Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Too many relatives ruining your picnic? Be glad the flies don’t invite their cousins

19.04.2011
When your family members gather at a picnic in your backyard, there may be 10 to 20 people -- maybe more -- enjoying your barbecue.

When flies visit your party, be glad they don't bring their entire family.

Houseflies have more than 152,000 cousins. And those are just the ones we know about.

An Iowa State University researcher is one of a team of scientists who have recently researched the fly family tree -- one of the most complicated in the animal world.

"It really isn't a tree, it's sort of a bush," said Gregory Courtney, professor of entomology, explaining the complex relationships between fly relatives.

"Because of this, and because the history of flies extends more than 260 million years, it's difficult figuring out the relationships between this branch and that branch," he added.

The problem with tracking fly evolution is that every so often, a species of fly will branch into two different species, and then those two will split again, and again and so forth, he said.

If a series of these branches or dichotomous splits occurs over a brief period of time, the result will be a rapid radiation of new flies and an evolutionary tree that may look more like a bush.

Based on the research of Courtney and his colleagues, at least three episodes of rapid radiation have occurred in the history of flies.

"[The fly family tree] probably involves dichotomous splits," said Courtney. "But we can't always resolve these when there are lots of dichotomous splits going on at the same time."

"One of the nice results of this research was confirmation that a number of episodic radiations may have occurred. That explains some of the difficulty we've had in resolving relationships of different types of flies," he added.

One of Courtney's favorite flies is a group called mountain midges (Deuterophlebia), which the current study suggests is the oldest group of flies, and is positioned near the base of the fly family tree.

He is also an expert on the anatomy, or morphology, of different groups of flies.

That background made him a good choice to help the team decipher the relationships among flies.

"Morphology is just one piece of information that we use to try to figure out relationships," he said. "We looked at a whole suite of morphological characteristics - about 400 characteristics for this analysis."

From its beginning, the fly family tree has been continuously evolving. Courtney says there are now more than 152,000 species of flies that have been described and named, and least that many more haven't yet been discovered and described.

Courtney was a co-investigator on the five-year study recently published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The study was headed by Brian Wiegmann of North Carolina State University, Raleigh, and involved researchers from around the United States, as well as Canada, Australia, Denmark, Singapore and the United Kingdom, and was funded by the National Science Foundation.

Gregory Courtney | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.iastate.edu

Further reports about: Entomology barbecue family tree houseflies picnic in your backyard

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Multi-institutional collaboration uncovers how molecular machines assemble
02.12.2016 | Salk Institute

nachricht Fertilized egg cells trigger and monitor loss of sperm’s epigenetic memory
02.12.2016 | IMBA - Institut für Molekulare Biotechnologie der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften 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: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

Im Focus: MADMAX: Max Planck Institute for Physics takes up axion research

The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.

The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...

Im Focus: Molecules change shape when wet

Broadband rotational spectroscopy unravels structural reshaping of isolated molecules in the gas phase to accommodate water

In two recent publications in the Journal of Chemical Physics and in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, researchers around Melanie Schnell from the Max...

Im Focus: Fraunhofer ISE Develops Highly Compact, High Frequency DC/DC Converter for Aviation

The efficiency of power electronic systems is not solely dependent on electrical efficiency but also on weight, for example, in mobile systems. When the weight of relevant components and devices in airplanes, for instance, is reduced, fuel savings can be achieved and correspondingly greenhouse gas emissions decreased. New materials and components based on gallium nitride (GaN) can help to reduce weight and increase the efficiency. With these new materials, power electronic switches can be operated at higher switching frequency, resulting in higher power density and lower material costs.

Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE together with partners have investigated how these materials can be used to make power...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

UTSA study describes new minimally invasive device to treat cancer and other illnesses

02.12.2016 | Medical Engineering

Plasma-zapping process could yield trans fat-free soybean oil product

02.12.2016 | Agricultural and Forestry Science

What do Netflix, Google and planetary systems have in common?

02.12.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>