Revealing the Genome of the Common Ancestor of All Mammals

An international team has reconstructed the genome organization of the earliest common ancestor of all mammals. The reconstructed ancestral genome could help in understanding the evolution of mammals and in conservation of modern animals. The earliest mammal ancestor likely looked like the fossil animal “Morganucodon” which lived about 200 million years ago. The work is published the scientific journal “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences”.

Quelle: IDW Informationsdienst Wissenschaft

Young genes adapt faster than old ones

A new study from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology in Plön and the University of Sussex in the UK shows that the age of a gene determines how fast they adapt. These findings demonstrate how gene evolution occurs as an “adaptive walk” through time.

Quelle: IDW Informationsdienst Wissenschaft

The gene to which we owe our big brain

Brain organoids provide insights into the evolution of the human brain

Quelle: IDW Informationsdienst Wissenschaft

Did rivers influence the evolution of Sumatran Cascade Frogs?

Is the geographical history of Sundaland closely linked to the evolution of the native Sumatran Cascade Frogs? This question was investigated by an international team led by herpetologist Umilaela Arifin of the LIB in their latest study, which was recently published in the scientific journal „Nature Scientific Report“. They assumed that these frogs have already dispersed in Sundaland way before the formation of the watersheds in this region, which took place during the Pleistocene – the Earth’s history about 2.5 million to 11,650 years ago. These findings challenge previous assumptions by experts.

Quelle: IDW Informationsdienst Wissenschaft

Speeding up evolution at genome-level by alternative chromosome configuration

A research team led by André Marques at the Max Planck Institute for Plant Breeding Research in Cologne, Germany, has uncovered the profound effects of an atypical mode of chromosome arrangement on genome organization and evolution. Their findings are published in the journal Cell.

Quelle: IDW Informationsdienst Wissenschaft

Global Spread of Powdery Mildew through Migration and Trade

The worldwide distribution of one of the most important cereal pathogens is the result of human activity. Researchers at the University of Zurich have traced the history and spread of wheat powdery mildew along wheat trade routes and found that mixing of genetic ancestries of related powdery mildew species played a central role in the evolution and adaptation of the pathogen.

Quelle: IDW Informationsdienst Wissenschaft

Enzyme of bacterial origin promoted the evolution of longhorned beetles

Gene duplication increased the diversity and specificity of enzymes that enable larvae of longhorned beetles to degrade important wood components. Researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology in Jena, Germany, looked closer at a group of digestive enzymes found only in this beetle family. They resurrected the primordial enzymes, which first appeared in a common ancestor of longhorned beetles. Horizontal gene transfer from bacteria to the beetle as well as ancient and recent gene duplications promoted the evolution of this family of digestive enzymes and enabled longhorned beetles to degrade the main components of the plant cell wall.

Quelle: IDW Informationsdienst Wissenschaft

The “fuel of evolution” is more abundant than previously thought in wild animals

Darwinian evolution is the process by which natural selection promotes genetic changes in traits that favour survival and reproduction of individuals. How fast evolution happens depends crucially on the abundance of its “fuel”: how much genetic difference there is in the ability to survive and reproduce. New research by an international research team with participation of the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (Leibniz-IZW) has now discovered that the raw material for evolution is much more abundant in wild animals than previously believed. The findings were published in “Science”.

Quelle: IDW Informationsdienst Wissenschaft

Pelvic brooding in ricefishes: What factors have facilitated the evolution of the complex reproductive strategy?

The ricefishes of Sulawesi have evolved a special type of brood care – pelvic brooding. Only a few gene loci determine the associated morphological traits, and the body of the fish is modular. An international team of researchers led by the LIB found that these two factors might have facilitated the evolution of the complex reproductive strategy of pelvic brooding. Because of the modularity of the body, the pelvic fin and the ribs in the mid-body region were able to adapt to pelvic brooding independently of other body parts. The results were recently published in the journal “Evolution”.

Quelle: IDW Informationsdienst Wissenschaft

The genetic origins of the world’s first farmers clarified

The genetic origins of the first agriculturalists in the Neolithic period long seemed to lie in the Near East. A new study published in the journal Cell shows that the first farmers actually represented a mixture of Ice Age hunter-gatherer groups, spread from the Near East all the way to south-eastern Europe. Researchers from the University of Bern and the SIB Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics as well as from the Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz and the University of Fribourg were involved in the study. The method they developed could help reveal other human evolution patterns with unmatched resolution.

Quelle: IDW Informationsdienst Wissenschaft

Sex pays off: Asexual reproduction can have negative effects on genome evolution in stick insects

Stick insects that reproduce asexually cannot adapt as quickly in the course of evolution as sexually reproducing species, leading to a decrease in biological diversity / publication in ‘Science Advances’

Quelle: IDW Informationsdienst Wissenschaft

Sucking millipedes: independent evolution of a complex sucking pump in arthropods

Museum Koenig & University of Bonn

Whether nectar-sucking butterflies or blood-sucking mosquitoes – the ingestion of liquid food has long been known for many insects and other arthropods. A research team from Germany and Switzerland, led by the LIB and the University of Bonn, now shows that millipedes also use a sucking pump to ingest liquid food. A sucking pump has thus evolved independently in different groups of organisms over several 100 million years. In the process, astonishingly similar biomechanical solutions for ingesting liquid food have evolved in widely distant animal groups. The study results have been published in the journal Science Advances.

Quelle: IDW Informationsdienst Wissenschaft

Sperm or eggs? How hermaphroditic worms distribute their resources

Hermaphroditic species face a fundamental question: how much energy should they expend on their male and female sides? Flatworms have found various answers to this question over the course of evolution – and the solutions are directly correlated with their mating behavior.

Quelle: IDW Informationsdienst Wissenschaft

New personalized test for an earlier and more accurate prediction of cancer relapse

Researchers have developed a new protocol for monitoring acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), the most common cancer in children, to inform more effective treatment strategies and detect disease recurrence. The personalized mediator probe PCR (MP PCR) uses multiple genomic cancer cell markers in a single assay and is simpler than current techniques. It improves monitoring clonal tumor evolution to detect a relapse sooner and avoid false negative results.

Quelle: Sciencedaily

Why do we age? The role of natural selection

The evolution of aging is a particularly exciting field in theoretical evolutionary research. Scientists are trying to figure out why and when the phenomenon of aging developed over the course of evolution. Mathematical models can help to develop theories for a better understanding of aging. At the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology in Plön, intensive research has also been carried out in this area in recent years in the Department of Evolutionary Theory.

Quelle: IDW Informationsdienst Wissenschaft

ERC-Starting-Grant für Greifswalder Wissenschaftler

Dr. Jonas Wolff vom Zoologischen Institut und Museum der Universität Greifswald erhält einen Starting Grant des Europäischen Forschungsrats (ERC) für sein Forschungsprojekt „Melding behavioural ecology and biomaterials research to track the evolution of mechanical super-performance of spider silk composites (SuPerSilk)“. Die Fördersumme beträgt rund 1,8 Millionen Euro. In dem Forschungsvorhaben geht es um Verhaltensökologie in Verbindung mit Biomaterialforschung mit dem Ziel, Verbundwerkstoffe aus Spinnenseide mit extrem hoher mechanischer Beanspruchbarkeit zu finden.

Quelle: IDW Informationsdienst Wissenschaft

Systematically examining the way spatial structure influences the evolution of cancer

Characterizing the way, manner or pattern of evolution in tumors may be important for clinical forecasting and optimizing cancer treatment. Researchers are systematically examining how spatial structure influences tumor evolution. To do this the group developed a computational model with the flexibility to simulate alternative spatial structures and types of cell dispersal.

Quelle: Sciencedaily

Paradigm shift: Methanogenic microbes not always limited to methane

A study led by microbiologists at TU Dresden shows that methanogenic archaea do not always need to form methane to survive. It is possible to bypass methanogenesis with the seemingly simpler and more environmentally friendly acetogenic energy metabolism. These new findings provide evidence that methanogens are not nearly as metabolically limited as previously thought, and suggest that methanogenesis may have evolved from the acetyl-CoA pathway – an important step towards fully understanding the ecology, biotechnology, and evolution of archaea.

Quelle: IDW Informationsdienst Wissenschaft

Earth’s first giant

A skull two meters long, a total body length of 17 meters, a weight of 45 tons, fins that comb the sea – what sounds like a sperm whale is actually a reptile and lived around 250 million years ago. Now, an international team of researchers led by the Universities of Bonn and Mainz, as well as the Claremont Colleges and the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, reports on this first giant animal that ever evolved. The study, published in the journal Science, shows that the ichthyosaurs evolved their impressive size within only three million years, much faster than the evolution of gigantism in today’s whales.

Quelle: IDW Informationsdienst Wissenschaft

Inflammation promotes evolutionary innovation in “pregnant” ricefishes

How complex innovations can emerge seemingly out of nowhere is a central question of evolutionary biology. Researchers at the Leibniz Institute for the Analysis of Biodiversity Change (LIB) discovered new evidence that inflammatory immune responses can lay the foundation for the evolution of novel tissues. This process led to the emergence of a unique tissue called “plug”, which allows ricefish mothers to carry their offspring until hatching. Such an “innovative inflammation” not only revolutionized ricefish reproduction, but also played a key role in human evolution.

Quelle: IDW Informationsdienst Wissenschaft

Climate and evolution: New study on the global distribution of lichens

Lichens colonise all regions of the earth, from the poles to the equator. They are a symbiosis of fungi and algae. Secondary metabolites, so-called “lichen substances” produced by the fungal partner play a central role to maintain this symbiosis. An interdisciplinary research team from the University of Bayreuth, the University of Hohenheim, and the Bavarian State Natural Science Collections has now discovered how different climatic conditions influence the chemical properties of lichen substances and thus the evolution and global distribution of lichens. They present their research results in „Ecology Letters“.

Quelle: IDW Informationsdienst Wissenschaft

Gas bubbles in rock pores- a nursery for life on Early Earth

Dresden and Munich researchers create compelling scenario for the evolution of membraneless microdroplets on Early Earth as the origin of life.

Quelle: IDW Informationsdienst Wissenschaft

Prähistorische Menschen wählten selten Cousins oder Cousinen als Partner

Gegenwärtig werden weltweit mehr als zehn Prozent aller Ehen zwischen Cousins und Cousinen ersten oder zweiten Grades geschlossen. Während diese Ehen in einigen Gesellschaften nicht ungewöhnlich sind, wird in anderen davon abgeraten. In einer neuen Studie untersuchten Forscher des Max-Planck-Instituts für evolutionäre Anthropologie in Leipzig und der University of Chicago nun, wie verbreitet eine so nahe Verwandtschaft beider Elternteile bei unseren Vorfahren war.

Quelle: IDW Informationsdienst Wissenschaft

Fischweibchen können über ihre Eier das Fluchtverhalten ihrer Nachkommen beeinflussen

Buntbarsch-Weibchen können über die Zusammensetzung ihrer Eier beeinflussen, wie schnell ihre Nachkommen bei Gefahr die Flucht ergreifen können. Dies konnten Forschende unter der Leitung von Barbara Taborsky vom Institut für Ökologie und Evolution der Universität Bern anhand von Experimenten mit sozial brütenden Buntbarschen erstmals zeigen.

Quelle: IDW Informationsdienst Wissenschaft

Highly dynamic sex chromosomes in cichlid fishes

The cichlids of Lake Tanganyika in Africa are highly diverse – including with regard to sex chromosomes. These have changed extremely frequently in the course of the evolution of these fish and, depending on the species, can be of the type XY or ZW. This has been reported by a research team from the University of Basel and the Research Museum Koenig in Bonn in the scientific journal Science Advances.

Quelle: IDW Informationsdienst Wissenschaft