Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

DNA with self-interest - Transposable element conquers new strain of fly

12.05.2015

Transposable elements are so-called “jumping genes”. They are capable of “jumping” from one genome position to another. Why transposable elements exist is subject of controversial debate.

Scientists from the Vetmeduni Vienna found that one of the most important transposable elements, the P-element, has only recently invaded the fly Drosophila simulans.


The P-Element is present in D. melanogaster for more than 60 years. It recently also invaded D. simulans.

Photo: Markus Riedl/Vetmeduni Vienna

The P-element has been present in the closely related species Drosophila melanogaster since the 1950s. The latest findings offer a unique opportunity to study the spread of transposable elements. The results were published in the journal PNAS.

Transposable elements are DNA sequences that are capable of changing their genome position by cut and paste or copy and paste through the enzyme transposase. This ability can be harmful for hosts if transposable elements destroy functioning genes, but it can also bring advantages. From an evolutionary point of view, transposable elements diversify the genome and open up chances for adaptation.

DNA that uses its host

Transposable elements are also called selfish DNA parasites because they spread through their hosts, such as humans, animals, plants as well as bacteria and, thus, provide for their own survival.

Robert Kofler from the Institute of Population Genetics at the Vetmeduni Vienna analysed flies from all over the world. He discovered a phenomenon which was thought to be very rare. Kofler found a transposable element in the fly species Drosophila simulans, the so-called P-element. This transposable element has been absent in D. simulans until recent years.

“The P-element has been spreading rapidly in D. simulans within the past five years. It probably invaded the species via horizontal gene transfer. When exactly the transfer happened, is not clear”, says lead author Kofler.

The DNA sequence was not inherited but directly transferred from one organism to another. “This happened to Drosophila melanogaster more than 60 years ago. The P-element was discovered twice in a new species within one hundred years. Therefore we can assume that transposable elements are transferred across the species faster than we thought.”

A transposable element conquers the world

Although scientists found the P-element in D. simulans flies from South Africa as well as from the USA, they assume that there was only one single transfer event. On average, the South African flies had more P-elements in their genome than flies from Florida. “This indicates that the flies from Florida, collected in 2010, were in an early stage after the transfer event. The samples from South Africa are from 2012. The P-element significantly multiplied within these two years”, Kofler concludes.

High-speed evolution in the lab

Head of the institute, Christian Schlötterer, and his team perform high-speed evolution in the lab. They expose fruit flies to extreme conditions such as heat, cold or UV radiation. Before and after the exposure, they sequence the flies’ genomes. The evolve-and-resequence approach makes it possible to identify genes that have been selected through generations. The researchers now want to study the spread of the P-element under such conditions.

“The discovery of the P-element in Drosophila simulans offers the unique possibility to investigate the way transposable elements are regulated and how they survive. We can accelerate evolution in the lab and, thus, answer this and other questions”, Schlötterer explains.

Service:
The article „ The recent invasion of Drosophila simulans by the P-element”, by Robert Kofler, Tom Hill, Viola Nolte, Andrea Betancourt, and Christian Schlötterer was published in the journal PNAS. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1101/013722

About the University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna

The University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna in Austria is one of the leading academic and research institutions in the field of Veterinary Sciences in Europe. About 1,300 employees and 2,300 students work on the campus in the north of Vienna which also houses five university clinics and various research sites. Outside of Vienna the university operates Teaching and Research Farms. http://www.vetmeduni.ac.at

Scientific Contact:
Dr. Robert Kofler
Institute of Population Genetics
University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna (Vetmeduni Vienna)
T +43 1 25077-4337
rokofler@gmail.com

Released by:
Susanna Kautschitsch
Science Communication / Public Relations
University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna (Vetmeduni Vienna)
T +43 1 25077-1153
susanna.kautschitsch@vetmeduni.ac.at

Weitere Informationen:

http://www.vetmeduni.ac.at/en/infoservice/presseinformation/press-releases-2015/...

Dr. Susanna Kautschitsch | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Mass spectrometry sheds new light on thallium poisoning cold case
14.12.2018 | University of Maryland

nachricht Protein involved in nematode stress response identified
14.12.2018 | University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Data use draining your battery? Tiny device to speed up memory while also saving power

The more objects we make "smart," from watches to entire buildings, the greater the need for these devices to store and retrieve massive amounts of data quickly without consuming too much power.

Millions of new memory cells could be part of a computer chip and provide that speed and energy savings, thanks to the discovery of a previously unobserved...

Im Focus: An energy-efficient way to stay warm: Sew high-tech heating patches to your clothes

Personal patches could reduce energy waste in buildings, Rutgers-led study says

What if, instead of turning up the thermostat, you could warm up with high-tech, flexible patches sewn into your clothes - while significantly reducing your...

Im Focus: Lethal combination: Drug cocktail turns off the juice to cancer cells

A widely used diabetes medication combined with an antihypertensive drug specifically inhibits tumor growth – this was discovered by researchers from the University of Basel’s Biozentrum two years ago. In a follow-up study, recently published in “Cell Reports”, the scientists report that this drug cocktail induces cancer cell death by switching off their energy supply.

The widely used anti-diabetes drug metformin not only reduces blood sugar but also has an anti-cancer effect. However, the metformin dose commonly used in the...

Im Focus: New Foldable Drone Flies through Narrow Holes in Rescue Missions

A research team from the University of Zurich has developed a new drone that can retract its propeller arms in flight and make itself small to fit through narrow gaps and holes. This is particularly useful when searching for victims of natural disasters.

Inspecting a damaged building after an earthquake or during a fire is exactly the kind of job that human rescuers would like drones to do for them. A flying...

Im Focus: Topological material switched off and on for the first time

Key advance for future topological transistors

Over the last decade, there has been much excitement about the discovery, recognised by the Nobel Prize in Physics only two years ago, that there are two types...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

ICTM Conference 2019: Digitization emerges as an engineering trend for turbomachinery construction

12.12.2018 | Event News

New Plastics Economy Investor Forum - Meeting Point for Innovations

10.12.2018 | Event News

EGU 2019 meeting: Media registration now open

06.12.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Data use draining your battery? Tiny device to speed up memory while also saving power

14.12.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Tangled magnetic fields power cosmic particle accelerators

14.12.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

In search of missing worlds, Hubble finds a fast evaporating exoplanet

14.12.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>