Publication about genetic diversity within phytophagous mites belonging to Abacarus genus

The article about genetic and host differentiation within the complex of phytophagous species belonging to Abacarus genus, authored by members of our Lab, was published in Experimental and Applied Acarology. The molecular analyses indicate that there may be at least several new species within the complex, that are awaiting formal description. One of them, Abacarus plumiger inhabiting smooth brome, has been described in this article.

More info: Laska A., Majer A., Szydło W., Karpicka-Ignatowska K., Hornyák M., Labrzycka A., Skoracka A. 2018. Cryptic diversity within grass-associated Abacarus species complex (Acariformes: Eriophyidae), with the description of a new species, Abacarus plumiger n. sp. Experimental and Applied Acarology, 1-28. doi.org/10.1007/s10493-018-0291-6

Genetic diversification and evolution of host usage in an invasive mite

An article co-authored by Anna Skoracka, Lechosław Kuczyński, Agnieszka Majer and Wiktoria Szydło, about the genetic structure within species complex of phytophagous mite, Aceria tosichella, was published in BMC Evolutionary Biology.

Mites belonging to the complex Aceria tosichella (wheat curl mite, WCM) are major pests of the world’s grain industry and our aim was to identify the factors behind its extensive diversification. We demonstrated unusually deep lineage diversification within the taxon. Using time-calibrated phylogenetic reconstruction we showed that lineage diversification pre-dates the influence of agricultural practices, and lineages started to radiate in the mid‑Miocene when major radiation of C4 grasses is known to have occurred. Furthermore, we showed that host generalization coincided with the expansion of the world’s grasslands in Pliocene. The genetic structure and evolutionary history of WCM lineages indicate their great colonization potential.

The study was done in cooperation with the University of Lisbon (Portugal) and University of Deakin (Australia).

More info:

Skoracka A., Lopes L. F., Alves M. J., Miller A., Lewandowski M., Szydło W., Majer A., Różańska E. i Kuczyński L. 2018. Genetics of lineage diversification and the evolution of host usage in the economically important wheat curl mite, Aceria tosichella Keifer, 1969. BMC Evolutionary Biology 18: 122, doi.org/10.1186/s12862-018-1234-x

New publications about mites transferring plant viruses

Review papers, co-authored by Anna Skoracka, about relationships between the mite Aceria tosichella, its main host: wheat, and the viruses that the mite transmits were published in Molecular Plant Pathology and Frontiers in Plant Science

The mite Aceria tosichella (wheat curl mite, WCM) in the interaction with the virus causes considerable yield losses worldwide. The challenge of effectively managing this pest-virus complex is exacerbated by the existence of divergent WCM lineages that differ in host colonization and virus transmission abilities. In these publications, there is highlighted research progress in mite ecology and virus epidemiology that affects management and development of cereal cultivars with WCM- and virus-resistance genes. The potential application of molecular methods (e.g., transcriptomics, epigenetics, and whole-genome sequencing) are proposed to understand the chemical and cellular interface between the wheat plant and WCM-viruses complexes.

The publications were prepared in cooperation with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, USA and Crop Research Institute, Czech Republic.

More info:

Skoracka A., Rector B. G., Hein G., L. 2018. The interface between wheat and the wheat curl mite, Aceria tosichella, the primary vector of globally important viral diseases. Frontiers in Plant Science 9 (1098), 1-8; DOI: 10.3389/fpls.2018.01098

Singh K., Wegulo S. N., Skoracka A., Kundu J. K. Wheat streak mosaic virus: a century-old virus with rising importance worldwide. Molecular Plant Pathology 19(9): 2193-2206; DOI: 10.1111/mpp.12683

National Science Centre grant for Agnieszka

Agnieszka Majer received Etiuda grant from National Science Centre in Poland to study mechanisms of dispersal in phytophagous mites and for 3-months scholarship in the University of Lisbon. Congratulations!

Divergence in nightingales

An article, co-authored by Lechosław Kuczyński, was published in the latest issue of Journal of Evolutionary Biology.

Photo: Cezary Korkosz

Using data collected in a secondary contact zone of two hybridizing songbirds: the Common Nightingale (Luscinia megarhynchos) and the Thrush Nightingale (Luscinia luscinia), we looked for associations between habitat use and bill morphology. In line with our previous results (https://doi.org/10.1111/1365-2656.12808), we found that the two nightingale species differ in habitat use in allotopic but not in syntopic sites. Moreover, birds from allotopic sites showed higher interspecific divergence in relative bill size compared to birds from syntopic sites. Our results are consistent with the view that interspecific competition in nightingales has resulted in partial habitat segregation in sympatry and that the habitat‐specific food supply has in turn very likely led to bill size divergence.

The study was done in cooperation with the Charles University in Prague, Czech Republic.

More info:

Sottas C. , Reif J. , Kuczyński L. and Reifová R. 2018. Interspecific competition promotes habitat and morphological divergence in a secondary contact zone between two hybridizing songbirds. Journal of Evolutionary Biology, 31: 914-923, DOI: 10.1111/jeb.13275

National Science Centre grant for Ala

Alicja Laska received Preludium grant from National Science Centre in Poland to study host specialization-generalization trade-offs in wheat curl mite Aceria tosichella. Congratulations!   Project’s abstract

How do birds avoid their competitors?

Our recent paper published in the Journal of Animal Ecology shows how birds avoid their sibling-species competitors.

Photo: Cezary Korkosz

We used data on abundance of two closely related passerine species, the Common Nightingale (Luscinia megarhynchos) and the Thrush Nightingale (Luscinia luscinia), collected across their syntopy, allotopy and allopatry. We found that interspecific competition gave marked imprints on patterns in habitat preferences of these two species. Whereas they preferred the same habitats in allopatry, their preferences became strikingly different in allotopy within sympatry where the abundance of the Common Nightingale increased towards dry and warm sites with low coverage of pastures, while the abundance of the Thrush Nightingale showed exactly opposite trends. It seems that both species “escape” from competition to allotopic sites covered by habitats avoided by the competitor. Therefore, we argue that the interspecific competition is an important driver of species’ distribution and habitat preference is variable across space and depends on the context created by biotic interactions.

The study was done in cooperation with the Charles University in Prague, Czech Republic. Bird data were collected by skilled volunteers within the Common Breeding Bird Survey in Poland.

More info:

https://doi.org/10.1111/1365-2656.12808

https://journalofanimalecology.wordpress.com/2018/03/21/how-do-birds-avoid-their-sibling-species-competitors/

Prestigious Scholarship for Agnieszka!

Agnieszka Majer was awarded the dr. Jan Kulczyk scholarship for scientific record! This scholarship is dedicated to outstanding PhD students and is highly competitive. Congratulations!

Scholarship for Agnieszka!

Agnieszka Majer was awarded the Rector of Adam Mickiewicz University scholarship for the scientific record in 2016. Congratulations!

For information about the research conducted by Agnieszka please visit this site: Dispersal strategies