Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Genetic Damage In Minibacteria In Aphids And Ants Repaired By Faulty Copying

Date:
October 6, 2008
Source:
Uppsala Universitet
Summary:
Aphids (plant lice) and ants carry minibacteria that produce essential amino acids and vitamins. These minibacteria have very limited genetic material and many broken genes. Now, researchers have found that repeated errors in the conversion of DNA to protein save the function of the damaged genes.

Aphids feeding on an iris leaf. Aphids (plant lice) and ants carry minibacteria that produce essential amino acids and vitamins.
Credit: iStockphoto/Nancy Nehring

Aphids (plant lice) and ants carry minibacteria that produce essential amino acids and vitamins. These minibacteria have very limited genetic material and many broken genes. Now, in an article in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Uppsala researchers are presenting experimental findings that show that repeated errors in the conversion of DNA to protein save the function of the damaged genes.

Many insects, such as aphids, ants, and tse-tse flies are dependent on special minibacteria for their survival. These bacteria live isolated in special organs in the insects? bodies and are packed into their eggs to be spread to the next generation of insects. In this closed environment a great deal of genetic damage takes place, and the minibacteria?s genes are successively degraded.

Genetic damage arises during copying of the DNA string in the mother cell to the new DNA strings in the daughter cells. DNA is made up of four letters-?A, C, G, T. During copying of the same letter in a row, errors easily occur: for example, 10A can be erroneously copied as 9A or 11A or 12A. If such an error occurs in a gene, the reading frame is destroyed, and the gene loses its function. It is extremely uncommon for bacteria to have long series of the same letter in their genes. The minibacteria that live in insects, on the other hand, can surprisingly have hundreds of such regions in their genes. In several cases these regions have accumulated genetic mutations and the genes have popped out of their reading frame.

"Theoretically speaking, these damaged genes should no longer be able to function", says Siv Andersson.

In the new study, the scientists have shown that despite their damage these genes become protein. The secret lies in the fact that new errors occur during copying of DNA to RNA, so a mixture of RNA molecules with 9A, 10A, 11A, and 12A is formed. Owing to the new errors, in some cases the original damage is repaired, and the gene pops back into its proper reading frame so that protein can be created.

"The result is a robust but extremely inefficient system. The major share of the copied material is useless and will be degraded. But thanks to the small proportion that turn out right as a result of the repeated copying errors, the bacteria can survive, thereby making it possible for the aphids and ants to survive", says Siv Andersson.

These findings are of value to experiments being carried out around the world in attempts to use engineering to create minibacteria using artificial genetic material.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Uppsala Universitet. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Tamas et al. Endosymbiont gene functions impaired and rescued by polymerase infidelity at poly(A) tracts. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2008; DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0806554105

Cite This Page:

Uppsala Universitet. "Genetic Damage In Minibacteria In Aphids And Ants Repaired By Faulty Copying." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 6 October 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/09/080926100932.htm>.
Uppsala Universitet. (2008, October 6). Genetic Damage In Minibacteria In Aphids And Ants Repaired By Faulty Copying. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 2, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/09/080926100932.htm
Uppsala Universitet. "Genetic Damage In Minibacteria In Aphids And Ants Repaired By Faulty Copying." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/09/080926100932.htm (accessed October 2, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Attacking Superbugs

Attacking Superbugs

Ivanhoe (Oct. 1, 2014) — Two weapons hospitals can use to attack superbugs. Scientists in Ireland created a new gel resistant to superbugs, and a robot that can disinfect a room in minutes. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Cultural Learning In Wild Chimps Observed For The First Time

Cultural Learning In Wild Chimps Observed For The First Time

Newsy (Oct. 1, 2014) — Cultural transmission — the passing of knowledge from one animal to another — has been caught on camera with chimps teaching other chimps. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Earth Has Lost Half Its Vertebrate Wildlife Since 1970: WWF

Earth Has Lost Half Its Vertebrate Wildlife Since 1970: WWF

Newsy (Sep. 30, 2014) — A new study published by the World Wide Fund for Nature found that more than half of the world's wildlife population has declined since 1970. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Annual Dog Surfing Competition Draws California Crowds

Annual Dog Surfing Competition Draws California Crowds

AFP (Sep. 30, 2014) — The best canine surfers gathered for Huntington Beach's annual dog surfing competition, "Surf City, Surf Dog." Duration: 01:15 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins