Molecular Biology Fills Gaps in Knowledge of Bat Evolution
UCR Biologist Mark Springer, Part of Research Team Publishing in Journal Science
One in five mammals living on Earth is a bat, yet their evolutionary history is largely unknown because of a limited fossil record and conflicting or incomplete theories about their origins and divergence. Now, a research team including University of California, Riverside Biology Professor Mark Springer, has published a paper in the Jan. 28 issue of the journal Science that uses molecular biology and the fossil data to fill in many of the gaps.
Springer coauthors the paper, titled A Molecular Phylogeny for Bats Illuminates Biogeography and the Fossil Record, with William Murphy, Stephen J. O’Brien and Emma. C. Teeling of the National Cancer Institute’s Laboratory of Genomic Diversity, Frederick, MD; Ole Madsen in the Department of Biochemistry at the University of Nijmegen, the Netherlands; and Paul Bates of the Harrison Institute’s Centre for Systematics and Biodiversity Research, Kent, U.K. “The present work advances our understanding of where bats originated, when they diversified and how different bat families are related to each other,” Springer said. “It also quantifies the fraction of the fossil record that is missing for bats.”
The team, using DNA sequencing, analyzed data from portions of 17 nuclear genes from representatives of all bat families. Their results support the hypothesis that the group of large fruit-eating bats from the tropics, that fly mostly during the day – known to biologists as megabats – emerged from four major lineages of smaller and more widely dispersed, mostly insect-eating, night-flying bats, known as microbats. These microbats – also known for their highly specialized echolocation – originated about 52 to 50 million years ago during a lush period of significant global warming in a region that is now North America.
This latest research helps fill gaps in the evolutionary history of one of the most diverse group of mammals on earth and the only mammals capable of powered flight. The fossil record alone left bat evolutionary history about 61 percent incomplete, according to Springer. Bats play a major ecological role as plant pollinators and insect predators.
For Springer, this latest research is significant because it shows that molecular information can contribute to resolving and illuminating long-standing problems in evolutionary biology. The current findings lay the groundwork for further research that, Springer hopes, will expand the coverage of classifications of bats from the family level to the genus level and probe in more detail into the bat evolutionary record. He also plans to compare the completeness of the bat fossil record with that of other mammals.
University of Michigan Museum of Zoology animal diversity Web site
The University of California, Riverside is a major research institution and a national center for the humanities. Key areas of research include nanotechnology, genomics, environmental studies, digital arts and sustainable growth and development. With a current undergraduate and graduate enrollment of nearly 17,000, the campus is projected to grow to 21,000 students by 2010. Located in the heart of inland Southern California, the nearly 1,200-acre, park-like campus is at the center of the regions economic development. Visit www.ucr.edu or call 951-UCR-NEWS for more information. Media sources are available at http://www.mediasources.ucr.edu/.
Ricardo Duran | EurekAlert!
The most recent press releases about innovation >>>
Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:
Computer scientists use wave packet theory to develop realistic, detailed water wave simulations in real time. Their results will be presented at this year’s SIGGRAPH conference.
Think about the last time you were at a lake, river, or the ocean. Remember the ripples of the water, the waves crashing against the rocks, the wake following...
An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.
Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...
Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.
Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...
Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.
As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...
Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.
With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...