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!
The balancing act: An enzyme that links endocytosis to membrane recycling
07.12.2016 | National Centre for Biological Sciences
Transforming plant cells from generalists to specialists
07.12.2016 | Duke University
In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.
Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...
Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...
A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.
Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...
In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.
“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...
The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.
The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...
16.11.2016 | Event News
01.11.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
07.12.2016 | Health and Medicine
07.12.2016 | Life Sciences
07.12.2016 | Health and Medicine