Mosaic and concerted evolution in the visual system of birds

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Gutierrez-Ibanez, Cristian I.
Iwaniuk, Andrew N.
Moore, Bret A.
Fernandez-Juricic, Esteban
Corfield, Jeremy R.
Krilow, Justin M.
Kolominsky, Jeffrey
Wylie, Douglas R.
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Public Library of Science
Two main models have been proposed to explain how the relative size of neural structures varies through evolution. In the mosaic evolution model, individual brain structures vary in size independently of each other, whereas in the concerted evolution model developmental constraints result in different parts of the brain varying in size in a coordinated manner. Several studies have shown variation of the relative size of individual nuclei in the vertebrate brain, but it is currently not known if nuclei belonging to the same functional pathway vary independently of each other or in a concerted manner. The visual system of birds offers an ideal opportunity to specifically test which of the two models apply to an entire sensory pathway. Here, we examine the relative size of 9 different visual nuclei across 98 species of birds. This includes data on interspecific variation in the cytoarchitecture and relative size of the isthmal nuclei, which has not been previously reported. We also use a combination of statistical analyses, phylogenetically corrected principal component analysis and evolutionary rates of change on the absolute and relative size of the nine nuclei, to test if visual nuclei evolved in a concerted or mosaic manner. Our results strongly indicate a combination of mosaic and concerted evolution (in the relative size of nine nuclei) within the avian visual system. Specifically, the relative size of the isthmal nuclei and parts of the tectofugal pathway covary across species in a concerted fashion, whereas the relative volume of the other visual nuclei measured vary independently of one another, such as that predicted by the mosaic model. Our results suggest the covariation of different neural structures depends not only on the functional connectivity of each nucleus, but also on the diversity of afferents and efferents of each nucleus.
Sherpa Romeo green journal: open access
Avian visual system , Visual system of birds , Mosaic evolution model , Concerted evolution model , Visual nuclei , Isthmal nuclei
Gutierrez-Ibanez, C. I., Iwaniuk, A. N., Moore, B. A., Fernandez-Juricic, E., Corfield, J. R., Krilow, J. M., ... & Wylie, D. R. (2014). Mosaic and concerted evolution in the visual system of birds. PLoS ONE, 9(3), e90102. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0090102