Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

University of Iowa team discovers first moisture-sensing genes

08.11.2007
Researchers in the University of Iowa Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine have discovered the first two genes involved in moisture sensing (hygrosensation).

The discovery also reveals a "two-sensor" hygrosensing system in fruit flies that may allow the flies to detect subtle changes in humidity -- an ability that is critical for the flies' survival. The results appear in the Nov. 8 issue of Nature.

Subtle variations in humidity influence reproductive behavior and geographic distribution in many animals, including insects, reptiles and birds. Because of their small size, insects, in particular, require a finely tuned ability to detect moisture levels in their environment in order to survive. However, the mechanisms and molecules involved in moisture sensing have remained a mystery.

"Moisture sensing is a sensory modality, which up to this point no one has understood. This is the first study to identify genes that are involved," said Lei Liu, Ph.D., UI postdoctoral fellow in internal medicine and lead author of the study.

... more about:
»DETECT »detecting »involved »moist »moisture »sensing »sensory

Liu and colleagues made their discovery by testing the idea that moisture sensing is a special form of mechanosensation -- the ability to detect physical forces like touch or movement. The researchers used various genetic techniques to study over 20 genes assumed to be involved in touch in fruit flies. Screening each gene mutation for its effect on the flies' ability to detect moisture, the researchers identified two genes that are required for normal moisture sensing. Furthermore, they found that one of the genes, "nanchung," is involved in detecting dry air, while the other gene, "water witch," is required for detecting moist air.

Both genes are members of the transient receptor potential (TRP) family of genes that code for ion channels. Nanchung, which means "can't hear" in Korean, has previously been shown to be involved in hearing. Water witch has no other known function and was named by Liu and colleagues for its role in sensing moist air. Disruption of either gene impaired the flies' hygrosensing ability.

The researchers also examined where the two genes are expressed in the fruit flies and determined that not only are two separate genes involved in hygrosensation, but also two types of neurons.

"This work provides the first evidence for a sensory system coded by two types of sensory neurons, one responsible for detecting increased moisture and the other responsible for detecting decreased moisture," Liu said.

The researchers speculate that this two-sensor system may allow the flies to detect relative humidity with great sensitivity. Liu added that the "two-sensor" system might also be a model for other sensory processes where the ability to detect subtle environmental changes is important, such as temperature sensing.

The UI findings open the way to a better understanding of hygrosensation, they provide important clues for learning how mechanosensation works, and they may offer new insights into how sensory systems work in living creatures.

Jennifer Brown | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.uiowa.edu

Further reports about: DETECT detecting involved moist moisture sensing sensory

More articles from Life Sciences:

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

nachricht Migrating Cells: Folds in the cell membrane supply material for necessary blebs
23.11.2017 | Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

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...

Im Focus: Novel Nano-CT device creates high-resolution 3D-X-rays of tiny velvet worm legs

Computer Tomography (CT) is a standard procedure in hospitals, but so far, the technology has not been suitable for imaging extremely small objects. In PNAS, a team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) describes a Nano-CT device that creates three-dimensional x-ray images at resolutions up to 100 nanometers. The first test application: Together with colleagues from the University of Kassel and Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht the researchers analyzed the locomotory system of a velvet worm.

During a CT analysis, the object under investigation is x-rayed and a detector measures the respective amount of radiation absorbed from various angles....

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

Underwater acoustic localization of marine mammals and vehicles

23.11.2017 | Information Technology

Enhancing the quantum sensing capabilities of diamond

23.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Meadows beat out shrubs when it comes to storing carbon

23.11.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>