The ability of yeast cells to convert sugar to alcohol, the key process in the production of beer and wine, can be attributed to a remarkable evolutionary process. The genes that allow yeast to digest sugars in fruits and grains have been duplicated several times over the course of time – allowing for optimal conversion of different types of sugars (such as sucrose and maltose) into alcohol. The duplications arose because the genes for sugar processing are situated close to the unstable margin of the chromosome. The phenomenon appears not to be limited to alcohol production in yeast, but forms an important principle in the evolution of living organisms. The results are presented in a study by Kevin Verstrepen from K.U.Leuven and VIB, a life sciences institute in Flanders, Belgium, Andrew Murray from Harvard University, and Chris Brown, a joint student of Verstrepen and Murray.. The prominent journal Current Biology unveils the study.
Duplication of existing genes is an important evolutionary process
Living beings evolve generation after generation because their genetic material changes gradually. It remains a mystery how life, in a relatively short time, develops completely new properties. It is unlikely that they just appear out of nothing. Recent research, amongst others by VIB-scientists, showed that the duplication of existing genes can play a crucial role. One copy can retain the original function of the gene while the new copy may develop a new function. This can sometimes be very different from the original gene.
Living on the edge increases your chances of being duplicated
In the new study, Chris Brown, a PhD student in Verstrepen´s lab, shows that some genes that are closely located in the ends of the chromosomes, are duplicated more often. The ends of chromosomes, called subtelomeres, seem to function as evolutionary laboratories of our cells. New genes are continuously developed and tested in these "gene nurseries".
Duplication process is of great importance for beer yeast
It appears that duplication at the subtelomeres already occurred in the ancestor of our industrial beer and wine yeasts- Modern strains of beer yeast contain five to ten copies of a prehistoric gene that allows for some sugars to be digested. Each of these modern copies ensures that yeast can digest a particular sugar, and this is much faster than the prehistoric yeast. The massive duplications occurred probably around the Cretaceous era (66 to 145 million years ago). It was no coincidence that this involved the same period in which sweet fruits and grains developed. The duplication of the genes and the further evolution thereof, allowed yeast cells to digest the different sugars in the fruits. In this way, the subtelomeric "gene copying laboratory" ensured that yeasts were able to conquer a new niche. Interestingly, it seems likely that similar subtelomeric gene duplication also stimulates evolution and adaptation in higher organisms, including humans.
Joris Gansemans | EurekAlert!
Researchers uncover protein-based “cancer signature”
05.12.2016 | Universität Basel
The Nagoya Protocol Creates Disadvantages for Many Countries when Applied to Microorganisms
05.12.2016 | Leibniz-Institut DSMZ-Deutsche Sammlung von Mikroorganismen und Zellkulturen GmbH
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,...
Broadband rotational spectroscopy unravels structural reshaping of isolated molecules in the gas phase to accommodate water
In two recent publications in the Journal of Chemical Physics and in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, researchers around Melanie Schnell from the Max...
16.11.2016 | Event News
01.11.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
05.12.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering
05.12.2016 | Information Technology
05.12.2016 | Earth Sciences