Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Genes show seasonal trends

06.11.2001


The purple pitcher plant: home to the changing North American mosquito.
© D. Glidden


Mosquitoes’ evolve rapidly in response to global warming.

Mosquitoes are holing up later as winters get warmer, US ecologists have shown. This is the first genetic adaptation to global warming to be identified. Less flexible animals could face extinction, they warn.

The North American mosquito Wyeomyia smithii uses shortening day length to judge when to bed down for the winter. Modern mozzies wait nine days more than their ancestors did in 1972, William Bradshaw and Christina Holzapfel of the University of Oregon in Eugene have discovered1. Warmer autumns are the most likely cause.



Many animals are adjusting to the extended growing season brought on by the slight rise in average global temperatures over the past century. Birds are migrating, seeds germinating and frogs spawning earlier. All of these can be explained as changes in individuals’ behaviour rather than permanent genetic changes.

By catching wild mosquitoes over the past 30 years and testing them under identical artificial lights, Bradshaw and Holzapfel show that the insects’ response to day length has changed. There has been an underlying genetic change - in as little as five years.

The study highlights how species can change rapidly and unpredictably in response to global warming. "You can’t take the characteristics of a species now and predict how it will behave under a future climate," says Chris Thomas, who studies animal behaviour and climate change at the University of Leeds, UK.

Although some species may respond to warmer conditions, some may not, he explains. On the fringes of an animal’s range, small changes in temperature or rainfall can wipe out a habitat and its residents. Different regions and the reactions of example species must be studied to predict the likely consequences of climate change, thinks Thomas. The question is: "When can [a species] evolve itself out of trouble and when can’t it?" he says.

By postponing dormancy, mosquitoes gain in the reproduction stakes. They squeeze in extra breeding cycles and save energy, which they would otherwise burn up during winter, for the next round of mating in spring. The insect lives exclusively in the water-filled cup of the carnivorous purple pitcher plant Sarracenia purpurea, which may make the mosquitoes particularly sensitive to changing conditions, thinks Bradshaw.

In an ecosystem in which many species depend on one another, disrupting one may disrupt them all, Bradshaw warns. Animals with a longer active season might simply run out of prey, for example. Species’ futures may depend on their abilities to adapt to changing seasons, he says.

References
  1. Bradshaw, W.E. & Holzapfel, C.M. Genetic shift in photoperiodic respnse correlated to global warming. Proceedings of the National Academies of Science, DOI: 10.1073/pnas.241391498 (2001).



HELEN PEARSON | ® Nature News Service
Further information:
http://www.nature.com/nsu/011108/011108-6.html
http://www.nature.com/nsu/

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Surface clean-up technology won't solve ocean plastic problem
04.08.2020 | University of Exeter

nachricht Improving the monitoring of ship emissions
03.08.2020 | Carl von Ossietzky-Universität Oldenburg

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: ScanCut project completed: laser cutting enables more intricate plug connector designs

Scientists at the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT have come up with a striking new addition to contact stamping technologies in the ERDF research project ScanCut. In collaboration with industry partners from North Rhine-Westphalia, the Aachen-based team of researchers developed a hybrid manufacturing process for the laser cutting of thin-walled metal strips. This new process makes it possible to fabricate even the tiniest details of contact parts in an eco-friendly, high-precision and efficient manner.

Plug connectors are tiny and, at first glance, unremarkable – yet modern vehicles would be unable to function without them. Several thousand plug connectors...

Im Focus: New Strategy Against Osteoporosis

An international research team has found a new approach that may be able to reduce bone loss in osteoporosis and maintain bone health.

Osteoporosis is the most common age-related bone disease which affects hundreds of millions of individuals worldwide. It is estimated that one in three women...

Im Focus: AI & single-cell genomics

New software predicts cell fate

Traditional single-cell sequencing methods help to reveal insights about cellular differences and functions - but they do this with static snapshots only...

Im Focus: TU Graz Researchers synthesize nanoparticles tailored for special applications

“Core-shell” clusters pave the way for new efficient nanomaterials that make catalysts, magnetic and laser sensors or measuring devices for detecting electromagnetic radiation more efficient.

Whether in innovative high-tech materials, more powerful computer chips, pharmaceuticals or in the field of renewable energies, nanoparticles – smallest...

Im Focus: Tailored light inspired by nature

An international research team with Prof. Cornelia Denz from the Institute of Applied Physics at the University of Münster develop for the first time light fields using caustics that do not change during propagation. With the new method, the physicists cleverly exploit light structures that can be seen in rainbows or when light is transmitted through drinking glasses.

Modern applications as high resolution microsopy or micro- or nanoscale material processing require customized laser beams that do not change during...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

“Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP 2020”: The final touches for surfaces

23.07.2020 | Event News

Conference radar for cybersecurity

21.07.2020 | Event News

Contact Tracing Apps against COVID-19: German National Academy Leopoldina hosts international virtual panel discussion

07.07.2020 | Event News

 
Latest News

Rare Earth Elements in Norwegian Fjords?

06.08.2020 | Earth Sciences

Anode material for safe batteries with a long cycle life

06.08.2020 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Turning carbon dioxide into liquid fuel

06.08.2020 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>