Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

DNA with self-interest - Transposable element conquers new strain of fly

12.05.2015

Transposable elements are so-called “jumping genes”. They are capable of “jumping” from one genome position to another. Why transposable elements exist is subject of controversial debate.

Scientists from the Vetmeduni Vienna found that one of the most important transposable elements, the P-element, has only recently invaded the fly Drosophila simulans.


The P-Element is present in D. melanogaster for more than 60 years. It recently also invaded D. simulans.

Photo: Markus Riedl/Vetmeduni Vienna

The P-element has been present in the closely related species Drosophila melanogaster since the 1950s. The latest findings offer a unique opportunity to study the spread of transposable elements. The results were published in the journal PNAS.

Transposable elements are DNA sequences that are capable of changing their genome position by cut and paste or copy and paste through the enzyme transposase. This ability can be harmful for hosts if transposable elements destroy functioning genes, but it can also bring advantages. From an evolutionary point of view, transposable elements diversify the genome and open up chances for adaptation.

DNA that uses its host

Transposable elements are also called selfish DNA parasites because they spread through their hosts, such as humans, animals, plants as well as bacteria and, thus, provide for their own survival.

Robert Kofler from the Institute of Population Genetics at the Vetmeduni Vienna analysed flies from all over the world. He discovered a phenomenon which was thought to be very rare. Kofler found a transposable element in the fly species Drosophila simulans, the so-called P-element. This transposable element has been absent in D. simulans until recent years.

“The P-element has been spreading rapidly in D. simulans within the past five years. It probably invaded the species via horizontal gene transfer. When exactly the transfer happened, is not clear”, says lead author Kofler.

The DNA sequence was not inherited but directly transferred from one organism to another. “This happened to Drosophila melanogaster more than 60 years ago. The P-element was discovered twice in a new species within one hundred years. Therefore we can assume that transposable elements are transferred across the species faster than we thought.”

A transposable element conquers the world

Although scientists found the P-element in D. simulans flies from South Africa as well as from the USA, they assume that there was only one single transfer event. On average, the South African flies had more P-elements in their genome than flies from Florida. “This indicates that the flies from Florida, collected in 2010, were in an early stage after the transfer event. The samples from South Africa are from 2012. The P-element significantly multiplied within these two years”, Kofler concludes.

High-speed evolution in the lab

Head of the institute, Christian Schlötterer, and his team perform high-speed evolution in the lab. They expose fruit flies to extreme conditions such as heat, cold or UV radiation. Before and after the exposure, they sequence the flies’ genomes. The evolve-and-resequence approach makes it possible to identify genes that have been selected through generations. The researchers now want to study the spread of the P-element under such conditions.

“The discovery of the P-element in Drosophila simulans offers the unique possibility to investigate the way transposable elements are regulated and how they survive. We can accelerate evolution in the lab and, thus, answer this and other questions”, Schlötterer explains.

Service:
The article „ The recent invasion of Drosophila simulans by the P-element”, by Robert Kofler, Tom Hill, Viola Nolte, Andrea Betancourt, and Christian Schlötterer was published in the journal PNAS. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1101/013722

About the University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna

The University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna in Austria is one of the leading academic and research institutions in the field of Veterinary Sciences in Europe. About 1,300 employees and 2,300 students work on the campus in the north of Vienna which also houses five university clinics and various research sites. Outside of Vienna the university operates Teaching and Research Farms. http://www.vetmeduni.ac.at

Scientific Contact:
Dr. Robert Kofler
Institute of Population Genetics
University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna (Vetmeduni Vienna)
T +43 1 25077-4337
rokofler@gmail.com

Released by:
Susanna Kautschitsch
Science Communication / Public Relations
University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna (Vetmeduni Vienna)
T +43 1 25077-1153
susanna.kautschitsch@vetmeduni.ac.at

Weitere Informationen:

http://www.vetmeduni.ac.at/en/infoservice/presseinformation/press-releases-2015/...

Dr. Susanna Kautschitsch | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht New technique unveils 'matrix' inside tissues and tumors
29.06.2017 | University of Copenhagen The Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences

nachricht Designed proteins to treat muscular dystrophy
29.06.2017 | Universität Basel

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

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 >>>