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Prenatal adversity shapes child neurodevelopment and risk for later mental health problems. The quality of the early care environment can buffer some of the negative effects of prenatal adversity on child development. Retrospective studies, in adult samples, highlight epigenetic modifications as sentinel markers of the quality of the early care environment; however, comparable data from pediatric cohorts are lacking. Participants were drawn from the Maternal Adversity Vulnerability and Neurodevelopment (MAVAN) study, a longitudinal cohort with measures of infant attachment, infant development, and child mental health. Children provided buccal epithelial samples (mean age = 6.99, SD = 1.33 years, n = 226), which were used for analyses of genome-wide DNA methylation and genetic variation. We used a series of linear models to describe the association between infant attachment and (a) measures of child outcome and (b) DNA methylation across the genome. Paired genetic data was used to determine the genetic contribution to DNA methylation at attachment-associated sites. Infant attachment style was associated with infant cognitive development (Mental Development Index) and behavior (Behavior Rating Scale) assessed with the Bayley Scales of Infant Development at 36 months. Infant attachment style moderated the effects of prenatal adversity on Behavior Rating Scale scores at 36 months. Infant attachment was also significantly associated with a principal component that accounted for 11.9% of the variation in genome-wide DNA methylation. These effects were most apparent when comparing children with a secure versus a disorganized attachment style and most pronounced in females. The availability of paired genetic data revealed that DNA methylation at approximately half of all infant attachment-associated sites was best explained by considering both infant attachment and child genetic variation. This study provides further evidence that infant attachment can buffer some of the negative effects of early adversity on measures of infant behavior. We also highlight the interplay between infant attachment and child genotype in shaping variation in DNA methylation. Such findings provide preliminary evidence for a molecular signature of infant attachment and may help inform attachment-focused early intervention programs.
The placement of angiosperms and Gnetales in seed plant phylogeny remains one of the most enigmatic problems in plant evolution, with morphological analyses (which have usually included fossils) and molecular analyses pointing to very distinct topologies. Almost all morphology-based phylogenies group angiosperms with Gnetales and certain extinct seed plant lineages, while most molecular phylogenies link Gnetales with conifers. In this study, we investigate the phylogenetic signal present in published seed plant morphological data sets. We use parsimony, Bayesian inference, and maximum-likelihood approaches, combined with a number of experiments with the data, to address the morphological–molecular conflict. First, we ask whether the lack of association of Gnetales with conifers in morphological analyses is due to an absence of signal or to the presence of competing signals, and second, we compare the performance of parsimony and model-based approaches with morphological data sets. Our results imply that the grouping of Gnetales and angiosperms is largely the result of long-branch attraction (LBA), consistent across a range of methodological approaches. Thus, there is a signal for the grouping of Gnetales with conifers in morphological matrices, but it was swamped by convergence between angiosperms and Gnetales, both situated on long branches. However, this effect becomes weaker in more recent analyses, as a result of addition and critical reassessment of characters. Even when a clade including angiosperms and Gnetales is still weakly supported by parsimony, model-based approaches favor a clade of Gnetales and conifers, presumably because they are more resistant to LBA. Inclusion of fossil taxa weakens rather than strengthens support for a relationship of angiosperms and Gnetales. Our analyses finally reconcile morphology with molecules in favoring a relationship of Gnetales to conifers, and show that morphology may therefore be useful in reconstructing other aspects of the phylogenetic history of the seed plants.
Architecture and the Origins of Preclassic Maya Politics highlights the dramatic changes in the relationship of ancient Maya peoples to the landscape and to each other in the Preclassical period (ca. 2000 BC–250 AD). Offering a comprehensive history of Preclassic Maya society, James Doyle focuses on recent discoveries of early writing, mural painting, stone monuments, and evidence of divine kingship that have reshaped our understanding of cultural developments in the first millennium BC. He also addresses one of the crucial concerns of contemporary archaeology: the emergence of political authorities and their subjects in early complex polities. Doyle shows how architectural trends in the Maya Lowlands in the Preclassic period exhibit the widespread cross-cultural link between monumental architecture of imposing intent, human collaboration, and urbanism.
Better understanding of the functional biology of early angiosperms may clarify ecological factors surrounding their origin and early radiation. Phylogenetic studies identify Amborella, Nymphaeales (water lilies), Austrobaileyales, and Chloranthaceae as extant lineages that branched before the radiation of core angiosperms. Among living plants, these lineages may represent the best models for the ecology and physiology of early angiosperms. Here we combine phylogenetic reconstruction with new data on the morphology and ecophysiology of these plants to infer early angiosperm function. With few exceptions, Amborella, Austrobaileyales, and Chloranthaceae share ecophysiological traits associated with shady, disturbed, and wet habitats. These features include low and easily light-saturated photosynthetic rates, leaf anatomy related to the capture of understory light, small seed size, and clonal reproduction. Some Chloranthaceae, however, possess higher photosynthetic capacities and seedlings that recruit in canopy gaps and other sunny, disturbed habitats, which may have allowed Cretaceous Chloranthaceae to expand into more diverse environments. In contrast, water lilies possess ecophysiological features linked to aquatic, sunny habitats, such as absence of a vascular cambium, ventilating stems and roots, and floating leaves tuned for high photosynthetic rates in full sun. Nymphaeales may represent an early radiation into such aquatic environments. We hypothesize that the earliest angiosperms were woody plants that grew in dimly lit, disturbed forest understory habitats and/or shady streamside settings. This ecology may have restricted the diversity of pre-Aptian angiosperms and living basal lineages. The vegetative flexibility that evolved in the understory, however, may have been a key factor in their diversification in other habitats. Our inferences based on living plants are consistent with many aspects of the Early Cretaceous fossil record and can be tested with further study of the anatomy, chemistry, and sedimentological context of Early Cretaceous angiosperm fossils.