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 Complementing conventional antibiotics
24.05.2018 | Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main

nachricht Building a brain, cell by cell: Researchers make a mini neuron network (of two)
23.05.2018 | Institute of Industrial Science, The University of Tokyo

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Molecular switch will facilitate the development of pioneering electro-optical devices

A research team led by physicists at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) has developed molecular nanoswitches that can be toggled between two structurally different states using an applied voltage. They can serve as the basis for a pioneering class of devices that could replace silicon-based components with organic molecules.

The development of new electronic technologies drives the incessant reduction of functional component sizes. In the context of an international collaborative...

Im Focus: LZH showcases laser material processing of tomorrow at the LASYS 2018

At the LASYS 2018, from June 5th to 7th, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) will be showcasing processes for the laser material processing of tomorrow in hall 4 at stand 4E75. With blown bomb shells the LZH will present first results of a research project on civil security.

At this year's LASYS, the LZH will exhibit light-based processes such as cutting, welding, ablation and structuring as well as additive manufacturing for...

Im Focus: Self-illuminating pixels for a new display generation

There are videos on the internet that can make one marvel at technology. For example, a smartphone is casually bent around the arm or a thin-film display is rolled in all directions and with almost every diameter. From the user's point of view, this looks fantastic. From a professional point of view, however, the question arises: Is that already possible?

At Display Week 2018, scientists from the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research IAP will be demonstrating today’s technological possibilities and...

Im Focus: Explanation for puzzling quantum oscillations has been found

So-called quantum many-body scars allow quantum systems to stay out of equilibrium much longer, explaining experiment | Study published in Nature Physics

Recently, researchers from Harvard and MIT succeeded in trapping a record 53 atoms and individually controlling their quantum state, realizing what is called a...

Im Focus: Dozens of binaries from Milky Way's globular clusters could be detectable by LISA

Next-generation gravitational wave detector in space will complement LIGO on Earth

The historic first detection of gravitational waves from colliding black holes far outside our galaxy opened a new window to understanding the universe. A...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Save the date: Forum European Neuroscience – 07-11 July 2018 in Berlin, Germany

02.05.2018 | Event News

Invitation to the upcoming "Current Topics in Bioinformatics: Big Data in Genomics and Medicine"

13.04.2018 | Event News

Unique scope of UV LED technologies and applications presented in Berlin: ICULTA-2018

12.04.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Could a particle accelerator using laser-driven implosion become a reality?

24.05.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Hot cars can hit deadly temperatures in as little as one hour

24.05.2018 | Health and Medicine

Complementing conventional antibiotics

24.05.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>