The scientists grew groups of chickens under stressful conditions, where a randomly fluctuating day-night rhythm made access to food and resting perches unpredictable. This caused a marked decrease in the ability of the stressed birds to solve a spatial learning task. Remarkably, their offspring also had a decreased learning ability, in spite of being kept under non-stress conditions from the point of egg-laying. They were also more competitive and grew faster than offspring of non-stressed birds.
To investigate whether there was any genetic basis for the effect, the research group examined the expression levels of about 9000 genes in the brain of the chickens. In birds exposed to stress, there was a number of genes where the expression was either increased or decreased, and the same genes were similarly affected in the offspring.
The results therefore demonstrate that both the changes in gene function and the behavioural changes caused by stress were transferred to the offspring. Both these effects were only seen in domesticated chickens, not in the ancestor, the red junglefowl. The scientists therefore speculate that domestication may have favoured animals which are able to affect the biology of their offspring through genetic modifications.
The results offer new insights into how animal populations may be capable of adaptation to stressful environments in evolutionary short times. This can help explain both the rapid development of animals during domestication, and evolutionary responses to changing conditions in nature.
Nonstop Tranport of Cargo in Nanomachines
20.11.2018 | Max-Planck-Institut für molekulare Zellbiologie und Genetik
Researchers find social cultures in chimpanzees
20.11.2018 | Universität Leipzig
Max Planck researchers revel the nano-structure of molecular trains and the reason for smooth transport in cellular antennas.
Moving around, sensing the extracellular environment, and signaling to other cells are important for a cell to function properly. Responsible for those tasks...
Researchers at the University of New Hampshire have captured a difficult-to-view singular event involving "magnetic reconnection"--the process by which sparse particles and energy around Earth collide producing a quick but mighty explosion--in the Earth's magnetotail, the magnetic environment that trails behind the planet.
Magnetic reconnection has remained a bit of a mystery to scientists. They know it exists and have documented the effects that the energy explosions can...
Biochips have been developed at TU Wien (Vienna), on which tissue can be produced and examined. This allows supplying the tissue with different substances in a very controlled way.
Cultivating human cells in the Petri dish is not a big challenge today. Producing artificial tissue, however, permeated by fine blood vessels, is a much more...
Faster and secure data communication: This is the goal of a new joint project involving physicists from the University of Würzburg. The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research funds the project with 14.8 million euro.
In our digital world data security and secure communication are becoming more and more important. Quantum communication is a promising approach to achieve...
On Saturday, 10 November 2018, the research icebreaker Polarstern will leave its homeport of Bremerhaven, bound for Cape Town, South Africa.
19.11.2018 | Event News
09.11.2018 | Event News
06.11.2018 | Event News
20.11.2018 | Life Sciences
20.11.2018 | Life Sciences
20.11.2018 | Physics and Astronomy