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.
"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!
Novel mechanisms of action discovered for the skin cancer medication Imiquimod
21.10.2016 | Technische Universität München
Second research flight into zero gravity
21.10.2016 | Universität Zürich
Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.
"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...
In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.
A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...
By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.
"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...
COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.
In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...
'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.
Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...
14.10.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
12.10.2016 | Event News
21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine
21.10.2016 | Information Technology
21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences