The research could eventually lead to new approaches for controlling sleeping sickness in humans and wasting diseases in livestock which are caused by trypanosomes carried by the bloodsucking tsetse fly.
Biologists believe that sexual reproduction evolved very early and is now ubiquitous in organisms with complex cell structure (the eukaryotes, essentially all living organisms except bacteria). However, real evidence is lacking for a large section of the evolutionary tree.
Trypanosomes represent an early and very distant branch of the eukaryote tree of life and until now it was unclear whether they do indeed reproduce sexually.
Offspring that result from sexual reproduction inherit half their genetic material from each parent. At the core of this process is meiosis, the cellular division that shuffles the parental genes and deals them out in new combinations to the offspring. In organisms which cause diseases, sexual reproduction can spread genes which make them more virulent, or resistant to drugs used for treatment, as well as creating completely new strains with combinations of genes not previously encountered.
Some time ago it was shown that genetic shuffling could occur when two different trypanosome strains were mixed in the tsetse fly, but it was far from clear that this was true sexual reproduction. Direct visualization of the process was difficult because it happened inside the insect.
To get round this problem, Professor Wendy Gibson and colleagues used fluorescently-tagged proteins to make trypanosomes light up like tiny light bulbs [see image]. The tagged proteins only function during meiosis in other well-studied eukaryotes such as yeast.
Professor Gibson said: “It seems that meiosis in trypanosomes has eluded observers because it occurs hidden inside the insect carrying the parasite – a difficult and technically challenging system to work with. These new results will further our understanding of events at the very beginning of eukaryote evolution, and of the way that new strains of disease-causing microbes emerge.”
The study, carried out by researchers from Bristol’s Schools of Biological Sciences and Veterinary Sciences in collaboration with the University of Cambridge, is published this week in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).
The research was funded by the Wellcome Trust.
‘Identification of the meiotic life cycle stage of Trypanosoma brucei in the tsetse fly’ by Lori Peacock, Vanessa Ferris, Reuben Sharma, Jack Sunter, Mick Bailey, Mark Carrington and Wendy Gibson in PNAS Early Edition doi/10.1073/pnas.1019423108
Hannah Johnson | EurekAlert!
Transport of molecular motors into cilia
28.03.2017 | Aarhus University
Asian dust providing key nutrients for California's giant sequoias
28.03.2017 | University of California - Riverside
The Institute of Semiconductor Technology and the Institute of Physical and Theoretical Chemistry, both members of the Laboratory for Emerging Nanometrology (LENA), at Technische Universität Braunschweig are partners in a new European research project entitled ChipScope, which aims to develop a completely new and extremely small optical microscope capable of observing the interior of living cells in real time. A consortium of 7 partners from 5 countries will tackle this issue with very ambitious objectives during a four-year research program.
To demonstrate the usefulness of this new scientific tool, at the end of the project the developed chip-sized microscope will be used to observe in real-time...
Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.
The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.
Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...
Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.
Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...
In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...
20.03.2017 | Event News
14.03.2017 | Event News
07.03.2017 | Event News
29.03.2017 | Awards Funding
29.03.2017 | Health and Medicine
29.03.2017 | Earth Sciences