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!
Symbiotic bacteria: from hitchhiker to beetle bodyguard
28.04.2017 | Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz
Nose2Brain – Better Therapy for Multiple Sclerosis
28.04.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Grenzflächen- und Bioverfahrenstechnik IGB
More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.
Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...
Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.
"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...
The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.
Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...
The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...
Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.
Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...
28.04.2017 | Event News
20.04.2017 | Event News
18.04.2017 | Event News
28.04.2017 | Medical Engineering
28.04.2017 | Earth Sciences
28.04.2017 | Life Sciences