The researchers have been tracking the evolution of Drosophila subobscura, a small fly that is very common all over Europe, since 1976. They are focusing on a specific type of genomic variability known as chromosomal inversion polymorphism. The study has compared how the flies' genomes change from spring to summer, summer to autumn and autumn to spring, over the years.
In pre-2011 studies of one of D. subobscura's five chromosome pairs, performed in a population near the town of Santiago de Compostela, the researchers observed that this type of adaptation is related to changes in environmental temperature. Two types of genetic variation were identified: one that adapts to the cold, since its frequency always increases in winter, and another that adapts to heat, showing the opposite behaviour pattern. The relative frequency of both types of variation was seen to have evolved in consonance with climate changes. Present-day flies present more heat-tolerant varieties than those of the 70s.
In April, 2011, monitoring coincided with the intense heatwave that struck western Europe and other parts of the world. The study was widened to cover not only the original chromosome pair but all the species' five chromosome pairs, and fly samples were collected from another population, in Gordexola, near Bilbao. The conclusions could therefore be extrapolated on a genome-wide scale and on a geographical scale, to the northern third of Spain.
In an article in the prestigious journal Biology Letters, of the British Royal Society, the researchers show that the 2011 heatwave dramatically altered the genetic constitution of natural populations of Drosophila subobscura. In the middle of spring, and over a single generation, the populations acquired a genetic constitution typical of the summer, because of the heatwave.
According to the study's findings, the difference in reproductive success between genotypes that were sensitive to the heatwave and those that were resistant to it was extremely high: during the heatwave, flies carrying genomic variants tolerant to the temperature increase left on average five times more descendents than those with variants that were sensitive to these changes.
It was also observed that, after the heatwave, the populations recovered their previous genetic make-up. This shows that some organisms possess high genetic resilience to this type of environmental disturbance.
"Our results indicate that resistance to heat has a genetic origin. However, we are not suggesting there is a gene for cold or a gene for heat, but rather that genetic factors for heat resistance are distributed throughout the genome, in these organisms at least", points out Francisco Rodriguez-Trelles, the UAB researcher who coordinated the study. "Our findings are substantial proof that the rise in temperature is affecting the evolution of certain species".
Also taking part in the study were Rosa Tarrío and Mauro Santos, researchers from the Evolutionary Biology Group of the Department of Genetics and Microbiology at the UAB.
Octavi López Coronado | EurekAlert!
'Y' a protein unicorn might matter in glaucoma
23.10.2017 | Georgia Institute of Technology
Microfluidics probe 'cholesterol' of the oil industry
23.10.2017 | Rice University
Salmonellae are dangerous pathogens that enter the body via contaminated food and can cause severe infections. But these bacteria are also known to target...
University of Maryland researchers contribute to historic detection of gravitational waves and light created by event
On August 17, 2017, at 12:41:04 UTC, scientists made the first direct observation of a merger between two neutron stars--the dense, collapsed cores that remain...
Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.
Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....
Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).
When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...
Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.
How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...
23.10.2017 | Event News
17.10.2017 | Event News
10.10.2017 | Event News
23.10.2017 | Life Sciences
23.10.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
23.10.2017 | Health and Medicine