Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Lethal parasite evolved from pond scum

09.05.2014

A genomic investigation by University of British Columbia researchers has revealed that a lethal parasite infecting a wide range of insects actually originated from pond scum, but has completely shed its green past on its evolutionary journey.

A team led by UBC Botany Prof. Patrick Keeling sequenced the genome of Helicosporidium – an intracellular parasite that can kill juvenile blackflies, caterpillars, beetles and mosquitoes – and found it evolved from algae like another notorious pathogen: malaria.


The corkscrew-shaped Helicosporidium is a parasite that has its origins in green alga.

Credit: Photo: Drion Boucias, University of Florida

Keeling and colleagues had previously reported that malaria shared a common evolutionary lineage with the algae responsible for toxic red tides. Their latest study, published today in the online journal PLOS Genetics, shows that Helicosporidium evolved from green alga but, unlike malaria, preserved virtually all its genes except those required for photosynthesis.

"Both malaria and Helicosporidium started out as alga and ended up as intracellular parasites preying on animals, but they have done it in very different ways," says Keeling, director of the Centre for Microbial Diversity and Evolution at UBC and a Senior Fellow of Canadian Institute for Advanced Research.

"Malaria drastically reduced its genome and became very dependent on its host for nutrients. Helicosporidium, on the other hand, lost almost nothing except those genes required for photosynthesis, which it no longer needs as a parasite.

"It's as if photosynthesis has been surgically removed from its genome."

The discovery, done in collaboration with scientists at the Universities of Rhode Island and Florida, will allow researchers to compare how parasites evolve at the molecular level in these two distantly related lineages.

It also provides the first insights into their origins, development as well as methods of infection, which are key to controlling the population of pest-insect hosts.

Patrick Keeling | Eurek Alert!
Further information:
http://www.ubc.ca

Further reports about: Botany Evolution Genetics Island Malaria UBC animals genes methods photosynthesis responsible

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Faster detection of pathogens in the lungs
24.06.2016 | Universität Zürich

nachricht How yeast cells regulate their fat balance
23.06.2016 | Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: First experimental quantum simulation of particle physics phenomena

Physicists in Innsbruck have realized the first quantum simulation of lattice gauge theories, building a bridge between high-energy theory and atomic physics. In the journal Nature, Rainer Blatt‘s and Peter Zoller’s research teams describe how they simulated the creation of elementary particle pairs out of the vacuum by using a quantum computer.

Elementary particles are the fundamental buildings blocks of matter, and their properties are described by the Standard Model of particle physics. The...

Im Focus: Is There Life On Mars?

Survivalist back from Space - 18 months on the outer skin of the ISS

A year and a half on the outer wall of the International Space Station ISS in altitude of 400 kilometers is a real challenge. Whether a primordial bacterium...

Im Focus: CWRU physicists deploy magnetic vortex to control electron spin

Potential technology for quantum computing, keener sensors

Researchers at Case Western Reserve University have developed a way to swiftly and precisely control electron spins at room temperature.

Im Focus: Physicists measured something new in the radioactive decay of neutrons

The experiment inspired theorists; future ones could reveal new physics

A physics experiment performed at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has enhanced scientists' understanding of how free neutrons decay...

Im Focus: Discovery of gold nanocluster 'double' hints at other shape changing particles

New analysis approach brings two unique atomic structures into focus

Chemically the same, graphite and diamonds are as physically distinct as two minerals can be, one opaque and soft, the other translucent and hard. What makes...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ERES 2016: The largest conference in the European real estate industry

09.06.2016 | Event News

Networking 4.0: International Laser Technology Congress AKL’16 Shows New Ways of Cooperations

24.05.2016 | Event News

Challenges of rural labor markets

20.05.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

Nanoscientists develop the 'ultimate discovery tool'

24.06.2016 | Materials Sciences

Russian physicists create a high-precision 'quantum ruler'

24.06.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

Hubble confirms new dark spot on Neptune

24.06.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>