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!
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
23.03.2017 | Life Sciences
23.03.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering
23.03.2017 | Earth Sciences