Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Evolution more rapid than Darwin thought

22.03.2010
Evolution can proceed much more rapidly than has long been thought. This is shown by Magnus Karlsson, a doctoral candidate at Linnaeus University in Kalmar, in his dissertation about the impact of genetics and the environment on the color patterns of pygmy grasshoppers.

It has been the accepted view among evolutionary biologists since Darwin published his Origin of Species in 1859 that measurable evolutionary changes occur slowly, often taking hundreds of generations. This view may now be about to change.

Pygmy grasshoppers exist in many different color variants and in many types of environment. Through a series of experiments and studies in nature, Magnus Karlsson discovered that the distribution between the color variants of pygmy grasshoppers differs across different environments. In recently burnt over areas, a very high proportion of the grasshoppers are black. In unburnt areas, on the other hand, the black variant is unusual. What's more, the proportion of black grasshoppers changes very rapidly between generations in the burnt areas, whereas the proportion in unburnt areas remains the same over the same period of time.

Magnus Karlsson presents data that show that the pygmy grasshoppers' color changes by natural selection. He believes that the primary cause of these changes is birds and other animals that hunt using their vision. The black grasshoppers are simply less visible against the burnt background, so they survive more often. But as the environment changes and becomes more complex, the advantage of being dark diminishes, and other color variants can once again increase in number.

In his experiments, Magnus Karlsson has also shown that the color pattern of the pygmy grasshopper is genetically conditioned and is passed on from parent to offspring. On the other hand, various environmental factors, such as crowdedness or the substrate the grasshoppers grow up on, do not affect their color. In other words, there is no indication that the grasshoppers themselves can change their color depending on what environment they are surrounded by. Therefore, the great differences that exist between burnt and unburnt environments are the result of unusually rapid evolutionary change.

But it is not only that evolution sometimes proceeds rapidly; variation itself also offers major advantages. In groups consisting of many different color variants, survival is higher than in groups with less color variation. This means quite simply that variable groups may find it easier to adapt to environmental changes and that they are more productive.

The practical significance of Magnus Karlsson's discoveries is broad and just as varied as his grasshoppers. He believes this new knowledge can be used in planning preservation projects for threatened species and to improve yields in agriculture.

"But the most important part of the dissertation is that I have shown that evolution sometimes proceeds incredibly rapidly. This is huge," says Magnus Karlsson.

His dissertation is titled Evolution in Changing Environments Revealed by Fire Melanism in Pygmy Grasshoppers.

Contact: Magnus Karlsson, phone: +46 (0)480-446219; mobile: +46 (0)73-5626014 or magnus.h.karlsson@lnu.se

Pressofficer Karolina Ekstrand; +46-76 647 60 30; karolina.ekstrand@lnu.se

Karolina Ekstrand | idw
Further information:
http://www.lnu.se
http://www.vr.se

Further reports about: Evolution Magnus environmental change evolutionary change

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Newly designed molecule binds nitrogen
23.02.2018 | Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg

nachricht Atomic Design by Water
23.02.2018 | Max-Planck-Institut für Eisenforschung GmbH

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Attoseconds break into atomic interior

A newly developed laser technology has enabled physicists in the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics (jointly run by LMU Munich and the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics) to generate attosecond bursts of high-energy photons of unprecedented intensity. This has made it possible to observe the interaction of multiple photons in a single such pulse with electrons in the inner orbital shell of an atom.

In order to observe the ultrafast electron motion in the inner shells of atoms with short light pulses, the pulses must not only be ultrashort, but very...

Im Focus: Good vibrations feel the force

A group of researchers led by Andrea Cavalleri at the Max Planck Institute for Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) in Hamburg has demonstrated a new method enabling precise measurements of the interatomic forces that hold crystalline solids together. The paper Probing the Interatomic Potential of Solids by Strong-Field Nonlinear Phononics, published online in Nature, explains how a terahertz-frequency laser pulse can drive very large deformations of the crystal.

By measuring the highly unusual atomic trajectories under extreme electromagnetic transients, the MPSD group could reconstruct how rigid the atomic bonds are...

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...

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

Basque researchers turn light upside down

23.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Finnish research group discovers a new immune system regulator

23.02.2018 | Health and Medicine

Attoseconds break into atomic interior

23.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>