Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Picky-eater Flies Losing Smell Genes

04.04.2007
A UC Davis researcher is hot on the scent of some lost fruit fly genes. According to population biology graduate student Carolyn McBride, the specialist fruit fly Drosophila sechellia is losing genes for smell and taste receptors 10 times faster than its generalist relative Drosophila simulans. The findings could help researchers understand how some insect pests adapt to feeding on a particular plant.

Genes are lost when mutations destroy their function. "Drosophila sechellia may be losing genes that helped its ancestors detect and assess plants it no longer uses," said McBride, whose research was recently published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

A native of the Seychelles islands in the Indian Ocean, D. sechellia split from its sister species D. simulans half a million years ago -- just a blink of evolutionary time. While D. simulans feeds on a variety of plants, D. sechellia specializes in eating the Indian mulberry, which repels other fruit flies. D. sechellia has evolved resistance to the toxins of its host fruit, and a strong chemical attraction to its scent.

For her genetic analysis, McBride drew on the recently sequenced genomes of D. sechellia and D. simulans, which are available to the public.

... more about:
»Drosophila »McBride »sechellia »simulans

"This is the first time that biologists have been able to compare whole genome sequences from closely related insects that differ dramatically in their ecology," she said. McBride also compared the genes of these two flies to another close relative, the classic lab fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster.

She discovered that not only is the specialist fly losing genes for smell and taste receptors 10 times faster than the generalist, but its remaining sensory genes are also evolving at a more rapid rate. McBride said that the changes in these genes are likely related to the flies' different feeding strategies, because smell and taste are the primary senses that insects use to assess potential host plants.

"My work suggests that changes in these receptors help insects adapt to novel host plants," McBride said. "These genes may therefore be a good place to start looking for genetic changes that underlie host adaptation in other species, including agricultural pests."

McBride's research is supported by grants from the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health.

Andy Fell | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.ucdavis.edu

Further reports about: Drosophila McBride sechellia simulans

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Ambush in a petri dish
24.11.2017 | Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena

nachricht Meadows beat out shrubs when it comes to storing carbon
23.11.2017 | Norwegian University of Science and Technology

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: New proton record: Researchers measure magnetic moment with greatest possible precision

High-precision measurement of the g-factor eleven times more precise than before / Results indicate a strong similarity between protons and antiprotons

The magnetic moment of an individual proton is inconceivably small, but can still be quantified. The basis for undertaking this measurement was laid over ten...

Im Focus: Frictional Heat Powers Hydrothermal Activity on Enceladus

Computer simulation shows how the icy moon heats water in a porous rock core

Heat from the friction of rocks caused by tidal forces could be the “engine” for the hydrothermal activity on Saturn's moon Enceladus. This presupposes that...

Im Focus: Nanoparticles help with malaria diagnosis – new rapid test in development

The WHO reports an estimated 429,000 malaria deaths each year. The disease mostly affects tropical and subtropical regions and in particular the African continent. The Fraunhofer Institute for Silicate Research ISC teamed up with the Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology IME and the Institute of Tropical Medicine at the University of Tübingen for a new test method to detect malaria parasites in blood. The idea of the research project “NanoFRET” is to develop a highly sensitive and reliable rapid diagnostic test so that patient treatment can begin as early as possible.

Malaria is caused by parasites transmitted by mosquito bite. The most dangerous form of malaria is malaria tropica. Left untreated, it is fatal in most cases....

Im Focus: A “cosmic snake” reveals the structure of remote galaxies

The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.

Today, astronomers have a pretty accurate idea of how stars were formed in the recent cosmic past. But do these laws also apply to older galaxies? For around a...

Im Focus: Visual intelligence is not the same as IQ

Just because someone is smart and well-motivated doesn't mean he or she can learn the visual skills needed to excel at tasks like matching fingerprints, interpreting medical X-rays, keeping track of aircraft on radar displays or forensic face matching.

That is the implication of a new study which shows for the first time that there is a broad range of differences in people's visual ability and that these...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Ecology Across Borders: International conference brings together 1,500 ecologists

15.11.2017 | Event News

Road into laboratory: Users discuss biaxial fatigue-testing for car and truck wheel

15.11.2017 | Event News

#Berlin5GWeek: The right network for Industry 4.0

30.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

IceCube experiment finds Earth can block high-energy particles from nuclear reactions

24.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

A 'half-hearted' solution to one-sided heart failure

24.11.2017 | Health and Medicine

Heidelberg Researchers Study Unique Underwater Stalactites

24.11.2017 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>