Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Being unique has advantages: 'Rareness' key to some insects being favored by evolution

As the saying goes- blondes have more fun, but in the world of insects it may actually be the rare 'redheads' that have the last laugh….at least in terms of evolution.

A new study at the University of Melbourne has discovered that genetic variation in an asexual insect – insects that reproduce by cloning themselves – is maintained by rare clones being chosen for the next generation, a phenomenon known as frequency-dependent selection.

In the study conducted by Dr Andrew Weeks and Prof Ary Hoffmann from the University of Melbourne, the reproduction of a major agricultural pest, the blue oat mite (Penthaleus major) was examined.

"We found that although the mites reproduce asexually, essentially by cloning themselves, some genetic differences were occurring via mutation. These new variants or clones, which start off rare, become common because they are favoured by natural selection" says Dr Weeks, from the Centre for Environmental Stress and Adaptation Research (CESAR) in the Department of Genetics at the University of Melbourne.

"Essentially, the rarer you are, the more offspring you will leave in the next generation".

To determine how clones were being selected, they set up a series of enclosed plots in several pasture sites in Victoria. They then introduced unique clones of the mites in varying frequencies into the enclosures. The clones that were initially rare became common in the next generation, while the common clones produced fewer offspring.

"This can be a cycling process, where the common clones become rare and then they are at an advantage and become common again" says Dr Weeks.

"Our study has revealed new insights into the ability for asexual organisms to maintain genetic variation" says Prof Hoffmann from CESAR, based at the Bio21 institute. "These mites are problematic for farmers to control and this mechanism means that the species can evolve to counter control measures like the application of chemicals or the introduction of predators."

"Controlling pests is like an arms race between us and the pests – normally we don't expect asexuals to do well in this race, but in this case the asexuals might even win out".

Nerissa Hannink | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Novel mechanisms of action discovered for the skin cancer medication Imiquimod
21.10.2016 | Technische Universität München

nachricht Second research flight into zero gravity
21.10.2016 | Universität Zürich

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

Im Focus: Ultra-thin ferroelectric material for next-generation electronics

'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.

Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Resolving the mystery of preeclampsia

21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine

Stanford researchers create new special-purpose computer that may someday save us billions

21.10.2016 | Information Technology

From ancient fossils to future cars

21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>