Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

DNA decoded by FSU biologist reveals 7 new mice species

08.07.2011
International team's discovery in Philippines showcases biodiversity, evolutionary wonders

After living incognito for millions of years in a remote area of a forested mountain range in the Philippines, seven newfound species of mice owe their recent discovery to DNA evidence and the Florida State University biologist who deciphered it.

What's more, the DNA drawn from the reclusive "new" mammals told FSU Associate Professor Scott J. Steppan an unusual evolutionary story. As he analyzed and compared the genetic codes of mice found in separate but proximate parts of a small area on Luzon, the largest Philippine island, he determined that while each mouse was a distinct species, they all belonged to the forest-mouse genus Apomys. That meant all seven mice were both "new" and closely related to one another.

"It is extraordinary, really almost unprecedented, to have so many closely related mammal species from such a small area that forms just one-half of one island –– let alone to have discovered so many so quickly," said Steppan, whose laboratory at Florida State coordinates the DNA sequencing portion of an ongoing biodiversity project led by Chicago's Field Museum of Natural History.

Part of an international team of biologists collaborating on the project, Steppan and colleagues from the United States and the Philippines describe the newly discovered species in Fieldiana (http://www.bioone.org/doi/abs/10.3158/2158-5520-2.1.1), the Field Museum's peer-reviewed journal.

"The Apomys genus is the product of millions of years of evolution in the Philippine archipelago," Steppan said, "but it also shows how very fast the process of evolution has been operating there, in terms of creating new species. Such cases of rapid diversification are useful examples to help us understand the origin of biodiversity in general."

Steppan's identification of the mice has made a marked difference in the number of mammal species (excluding bats) now known to be native to Luzon, increasing the current, official total by about 17 percent, from 42 to 49.

He said that, while the new Apomys species may have been elusive until now, they aren't rare. Rather, some are among the most abundant mammals in their respective forests and, as such, are vital to the local ecosystem, which acts as a watershed for the human communities. The seed- and earthworm-eating mice were hard to find primarily because of their extremely limited geographic ranges.

Unfortunately, their limited ranges make them susceptible to extinction from deforestation, a major problem in the Philippines and other tropical regions. That vulnerability concerns scientists because the animals are a key part of the Philippines' rich biodiversity.

And when it comes to biodiversity, Steppan said not even famous island chains such as the Galapagos Islands can trump the Philippines –– which, relative to its size, encompasses the Earth's greatest concentration of unique species of animals.

In fact, he believes there's no end to the discoveries that await biologists there.

In the past decade alone, colleagues of Steppan's have identified a total of 10 newfound mammal species in the Philippines, while other scientists have described five more.

Soon the list may grow even longer. Steppan recently led new DNA studies that have produced promising, though not-yet-published, results.

In addition to Steppan of Florida State, co-authors of the current Fieldiana paper include project leader Lawrence Heaney of the Field Museum and researchers from the University of the Philippines; the Philippine National Museum; Conservation International-Philippines; and the Utah Museum of Natural History.

A Florida State University undergraduate researcher also played a significant role. Steppan credits then-FSU student Lawren VandeVrede for much of the Apomys DNA sequencing performed in his laboratory. VandeVrede is now pursuing both a medical and a doctoral degree at the University of Illinois-Chicago.

Visit the FSU Department of Biological Science website (http://www.bio.fsu.edu/steppan/) to learn more about Steppan's research.

Associate Prof Scott J. Steppan | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.fsu.edu

Further reports about: DNA DNA sequencing FSU Luzon Island genetic code mammal species

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht At last, butterflies get a bigger, better evolutionary tree
16.02.2018 | Florida Museum of Natural History

nachricht New treatment strategies for chronic kidney disease from the animal kingdom
16.02.2018 | Veterinärmedizinische Universität Wien

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

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...

Im Focus: Interference as a new method for cooling quantum devices

Theoretical physicists propose to use negative interference to control heat flow in quantum devices. Study published in Physical Review Letters

Quantum computer parts are sensitive and need to be cooled to very low temperatures. Their tiny size makes them particularly susceptible to a temperature...

Im Focus: Autonomous 3D scanner supports individual manufacturing processes

Let’s say the armrest is broken in your vintage car. As things stand, you would need a lot of luck and persistence to find the right spare part. But in the world of Industrie 4.0 and production with batch sizes of one, you can simply scan the armrest and print it out. This is made possible by the first ever 3D scanner capable of working autonomously and in real time. The autonomous scanning system will be on display at the Hannover Messe Preview on February 6 and at the Hannover Messe proper from April 23 to 27, 2018 (Hall 6, Booth A30).

Part of the charm of vintage cars is that they stopped making them long ago, so it is special when you do see one out on the roads. If something breaks or...

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

Fingerprints of quantum entanglement

16.02.2018 | Information Technology

'Living bandages': NUST MISIS scientists develop biocompatible anti-burn nanofibers

16.02.2018 | Health and Medicine

Hubble sees Neptune's mysterious shrinking storm

16.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>