Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Scientists decode genomes of precocious fruit flies

Date:
September 19, 2010
Source:
University of California -- Irvine
Summary:
Researchers have deciphered how lowly fruit flies bred to rapidly develop and reproduce actually evolve over time. The findings contradict the long-held belief that sexual beings evolve the same way simpler organisms do and could fundamentally alter the direction of genetic research for new pharmaceuticals and other products.

UC Irvine doctoral student Molly Burke used fruit flies to find more than 500 new genes linked to aging and sexual development.
Credit: Steve Zylius / University Communications

UC Irvine researchers have deciphered how lowly fruit flies bred to rapidly develop and reproduce actually evolve over time. The findings, reported in the Sept. 15 online issue of Nature, contradict the long-held belief that sexual beings evolve the same way simpler organisms do and could fundamentally alter the direction of genetic research for new pharmaceuticals and other products.

Related Articles


"This is actually decoding the key DNA in the evolution of aging, development and fertility," said ecology & evolutionary biology professor Michael Rose, whose laboratory began breeding the "super flies" used in the current study in 1991 -- or 600 generations ago. He joked that they "live fast and die young."

Lead author and doctoral student Molly Burke compared the super flies to a control group on a genome-wide basis, the first time such a study of a sexually reproducing species has been done. The work married DNA "soup" gathered from the adapted flies with cheap, efficient technology that uses cutting-edge informatics tools to analyze the DNA of entire organisms. Burke found evidence of evolution in more than 500 genes that could be linked to a variety of traits, including size, sexual maturation and life span, indicating a gradual, widespread network of selective adaptation.

"It's really exciting," she said. "This is a new way of identifying genes that are important for traits we're interested in -- as opposed to the old hunting and pecking, looking at one gene at a time."

For decades, most researchers have assumed that sexual species evolve the same way single-cell bacteria do: A genetic mutation sweeps through a population and quickly becomes "fixated" on a particular portion of DNA. But the UCI work shows that when sex is involved, it's far more complicated.

"This research really upends the dominant paradigm about how species evolve," said ecology & evolutionary biology professor Anthony Long, the primary investigator.

Based on that flawed paradigm, Rose noted, drugs have been developed to treat diabetes, heart disease and other maladies, some with serious side effects. He said those side effects probably occur because researchers were targeting single genes, rather than the hundreds of possible gene groups like those Burke found in the flies.

Most people don't think of flies as close relatives, but the UCI team said previous research had established that humans and other mammals share 70 percent of the same genes as the tiny, banana-eating insect known as Drosophila melanogaster.

Scientists who did not participate in the work agreed that it could change the direction of much research. "Anyone who expects to find a single solution for problems like aging will be disappointed, because this work suggests there's no one genetic target that could be fixed," said Richard Lenski, an evolutionary biologist at Michigan State University. "On the other hand, it means there are many genetic factors that can be further investigated."

Kevin Thornton and Parvin Shahrestani of UCI and Joseph Dunham of the University of Southern California are co-authors of the study, which was funded by UCI and National Science Foundation grants.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of California -- Irvine. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Molly K. Burke, Joseph P. Dunham, Parvin Shahrestani, Kevin R. Thornton, Michael R. Rose, Anthony D. Long. Genome-wide analysis of a long-term evolution experiment with Drosophila. Nature, 2010; DOI: 10.1038/nature09352

Cite This Page:

University of California -- Irvine. "Scientists decode genomes of precocious fruit flies." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 19 September 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/09/100916162537.htm>.
University of California -- Irvine. (2010, September 19). Scientists decode genomes of precocious fruit flies. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 17, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/09/100916162537.htm
University of California -- Irvine. "Scientists decode genomes of precocious fruit flies." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/09/100916162537.htm (accessed December 17, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

When You Lose Weight, This Is Where The Fat Goes

When You Lose Weight, This Is Where The Fat Goes

Newsy (Dec. 17, 2014) Can fat disappear into thin air? New research finds that during weight loss, over 80 percent of a person's fat molecules escape through the lungs. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Rover Finds More Clues About Possible Life On Mars

Rover Finds More Clues About Possible Life On Mars

Newsy (Dec. 17, 2014) NASA's Curiosity rover detected methane on Mars and organic compounds on the surface, but it doesn't quite prove there was life ... yet. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ivory Trade Boom Swamps Law Efforts

Ivory Trade Boom Swamps Law Efforts

Reuters - Business Video Online (Dec. 17, 2014) Demand for ivory has claimed the lives of tens of thousands of African elephants and now a conservation report says the illegal trade is overwhelming efforts to enforce the law. Amy Pollock reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Uphill Battle to Tackle Indonesian Shark Fishing

Uphill Battle to Tackle Indonesian Shark Fishing

AFP (Dec. 17, 2014) Sharks are hauled ashore every day at a busy market on the central Indonesian island of Lombok, the hub of a booming trade that provides a livelihood for local fishermen but is increasingly alarming environmentalists. Duration: 00:42 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