New eyes discovered in trilobites

Researchers at the Universities of Cologne and Edinburgh have detected previously overlooked eyes whose form and function could help to improve the evolutionary classification of archaic arthropods / publication in ‘Scientific Reports – Nature’

Quelle: IDW Informationsdienst Wissenschaft

How fishermen benefit from reversing evolution of cod

Intense fishing and overexploitation have led to evolutionary changes in fish stocks like cod, reducing both their productivity and value on the market. These changes can be reversed by more sustainable and far-sighted fisheries management. The new study by researchers from the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv), Leipzig University and the Institute of Marine Research in Tromsø, which was published in Nature Sustainability, shows that reversal of evolutionary change would only slightly reduce the profit of fishing, but would help regain and conserve natural genetic diversity.

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The dual face of photoreceptors during seed germination

Seed germination depends on light in many plants. But not always: Aethionema arabicum, a plant adapted to challenging environmental conditions, does it its own way. Here, the phytochromes, the receptors for red and far-red light, play an unexpected role in seed germination and time this process to the optimal season. These findings, now published in “Plant Physiology”, are a compelling example of the evolutionary rewiring of signaling modules that help plants adapt to their habitats. The study was led by researchers at the Gregor Mendel Institute of Molecular Plant Biology (GMI) of the Austrian Academy of Sciences.

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Genetic switch makes the eyes of male bees large and of female bees small

Biology: Publication in Nature Communications

Bee researchers at Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf (HHU) headed by Professor Dr Martin Beye have identified a new gene in honeybees, which is responsible for the dimorphic eye differentiation between males and females of the species. The researchers have now presented this gene and the evolutionary genetic conclusions they have drawn from it in the scientific journal Nature Communications.

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Autophagy: The molecular regulation of self-eating

Autophagy, or “self-eating”, is an essential cellular quality control mechanism that clears the cell of protein aggregates and damaged organelles. This mechanism is inactive under normal conditions and only triggered upon persistent cellular stress. Researchers from the Gregor Mendel Institute of Molecular Plant Biology (GMI) of the Austrian Academy of Sciences and the Max Perutz Labs uncover a molecular switch that regulates autophagy in plants. Combining evolutionary analysis with a mechanistic experimental approach, they demonstrate that this regulatory mechanism is conserved in eukaryotes. The findings were published on February 10th in the EMBO Journal.

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1 billion years of abstinence: chloroplasts finally can hope for sex!

Scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Plant Physiology in Potsdam (Germany) analyzed the inheritance of chloroplasts under different environmental conditions in almost 4 million tobacco plants. Contrary to the prevailing view that chloroplasts are only passed on by the mother plant, paternal chloroplasts can also be transmitted to the offspring under cold conditions, raising the possibility that the chloroplasts of the two parents exchange genetic material with each other. The new findings will facilitate the targeted use of chloroplast-encoded traits in plant breeding, and they also open up new perspectives for evolutionary research. The study was published in Nature Plants.

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Extraordinary flight artists. Hummingbird’s hovering flight likely evolved because of a lost gene

Hummingbirds, native to North and South America, are among the smallest and most agile birds in the world. Often barely larger than a thumb, they are the only bird species that can fly not only forwards, but also backwards or sideways. Their characteristic hovering flight makes that possible. However, hovering is extremely energy-demanding. In a genomic study published in the journal Science, an international team of scientists led by Prof. Michael Hiller at the LOEWE Centre for Translational Biodiversity Genomics (LOEWE-TBG) in Frankfurt, Germany, investigated the evolutionary adaptations of the metabolism that may have enabled the hummingbirds‘ unique flying abilities.

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Two-billion-year-old enzyme reconstructed – Detective work by molecular biologists and bioinformatics researchers

Basic researchers at Leipzig University have solved a puzzle in the evolution of bacterial enzymes. By reconstructing a candidate for a special RNA polymerase as it existed about two billion years ago, they were able to explain a hitherto puzzling property of the corresponding modern enzymes. Unlike their ancestors, they do not work continuously and are thus significantly more effective – these pauses in activity constitute evolutionary progress. The reconstruction of the protein from prehistoric times was made possible thanks to interdisciplinary cooperation between molecular biochemistry and bioinformatics.

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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“.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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