Viruses are famous for evolving quickly, but the organisms they infect cant be expected to sit idly by. There is now new evidence that animals in fact do an impressive job of keeping up in the ongoing evolutionary arms race between viruses and their hosts. Studying a special class of genes thought to have evolved in part as a defense system against viruses, researchers have found evidence that these genes are indeed among the fastest-evolving in the genome of the fruit fly, Drosophila. The work is reported by University of Edinburgh researchers Dr. Darren Obbard and Dr. Tom Little and colleagues and appears in the March 21st issue of Current Biology.
Viruses hijack the cells of other organisms, using them as factories to copy themselves. Animals and plants have a number of different locks and codes that help to keep the viruses out, but viruses are capable of evolving new ways of breaking the codes extremely quickly. The new research shows that genes controlling a part of the immune system that fights viruses actually evolve much faster than almost all other genes, evidence of the hosts evolutionary race to keep the viruses at bay.
In their research, the scientists found evidence that some genes that participate in so-called RNAi mechanisms evolve much faster than the vast majority of other genes in the flys genome. This is relevant for the virus-host arms race because RNAi pathways--which exist in both plants and animals--participate in molecular defenses against viruses by homing in on viral genetic material and directing its enzymatic destruction. Viruses can evolve quickly to out-maneuver RNAi mechanisms, but hosts would be expected to rapidly evolve countermeasures of their own to resist new viral strategies. The new research provides evidence for such rapid evolution of some RNAi genes: The researchers found that some RNAi components evolve far faster than 97% of all other fruit fly genes. This rapid evolution illustrates the vital role of RNAi in antiviral defense, and it shows that these genes can be central players in the evolution of host organisms in response to the ever-changing strategies of viral attacks.
Heidi Hardman | EurekAlert!
Fine organic particles in the atmosphere are more often solid glass beads than liquid oil droplets
21.04.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Chemie
Study overturns seminal research about the developing nervous system
21.04.2017 | University of California - Los Angeles Health Sciences
The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.
Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...
The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...
Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.
Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...
Two researchers at Heidelberg University have developed a model system that enables a better understanding of the processes in a quantum-physical experiment...
Glaciers might seem rather inhospitable environments. However, they are home to a diverse and vibrant microbial community. It’s becoming increasingly clear that they play a bigger role in the carbon cycle than previously thought.
A new study, now published in the journal Nature Geoscience, shows how microbial communities in melting glaciers contribute to the Earth’s carbon cycle, a...
20.04.2017 | Event News
18.04.2017 | Event News
03.04.2017 | Event News
21.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
21.04.2017 | Health and Medicine
21.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy