Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Genetic Conflict in Fish Led to Evolution of New Sex Chromosomes

05.10.2009
University of Maryland biologists have genetically mapped the sex chromosomes of several species of cichlid (pronounced "sick-lid") fish from Lake Malawi, East Africa, and identified a mechanism by which new sex chromosomes may evolve.

In research published in the journal Science (October 1, 2009), Professor Thomas D. Kocher, Department of Biology, College of Chemical and Life Sciences; Reade Roberts, post-doctoral associate; and Jennifer Ser, research associate, describe the genetic basis for two co-existing systems of sexual determination in cichlid fish from Lake Malawi.

In nearly all mammals, the gene that determines the sex of offspring is located on the Y chromosome, which is much smaller than the X chromosome. But in many other animal groups, the genetic mechanism of sex determination evolves quite rapidly, and the differences between sex chromosomes are harder to observe. Even sister species of fish may have entirely different sex determination systems. How and why the genetic mechanisms for such an ancient developmental distinction continue to evolve has remained a mystery. The thousands of closely related cichlid fishes in the lakes of East Africa turn out to be an excellent model system for understanding how the mechanisms of how sex determination evolve.

The East African cichlid fishes that inhabit Lakes Malawi, Tanganyika, and Victoria are known for their sexually distinct appearance – the males are generally conspicuous and brightly colored, making them more attractive to females, while the females are drab and brown, making them inconspicuous to predators. One exception to the uniformly brown pigmentation among female cichlids is the "orange blotch" pattern, which appears in some female cichlids that live in rocky areas of Lake Malawi. "We believe that the orange blotch color pattern emerged as a new mutation in females and has a selective advantage in providing an alternative form of camouflage," says Dr. Kocher, who has been leading research to identify the genetic basis for phenotypic differences in cichlids for the past 20 years, and who made the first crosses to map the gene responsible for this color pattern in 1993.

Depending on the surrounding natural background, this color pattern can help disguise female fish and help them avoid predation. However males who express this phenotype lack the species-specific color patterns used by females to select their mates. "This phenotype creates a sexual conflict because the allele is favored in females but not favored in males," explains Dr. Roberts, who fine mapped the gene. "In 'survival of the fittest,' the genes underlying a beneficial trait will increase in frequency, but this is an odd case where the trait is really good for females but really bad for males."

Using genomic techniques, Roberts identified the gene (pax7) that is responsible for this difference in color pattern. He found that the orange blotch (OB) allele that produces the variable pigmentation in females was dominant over the "brown barred" (BB) allele (that produces the more common brown pigmentation) and that it was located very near a female sex determiner (W). The genetic conflict that started over color was resolved by a new mutation that took over the sex determining function, and ensured that nearly all orange blotch fish are female.

"This study marries two evolutionary mysteries: the incredible diversity of fish in the lakes of East Africa and the genetic basis of sex determination," says Sam Scheiner, program director in the National Science Foundation (NSF)'s Division of Environmental Biology, which funded the research. "This study shows how simple genetic changes can lead to enormous biological diversity."

Kelly Blake | Newswise Science News
Further information:
http://www.umd.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht A Map of the Cell’s Power Station
18.08.2017 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau

nachricht On the way to developing a new active ingredient against chronic infections
18.08.2017 | Deutsches Zentrum für Infektionsforschung

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Fizzy soda water could be key to clean manufacture of flat wonder material: Graphene

Whether you call it effervescent, fizzy, or sparkling, carbonated water is making a comeback as a beverage. Aside from quenching thirst, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have discovered a new use for these "bubbly" concoctions that will have major impact on the manufacturer of the world's thinnest, flattest, and one most useful materials -- graphene.

As graphene's popularity grows as an advanced "wonder" material, the speed and quality at which it can be manufactured will be paramount. With that in mind,...

Im Focus: Exotic quantum states made from light: Physicists create optical “wells” for a super-photon

Physicists at the University of Bonn have managed to create optical hollows and more complex patterns into which the light of a Bose-Einstein condensate flows. The creation of such highly low-loss structures for light is a prerequisite for complex light circuits, such as for quantum information processing for a new generation of computers. The researchers are now presenting their results in the journal Nature Photonics.

Light particles (photons) occur as tiny, indivisible portions. Many thousands of these light portions can be merged to form a single super-photon if they are...

Im Focus: Circular RNA linked to brain function

For the first time, scientists have shown that circular RNA is linked to brain function. When a RNA molecule called Cdr1as was deleted from the genome of mice, the animals had problems filtering out unnecessary information – like patients suffering from neuropsychiatric disorders.

While hundreds of circular RNAs (circRNAs) are abundant in mammalian brains, one big question has remained unanswered: What are they actually good for? In the...

Im Focus: RAVAN CubeSat measures Earth's outgoing energy

An experimental small satellite has successfully collected and delivered data on a key measurement for predicting changes in Earth's climate.

The Radiometer Assessment using Vertically Aligned Nanotubes (RAVAN) CubeSat was launched into low-Earth orbit on Nov. 11, 2016, in order to test new...

Im Focus: Scientists shine new light on the “other high temperature superconductor”

A study led by scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg presents evidence of the coexistence of superconductivity and “charge-density-waves” in compounds of the poorly-studied family of bismuthates. This observation opens up new perspectives for a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of high-temperature superconductivity, a topic which is at the core of condensed matter research since more than 30 years. The paper by Nicoletti et al has been published in the PNAS.

Since the beginning of the 20th century, superconductivity had been observed in some metals at temperatures only a few degrees above the absolute zero (minus...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Call for Papers – ICNFT 2018, 5th International Conference on New Forming Technology

16.08.2017 | Event News

Sustainability is the business model of tomorrow

04.08.2017 | Event News

Clash of Realities 2017: Registration now open. International Conference at TH Köln

26.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

A Map of the Cell’s Power Station

18.08.2017 | Life Sciences

Engineering team images tiny quasicrystals as they form

18.08.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Researchers printed graphene-like materials with inkjet

18.08.2017 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>