Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Even oysters pay taxes

19.03.2010
'Metabolic taxation' accounts for part of difference between fast and slow growth of animals, according to a new theory

In physical, as in financial growth, it's not what you make but what you keep that counts, USC marine biologists believe.

Their study of genes associated with growth in oysters suggests that slow-growing animals waste energy in two ways: by making too much of some protein building blocks and then by having to dispose of the excess.

Donal Manahan, director of the USC Wrigley Institute for Environmental Studies and the study's senior author, calls the inefficient process "metabolic taxation."

By contrast, fast-growing oysters make just enough and keep most of it, Manahan hypothesized.

The theory of metabolic taxation needs verification, but if proven correct, it would help to answer two basic questions:

• Why do some animals grow big, while others stay small? Differences in diet account for about half the size variation, according to Manahan. Gene expression related to metabolic taxation could explain part of the rest.

• What is the biological cost of rapid growth: lower disease resistance, perhaps, or blander flavor? If metabolic taxation is real, rapidly growing animals are simply more efficient at making proteins and do not necessarily need to sacrifice other traits.

Manahan compared metabolic taxation to a vehicle assembly plant with supply chain problems, where too many engines come in one day and not enough transmissions the next.

The vehicle assembly plant in the cell is the ribosome, which makes and assembles protein parts from genetic instructions.

Manahan and co-author Eli Meyer – his former graduate student at USC and now a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Texas, Austin – identified 17 oyster genes related to the ribosome.

The expression of those genes was out of balance in slow-growing oysters, Meyer and Manahan observed. They suspect that the underlying problem is a lack of coordination in the production of protein parts.

Proteins are crucial to growth since they make up the bulk of an animal's muscles, organs and tissues.

A fast-growing oyster is simply "well-tuned," Manahan said.

"It's not just about quickness, it's about coordination. And that was a big surprise to me," Manahan said.

Meyer and Manahan also identified 17 more genes related to energy metabolism, feeding activity and other factors related to growth.

The 34 genes represent the most promising subset of 350 growth-related genes identified by Meyer, Manahan, his USC Wrigley Institute colleague Dennis Hedgecock and other researchers in a study published in 2007 in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Manahan and Hedgecock's long-term goal is to identify the genes responsible for hybrid vigor: the ability of some children of crossbreeding to outgrow both parents.

Many plants have hybrid vigor. Seed companies exploited this property to increase corn yields many times over from the 1920s to the present. Manahan sees potential for growing more food from the ocean by studying the "seeds" of animal development – the larval stages.

Most animals do not express hybrid vigor to the same extent. That makes oysters, which do show characteristics of hybrid vigor, unusually strong candidates for aquaculture.

"Their hybrids grow much faster than either of the parents. And this is like corn," Manahan said.

With the latest study, published this month in The Journal of Experimental Biology, "we believe that we have identified some of the genes that are biological markers for hybrid vigor," Manahan said.

With this advance, it should be possible to identify fast-growing oyster families early in larval development by their genetic signature – potentially a big step forward in oyster farming.

Manahan calls oysters the "corn of the sea" for their potential to help feed the planet as traditional fisheries collapse and land-based farming reaches its limit. Currently, the Pacific oyster is the most farmed aquatic species on the planet.

The "Green Revolution" that multiplied crop yields needs to be followed by a "Blue Revolution" in ocean farming, Manahan has argued.

"We're going to have to make future decisions as a society [on] how to provide enough food for a growing population."

To view a VIDEO presentation on the Blue Revolution by Donal Manahan at the 2009 TEDx conference at USC, go to http://stevens.usc.edu/playvideo.php?v=86

The W. M. Keck Foundation and the National Science Foundation funded the research.

Carl Marziali | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.usc.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Climate Impact Research in Hannover: Small Plants against Large Waves
17.08.2018 | Leibniz Universität Hannover

nachricht First transcription atlas of all wheat genes expands prospects for research and cultivation
17.08.2018 | Leibniz-Institut für Pflanzengenetik und Kulturpflanzenforschung

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Color effects from transparent 3D-printed nanostructures

New design tool automatically creates nanostructure 3D-print templates for user-given colors
Scientists present work at prestigious SIGGRAPH conference

Most of the objects we see are colored by pigments, but using pigments has disadvantages: such colors can fade, industrial pigments are often toxic, and...

Im Focus: Unraveling the nature of 'whistlers' from space in the lab

A new study sheds light on how ultralow frequency radio waves and plasmas interact

Scientists at the University of California, Los Angeles present new research on a curious cosmic phenomenon known as "whistlers" -- very low frequency packets...

Im Focus: New interactive machine learning tool makes car designs more aerodynamic

Scientists develop first tool to use machine learning methods to compute flow around interactively designable 3D objects. Tool will be presented at this year’s prestigious SIGGRAPH conference.

When engineers or designers want to test the aerodynamic properties of the newly designed shape of a car, airplane, or other object, they would normally model...

Im Focus: Robots as 'pump attendants': TU Graz develops robot-controlled rapid charging system for e-vehicles

Researchers from TU Graz and their industry partners have unveiled a world first: the prototype of a robot-controlled, high-speed combined charging system (CCS) for electric vehicles that enables series charging of cars in various parking positions.

Global demand for electric vehicles is forecast to rise sharply: by 2025, the number of new vehicle registrations is expected to reach 25 million per year....

Im Focus: The “TRiC” to folding actin

Proteins must be folded correctly to fulfill their molecular functions in cells. Molecular assistants called chaperones help proteins exploit their inbuilt folding potential and reach the correct three-dimensional structure. Researchers at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry (MPIB) have demonstrated that actin, the most abundant protein in higher developed cells, does not have the inbuilt potential to fold and instead requires special assistance to fold into its active state. The chaperone TRiC uses a previously undescribed mechanism to perform actin folding. The study was recently published in the journal Cell.

Actin is the most abundant protein in highly developed cells and has diverse functions in processes like cell stabilization, cell division and muscle...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

LaserForum 2018 deals with 3D production of components

17.08.2018 | Event News

Within reach of the Universe

08.08.2018 | Event News

A journey through the history of microscopy – new exhibition opens at the MDC

27.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Smallest transistor worldwide switches current with a single atom in solid electrolyte

17.08.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Robots as Tools and Partners in Rehabilitation

17.08.2018 | Information Technology

Climate Impact Research in Hannover: Small Plants against Large Waves

17.08.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>