Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

A small fish provides insight into the genetic basis of evolution

30.01.2019

A genetic analysis of sticklebacks shows that isolated populations in similar environments develop in comparable ways. The basis for this is already present in the genome of their genetic ancestors. Evolutionary biologists from the University of Basel and the University of Nottingham report these insights in the journal Evolution Letters.

Many examples can be found in nature of evolution producing the same characteristics repeatedly and independently. Similar adaptations to similar environmental conditions have been documented in numerous animal and plant species, even if primarily on the level of external characteristics.


Parallel evolution with the help of the same genetic variants: different populations of the threespine stickleback have adapted to their habitats in similar ways.

Photo: Andrew MacColl

The extent to which similar populations have also made use of the same genetic variants during their evolution, however, is little known.

A new study has now provided new insights into the genetic basis of such parallel evolution. To this end, researchers from the University of Basel and the University of Nottingham examined the genome of threespine sticklebacks.

This is a popular fish among evolutionary biologists, because it has adapted to a variety of habitats. In addition to this, the shared ancestor of freshwater populations – sticklebacks that originally lived in the ocean – still exists today, which enables an examination of the initial genetic base.

Isolated populations develop the same characteristics

On the Scottish island of North Uist, sticklebacks can be found in bodies of water with extremely varied pH values. While the lakes to the west contain alkaline water, the high moorland lakes in the east are acidic and low in nutrients.

Studies of five populations from both the western and eastern lakes showed that the fish adapted to their alkaline or acidic habitat independently of each other, but in comparable ways. All five populations in the acidic lakes, for example, displayed a greatly reduced skeleton and stunted growth – probably as an adaptation to the lack of nutrients.

Variants located in the genome of ancestors

In addition to the shared external characteristics, the researchers were also able to establish that changes in the genetic pool proceeded in very similar ways: the populations within the same type of habitat showed the same genetic variants in dozens of regions of the genome.

This makes it possible to predict where in the genome changes will take place under the influence of a particular habitat – evolution becomes predictable to some extent.

Genetic analysis of the marine ancestor also showed that the genetic variants that are beneficial for adapting to acidic or alkaline water are all present in the ancestor. Similar life forms therefore didn’t occur randomly, but independently of each other through the predictable sorting of advantageous genetic variants that were already present in the genome.

Wissenschaftliche Ansprechpartner:

Dr. Daniel Berner, University of Basel, Department of Environmental Sciences, Tel. +41 61 207 03 28, email: daniel.berner@unibas.ch

Originalpublikation:

Quiterie Haenel, Marius Roesti, Dario Moser, Andrew D. C. MacColl, and Daniel Berner
Predictable genome-wide sorting of standing genetic variation during parallel adaptation to basic versus acidic environments in stickleback fish
Evolution Letters (2019), doi: 10.1002/evl3.99

Reto Caluori | Universität Basel
Further information:
http://www.unibas.ch

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht When predictions of theoretical chemists become reality
22.05.2020 | Technische Universität Dresden

nachricht From artificial meat to fine-tuning photosynthesis: Food System Innovation – and how to get there
20.05.2020 | Potsdam-Institut für Klimafolgenforschung

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: When predictions of theoretical chemists become reality

Thomas Heine, Professor of Theoretical Chemistry at TU Dresden, together with his team, first predicted a topological 2D polymer in 2019. Only one year later, an international team led by Italian researchers was able to synthesize these materials and experimentally prove their topological properties. For the renowned journal Nature Materials, this was the occasion to invite Thomas Heine to a News and Views article, which was published this week. Under the title "Making 2D Topological Polymers a reality" Prof. Heine describes how his theory became a reality.

Ultrathin materials are extremely interesting as building blocks for next generation nano electronic devices, as it is much easier to make circuits and other...

Im Focus: Rolling into the deep

Scientists took a leukocyte as the blueprint and developed a microrobot that has the size, shape and moving capabilities of a white blood cell. Simulating a blood vessel in a laboratory setting, they succeeded in magnetically navigating the ball-shaped microroller through this dynamic and dense environment. The drug-delivery vehicle withstood the simulated blood flow, pushing the developments in targeted drug delivery a step further: inside the body, there is no better access route to all tissues and organs than the circulatory system. A robot that could actually travel through this finely woven web would revolutionize the minimally-invasive treatment of illnesses.

A team of scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems (MPI-IS) in Stuttgart invented a tiny microrobot that resembles a white blood cell...

Im Focus: NASA's Curiosity rover finds clues to chilly ancient Mars buried in rocks

By studying the chemical elements on Mars today -- including carbon and oxygen -- scientists can work backwards to piece together the history of a planet that once had the conditions necessary to support life.

Weaving this story, element by element, from roughly 140 million miles (225 million kilometers) away is a painstaking process. But scientists aren't the type...

Im Focus: Making quantum 'waves' in ultrathin materials

Study co-led by Berkeley Lab reveals how wavelike plasmons could power up a new class of sensing and photochemical technologies at the nanoscale

Wavelike, collective oscillations of electrons known as "plasmons" are very important for determining the optical and electronic properties of metals.

Im Focus: When proteins work together, but travel alone

Proteins, the microscopic “workhorses” that perform all the functions essential to life, are team players: in order to do their job, they often need to assemble into precise structures called protein complexes. These complexes, however, can be dynamic and short-lived, with proteins coming together but disbanding soon after.

In a new paper published in PNAS, researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Dynamics and Self-Organization, the University of Oxford, and Sorbonne...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Dresden Nexus Conference 2020: Same Time, Virtual Format, Registration Opened

19.05.2020 | Event News

Aachen Machine Tool Colloquium AWK'21 will take place on June 10 and 11, 2021

07.04.2020 | Event News

International Coral Reef Symposium in Bremen Postponed by a Year

06.04.2020 | Event News

 
Latest News

New gravitational-wave model can bring neutron stars into even sharper focus

22.05.2020 | Physics and Astronomy

A replaceable, more efficient filter for N95 masks

22.05.2020 | Materials Sciences

Capturing the coordinated dance between electrons and nuclei in a light-excited molecule

22.05.2020 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>