Why are some species of plants and animals favored by natural selection? And why does natural selection not favor other species similarly?
According to a UC Riverside-led research team, the answer lies in the rate of metabolism of a species – how fast a species consumes energy, per unit mass, per unit time.
The researchers studied 3006 species, the largest number of species ever analyzed in a single study. The species list encompasses much of the range of biological diversity on Earth – from bacteria to elephants, and algae to sapling trees.
To the researchers' surprise, they found the mean metabolic rate of the species at rest fell on a narrow range of values – 0.3 to 9 Watts per kilogram.
"This narrow range is in dramatic contrast to the 20 orders of magnitude difference in the body mass of the species we studied," said Bai-Lian Li, a professor of ecology at UC Riverside, who led the study along with two colleagues. "At physiological rest, the biosphere appears to run, on average, predominantly at the optimal rate defined by this narrow range of values. This remarkable phenomenon is likely associated with the pervasive biochemical universality of living matter, and could provide us with clues to understanding how life is organized."
Study results appear in the Nov. 4 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
According to Li, the metabolic optimum explains the ubiquitous and seemingly unrelated features of life organization we see all around us – complex adaptations such as animal breathing and flat, green leaves.
"Organisms whose designs fit the physiological window have been favored by natural selection across all of life's major kingdoms," he said. "This observed, narrow range might therefore be considered as the preferred, optimal range for the functioning of living matter as a whole."
Unlike the genetic code and protein composition, metabolic rate cannot be inherited from a common ancestor. Rather, a particular range of metabolic rates is maintained by natural selection.
"Species had to invent diverse tricks to remain near the metabolic optimum, from which the progressive evolutionary increase in body size – from prokaryotes to largest vertebrates and plants – was continually taking them away," Li said.
He was joined in the study by co-leaders Anastassia M. Makarieva and Victor G. Gorshkov of the Russian Academy of Sciences, St. Petersburg. Their co-authors on the research paper are Steven L. Chown of Stellenbosch University, South Africa; Peter B. Reich of the University of Minnesota, St. Paul; and Valery M. Gavrilov of Moscow State University, Russia.
Iqbal Pittalwala | EurekAlert!
Multi-year study finds 'hotspots' of ammonia over world's major agricultural areas
17.03.2017 | University of Maryland
Diabetes Drug May Improve Bone Fat-induced Defects of Fracture Healing
17.03.2017 | Deutsches Institut für Ernährungsforschung Potsdam-Rehbrücke
Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.
The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.
Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...
Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.
Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...
In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...
20.03.2017 | Event News
14.03.2017 | Event News
07.03.2017 | Event News
24.03.2017 | Materials Sciences
24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy