University of Nevada, Reno researchers Jeanne and David Zeh of the Department of Biology have received a five-year, $650,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to investigate the effects of natural mitochondrial variation on sperm traits and sperm competitive ability.
Researchers have found mitochondrial mutations to be one of the primary causes of low sperm count and poor sperm mobility in humans. However, in the field of sexual selection, where maternal inheritance of mitochondria may well have its greatest impact, female-limited response to selection has been largely overlooked.
The Zehs’ study promises to fill in some of this knowledge gap in evaluating the importance of maternal inheritance of mitochondria for sexual selection and male adaptation. Mitochondria are the principal energy source of a cell, and convert nutrients into energy as well as performing many other specialized tasks.
The Zehs’ study, which will use a neotropical pseudooscorpion Cordylochernes scorpioides as a model system, will encompass whole-genome mitochondrial sequencing, a comprehensive analysis of the physiological and morphological characteristics of sperm that are likely to be important in competitive ability, a large-scale sperm competition experiment designed to identify the target of selection acting on sperm traits, and a replicated, multi-generation experiment in which the evolutionary response to selection on the trait most important in sperm competition will be assessed using both maternally- and paternally-based selection regimes.
Jeanne Zeh, an assistant professor of biology, and David Zeh, an associate professor of biology, both believe that their study will help refine the efforts to understand mitochondrial effects on male fertility.
“The fundamental insight that strict maternal inheritance of mitochondria constrains the ability of males to respond adaptively to selection has led to major advances in the study of human male infertility,” said Jeanne Zeh, the principal investigator for the study, noting that other studies have also investigated this phenomenon in laboratory mice and domestic fowl. “However, these studies have not assessed the effects of natural mitochondrial DNA variation on male fertility and sperm competitive ability.
“Clearly, more research is needed, particularly on natural populations not subject to the potentially strong effects of genetic drift associated with domestication.”
In addition to their research, the Zehs’ study also includes an interesting outreach component. They plan on working with a local AP biology teacher who will serve as a graduate research assistant on the project, and they will hold a series of workshops and seminars for other local high school science teachers and students that will promote the importance for society of basic research in ecology and evolution.
John Trent | EurekAlert!
Win-win strategies for climate and food security
02.10.2017 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)
The personality factor: How to foster the sharing of research data
06.09.2017 | ZBW – Leibniz-Informationszentrum Wirtschaft
University of Maryland researchers contribute to historic detection of gravitational waves and light created by event
On August 17, 2017, at 12:41:04 UTC, scientists made the first direct observation of a merger between two neutron stars--the dense, collapsed cores that remain...
Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.
Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....
Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).
When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...
Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.
How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...
Scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, using high precision laser spectroscopy of atomic hydrogen, confirm the surprisingly small value of the proton radius determined from muonic hydrogen.
It was one of the breakthroughs of the year 2010: Laser spectroscopy of muonic hydrogen resulted in a value for the proton charge radius that was significantly...
17.10.2017 | Event News
10.10.2017 | Event News
10.10.2017 | Event News
20.10.2017 | Earth Sciences
20.10.2017 | Life Sciences
20.10.2017 | Life Sciences