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.
Single-stranded DNA and RNA origami go live
15.12.2017 | Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard
New antbird species discovered in Peru by LSU ornithologists
15.12.2017 | Louisiana State University
DNA molecules that follow specific instructions could offer more precise molecular control of synthetic chemical systems, a discovery that opens the door for engineers to create molecular machines with new and complex behaviors.
Researchers have created chemical amplifiers and a chemical oscillator using a systematic method that has the potential to embed sophisticated circuit...
MPQ scientists achieve long storage times for photonic quantum bits which break the lower bound for direct teleportation in a global quantum network.
Concerning the development of quantum memories for the realization of global quantum networks, scientists of the Quantum Dynamics Division led by Professor...
Researchers have developed a water cloaking concept based on electromagnetic forces that could eliminate an object's wake, greatly reducing its drag while...
Tiny pores at a cell's entryway act as miniature bouncers, letting in some electrically charged atoms--ions--but blocking others. Operating as exquisitely sensitive filters, these "ion channels" play a critical role in biological functions such as muscle contraction and the firing of brain cells.
To rapidly transport the right ions through the cell membrane, the tiny channels rely on a complex interplay between the ions and surrounding molecules,...
The miniaturization of the current technology of storage media is hindered by fundamental limits of quantum mechanics. A new approach consists in using so-called spin-crossover molecules as the smallest possible storage unit. Similar to normal hard drives, these special molecules can save information via their magnetic state. A research team from Kiel University has now managed to successfully place a new class of spin-crossover molecules onto a surface and to improve the molecule’s storage capacity. The storage density of conventional hard drives could therefore theoretically be increased by more than one hundred fold. The study has been published in the scientific journal Nano Letters.
Over the past few years, the building blocks of storage media have gotten ever smaller. But further miniaturization of the current technology is hindered by...
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