model organisms
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2025 ◽  
Vol 74 (10) ◽  
pp. 6140-2025

Insects perfectly fit the flagship principle of animal research – 3R: to reduce (the number of animals), to replace (animals with alternative models) and to refine (methods). Bees have the most important advantages of a model organism: they cause minimal ethical controversy, they have a small and fully known genome, and they permit the use of many experimental techniques. Bees have a fully functional DNMT toolkit. Therefore, they are used as models in biomedical/genetic research, e.g. in research on the development of cancer or in the diagnostics of mental and neuroleptic diseases in humans. The reversion of aging processes in bees offers hope for progress in gerontology research. The cellular mechanisms of learning and memory coding, as well as the indicators of biochemical immunity parameters, are similar or analogous to those in humans, so bees may become useful in monitoring changes in behavior and metabolism. Bees are very well suited for studies on the dose of the substance applied to determine the lethal dose or the effect of a formula on life expectancy. Honeybees have proven to be an effective tool for studying the effects of a long-term consumption of stimulants, as well as for observing behavioral changes and developing addictions at the individual and social levels, as well as for investigating the effects of continuously delivering the same dose of a substance. The genomic and physiological flexibility of bees in dividing tasks among workers in a colony makes it possible to create a Single- Cohort Colony (SCC) in which peers compared perform different tasks. Moreover behavioral methods (e.g. Proboscis Extension Reflex – PER, Sting Extension Reflex – SER, free flying target discrimination tasks or the cap pushing response) make it possible to analyse changes occurring in honeybee brains during learning and remembering. Algorithms of actions are created based on the behavior of a colony or individual, e.g. Artificial Bee Colony Algorithm (ABCA). Honeybees are also model organisms for profiling the so-called intelligence of a swarm or collective intelligence. Additionally, they serve as models for guidance systems and aviation technologies. Bees have inspired important projects in robotics, such as B-droid, Robobee and The Green Brain Project. It has also been confirmed that the apian sense of smell can be used to detect explosive devices, such as TNT, or drugs (including heroin, cocaine, amphetamines and cannabis). This inconspicuous little insect can revolutionize the world of science and contribute to the solution of many scientific problems as a versatile model.

Brent Shuman ◽  
Michelle Momany

Septin GTPases form nonpolar heteropolymers that play important roles in cytokinesis and other cellular processes. The ability to form heteropolymers appears to be critical to many septin functions and to have been a major driver of the high conservation of many septin domains. Septins fall into five orthologous groups. Members of Groups 1–4 interact with each other to form heterooligomers and are known as the “core septins.” Representative core septins are present in all fungi and animals so far examined and show positional orthology with monomer location in the heteropolymer conserved within groups. In contrast, members of Group 5 are not part of canonical heteropolymers and appear to interact only transiently, if at all, with core septins. Group 5 septins have a spotty distribution, having been identified in specific fungi, ciliates, chlorophyte algae, and brown algae. In this review we compare the septins from nine well-studied model organisms that span the tree of life (Homo sapiens, Drosophila melanogaster, Schistosoma mansoni, Caenorhabditis elegans, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, Aspergillus nidulans, Magnaporthe oryzae, Tetrahymena thermophila, and Chlamydomonas reinhardtii). We focus on classification, evolutionary relationships, conserved motifs, interfaces between monomers, and positional orthology within heteropolymers. Understanding the relationships of septins across kingdoms can give new insight into their functions.

2022 ◽  
Vol 12 ◽  
David Navarro-Payá ◽  
Antonio Santiago ◽  
Luis Orduña ◽  
Chen Zhang ◽  
Alessandra Amato ◽  

Effective crop improvement, whether through selective breeding or biotech strategies, is largely dependent on the cumulative knowledge of a species’ pangenome and its containing genes. Acquiring this knowledge is specially challenging in grapevine, one of the oldest fruit crops grown worldwide, which is known to have more than 30,000 genes. Well-established research communities studying model organisms have created and maintained, through public and private funds, a diverse range of online tools and databases serving as repositories of genomes and gene function data. The lack of such resources for the non-model, but economically important, Vitis vinifera species has driven the need for a standardised collection of genes within the grapevine community. In an effort led by the Integrape COST Action CA17111, we have recently developed the first grape gene reference catalogue, where genes are ascribed to functional data, including their accession identifiers from different genome-annotation versions ( We present and discuss this gene repository together with a validation-level scheme based on varied supporting evidence found in current literature. The catalogue structure and online submission form provided permits community curation. Finally, we present the Gene Cards tool, developed within the Vitis Visualization (VitViz) platform, to visualize the data collected in the catalogue and link gene function with tissue-specific expression derived from public transcriptomic data. This perspective article aims to present these resources to the community as well as highlight their potential use, in particular for plant-breeding applications.

eLife ◽  
2022 ◽  
Vol 11 ◽  
Sarah E Westrick ◽  
Mara Laslo ◽  
Eva Fischer

The Puerto Rican coquí frog Eleutherodactylus coqui (E. coqui) is both a cultural icon and a species with an unusual natural history that has attracted attention from researchers in a number of different fields within biology. Unlike most frogs, the coquí frog skips the tadpole stage, which makes it of interest to developmental biologists. The frog is best known in Puerto Rico for its notoriously loud mating call, which has allowed researchers to study aspects of social behavior such as vocal communication and courtship, while the ability of coquí to colonize new habitats has been used to explore the biology of invasive species. This article reviews research on the natural history of E. coqui and opportunities for future research.

PLoS ONE ◽  
2022 ◽  
Vol 17 (1) ◽  
pp. e0262613
Clara Dreyling ◽  
Martin Hasselmann

The cellular energy metabolism is one of the most conserved processes, as it is present in all living organisms. Mitochondria are providing the eukaryotic cell with energy and thus their genome and gene expression has been of broad interest for a long time. Mitochondrial gene expression changes under different conditions and is regulated by genes encoded in the nucleus of the cell. In this context, little is known about non-model organisms and we provide the first large-scaled gene expression analysis of mitochondrial-linked genes in laying hens. We analysed 28 mitochondrial and nuclear genes in 100 individuals in the context of five life-stages and strain differences among five tissues. Our study showed that mitochondrial gene expression increases during the productive life span, and reacts tissue and strain specific. In addition, the strains react different to potential increased oxidative stress, resulting from the increase in mitochondrial gene expression. The results suggest that the cellular energy metabolism as part of a complex regulatory system is strongly affected by the productive life span in laying hens and thus partly comparable to model organisms. This study provides a starting point for further analyses in this field on non-model organisms, especially in laying-hens.

Bob Goldstein

Experimentally tractable organisms like C. elegans, Drosophila, zebrafish, and mouse are popular models for addressing diverse questions in biology. In 1997, two of the most valuable invertebrate model organisms to date – C. elegans and Drosophila – were found to be much more closely related to each other than expected. C. elegans and Drosophila belong to the nematodes and arthropods respectively, and these two phyla and six other phyla make up a clade of molting animals referred to as the Ecdysozoa. The other ecdysozoan phyla could be valuable models for comparative biology, taking advantage of the rich and continual sources of research findings as well as tools from both C. elegans and Drosophila. But when the Ecdysozoa was first recognized, few tools were available for laboratory studies in any of these six other ecdysozoan phyla. In 1999 I began an effort to develop tools for studying one such phylum, the tardigrades. Here, I describe how the tardigrade species Hypsibius exemplaris and tardigrades more generally have emerged over the past two decades as valuable new models for answering diverse questions. To date, these questions have included how animal body plans evolve and how biological materials can survive some remarkably extreme conditions.

2022 ◽  
Salwa Sebti ◽  
Zhongju Zou ◽  
Michael U Shiloh

Autophagy is necessary for lifespan extension in multiple model organisms and autophagy dysfunction impacts age-related phenotypes and diseases. Introduction of an F121A mutation into the essential autophagy protein BECN1 constitutively increases basal autophagy in young mice and reduces cardiac and renal age-related changes in longer-lived Becn1F121A mutant mice. However, both autophagic and lysosomal activity have been described to decline with age. Thus, whether autophagic flux is maintained during aging and whether it is enhanced in Becn1F121A mice is unknown. Here we demonstrate that old wild type mice maintained functional autophagic flux in heart, kidney and skeletal muscle but not liver, and old Becn1F121A mice had increased autophagic flux in those same organs compared to wild type. In parallel, Becn1F121A mice were not protected against age-associated hepatic phenotypes but demonstrated reduced skeletal muscle fiber atrophy. These findings identify an organ-specific role for the ability of autophagy to impact organ aging phenotypes.

mBio ◽  
2022 ◽  
Elena K. Gaidamakova ◽  
Ajay Sharma ◽  
Vera Y. Matrosova ◽  
Olga Grichenko ◽  
Robert P. Volpe ◽  

The current theory of cellular defense against oxidative damage identifies antioxidant enzymes as primary defenders against ROS, with MnSOD being the preeminent superoxide (O 2 •− ) scavenger. However, MnSOD is shown to be dispensable both for radiation resistance and longevity in model organisms, the bacterium Deinococcus radiodurans and the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans .

Madeleine F. Dwortz ◽  
James P. Curley ◽  
Kay M. Tye ◽  
Nancy Padilla-Coreano

Across species, animals organize into social dominance hierarchies that serve to decrease aggression and facilitate survival of the group. Neuroscientists have adopted several model organisms to study dominance hierarchies in the laboratory setting, including fish, reptiles, rodents and primates. We review recent literature across species that sheds light onto how the brain represents social rank to guide socially appropriate behaviour within a dominance hierarchy. First, we discuss how the brain responds to social status signals. Then, we discuss social approach and avoidance learning mechanisms that we propose could drive rank-appropriate behaviour. Lastly, we discuss how the brain represents memories of individuals (social memory) and how this may support the maintenance of unique individual relationships within a social group. This article is part of the theme issue ‘The centennial of the pecking order: current state and future prospects for the study of dominance hierarchies’.

2022 ◽  
Pilar Cacheiro ◽  
Carl Henrik Westerberg ◽  
Jesse Mager ◽  
Mary E. Dickinson ◽  
Lauryl M.J. Nutter ◽  

The diagnostic rate of Mendelian disorders in sequencing studies continues to increase, along with the pace of novel disease gene discovery. However, variant interpretation in novel genes not currently associated with disease is particularly challenging and strategies combining gene functional evidence with approaches that evaluate the phenotypic similarities between patients and model organisms have proven successful. A full spectrum of intolerance to loss-of-function variation has been previously described, providing evidence that gene essentiality should not be considered as a simple and fixed binary property. Here we further dissected this spectrum by assessing the embryonic stage at which homozygous loss-of-function results in lethality in mice from the International Mouse Phenotyping Consortium, classifying the set of lethal genes into one of three windows of lethality: early, mid or late gestation lethal. We studied the correlation between these windows of lethality and various gene features including expression across development, paralogy and constraint metrics together with human disease phenotypes, and found that the members of the early gestation lethal category show distinctive characteristics and a strong enrichment for genes linked with recessive forms of inherited metabolic disease. Based on these findings, we explored a gene similarity approach for novel gene discovery focused on this subset of lethal genes. Finally, we investigated unsolved cases from the 100,000 Genomes Project recruited under this disease category to look for signs of enrichment of biallelic predicted pathogenic variants among early gestation lethal genes and highlight two novel candidates with phenotypic overlap between the patients and the mouse knockout.

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