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 Unique genome architectures after fertilisation in single-cell embryos
30.03.2017 | IMBA - Institut für Molekulare Biotechnologie der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften GmbH

nachricht Transport of molecular motors into cilia
28.03.2017 | Aarhus 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: A Challenging European Research Project to Develop New Tiny Microscopes

The Institute of Semiconductor Technology and the Institute of Physical and Theoretical Chemistry, both members of the Laboratory for Emerging Nanometrology (LENA), at Technische Universität Braunschweig are partners in a new European research project entitled ChipScope, which aims to develop a completely new and extremely small optical microscope capable of observing the interior of living cells in real time. A consortium of 7 partners from 5 countries will tackle this issue with very ambitious objectives during a four-year research program.

To demonstrate the usefulness of this new scientific tool, at the end of the project the developed chip-sized microscope will be used to observe in real-time...

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...

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

'On-off switch' brings researchers a step closer to potential HIV vaccine

30.03.2017 | Health and Medicine

Penn studies find promise for innovations in liquid biopsies

30.03.2017 | Health and Medicine

An LED-based device for imaging radiation induced skin damage

30.03.2017 | Medical Engineering

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>