FAU biologist discovers evidence for intentional communication in female putty-nosed monkeys

Female putty-nosed monkeys deliberately use alarm calls to recruit males to defend the group. This is the conclusion reached by Claudia Stephan, an evolutionary biologist at Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU), together with colleagues from the Wildlife Conservation Society after conducting observations in the Republic of the Congo. The females kept up their chirping calls until the male took action to defend the group against the predator. This is the first time that intentional vocalization such as this has been observed in the animal kingdom. The researcher has now published her findings in the scientific journal “Animal Behavior and Cognition“.

Quelle: IDW Informationsdienst Wissenschaft

Vocal Communication Originated over 400 Million Years Ago

Acoustic communication is not only widespread in land vertebrates like birds and mammals, but also in reptiles, amphibians, and fishes. Many of them are usually considered mute, but in fact show broad and complex acoustic repertoires. According to researchers at University of Zurich, the evolutionary origin of vocal communication dates back more than 400 million years.

Quelle: IDW Informationsdienst Wissenschaft

Gut microbes and humans on a joint evolutionary journey

The human gut microbiome is composed of thousands of different bacteria and archaea that vary widely between populations and individuals. Scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Biology in Tübingen have now discovered gut microbes that share a parallel evolutionary history with their human hosts: the microorganisms co-evolved in the human gut environment over hundreds of thousands of years. In addition, some microbes exhibit genomic and functional features making them dependent on their host. Now published in Science, the researchers present the results of their study conducted with data from 1225 individuals out of Africa, Asia and Europe.

Quelle: IDW Informationsdienst Wissenschaft

The wax flowers and their complex relationship

Wax flowers and numerous plant genera related to them evolved about 33 million years ago. Shortly thereafter, they split into three independent evolutionary lineages, according to a new international study led by Bayreuth plant systematist Prof. Dr. Sigrid Liede-Schumann. A total of 37 genera and 740 species emerged, distributed over the tropics and subtropics worldwide. Only the combination of well-established morphological studies with the latest molecular genetic analysis methods ensures a correct taxonomic description and classification. The research results have been published in the journal „Taxon“.

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Genetic time travel back 50 million years: Scientific team reveals the correct evolutionary relationships among possums

Reunion in the animal kingdom. For decades separated Australasian possums can look forward to a joint future. A study of jumping genes shows that all possums share a common ancestry. In detail, the “presence (1)” or “absence (0) of 61 jumping genes indicates a common origin of all Possums (Phalangeroidea and Petauroidea) and only a distant relationship to kangaroos.

Quelle: IDW Informationsdienst Wissenschaft

A two-step adaptive walk in the wild

An international team led by Angela Hancock at the Max Planck Institute for Plant Breeding Research in Cologne (Germany) and scientists from the Associação Projecto Vitó and Parque Natural do Fogo (Cape Verde), the University of Nottingham (UK), and the University of Bochum (Germany) studied a wild thale cress (Arabidopsis thaliana) population that colonized the base of an active stratovolcano. They found that a two-step molecular process rewired nutrient transport in the population. The study, published today in the journal Science Advances, reveal an exceptionally clear case of an adaptive walk in a wild population with broader implications for evolutionary biology and crop improvement.

Quelle: IDW Informationsdienst Wissenschaft

New social organization evolved in one species of fire ants before spreading to other species

An international research team led by Queen Mary University of and Dr. Eckart Stolle from the Leibniz-Institute for the Analysis of Biodiversity Change (LIB) has discovered that a new form of ant society spread across species. They found that after the new form of social organization evolved in one species of fire ants, a „social supergene“ carrying the genetic information for the new social form, spread into other species. This spread occurred through hybridisation, i.e., breeding between ants of different species. The alternate way of life provides the ants with an evolutionary advantage and makes them more successful than with just the original social form.

Quelle: IDW Informationsdienst Wissenschaft

James W. Lightfoot commended with the Heidelberg Academy Award

Max Planck researcher honored for outstanding achievements in evolutionary biology

Neuroscientist and Max Planck Research Group Leader James Lightfoot is awarded the Academy Award of the Heidelberg Academy of Sciences and Humanity. Lightfoot is recognized for his scientific findings on how a predatory nematode species is able to recognize its own offspring and kin. This turned out to be dependent on a small peptide that provides an identification signal. The Academy Award will be presented at a special ceremony on May 22.

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When synapse building blocks became scarce: Bayreuth biologists explain protein exchange during vertebrate evolution

The electrical synapses in vertebrates are made of different, but by no means more powerful proteins than the electrical synapses in far older invertebrates. Animal physiologists at the University of Bayreuth have now found an explanation for this evolutionary puzzle. In the early phase of vertebrate evolution, there was a loss of diversity in precisely those proteins that had been used for signal transmission in older invertebrates. The scientists have published their discovery in the journal eLife.

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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

Microorganism sheds new light on cancer resistance

Scientists describe T. adhaerens‘ unusual behavior, including its capacity to repair its DNA even after significant radiation damage and to extrude injured cells, which later die. The findings advance scientific investigations of natural cancer-suppression mechanisms across life. Insights gleaned from these evolutionary adaptations may find their way into new and more effective therapies for this leading killer.

Quelle: Sciencedaily

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

The Honeybee originated in Asia – social behavior helped to colonize vast areas of the globe

It was long debated among scientists, where on the globe the Western Honeybee Apis mellif-era had its evolutionary origin. Thus far, Africa was thought to be a plausible origin, but the data were incomplete. Led by Kathleen Dogantzis and Amro Zayed from York University (Can-ada), an international team of scientists including Dr. Eckart Stolle from the Leibniz Institute for the Analysis of Biodiversity Change (LIB) in Bonn (Germany), now used comprehensive genomic analyses and could show that the Honeybee originated in Asia and from there colo-nized Africa and Europe. The results were recently published in the journal Science Advances.

Quelle: IDW Informationsdienst Wissenschaft

The hub of Africa: Bayreuth study traces tropical origins of the Apocynaceae

Together with a Brazilian research group, a team from the Plant Systematics research group at the University of Bayreuth has been investigating the evolutionary development of Apocynaceae. This family of flowering plants, which is one of the ten largest in the world, originated in the tropics. The African continent played a decisive role in its global spread.

Quelle: IDW Informationsdienst Wissenschaft

More than sex: Kiel researchers propose expanded evolutionary concept

New work from the Kiel Evolution Center suggests that somatic gene variations play a larger role in evolutionary adaptation mechanisms than previously thought.

Quelle: IDW Informationsdienst Wissenschaft

Researchers uncover evolutionary forces at play in the aging of the blood system and identify people at increased risk of blood cancer

Study shows how the interplay of positive, neutral and negative evolutionary selection acting on mutations in aging blood stem cells can lead to acute myeloid leukemia (AML) in some individuals with age-related clonal hematopoiesis (ARCH).

Quelle: Sciencedaily

The rise and fall of elephants

Earth-historical events such as ice ages or the shifting of continental plates are mainly responsible for the evolutionary success ofproboscideans, but also for their decline. This is the main conclusion of a study published this week in Nature Ecology & Evolution by an international research team from Spain, Finland, Great Britain, Germany and Argentina with the participation of the Museum für Naturkunde Berlin.

Quelle: IDW Informationsdienst Wissenschaft

Stoneflies: Youth influences adulthood

In the majority of insects, metamorphosis fosters completely different looking larval and adult stages. For example, adult butterflies are completely different from their larval counterparts, termed caterpillars. This “decoupling” of life stages is thought to allow for adaptation to different environments. Researchers of the University of Bonn now falsified this text book knowledge of evolutionary theory for stoneflies. They found that the ecology of the larvae largely determines the morphology of the adults by investigating 219 earwig and stonefly species at high-resolution particle accelerators. The study has now been published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

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Living as a social parasite leads to genetic impoverishment in ants / Publication in Nature Communications

An international team of researchers headed by biologist Lukas Schrader from Münster University show that a socially parasitic lifestyle of ants not only leads to a change in external traits, but also to a genome erosion in the species. This so-called genome erosion impacted genes particularly important for non-parasitic ants, such as olfactory receptors functioning in chemical communication. These findings indicate that the evolution of social parasitism follows similar evolutionary mechanisms as that of non-social, (“regular”) parasitism. The study is published in the journal „Nature Communications“.

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First description of a new octopus species without using a scalpel

An evolutionary biologist from the University of Bonn brought a new octopus species to light from depths of more than 4,000 meters in the North Pacific Ocean. The sensational discovery made waves in the media a few years ago. Researchers in Bonn have now published the species description and named the animal „Emperor dumbo“ (Grimpoteuthis imperator). Just as unusual as the organism is the researchers‘ approach: in order to describe the new species, they did not dissect the rare creature, but instead used non-destructive imaging techniques. The results have now been published in the prestigious journal „BMC Biology“.

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In search of the first bacterium

Evolutionary biology: publication in Communications Biology

What did the ancestor of all bacteria look like, where did it live and what did it feed on? A team of researchers from the Institute of Molecular Evolution at Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf (HHU) has now found answers to these questions by analysing biochemical metabolic networks and evolutionary trees. In the journal Communications Biology, they report on how they can now even infer the shape of the first bacterium.

Quelle: IDW Informationsdienst Wissenschaft

The migration of Austrian blackcaps decoded

Blackcaps (Sylvia atricapilla) are one of the most common bird species in Europe, and the most common in Austria. Across their range, they show a multitude of migratory strategies. Birds in the South are mostly sedentary, and the further North they breed, the longer their migrations get. Some populations can be found South of the Sahara Desert in winter. A research group from the Max-Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology in Plön – in collaboration with researchers from the Austrian Ornithological Centre at the Konrad Lorenz Institute of Ethology in Vienna – set off to investigate the variability of their migratory strategies, using geolocators which are attached to the bird´s bodies.

Quelle: IDW Informationsdienst Wissenschaft

When synthetic evolution rhymes with natural diversity

Researchers at GMI – Gregor Mendel Institute of Molecular Plant Biology of the Austrian Academy of Sciences, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and The Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) use two complementary approaches to unveil a co-evolutionary mechanism between bacteria and plants and also explain complex immune response patterns observed in the wild. Together the papers change the way scientists have been thinking about the relationship of a bacterial antigenic component with its plant immune receptor. The two papers are published back to back in the journal Cell Host & Microbe.

Quelle: IDW Informationsdienst Wissenschaft

Retracing the history of the mutation that gave rise to cancer decades later

Researchers reconstructed the evolutionary history of cancer cells in two patients, tracing the timeline of the mutation that causes the disease to a cell of origin. In a 63-year-old patient, it occurred at around age 19; in a 34-year-old patient, at around age 9.

Quelle: Sciencedaily

Natural History Museum Vienna and Evolution

Exactly 150 years ago, on 24 February 1871, Charles Darwin published his work The Descent of Man. To mark this anniversary the Natural History Museum Vienna aims to draw attention to the close links which exist between its first Superintendent, Ferdinand von Hochstetter (1829-1884), and the revolutionary theory of Charles Darwin (1809-1882). In this context, the museum wishes to raise the profile of the various evolutionary and co-evolutionary processes when redesigning its exhibition halls in the future.

Quelle: IDW Informationsdienst Wissenschaft