Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Biodiversity itself begets a species cascade

13.02.2009
Biodiversity feeds on itself, researchers found, as evolving animals open niches for other new species. Such is the case, says a Michigan State University researcher, with a parasite found to be evolving in sequence with an emerging host insect in western Michigan apple trees.

A new species of fruit fly has evolved after changing its mating behavior to favor laying eggs on apples instead of its characteristic hawthorn tree fruit host, MSU entomologist James J. Smith and colleagues reported. As those flies became genetically different from the parent hawthorn fly, so did the parasitic wasps that prey on the flies’ larvae.

The team’s research is published as part of the cover story in the Feb. 6 issue of Science magazine, a top industry publication published by the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

The research comes to light, appropriately, as the world this week celebrates the bicentennial of the birth of Charles Darwin, the English naturalist who first described modern notions of speciation in “On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life.”

“It makes sense that biodiversity would beget biodiversity,” acknowledged Smith, who is an associate professor of biology in Lyman Briggs College, MSU’s interdisciplinary science undergraduate program, and in the MSU Department of Entomology.

“What is really difficult, though, is to find hard evidence that this is what has occurred or is occurring. That is one of the real strengths of this paper. The study has large sample sizes and analyzes these organisms at a relatively high number of chromosome positions, or genetic loci,” he said.

The idea that there are “speciation cascades” provides a new perspective to address some longstanding questions about the evolutionary process, he said.

“For example, why are there so many insect species? Speciation cascades provide one explanation for how a lot of species might be generated in a relatively short time period. In addition, it is not irrelevant that geographic barriers appear not to have been directly involved in species divergence in this case,” Smith said.

Evolutionary divergence, he explained, tends to be associated with geographic isolation.

If fruit flies don’t make an impressive example of speciation and environmental adaptation, the researchers noted, consider that more than half of all animals could be considered parasites in a broad sense, that plant-eating insects outnumber all other life forms and that one-fifth of all insects could be parasitic wasps. The conclusion, they wrote, is that “there is a world of opportunity for sequential speciation in nature.”

"Clues can be found right before us as we sit on our deck chairs barbecuing and drinking pop,” principal investigator Jeff Feder told Science. “All we have to do is open our eyes and we can see new life forms coming into being in that scraggly old apple tree in our backyard."

Feder is a University of Notre Dame biologist who did graduate research at MSU and is a longtime collaborator with Smith. Notre Dame graduate student Andrew Forbes was lead author for the study. Tom Powell, also from Notre Dame, and University of Florida entomologist Lukasz Stelinski also participated in the research, which was supported with National Science Foundation funding.

James J. Smith | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.msu.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Stiffness matters
22.02.2018 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau

nachricht Separate brain systems cooperate during learning, study finds
22.02.2018 | Brown University

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Developing reliable quantum computers

International research team makes important step on the path to solving certification problems

Quantum computers may one day solve algorithmic problems which even the biggest supercomputers today can’t manage. But how do you test a quantum computer to...

Im Focus: In best circles: First integrated circuit from self-assembled polymer

For the first time, a team of researchers at the Max-Planck Institute (MPI) for Polymer Research in Mainz, Germany, has succeeded in making an integrated circuit (IC) from just a monolayer of a semiconducting polymer via a bottom-up, self-assembly approach.

In the self-assembly process, the semiconducting polymer arranges itself into an ordered monolayer in a transistor. The transistors are binary switches used...

Im Focus: Demonstration of a single molecule piezoelectric effect

Breakthrough provides a new concept of the design of molecular motors, sensors and electricity generators at nanoscale

Researchers from the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the CAS (IOCB Prague), Institute of Physics of the CAS (IP CAS) and Palacký University...

Im Focus: Hybrid optics bring color imaging using ultrathin metalenses into focus

For photographers and scientists, lenses are lifesavers. They reflect and refract light, making possible the imaging systems that drive discovery through the microscope and preserve history through cameras.

But today's glass-based lenses are bulky and resist miniaturization. Next-generation technologies, such as ultrathin cameras or tiny microscopes, require...

Im Focus: Stem cell divisions in the adult brain seen for the first time

Scientists from the University of Zurich have succeeded for the first time in tracking individual stem cells and their neuronal progeny over months within the intact adult brain. This study sheds light on how new neurons are produced throughout life.

The generation of new nerve cells was once thought to taper off at the end of embryonic development. However, recent research has shown that the adult brain...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

2nd International Conference on High Temperature Shape Memory Alloys (HTSMAs)

15.02.2018 | Event News

Aachen DC Grid Summit 2018

13.02.2018 | Event News

How Global Climate Policy Can Learn from the Energy Transition

12.02.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Stiffness matters

22.02.2018 | Life Sciences

Magnetic field traces gas and dust swirling around supermassive black hole

22.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

First evidence of surprising ocean warming around Galápagos corals

22.02.2018 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>