Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

X-Effect: Female Chromosome Confirmed a Prime Driver of Speciation

19.10.2007
Researchers at the University of Rochester believe they have just confirmed a controversial theory of evolution. The X chromosome is a strikingly powerful force in the origin of new species.

Biologists have argued for years whether the X chromosome—the female chromosome in most animals—plays a special role in the process of speciation. In a new study in the journal PLoS Biology, Daven Presgraves, professor of biology at the University of Rochester, has confirmed that the X chromosome is indeed heavily influential—and the reason may be nothing like what biologists expected.

When one species splits into two, interbreeding between the two daughter species is much more likely to produce infertile hybrids when the species exchange X chromosomes than when they exchange any other chromosomes, says Presgraves. The process, dubbed the "large X-effect," acts as a wedge between the two newly formed species, pushing them onto divergent evolutionary paths.

Over the course of a year, Presgraves and research associate J. P. Masly interbred fruit flies for 15 generations. The team painstakingly substituted individual genes of one fly species with the genes of a closely related species, and tracked which genes caused infertility in hybrids. The Rochester team showed that 60 percent of X-chromosome genes cause infertility in hybrid males—far higher than the 18 percent for all the non-sex chromosomes.

"There is no more debate," says Presgraves. "The large X-effect is real."

But in solving one mystery, the findings give rise to another.

Scientists expect evolutionary changes in DNA to accumulate in random locations across a genome, but Presgraves instead found that most changes causing hybrid infertility cluster inexplicably on the X chromosome.

Presgraves is now looking into why the X is a hotspot for "speciation genes," that prevent genetic exchanges between closely related species.

The traditional notion of the large X-effect is that the X chromosome is simply "exposed," meaning its complement, the Y chromosome, doesn't have the information needed to mask the effects of changes on the X. We inherit a set of chromosomes from each parent with each chromosome acting as a sort of backup for its complement. It's a bit like cross-referencing two encyclopedias for errors, says Presgraves. In the case of X and Y, however, it's like trying to cross-reference an encyclopedia with a pamphlet.

But Presgraves believes it's not a simple case of the X chromosome being exposed. He believes there's something special about the X. Somehow, it attracts genes that disrupt the creation of sperm in hybrid males—the main cause of the hybrid's infertility, he says.

"When I look at this, I think the X is not behaving normally during spermatogenesis (sperm creation)," says Presgraves. "I think it may be that in the production of sperm, when the fly's genome is shut down and compacted to fit into the sperm head, the X is not shutting down and is wrecking the process."

Presgraves is planning new tests to see if the X is, in fact, refusing to shut down when it should.

If the process that controls normal X inactivation during spermatogenesis is particularly susceptible to evolutionary change, says Presgraves, then it may be largely responsible for the X chromosome's unusually prominent role in the origin of new species.

Jonathan Sherwood | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.rochester.edu

Further reports about: HYBRID Presgraves X chromosome infertility species sperm

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 >>>