The two species (Pseudotropheus emmiltos and Pseudotropheus fainzilberi ) are found in the north western part of Lake Malawi. Until now, the only known difference between them was the color of their dorsal fin. Many researchers believe that African cichlids recognize conspecifics from these kinds of colour differences, which are thought to result from sexual selection. However, recent mate choice experiments have shown that female P. emmiltos recognize males of their own species from P. fainzilberi males based on olfactory communication rather than color.
Some of the genes known to influence mating behavior through olfaction in other vertebrate species are genes of the major histocompatibility complex (MHC). These genes code for receptor that bound molecules produced by infectious agents and present them to specialized cells of the immune system which then launch an immune attack on the microbes. They are the most diverse genes found in vertebrate genomes and individuals of some species, including humans, are able to "smell" other individuals’ variability at these genes and adjust their mate choice in order to optimize the effectiveness of their offspring's immune system. Analysis of MHC genes between P. emmiltos and P. fainzilberi revealed that the two species were genetically more different at these sites involved in contacting and presenting molecules to immune cells than at other sites of the gene's DNA sequence that do not play functional roles.
These results show that natural selection has driven the evolution of these genes in different direction between the two species. Furthermore, the researchers showed that infecting parasites found on the two species were significantly different, as predicted based on the known immune function of MHC genes. "The mechanisms having produced the hundreds of species of East African cichlid fishes in a relatively short period of time are unclear", says Jonatan Blais, the senior author of the paper." This is one of the first genetic adaptive differences between closely related East African cichlid species identified. As such, it improves our understanding of the recent evolution of this incredibly diverse group of fish by pointing to a trait that not only diverged for adaptive reasons but may also be involved in mating behavior."
"The precise role that this divergence played in the evolution of reproductive isolation has yet to be studied", comments Louis Bernatchez, co-author of the study." But it offers an exciting new perspective in the study of African cichlids speciation ".
Andrew Hyde | alfa
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22.09.2017 | DFG-Forschungszentrum für Regenerative Therapien TU Dresden
The pyrenoid is a carbon-fixing liquid droplet
22.09.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Biochemie
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...
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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...
For the first time, physicists have successfully imaged spiral magnetic ordering in a multiferroic material. These materials are considered highly promising candidates for future data storage media. The researchers were able to prove their findings using unique quantum sensors that were developed at Basel University and that can analyze electromagnetic fields on the nanometer scale. The results – obtained by scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics, the Swiss Nanoscience Institute, the University of Montpellier and several laboratories from University Paris-Saclay – were recently published in the journal Nature.
Multiferroics are materials that simultaneously react to electric and magnetic fields. These two properties are rarely found together, and their combined...
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