Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Shape, fit of reproductive organs evolve quickly and in concert, leaving size behind

16.12.2011
Believed critical for determining which individuals can -- or cannot -- successfully reproduce with each other, genitalia not only figure prominently in the origin of new species, but are also typically the first type of trait to change as new species form.

Today, new international research led by Indiana University shows that as populations and species diversify, the exact shape and fit of genitalia steals the show over size.

In data gathered from populations isolated for less than 50 years, to species separated for millions of years, researchers studying scarab beetles have shown that both male and female genitalia have evolved extremely rapidly and have done so along parallel timetables. But most surprisingly, this codivergence occurred much faster in, or was even restricted to, genital shape rather than size.

"Parallel evolutionary divergence in male and female genitalia was something scientists long suspected or assumed, but we've had little or no data to support this assumption," said lead author Armin Moczek, an associate professor in the IU Bloomington College of Arts and Sciences' Department of Biology. "But to see that this parallel divergence is so much faster for genital shape than size is a big surprise."

Too much focus in past research on sizes, rather than shapes of genitalia -- which is much harder to measure in arthropods -- may have misled past research in judging how genitalic evolution may enable diverging populations to evolve into separate species unable to hybridize.

Just as interesting is the remarkably short time frame -- as short as populations being separated by 50 years -- that would support the notion that it may be surprisingly easy for the genitalia of males and females to evolve concomitantly, and for males and females of different populations to diverge from each other to a degree approximating what is normally seen only between species separated for more than 10,000 years.

"If it is correct that such divergences aid in establishing reproductive isolation -- something we did not test, but which is widely assumed -- then by extension this finding suggests that evolving new species, or at least getting populations started in the process, may be much easier and faster than we generally assume," Moczek said.

In this research, the team examined the female genital tract and the male copulatory organs of eight populations of five different species of Onthophagus beetles, including three populations in the Eastern U.S., Western Australia and Eastern Australia which were established from an ancestral Mediterranean population in the 1970s as part of a biocontrol program.

The researchers focused on male and female genitalic parts that interact physically during copulation -- the female pygidium, a moveable plate that provides grooves and pits that serve as anchor points for the correct positioning of male genitalia, and the male parameres, part of the male copulatory organ, which includes projections that fit into said grooves and pits of the female pygidium.

The research team then examined how shapes and sizes of these interacting female and male copulatory structures had diverged across populations and species using landmark-based geometric morphometric tools, a key methodology that enabled the team to examine differences in shape irrespective of differences in size.

"Once we compared the patterns of divergence across sexes we found that the relative sizes of male and female copulatory organs do evolve, but do so independent of each other. But for genital shape, we found a striking signature of parallel divergence, suggesting that male and female copulatory structures that are linked mechanically during copulation may diverge in concert with respect to their shapes," Moczek said. "Our results also suggest that genital divergence in general, and co-divergence of male and female genital shape in particular, can evolve over an extraordinarily short time frame."

The National Science Foundation's support of Moczek's research in the evolutionary developmental biology of horned beetles has provided much of the infrastructure that enabled this study.

Co-authors with Moczek on the research article "Shape -- but Not Size -- Codivergence Between Male and Female Copulatory Structures in Onthophagus Beetles," first available online here Dec. 14, in PLoS ONE, were Anna L. M. Macagno, Astrid Pizzo, Claudia Palestrini and Antonio Rolando of Università degli Studi di Torino; and Harald F. Parzer, also of IU's Department of Biology.

For more information, contact Steve Chaplin, Indiana University Communications, at 812-856-1896 or stjchap@iu.edu. Tweeting IU science news: @IndianaScience

Steve Chaplin | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.iu.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Tag it EASI – a new method for accurate protein analysis
19.06.2018 | Max-Planck-Institut für Biochemie

nachricht How to track and trace a protein: Nanosensors monitor intracellular deliveries
19.06.2018 | 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: Overdosing on Calcium

Nano crystals impact stem cell fate during bone formation

Scientists from the University of Freiburg and the University of Basel identified a master regulator for bone regeneration. Prasad Shastri, Professor of...

Im Focus: AchemAsia 2019 will take place in Shanghai

Moving into its fourth decade, AchemAsia is setting out for new horizons: The International Expo and Innovation Forum for Sustainable Chemical Production will take place from 21-23 May 2019 in Shanghai, China. With an updated event profile, the eleventh edition focusses on topics that are especially relevant for the Chinese process industry, putting a strong emphasis on sustainability and innovation.

Founded in 1989 as a spin-off of ACHEMA to cater to the needs of China’s then developing industry, AchemAsia has since grown into a platform where the latest...

Im Focus: First real-time test of Li-Fi utilization for the industrial Internet of Things

The BMBF-funded OWICELLS project was successfully completed with a final presentation at the BMW plant in Munich. The presentation demonstrated a Li-Fi communication with a mobile robot, while the robot carried out usual production processes (welding, moving and testing parts) in a 5x5m² production cell. The robust, optical wireless transmission is based on spatial diversity; in other words, data is sent and received simultaneously by several LEDs and several photodiodes. The system can transmit data at more than 100 Mbit/s and five milliseconds latency.

Modern production technologies in the automobile industry must become more flexible in order to fulfil individual customer requirements.

Im Focus: Sharp images with flexible fibers

An international team of scientists has discovered a new way to transfer image information through multimodal fibers with almost no distortion - even if the fiber is bent. The results of the study, to which scientist from the Leibniz-Institute of Photonic Technology Jena (Leibniz IPHT) contributed, were published on 6thJune in the highly-cited journal Physical Review Letters.

Endoscopes allow doctors to see into a patient’s body like through a keyhole. Typically, the images are transmitted via a bundle of several hundreds of optical...

Im Focus: Photoexcited graphene puzzle solved

A boost for graphene-based light detectors

Light detection and control lies at the heart of many modern device applications, such as smartphone cameras. Using graphene as a light-sensitive material for...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Munich conference on asteroid detection, tracking and defense

13.06.2018 | Event News

2nd International Baltic Earth Conference in Denmark: “The Baltic Sea region in Transition”

08.06.2018 | Event News

ISEKI_Food 2018: Conference with Holistic View of Food Production

05.06.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Carbon nanotube optics provide optical-based quantum cryptography and quantum computing

19.06.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

How to track and trace a protein: Nanosensors monitor intracellular deliveries

19.06.2018 | Life Sciences

New material for splitting water

19.06.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>