Much has been made of the economic impacts of recent biological invasions, but what are the implications of invasions in deep time? Luiz Rocha leads geneticists who time travel through ocean environments. The results of their travels, published online in Molecular Ecology, tell us that during warm, interglacial periods, reef-associated fish (goby genus Gnatholepis), leapt around the horn of Africa into the Atlantic, where their range expanded as the world warmed.
"We found that global warming events correspond clearly with major range expansions of gobies from the Indian Ocean into the Atlantic Ocean and subsequently into the Eastern Atlantic," summarizes Rocha. A chilly Antarctic current--the Benguela upwelling system-- surges up along the western coast of Africa acting as a natural barrier, and has prevented most warm water organisms from the Indian Ocean from making it in to the Atlantic for the last 2 million years. But when the world warmed about 150,000 years ago, gobies slipped around the corner of the continent.
Researchers at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, Hofstra University and the University of Hawaii, sequenced goby DNA (774 pb of the mtDNA of cytochrome b, to be exact) from the western, central and eastern Atlantic Ocean. They also sequenced DNA from gobies in the same genus from South Africa, from the Cocos Keeling Islands in the eastern Indian Ocean, and from the Cook Islands in the South Pacific. They calculate the approximate amount of time that isolated groups of fish have been separate based on the differences in the DNA between groups.
Beth King | EurekAlert!
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Physicists working with Roland Wester at the University of Innsbruck have investigated if and how chemical reactions can be influenced by targeted vibrational excitation of the reactants. They were able to demonstrate that excitation with a laser beam does not affect the efficiency of a chemical exchange reaction and that the excited molecular group acts only as a spectator in the reaction.
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Optical spectroscopy allows investigating the energy structure and dynamic properties of complex quantum systems. Researchers from the University of Würzburg present two new approaches of coherent two-dimensional spectroscopy.
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Ultra-short, high-intensity X-ray flashes open the door to the foundations of chemical reactions. Free-electron lasers generate these kinds of pulses, but there is a catch: the pulses vary in duration and energy. An international research team has now presented a solution: Using a ring of 16 detectors and a circularly polarized laser beam, they can determine both factors with attosecond accuracy.
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