Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Nowhere to hide: Some species are unable to adapt to climate change due to their genes

07.09.2009
Species living in restricted environments such as the tropics may lack adequate variation in their genes and be unable to adapt to climate change, according to a new study.

Adaptation is a physiological or behavioural change that makes an organism better suited to its environment, and more likely to survive and reproduce. Because adaptations usually occur due to a change (or mutation) in a gene, species with a more varied set of genes to begin with, are likely to have a better basis for adaptation.

Professor Ary Hoffmann from the Centre for Environmental Stress and Adaptation Research (CESAR), Bio21 Institute, University of Melbourne says the new findings suggest specialist species have a fundamental evolutionary limit, and will be unable to respond to future climate changes.

The work was conducted by a team of Melbourne and Monash University researchers from CESAR, and will be published in the journal Science this week.

"Just as variety is the spice of life, the more varied a species' genetic make-up, the better arsenal it has to respond to change," says Professor Hoffmann.

Habitat specialists make up most of our earth's biodiversity, suggesting that this inability to adapt will affect many species including groups of insects, and potentially other groups including mammals and fish.

"This work is important because establishing the genetics linked to species distributions will be useful in assessing and predicting the evolutionary potential of species particularly under climate change. This may in turn assist in conservation efforts and identifying vulnerable groups."

The team used various species of the vinegar fly (Drosophila) as a model, examining different species that lived in tropical and more widely distributed environments. They revealed that the flies living in tropical conditions possessed a narrower set of genes for traits such as tolerance to drying (desiccation) and cold resistance, effectively preventing adaptation.

Although it is well-documented that species distributions become narrower towards the tropics, it was previously thought that all traits are highly variable. Instead the new study has found that a species' range is closely linked to its genetic variation for key traits.

"In essence, we now have a genetic explanation for why species are restricted."

For more information, pictures of vinegar fly species available:
Professor Ary Hoffmann
Centre for Environmental Stress and Adaptation Research (CESAR)
Bio21 Institute, University of Melbourne
Ph 0408 342 834
(03)83442282
Dr Nerissa Hannink
Media Office
University of Melbourne
Ph (03) 8344 8151
0430 588 055

Nerissa Hannink | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.unimelb.edu.au

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht 'Lipid asymmetry' plays key role in activating immune cells
20.02.2018 | Biophysical Society

nachricht New printing technique uses cells and molecules to recreate biological structures
20.02.2018 | Queen Mary University of London

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

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...

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...

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

'Lipid asymmetry' plays key role in activating immune cells

20.02.2018 | Life Sciences

MRI technique differentiates benign breast lesions from malignancies

20.02.2018 | Medical Engineering

Major discovery in controlling quantum states of single atoms

20.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>