Evolutionary origins of appetite

Using the example of the freshwater polyp Hydra, a CRC 1182 research team shows how even creatures with very simple nervous systems can regulate the complex coordination of satiety and related behaviours

Quelle: IDW Informationsdienst Wissenschaft

New findings on fertility: Sperm can adapt to sexually transmitted microbes

Researchers from Dresden University of Technology (TUD) and the University of Sheffield have discovered that male fertility can adapt to microbes. These finding shed new light on the importance of sperm ecology and might have significant implications for evolutionary biology and medical research, particularly in understanding and treating infertility. The work has now been published in the journal “Evolution Letters”.

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Altruism as an Explanation for High Infant Mortality? New Insights from Evolutionary Biology

Why is the mortality rate among newborns very high, but decreases with increasing maturity? This question has long occupied scientists. Now, researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology in Plön have developed a remarkable hypothesis further: altruism could be a crucial factor.

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New Leibniz ScienceCampus for the DSMZ in Braunschweig

At its meeting on 19 March 2024, the Senate of the Leibniz Association made major decisions in various cross-institute funding formats: the Leibniz Institute DSMZ-German Collection of Microorganisms and Cell Cultures GmbH in Braunschweig, Germany, is leading one of seven new ScienceCampi. „The Leibniz Association and the state of Lower Saxony are funding the establishment of the Leibniz ScienceCampus EcoPath (Evolutionary Ecology of Zoonotic Pathogens during Agricultural Transformations), which has a total volume of 3.8 million euros, under the leadership of the Leibniz Institute DSMZ.“, announced the Scientific Director of the Institute, Professor Dr Jörg Overmann, today.

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Decoding the shared genetic toolkit for male sex determination

Researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Biology Tübingen broke new ground by demonstrating that an HMG-box gene in brown algae is crucial for determining male sex. This breakthrough significantly expands our understanding of sex-determination mechanisms in eukaryotic organisms. Until now, master sex-determination genes had been identified in only a select number of vertebrates and plants. Published in Science, this study illuminates the evolutionary parallels in developmental pathways between animals and seaweeds, despite their millions of years of independent evolution. It highlights the use of a shared genetic ‘toolkit’ across lineages and explores distant evolutionary convergences.

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Neuer Leibniz-WissenschaftsCampus für die DSMZ in Braunschweig

Der Senat der Leibniz-Gemeinschaft hat in seiner Sitzung am 19. März 2024 weitreichende Entscheidungen in verschiedenen institutsübergreifenden Förderformaten getroffen: das Leibniz-Institut DSMZ-Deutsche Sammlung von Mikroorganismen und Zellkulturen in Braunschweig führt einen von sieben neuen WissenschaftsCampi. „Die Leibniz-Gemeinschaft und das Land Niedersachsen finanzieren den Aufbau des Leibniz-WissenschaftsCampus EcoPath (Evolutionary Ecology of Zoonotic Pathogens during Agricultural Transformations), der ein Gesamtvolumen von 3,8 Millionen Euro hat, unter Leitung des Leibniz-Instituts DSMZ.“, teilt heute der Wissenschaftliche Direktor des Instituts Professor Dr. Jörg Overmann mit.

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New Insights into the Dynamics of Microbial Communities

Researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology in Plön, within the Department of Theoretical Biology, characterized a recently discovered dynamical regime of microbial communities and used it to explain empirical patterns of marine plankton. There, strong and diverse interactions, combined with weak dispersal, fuel a continuous turnover of the small set of very abundant species, such that success is ephemeral and every species is equivalent in alternating between rarity and dominance.

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Ways to achieve a peaceful co-existence with genomic parasites

Transposable elements are mobile genetic elements that can relocate within the genome and disrupt the normal function of genes, but are at the same time a source of evolutionary diversity. The lab of Tugce Aktas at the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Genetics has identified a novel pathway that keeps the activity of transposons in somatic cells in check after they have been transcribed. Their findings have now been published in Nature. The work is a collaboration with the labs of Zachary D. Smith (Yale Stem Cell Center, USA) and Franz-Josef Müller (Universitätsklinikum Schleswig-Holstein, Germany)

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Use it or lose it: How seagrasses conquered the sea

26.01.2024/Ghent/Groningen/Kiel/Naples. Seagrasses provide the foundation of one of the most highly biodiverse, yet vulnerable, coastal marine ecosystems globally. They arose in three independent lineages from their freshwater ancestors some 100 million years ago and are the only fully submerged, marine flowering plants. Moving to such a radically different environment is a rare evolutionary event and definitely not easy. How did they do it? New reference quality genomes provide important clues with relevance to their conservation and biotechnological application.

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Biodiversity below ground: New comprehensive genome data on soil invertebrates provide insights into their biodiversity

They are tiny, enormously diverse, and widespread in the soil: soil invertebrates such as springtails, horn mites, millipedes, and nematodes. These animals, which are often only visible under a microscope, fulfil important tasks in the soil ecosystem. This is why they are increasingly becoming the focus of official measures to preserve biodiversity in the soil. With the „MetaInvert“ project, scientists are providing extensive genomic data on 232 species of these previously little-studied organisms. The information contributes significantly to the identification and knowledge of community composition and function and the discovery of evolutionary adaptations to environmental conditions.

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Evolution of taste: Sharks were already able to perceive bitter substances

New genetic data show that humans and sharks share bitter taste receptors, even though their evolutionary pathways separated nearly 500 million years ago / Published in ‘PNAS’

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Coronavirus: Model can predict the evolution of new covid variants

Evolutionary information can support the design of targeted vaccines / publication in the scientific journal ‘Cell’

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Evolutionary history of three-finger snake toxins decoded

Snakebites cause around 100,000 deaths worldwide every year. Researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have investigated how the toxin emerged between 50 and 120 million years ago through the modification of a gene that also occurs in mammals and other reptiles. The results could help with the development of better snakebite treatments and lead to new knowledge for the treatment of illnesses such as type 2 diabetes and hypertension.

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Darwin or Kimura – Natural Selection or Pure Chance? New literature review aims to clarify a heated debate

Some of nature’s mysteries have kept scientists busy for decades – for example, the processes which drive evolution. The question of whether certain differences between and within species are caused by natural selection or by chance processes divides evolutionary biologists even today. An international team of researchers has teased apart a scientific debate concerning the evolutionary theories of Darwin and the Japanese geneticist Kimura. Their conclusion: the debate is unnecessarily convoluted by the co-existence of different interpretations.

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Male crested macaques more likely to respond to offspring screams recruiting support

When infants are involved in agonistic conflicts, male crested macaques (Macaca nigra) are more likely to respond to screams from their own offspring. This is the conclusion of a recent study led by behavioural ecologist Professor Anja Widdig from Leipzig University and the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig as part of the Macaca Nigra Project (MNP). The researchers studied the behaviour of crested macaques in the Tangkoko Nature Reserve on Sulawesi, Indonesia, over a 24-month period (2008 to 2010).

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Various evolutionary forces shape the human skeleton

Senckenberg Centre for Human Evolution and Palaeoenvironment at the University of Tübingen explores skeletal features as an alternative to DNA analysis

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Evolving viruses to fight bacterial infections

Multidrug-resistant bacterial infections are one of the most pressing issues in medicine, a situation that is only expected to worsen in the coming decades. The problem is being addressed not only by developing new antibiotics but also by studying antibiotic alternatives, such as phages. Among them is the Microbial Molecular Evolution Research Group at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology in Plön.

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New insights into the evolution of the plague pathogen

– Joint press release by Kiel University and the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology, Plön –

A research team from Kiel University and MPI-EB identifies genetic factors that were acquired by the pathogen Yersinia pestis during its recent evolution and contribute to our understanding of the emergence of the modern plague pandemic in the 19th century

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Patterns of biodiversity unveiled

Understanding the origins and preservation of biodiversity is crucial as human impact continues to threaten our planet’s rich variety of life. Often overlooked, narrow-ranged and evolutionary unique species play a vital role in shaping biodiversity. Their concentrated presence, quantified as phylogenetic endemism, reveals important centers of biogeographic and evolutionary history. A new study led by a team of international researchers at the University of Göttingen has now uncovered global patterns and factors influencing phylogenetic endemism in seed plants, providing invaluable insights for conservation efforts worldwide. The findings were published in PNAS.

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Scientists discover ‘lost world’ of our early ancestors in billion-year-old rocks

Newly discovered biomarker signatures point to a whole range of previously unknown organisms that dominated complex life on Earth about a billion years ago. They differed from complex eukaryotic life as we know it, such as animals, plants and algae in their cell structure and likely metabolism, which was adapted to a world that had far less oxygen in the atmosphere than today. Benjamin Nettersheim from the MARUM – Center for Marine Environmental Sciences, University of Bremen and Faculty of Geosciences at the University of Bremen and an international team of researchers now report on this breakthrough for the field of evolutionary geobiology in the journal Nature.

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African rhinos share retroviruses not found in Asian rhinos or other related species

Rhinoceros belong to a mammalian order called odd-toed ungulates that also include horses and tapirs. They are found in Africa and Asia. Until recently, evidence suggested that throughout their evolutionary history, gammaretroviruses such as Murine leukemia virus had not colonised their genomes, unlike most other mammalian orders.

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Scientists “revive” Stone Age molecules

Breakthroughs in ancient genome reconstruction and biotechnology are now revealing the rich molecular secrets of Paleolithic microorganisms. In a new study published in Science, a transdisciplinary team of researchers led by the Leibniz Institute for Natural Product Research and Infection Biology, the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, and Harvard University reconstructed bacterial genomes of previously unknown bacteria dating to the Pleistocene. Using their genetic blueprints, they built a biotechnology platform to revive the ancient bacteria’s natural products.

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Genetic heritage from the Stone Age influences our chance to have a long life

Researchers at Kiel University have studied the evolutionary history of the longevity gene APOE. To do this, they analysed data obtained from human skeletons that are up to 12,000 years old.

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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’

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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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