Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

The 'Cheshire Cat' escape strategy in response to marine viruses

28.10.2008
A novel defence strategy displayed in response to marine viruses by some of the most abundant unicellular organisms found in our oceans has recently been demonstrated by researchers in the Laboratoire Adaptation et diversité en milieu marin (CNRS, UPMC) working in collaboration with other European scientists. These results enable a clearer understanding of the origin of, and reasons for, sexual reproduction in eukaryotes(1). This study has been published in PNAS.

The researchers studied the impact of marine viruses on Emiliania huxleyi, one of the most abundant unicellular eukaryotes in oceans that significantly influences the carbon cycle and climates. In their diploid form, i.e. when they contain a pair of chromosomes (2N), Emiliania huxleyi produce mineral scales and form gigantic populations that are visible from space.

But when attacked by marine viruses, they transform into haploid cells which only contain a single chromosome (N). These new, non-calcifying, highly motile cells are totally invisible to viruses (and undetectable on satellite photos) so that the species can live in peace to await safer times.

These scientists have called this the "Cheshire Cat" strategy, in homage to Lewis Carroll's novel "Alice in Wonderland". In this book, the crafty and philosophical Cheshire Cat escapes being beheaded on the order of the Red Queen by rendering his body transparent. In the same way, by changing their form during the haploid phase, eukaryotes can evade biotic pressure and reinvent themselves within their own species.

Our ancestors, unicellular eukaryotes, appeared in oceans some one billion years ago and "invented" sexuality. These species are characterized by a life cycle where haploid individuals (carrying a single copy of the genome, like gametes(2)) unify to form diploid individuals that will subsequently generate haploid cells once again. During this eukaryote "double life", humans and other multicellular eukaryotes whose haploid gametes remain imprisoned within a diploid body, tend to be the exception.

Originally, and in most eukaryotes, haploid cells multiply in their environment to form independent populations. Sexuality has allowed eukaryotes to evade constant attacks by viruses so that they could evolve towards more complex, high-performance organisms, the ecological importance of which is still markedly underestimated.

Julien Guillaume | alfa
Further information:
http://www.cnrs.fr

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht When Air is in Short Supply - Shedding light on plant stress reactions when oxygen runs short
23.03.2017 | Institut für Pflanzenbiochemie

nachricht WPI team grows heart tissue on spinach leaves
23.03.2017 | Worcester Polytechnic Institute

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Giant Magnetic Fields in the Universe

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...

Im Focus: Tracing down linear ubiquitination

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...

Im Focus: Perovskite edges can be tuned for optoelectronic performance

Layered 2D material improves efficiency for solar cells and LEDs

In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...

Im Focus: Polymer-coated silicon nanosheets as alternative to graphene: A perfect team for nanoelectronics

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...

Im Focus: Researchers Imitate Molecular Crowding in Cells

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...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

International Land Use Symposium ILUS 2017: Call for Abstracts and Registration open

20.03.2017 | Event News

CONNECT 2017: International congress on connective tissue

14.03.2017 | Event News

ICTM Conference: Turbine Construction between Big Data and Additive Manufacturing

07.03.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

When Air is in Short Supply - Shedding light on plant stress reactions when oxygen runs short

23.03.2017 | Life Sciences

Researchers use light to remotely control curvature of plastics

23.03.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Sea ice extent sinks to record lows at both poles

23.03.2017 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>