 2014 Gaibin Lian et al. All rights reserved. Genetic Diversity and Population Genetics of Mosquitoes (Diptera: Culicidae: Culex spp.) from the Sonoran Desert of North America Sun, 03 Nov 2013 15:13:04 +0000 The population genetics and phylogenetic relationships of Culex mosquitoes inhabiting the Sonoran Desert region of North America were studied using mitochondrial DNA and microsatellite molecular markers. Phylogenetic analyses of mitochondrial cytochrome oxidase subunit I (COI) from mosquitoes collected over a wide geographic area, including the Baja California peninsula, and mainland localities in southern Arizona, USA and Sonora, Mexico, showed several well-supported partitions corresponding to Cx. quinquefasciatus, Cx. tarsalis, and two unidentified species, Culex sp. 1 and sp. 2. Culex quinquefasciatus was found at all localities and was the most abundant species collected. Culex tarsalis was collected only at Tucson, Arizona and Guaymas, Sonora. The two unidentified species of Culex were most abundant at Navojoa in southern Sonora. Haplotype and nucleotide diversities in the COI gene segment were substantially lower in Cx. quinquefasciatus compared with the other three species. Analysis of molecular variance revealed little structure among seven populations of Cx. quinquefasciatus, whereas significant structure was found between the two populations of Cx. tarsalis. Evidence for an historical population expansion beginning in the Pleistocene was found for Cx. tarsalis. Possible explanations for the large differences in genetic diversity between Cx. quinquefasciatus and the other species of Culex are presented. Edward Pfeiler, Carlos A. Flores-López, Jesús Gerardo Mada-Vélez, Juan Escalante-Verdugo, and Therese A. Markow Copyright © 2013 Edward Pfeiler et al. All rights reserved. Plant Abiotic Stress Tue, 01 Oct 2013 13:09:41 +0000 Ji Huang, Alexander Levine, and Zhoufei Wang Copyright © 2013 Ji Huang et al. All rights reserved. GmNAC5, a NAC Transcription Factor, Is a Transient Response Regulator Induced by Abiotic Stress in Soybean Sun, 28 Jul 2013 13:56:36 +0000 GmNAC5 is a member of NAM subfamily belonging to NAC transcription factors in soybean (Glycine max (L.) Merr.). Studies on NAC transcription factors have shown that this family functioned in the regulation of shoot apical meristem (SAM), hormone signalling, and stress responses. In this study, we examined the expression levels of GmNAC5. GmNAC5 was highly expressed in the roots and immature seeds, especially strongly in immature seeds of 40 days after flowering. In addition, we found that GmNAC5 was induced by mechanical wounding, high salinity, and cold treatments but was not induced by abscisic acid (ABA). The subcellular localization assay suggested that GmNAC5 was targeted at nucleus. Together, it was suggested that GmNAC5 might be involved in seed development and abiotic stress responses in soybean. Hangxia Jin, Guangli Xu, Qingchang Meng, Fang Huang, and Deyue Yu Copyright © 2013 Hangxia Jin et al. All rights reserved. The Low Temperature Induced Physiological Responses of Avena nuda L., a Cold-Tolerant Plant Species Tue, 11 Jun 2013 10:06:15 +0000 The paperaim of the was to study the effect of low temperature stress on Avena nuda L. seedlings. Cold stress leads to many changes of physiological indices, such as membrane permeability, free proline content, malondialdehyde (MDA) content, and chlorophyll content. Cold stress also leads to changes of some protected enzymes such as peroxidase (POD), superoxide dismutase (SOD), and catalase (CAT). We have measured and compared these indices of seedling leaves under low temperature and normal temperature. The proline and MDA contents were increased compared with control; the chlorophyll content gradually decreased with the prolongation of low temperature stress. The activities of SOD, POD, and CAT were increased under low temperature. The study was designated to explore the physiological mechanism of cold tolerance in naked oats for the first time and also provided theoretical basis for cultivation and antibiotic breeding in Avena nuda L. Wenying Liu, Kenming Yu, Tengfei He, Feifei Li, Dongxu Zhang, and Jianxia Liu Copyright © 2013 Wenying Liu et al. All rights reserved. Genomics Approaches for Crop Improvement against Abiotic Stress Thu, 06 Jun 2013 09:36:15 +0000 As sessile organisms, plants are inevitably exposed to one or a combination of stress factors every now and then throughout their growth and development. Stress responses vary considerably even in the same plant species; stress-susceptible genotypes are at one extreme, and stress-tolerant ones are at the other. Elucidation of the stress responses of crop plants is of extreme relevance, considering the central role of crops in food and biofuel production. Crop improvement has been a traditional issue to increase yields and enhance stress tolerance; however, crop improvement against abiotic stresses has been particularly compelling, given the complex nature of these stresses. As traditional strategies for crop improvement approach their limits, the era of genomics research has arisen with new and promising perspectives in breeding improved varieties against abiotic stresses. Bala Anı Akpınar, Stuart J. Lucas, and Hikmet Budak Copyright © 2013 Bala Anı Akpınar et al. All rights reserved. Drought Tolerance in Modern and Wild Wheat Wed, 15 May 2013 13:20:27 +0000 The genus Triticum includes bread (Triticum aestivum) and durum wheat (Triticum durum) and constitutes a major source for human food consumption. Drought is currently the leading threat on world's food supply, limiting crop yield, and is complicated since drought tolerance is a quantitative trait with a complex phenotype affected by the plant's developmental stage. Drought tolerance is crucial to stabilize and increase food production since domestication has limited the genetic diversity of crops including wild wheat, leading to cultivated species, adapted to artificial environments, and lost tolerance to drought stress. Improvement for drought tolerance can be achieved by the introduction of drought-grelated genes and QTLs to modern wheat cultivars. Therefore, identification of candidate molecules or loci involved in drought tolerance is necessary, which is undertaken by “omics” studies and QTL mapping. In this sense, wild counterparts of modern varieties, specifically wild emmer wheat (T. dicoccoides), which are highly tolerant to drought, hold a great potential. Prior to their introgression to modern wheat cultivars, drought related candidate genes are first characterized at the molecular level, and their function is confirmed via transgenic studies. After integration of the tolerance loci, specific environment targeted field trials are performed coupled with extensive analysis of morphological and physiological characteristics of developed cultivars, to assess their performance under drought conditions and their possible contributions to yield in certain regions. This paper focuses on recent advances on drought related gene/QTL identification, studies on drought related molecular pathways, and current efforts on improvement of wheat cultivars for drought tolerance. Hikmet Budak, Melda Kantar, and Kuaybe Yucebilgili Kurtoglu Copyright © 2013 Hikmet Budak et al. All rights reserved. Physiological and Biochemical Responses of Ulva prolifera and Ulva linza to Cadmium Stress Wed, 06 Mar 2013 15:14:58 +0000 Responses of Ulva prolifera and Ulva linza to Cd2+ stress were studied. We found that the relative growth rate (RGR), Fv/Fm, and actual photochemical efficiency of PSII (Yield) of two Ulvaspecies were decreased under Cd2+ treatments, and these reductions were greater in U. prolifera than in U. linza. U. prolifera accumulated more cadmium than U. linza under Cd2+ stress. While U. linza showed positive osmotic adjustment ability (OAA) at a wider Cd2+ range than U. prolifera. U. linza had greater contents of N, P, Na+, K+, and amino acids than U. prolifera. A range of parameters (concentrations of cadmium, Ca2+, N, P, K+, Cl−, free amino acids (FAAs), proline, organic acids and soluble protein, Fv/Fm, Yield, OAA, and K+/Na+) could be used to evaluate cadmium resistance in Ulva by correlation analysis. In accordance with the order of the absolute values of correlation coefficient, contents of Cd2+ and K+, Yield, proline content, Fv/Fm, FAA content, and OAA value of Ulva were more highly related to their adaptation to Cd2+ than the other eight indices. Thus, U. linza has a better adaptation to Cd2+ than U. prolifera, which was due mainly to higher nutrient content and stronger OAA and photosynthesis in U. linza. He-ping Jiang, Bing-bing Gao, Wen-hui Li, Ming Zhu, Chun-fang Zheng, Qing-song Zheng, and Chang-hai Wang Copyright © 2013 He-ping Jiang et al. All rights reserved. Evolutionary Relationship between Two Firefly Species, Curtos costipennis and C. okinawanus (Coleoptera, Lampyridae), in the Ryukyu Islands of Japan Revealed by the Mitochondrial and Nuclear DNA Sequences Wed, 02 May 2012 11:43:10 +0000 The phylogenetic relationship, biogeography, and evolutionary history of closely related two firefly species, Curtos costipennis and C. okinawanus, distributed in the Ryukyu Islands of Japan were examined based on nucleotide sequences of mitochondrial (2.2 kb long) and nuclear (1.1-1.2 kb long) DNAs. In these analyses, individuals were divided among three genetically distinct local groups, C. costipennis in the Amami region, C. okinawanus in the Okinawa region, and C. costipennis in the Sakishima region. Their mtDNA sequences suggested that ancestral C. costipennis population was first separated between the Central and Southern Ryukyu areas, and the northern half was then subdivided between C. costipennis in the Amami and C. okinawanus in the Okinawa. The application of the molecular evolutionary clocks of coleopteran insects indicated that their vicariance occurred 1.0–1.4 million years ago, suggesting the influence of submergence and subdivision of a paleopeninsula extending between the Ryukyu Islands and continental China through Taiwan in the early Pleistocene. Masahiko Muraji, Norio Arakaki, and Shigeo Tanizaki Copyright © 2012 Masahiko Muraji et al. All rights reserved. Some Problems in Proving the Existence of the Universal Common Ancestor of Life on Earth Mon, 30 Apr 2012 15:24:24 +0000 Although overwhelming circumstantial evidence supports the existence of the universal common ancestor of all extant life on Earth, it is still an open question whether the universal common ancestor existed or not. Theobald (Nature 465, 219–222 (2010)) recently challenged this problem with a formal statistical test applied to aligned sequences of conservative proteins sampled from all domains of life and concluded that the universal common ancestor hypothesis holds. However, we point out that there is a fundamental flaw in Theobald's method which used aligned sequences. We show that the alignment gives a strong bias for the common ancestor hypothesis, and we provide an example that Theobald's method supports a common ancestor hypothesis for two apparently unrelated families of protein-encoding sequences (cytb and nd2 of mitochondria). This arouses suspicion about the effectiveness of the “formal” test. Takahiro Yonezawa and Masami Hasegawa Copyright © 2012 Takahiro Yonezawa and Masami Hasegawa. All rights reserved. Genetic Diversity and Variability in Endangered Pantesco and Two Other Sicilian Donkey Breeds Assessed by Microsatellite Markers Sun, 29 Apr 2012 13:48:38 +0000 The genetic variability of Pantesco and other two Sicilian autochthonous donkey breeds (Ragusano and Grigio Siciliano) was assessed using a set of 14 microsatellites. The main goals were to describe the current differentiation among the breeds and to provide genetic information useful to safeguard the Pantesco breed as well as to manage Ragusano and Grigio Siciliano. In the whole sample, that included 108 donkeys representative of the three populations, a total of 85 alleles were detected. The mean number of alleles was lower in Pantesco (3.7), than in Grigio Siciliano and Ragusano (4.4 and 5.9, resp.). The three breeds showed a quite low level of gene diversity (He) ranging from 0.471 in Pantesco to 0.589 in Grigio. The overall genetic differentiation index (Fst) was quite high; more than 10% of the diversity was found among breeds. Reynolds’ (ūĚź∑ūĚĎÖ) genetic distances, correspondence, and population structure analysis reproduced the same picture, revealing that, (a) Pantesco breed is the most differentiated in the context of the Sicilian indigenous breeds, (b) within Ragusano breed, two well-defined subgroups were observed. This information is worth of further investigation in order to provide suitable data for conservation strategies. Salvatore Bordonaro, Anna Maria Guastella, Andrea Criscione, Antonio Zuccaro, and Donata Marletta Copyright © 2012 Salvatore Bordonaro et al. All rights reserved. Genetic Variation and Population Structure in Jamunapari Goats Using Microsatellites, Mitochondrial DNA, and Milk Protein Genes Thu, 19 Apr 2012 13:48:18 +0000 Jamunapari, a dairy goat breed of India, has been gradually declining in numbers in its home tract over the years. We have analysed genetic variation and population history in Jamunapari goats based on 17 microsatellite loci, 2 milk protein loci, mitochondrial hypervariable region I (HVRI) sequencing, and three Y-chromosomal gene sequencing. We used the mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) mismatch distribution, microsatellite data, and bottleneck tests to infer the population history and demography. The mean number of alleles per locus was 9.0 indicating that the allelic variation was high in all the loci and the mean heterozygosity was 0.769 at nuclear loci. Although the population size is smaller than 8,000 individuals, the amount of variability both in terms of allelic richness and gene diversity was high in all the microsatellite loci except ILST 005. The gene diversity and effective number of alleles at milk protein loci were higher than the 10 other Indian goat breeds that they were compared to. Mismatch analysis was carried out and the analysis revealed that the population curve was unimodal indicating the expansion of population. The genetic diversity of Y-chromosome genes was low in the present study. The observed mean M ratio in the population was above the critical significance value (Mc) and close to one indicating that it has maintained a slowly changing population size. The mode-shift test did not detect any distortion of allele frequency and the heterozygosity excess method showed that there was no significant departure from mutation-drift equilibrium detected in the population. However, the effects of genetic bottlenecks were observed in some loci due to decreased heterozygosity and lower level of M ratio. There were two observed genetic subdivisions in the population supporting the observations of farmers in different areas. This base line information on genetic diversity, bottleneck analysis, and mismatch analysis was obtained to assist the conservation decision and management of the breed. P. K. Rout, K. Thangraj, A. Mandal, and R. Roy Copyright © 2012 P. K. Rout et al. All rights reserved. Complex Tasks Force Hand Laterality and Technological Behaviour in Naturalistically Housed Chimpanzees: Inferences in Hominin Evolution Sun, 01 Apr 2012 09:14:03 +0000 Clear hand laterality patterns in humans are widely accepted. However, humans only elicit a significant hand laterality pattern when performing complementary role differentiation (CRD) tasks. Meanwhile, hand laterality in chimpanzees is weaker and controversial. Here we have reevaluated our results on hand laterality in chimpanzees housed in naturalistic environments at Fundaci√≥ Mona (Spain) and Chimfunshi Wild Orphanage (Zambia). Our results show that the difference between hand laterality in humans and chimpanzees is not as great as once thought. Furthermore, we found a link between hand laterality and task complexity and also an even more interesting connection: CRD tasks elicited not only the hand laterality but also the use of tools. This paper aims to turn attention to the importance of this threefold connection in human evolution: the link between CRD tasks, hand laterality, and tool use, which has important evolutionary implications that may explain the development of complex behaviour in early hominins. M. Mosquera, N. Gerib√†s, A. Bargall√≥, M. Llorente, and D. Riba Copyright ¬© 2012 M. Mosquera et al. All rights reserved. Developmental Principles: Fact or Fiction Wed, 15 Feb 2012 12:39:18 +0000 While still at school, most of us are deeply impressed by the underlying principles that so beautifully explain why the chemical elements are ordered as they are in the periodic table, and may wonder, with the theoretician Brian Goodwin, “whether there might be equally powerful principles that account for the awe-inspiring diversity of body forms in the living realm”. We have considered the arguments for developmental principles, conclude that they do exist and have specifically identified features that may generate principles associated with Hox patterning of the main body axis in bilaterian metazoa in general and in the vertebrates in particular. We wonder whether this exercise serves any purpose. The features we discuss were already known to us as parts of developmental mechanisms and defining developmental principles (how, and at which level?) adds no insight. We also see little profit in the proposal by Goodwin that there are principles outside the emerging genetic mechanisms that need to be taken into account. The emerging developmental genetic hierarchies already reveal a wealth of interesting phenomena, whatever we choose to call them. A. J. Durston Copyright © 2012 A. J. Durston. All rights reserved. Evolutionary Explanations of the “Actuarial Senescence in the Wild” and of the “State of Senility” Mon, 01 Jan 1900 00:00:00 +0000 A large set of data suggests that progressive reduction of fitness and senile decay in vertebrates are in correlation with the decline of cell replication capacities. However, the limits in such capacities are hardly explained in evolutionarily terms by current gerontological theories that rule out fitness decline as something genetically determined and regulated, and therefore somehow favored by natural selection.Four theories are tested as possible explanations of the “increasing mortality with increasing chronological age in populations in the wild” (“IMICAW”[1]), alias “actuarial senescence in the wild”[2], and of the observed negative correlation between extrinsic mortality and the ratio between deaths due to intrinsic mortality and deaths due to extrinsic mortality. Only the theory attributing an adaptive value to IMICAW allows an evolutionary explanation for it and for the aforesaid inverse correlation, while the other three theories (“mutation accumulation”, “antagonistic pleiotropy”, and “disposable soma” th.) even predict a positive correlation.Afterwards, the same theories are tested as possible explanations for the “state of senility”[3], namely the deteriorated state of individuals in artificially protected conditions (captivity, civilization, etc.) at ages rarely or never observable in the wild. With the distinction between “damage resulting from intrinsic living processes”[4], alias “age changes”[5], and “age-associated diseases”[4,5], the same theory explaining IMICAW allows a rational interpretation of the first category of phenomena while another theory, the “mutation accumulation” hypothesis, gives an immediate interpretation for the second category.The current gerontological paradigm explaining the increasing mortality with increasing chronological age as consequence of insufficient selection should be restricted to the “age-associated diseases”. For IMICAW, it should be substituted with the concept of a physiologic phenomenon genetically determined by a balance of opposite selective pressures — strictly in terms of kin selection — and, for “age changes”, with the action of the same IMICAW-causing mechanisms at ages when selection becomes ineffective. Giacinto Libertini Copyright © 2006 Giacinto¬†Libertini. All rights reserved. Cytochromes P450, Oxygen, and Evolution Mon, 01 Jan 1900 00:00:00 +0000 The role of the cytochrome P450 superfamily of heme-thiolate enzymes in oxidative metabolism is discussed in the context of evolutionary development. Concordances between the rise in atmospheric oxygen content, elaboration of the P450 phylogenetic tree and the accepted timescale for the emergence of animal phyla are described. The unique ability of the P450 monooxygenase system to activate molecular oxygen via the consecutive input of two reducing equivalents is explored, such that the possibility of oxygen radical generation and its toxic consequences can be explained in mechanistic terms, together with an appreciation of the ways in which this oxygen activating ability has been utilized by evolving biological systems in their adaptation to an increasing atmospheric oxygen concentration over the past two billon years. David F.V. Lewis and Grainné Sheridan Copyright ¬© 2001 David F.V. Lewis and Grainn Sheridan. All rights reserved. Evolutionary Theories of Aging and Longevity Mon, 01 Jan 1900 00:00:00 +0000 The purpose of this article is to provide students and researchers entering the field of aging studies with an introduction to the evolutionary theories of aging, as well as to orient them in the abundant modern scientific literature on evolutionary gerontology. The following three major evolutionary theories of aging are discussed: 1) the theory of programmed death suggested by August Weismann, 2) the mutation accumulation theory of aging suggested by Peter Medawar, and 3) the antagonistic pleiotropy theory of aging suggested by George Williams. We also discuss a special case of the antagonistic pleiotropy theory, the disposable soma theory developed by Tom Kirkwood and Robin Holliday. The theories are compared with each other as well as with recent experimental findings. At present the most viable evolutionary theories are the mutation accumulation theory and the antagonistic pleiotropy theory; these theories are not mutually exclusive, and they both may become a part of a future unifying theory of aging. Leonid A. Gavrilov and Natalia S. Gavrilova Copyright ¬© 2002 Leonid A. Gavrilov and Natalia S. Gavrilova. All rights reserved. Ovarian Abnormalities in the Staggerer Mutant Mouse Mon, 01 Jan 1900 00:00:00 +0000 Disturbances in several reproductive functions of the staggerer cerebellar mutant mouse have been observed. In this study, reproductive efficiency of staggerer mice was compared to normal mice by recording the number of pups produced and the number of oocytes occurring. It was found that staggerer mothers produced smaller litters than controls and the number of oocytes produced in their ovaries was reduced by the staggerer mutation. These results indicate a pleiotropic effect on fertility of the Rorasg gene underlying the cerebellar abnormalities of the staggerer mutant. Jean-Marie Guastavino, Salima Boufares, and Wim E. Crusio Copyright ¬© 2005 Jean-Marie Guastavino et al. All rights reserved. Empirical Evidence for Various Evolutionary Hypotheses on Species Demonstrating Increasing Mortality with Increasing Chronological Age in the Wild Mon, 01 Jan 1900 00:00:00 +0000 Many species show a significant increase in mortality with increasing chronological age in the wild. For this phenomenon, three possible general hypotheses are proposed, namely that: (1) it has no adaptive meaning; (2) it has an adaptive meaning; (3) the ancestry is the pivotal determinant. These hypotheses are evaluated according to their consistency with the empirical evidence. In particular, (1) the existence of many species with a constant, or almost constant, mortality rate, especially the so-called “animals with negligible senescence”; (2) the inverse correlation, observed in mammals and birds in the wild, between extrinsic mortality and the proportion of deaths due to intrinsic mortality; (3) the existence of highly sophisticated, genetically determined, and regulated mechanisms that limit and modulate cell duplication capacities and overall cell functionality. On the whole, the hypothesis of an adaptive meaning appears to be consistent with the empirical evidence, while the other two hypotheses hardly appear compatible. Giacinto Libertini Copyright © 2008 Giacinto¬†Libertini. All rights reserved. Quality of Life Theory II. Quality of Life as the Realization of Life Potential: A Biological Theory of Human Being Mon, 01 Jan 1900 00:00:00 +0000 This review presents one of the eight theories of the quality of life (QOL) used for making the SEQOL (self-evaluation of quality of life) questionnaire or the quality of life as realizing life potential. This theory is strongly inspired by Maslow and the review furthermore serves as an example on how to fulfill the demand for an overall theory of life (or philosophy of life), which we believe is necessary for global and generic quality-of-life research.Whereas traditional medical science has often been inspired by mechanical models in its attempts to understand human beings, this theory takes an explicitly biological starting point. The purpose is to take a close view of life as a unique entity, which mechanical models are unable to do. This means that things considered to be beyond the individual's purely biological nature, notably the quality of life, meaning in life, and aspirations in life, are included under this wider, biological treatise. Our interpretation of the nature of all living matter is intended as an alternative to medical mechanism, which dates back to the beginning of the 20th century. New ideas such as the notions of the human being as nestled in an evolutionary and ecological context, the spontaneous tendency of self-organizing systems for realization and concord, and the central role of consciousness in interpreting, planning, and expressing human reality are unavoidable today in attempts to scientifically understand all living matter, including human life. Soren Ventegodt, Joav Merrick, and Niels Jorgen Andersen Copyright ¬© 2003 Soren Ventegodt et al. All rights reserved. The Astronomical Pulse of Global Extinction Events Mon, 01 Jan 1900 00:00:00 +0000 The linkage between astronomical cycles and the periodicity of mass extinctions is reviewed and discussed. In particular, the apparent 26 million year cycle of global extinctions may be related to the motion of the solar system around the galaxy, especially perpendicular to the galactic plane. The potential relevance of Milankovitch cycles is also explored in the light of current evidence for the possible causes of extinction events over a geological timescale. David F.V. Lewis and Jean-Lou C.M. Dorne Copyright ¬© 2006 David F.V. Lewis and Jean-Lou C.M. Dorne. All rights reserved. Human Development X: Explanation of Macroevolution ¬ó Top-Down Evolution Materializes Consciousness. The Origin of Metamorphosis Mon, 01 Jan 1900 00:00:00 +0000 In this paper, we first give a short discussion of the macroevolution viewing life as information-directed, complex, dynamic systems. On this basis, we give our explanation of the origin of life and discuss the top-down evolution of molecules, proteins, and macroevolution. We discuss these subjects according to our new holistic biological paradigm. In view of this, we discuss the macroevolution of the organism, the species, the biosphere, and human society. After this, we discuss the shift in evolution from natural selection to a new proposed process of nature called the ¬ďmetamorphous top-down¬Ē evolution. We discuss the capability of the evolutionary shift to govern some of the processes that lead to the formation of new species. We discuss the mechanisms we think are behind this proposed shift in evolution and conclude that this event is able to explain the huge biological diversity of nature in combination with evolutionary natural selection. We also discuss this event of nature as an isolated, but integrated, part of the universe. We propose the most important genetic and biochemical process that we think is behind the evolutionary shift as a complicated symbiosis of mechanisms leading to metamorphosis in all biological individuals, from bacteria to humans. The energetic superorbital that manifests the consciousness governs all these processes through quantum chemical activity. This is the key to evolutionary shift through the consciousness, and we propose to call this process ¬ďadult human metamorphosis¬Ē. Tyge Dahl Hermansen, S√łren Ventegodt, and Joav Merrick Copyright ¬© 2006 Tyge Dahl Hermansen et al. All rights reserved. The Origin of Individual Differences in the Course and Severity of Diseases Mon, 01 Jan 1900 00:00:00 +0000 Any disease manifests itself individually either by a bright or restricted spectrum of clinical signs and resultant clinical courses that range from asymptomatic to deadly, from acute to chronic, etc. Until recently, the origin of this kind of biodiversity was poorly investigated and understood, but advances in immunology — especially in identifying constitutional (genetic) mechanisms of immunity — have contributed to our understanding of the origin of individual diversity in diseases. Any disease destroys only focal areas in the affected organisms, and the amounts, sizes, and distribution of such focal lesions vary from patient to patient. In a population predilected to a relevant pathogenic agent, individuals can be conveniently divided into three categories: totally resistant organisms that contain no susceptible structures and are not affected; mildly susceptible organisms in which a few foci appear and in which the disease runs a benign course; organisms in which the number of constitutionally susceptible structures is high and the disease develops in a severe form. The diversity is formed by the mating of genetically different parents that determines the differences in susceptibility of genetically various parts of the descendant organism. Sergey N. Rumyantsev Copyright © 2006 Sergey N.¬†Rumyantsev. All rights reserved. The Evolution of Sensory Placodes Mon, 01 Jan 1900 00:00:00 +0000 The vertebrate cranial sensory placodes are ectodermal embryonic patches that give rise to sensory receptor cells of the peripheral paired sense organs and to neurons in the cranial sensory ganglia. Their differentiation and the genetic pathways that underlay their development are now well understood. Their evolutionary history, however, has remained obscure. Recent molecular work, performed on close relatives of the vertebrates, demonstrated that some sensory placodes (namely the adenohypophysis, the olfactory, and accoustico-lateralis placodes) first evolved at the base of the chordate lineage, while others might be specific to vertebrates. Combined with morphological and cellular fate data, these results also suggest that the sensory placodes of the ancestor of all chordates differentiated into a wide range of structures, most likely to fit the lifestyle and environment of each species. Francoise Mazet Copyright © 2006 Francoise¬†Mazet. All rights reserved.