Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

A colorful combination

10.01.2011
The ability of bacteria to change the body color of aphids has ecological consequences

A bacterium that can live symbiotically inside the pea aphid, Acyrthosiphon pisum, is able to change the insect’s body color from red to green, a RIKEN-led team of molecular entomologists has found[1].

Because body color affects how other animals are attracted to aphids, infection with the bacterium is expected to impact on interactions with other symbiotic organisms, predators and parasites. Studies of the molecular mechanism behind the color change could lead to technologies for generating pigments more efficiently, and also for changing the appearance of some organisms, the researchers say.

Both red and green forms of pea aphid occur in natural populations. Previous research by other workers has shown that body color is correlated with the presence or absence of a single gene, and that red is dominant. Ecologically, the balance between the colors is maintained because the most important predators, ladybug beetles, preferentially eat red aphids, while parasitoid wasps attack the green form.

While screening aphids collected in France, Tsutomu Tsuchida from the RIKEN Advanced Science Institute in Wako, together with colleagues from France, and from other Japanese research institutions, found several strains of green aphids with red young that turned green as adults.

Studies by Tsuchida and other researchers have demonstrated that symbiotic bacteria play a role in the adaptation of pea aphids to particular varieties of plants and to high temperature, as well as in the development of resistance to natural enemies. On investigating the symbiotic bacteria in Western Europe, the researchers found that about 8% of pea aphids are infected by a previously unrecognized species of Rickettsiella bacteria. Measurements of growth rate, body size and fecundity of infected aphids showed no negative impact on fitness.

By generating separate lines of aphids infected and uninfected by Rickettsiella, Tsuchida and his colleagues were able to show that uninfected red aphids always retained their color, as did all green aphids. Not all infected red aphids turned green, but the color change from red to green was always associated with Rickettsiella (Fig. 1). In fact, the intensity of green color depended on the level of infection. The researchers thus concluded that the color change depended on an interaction between the Rickettsiella and aphid genomes.

“We are now extensively analyzing the genome sequence of the symbiotic bacterium and symbiont-induced gene expression of the host aphid,” Tsuchida says. “These analyses should show us the molecular and metabolic interplay that leads to the body color change.”

The corresponding author for this highlight is based at the Molecular Entomology Laboratory, RIKEN Advanced Science Institute

Journal information

[1] Tsuchida, T., Koga, R., Horikawa, M., Tsunoda, T., Maoka, T., Matsumoto, S., Simon, J.-C. & Fukatsu, T. Symbiotic bacterium modifies aphid body color. Science 330, 1102–1104 (2010).

gro-pr | Research asia research news
Further information:
http://www.riken.jp
http://www.researchsea.com

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Safeguarding sustainability through forest certification mapping
27.06.2017 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)

nachricht Dune ecosystem modelling
26.06.2017 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Making Waves

Computer scientists use wave packet theory to develop realistic, detailed water wave simulations in real time. Their results will be presented at this year’s SIGGRAPH conference.

Think about the last time you were at a lake, river, or the ocean. Remember the ripples of the water, the waves crashing against the rocks, the wake following...

Im Focus: Can we see monkeys from space? Emerging technologies to map biodiversity

An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.

Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...

Im Focus: Climate satellite: Tracking methane with robust laser technology

Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.

Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...

Im Focus: How protons move through a fuel cell

Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.

As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...

Im Focus: A unique data centre for cosmological simulations

Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.

With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Plants are networkers

19.06.2017 | Event News

Digital Survival Training for Executives

13.06.2017 | Event News

Global Learning Council Summit 2017

13.06.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Nanostructures taste the rainbow

29.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

New technique unveils 'matrix' inside tissues and tumors

29.06.2017 | Life Sciences

Cystic fibrosis alters the structure of mucus in airways

29.06.2017 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>