In a new study published online in the open-access journal PLoS Biology, Ilkka Hanski and Ilik Saccheri present their analysis of the Glanville fritillary butterfly on the Åland Islands in Finland, where its population dynamics are well studied in relation to its habitat—patches of meadows spread across the landscape. They provide evidence that variants of one gene influence population growth in a species of butterfly in a complex and habitat-dependent manner.
The authors investigated the gene phosphoglucose isomerase (Pgi). The Pgi gene has several forms, or alleles; The f and d alleles are most common—previously, butterflies with either ff or fd genotype were seen to have a higher flight metabolic rate and to be more fecund than those with a dd genotype—making the gene a good candidate for a population effect.
Applying a simultaneous analysis of genotype, population growth, and habitat among >130 small butterfly populations, the authors showed that, in small meadows, growth was highest when the ff or fd genotypes predominated, but in larger meadows, dd was favored the opposite was true—these genotypes predicted a decline in numbers instead of a rise, while dd was favored. This effect was specific to Pgi, as there was no correlation for six other genes analyzed. The authors suggest this might be related to differences in maturation and egg laying. Females with f alleles mature quickly and lay more eggs early on, just the strategy for exploiting a small patch, from which many butterflies risk drifting away rather quickly in their life. Females with d alleles mature later but also die later, allowing them to exploit a larger habitat more thoroughly. There are likely other reasons for the genotype-habitat area effect, since Pgi is likely to influence many different aspects of life history.
This study confirms that intraspecific genetic variation can influence population growth. It also brings home the point that there is not one specific “best” genotype—the favorable genotype will alter with environment according to the selective pressures in play.
Citation: Hanski I, Saccheri I (2006) Molecular-level variation affects population growth in a butterfly metapopulation. PLoS Biol 4(5): e129.CONTACT:
Beer can lift your spirits
26.09.2017 | Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg
Bacterial Nanosized Speargun Works Like a Power Drill
26.09.2017 | Universität Basel
At the productronica trade fair in Munich this November, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be presenting Laser-Based Tape-Automated Bonding, LaserTAB for short. The experts from Aachen will be demonstrating how new battery cells and power electronics can be micro-welded more efficiently and precisely than ever before thanks to new optics and robot support.
Fraunhofer ILT from Aachen relies on a clever combination of robotics and a laser scanner with new optics as well as process monitoring, which it has developed...
Plants and algae use the enzyme Rubisco to fix carbon dioxide, removing it from the atmosphere and converting it into biomass. Algae have figured out a way to increase the efficiency of carbon fixation. They gather most of their Rubisco into a ball-shaped microcompartment called the pyrenoid, which they flood with a high local concentration of carbon dioxide. A team of scientists at Princeton University, the Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford University and the Max Plank Institute of Biochemistry have unravelled the mysteries of how the pyrenoid is assembled. These insights can help to engineer crops that remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while producing more food.
A warming planet
Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.
The researchers report online in Nature (Schmidt et al., 2017. Axonal synapse sorting in medial entorhinal cortex, DOI: 10.1038/nature24005) that synapses in...
Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...
Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!
When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...
19.09.2017 | Event News
12.09.2017 | Event News
06.09.2017 | Event News
25.09.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering
25.09.2017 | Health and Medicine
25.09.2017 | Physics and Astronomy