Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Scientists Discover Cause of Weakness in Marine Animal Hybrids

14.10.2008
Genetic dysfunction found in crustaceans holds implications for stem cell research, cloning and agriculture.

Scientists at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego have shown for the first time that a genetic malfunction found in marine crustaceans called copepods likely explains why populations of animals that diverge and eventually reconnect produce weak "hybrid" offspring.

Hybrid animals result when populations of a given species separate from one another, undergoing genetic mutations while apart and eventually reestablish ties and interbreed. Hybrids often suffer from lower fertility levels, slower development and higher rates of mortality due to environmental causes.

The new research described by Christopher Ellison and Ronald Burton of Scripps Oceanography is published in this week's online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

"In addition to informing us about evolutionary processes, this research has important implications for a variety of biomedical and agricultural practices, such as stem cell production and cloning of domestic animals," said Burton, a professor in the Marine Biology Research Division at Scripps.

For the past several years, Ellison and Burton have been studying copepods of the species Tigriopus californicus, animals about one millimeter in length that live in coastal intertidal habitats. The researchers produced hybrid specimens in the laboratory by mating animals from San Diego, Los Angeles and Santa Cruz, Calif. At their home between high and low tides, these copepods experience rapid changes in their environment, such as when rainwater dilutes tide pools and the animals are forced to "up-regulate," or activate, specific genes to produce the energy required to manage the stress caused by the rapid change in salinity levels.

Ellison and Burton found that hybrids were incapable of turning on the required genes, and traced this "gene regulation" malfunction to mitochondria, the location inside cells where energy is generated. They further pinned the problem area to a single enzyme, called "RNA polymerase," for the failed trigger.

"In hybrids we found that these genes don't turn on in response to stress, which means the animals don't have enough energy, and that leads to low survivorship," said Burton.

Burton said the study demonstrates how evolution continually molds the interactions of genes in animal populations.

"When populations are hybridized, genes that normally work well within populations are forced to interact with genes from other populations, sometimes leading to dramatic incompatibilities," said Burton. "When the incompatibility affects something as central as cellular energy production, as in Tigriopus, it is not surprising that hybrids show slower growth and reduced reproduction and survivorship."

Burton added that the results of the new study hold implications for stem cell research and animal cloning, as those efforts involve taking components of one cell and placing them into another, situations that test gene compatibility and interaction. The findings also may be applicable to agriculture where many crop plants are of hybrid origin.

Ongoing and future studies in Burton's laboratory involve examinations of hybrids with close geographical ties, such as those that live in close proximity in Southern California, to probe the genetic breakdowns more closely. His group also is attempting to replicate the mechanisms in a test tube, experimenting with various DNA and enzyme combinations that might exhibit the problem.

Ellison, who contributed to the research while a graduate student at Scripps and is now a postdoctoral researcher at Cornell University, earned the 2007 Edward A. Frieman Prize from Scripps for research that paved the way to the new study.

Grants from the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health supported the research.

Mario Aguilera | Newswise Science News
Further information:
http://www.ucsd.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Synthetic nanoparticles achieve the complexity of protein molecules
24.01.2017 | Carnegie Mellon University

nachricht Immune Defense Without Collateral Damage
24.01.2017 | Universität Basel

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Quantum optical sensor for the first time tested in space – with a laser system from Berlin

For the first time ever, a cloud of ultra-cold atoms has been successfully created in space on board of a sounding rocket. The MAIUS mission demonstrates that quantum optical sensors can be operated even in harsh environments like space – a prerequi-site for finding answers to the most challenging questions of fundamental physics and an important innovation driver for everyday applications.

According to Albert Einstein's Equivalence Principle, all bodies are accelerated at the same rate by the Earth's gravity, regardless of their properties. This...

Im Focus: Traffic jam in empty space

New success for Konstanz physicists in studying the quantum vacuum

An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...

Im Focus: How gut bacteria can make us ill

HZI researchers decipher infection mechanisms of Yersinia and immune responses of the host

Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...

Im Focus: Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.

While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...

Im Focus: Studying fundamental particles in materials

Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales

Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Sustainable Water use in Agriculture in Eastern Europe and Central Asia

19.01.2017 | Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Arctic melt ponds form when meltwater clogs ice pores

24.01.2017 | Earth Sciences

Synthetic nanoparticles achieve the complexity of protein molecules

24.01.2017 | Life Sciences

PPPL physicist uncovers clues to mechanism behind magnetic reconnection

24.01.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>