The scientists grew groups of chickens under stressful conditions, where a randomly fluctuating day-night rhythm made access to food and resting perches unpredictable. This caused a marked decrease in the ability of the stressed birds to solve a spatial learning task. Remarkably, their offspring also had a decreased learning ability, in spite of being kept under non-stress conditions from the point of egg-laying. They were also more competitive and grew faster than offspring of non-stressed birds.
To investigate whether there was any genetic basis for the effect, the research group examined the expression levels of about 9000 genes in the brain of the chickens. In birds exposed to stress, there was a number of genes where the expression was either increased or decreased, and the same genes were similarly affected in the offspring.
The results therefore demonstrate that both the changes in gene function and the behavioural changes caused by stress were transferred to the offspring. Both these effects were only seen in domesticated chickens, not in the ancestor, the red junglefowl. The scientists therefore speculate that domestication may have favoured animals which are able to affect the biology of their offspring through genetic modifications.
The results offer new insights into how animal populations may be capable of adaptation to stressful environments in evolutionary short times. This can help explain both the rapid development of animals during domestication, and evolutionary responses to changing conditions in nature.
Hunting pathogens at full force
22.03.2017 | Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung
A 155 carat diamond with 92 mm diameter
22.03.2017 | Universität Augsburg
Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.
The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.
Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...
Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.
Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...
In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...
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22.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
22.03.2017 | Materials Sciences