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 October 31, 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 October 31, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Friday, October 31, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

How A Chorus Led Scientists To A New Frog Species

How A Chorus Led Scientists To A New Frog Species

Newsy (Oct. 30, 2014) A frog noticed by a conservationist on New York's Staten Island has been confirmed as a new species after extensive study and genetic testing. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Surfer Accidentally Stands on Shark, Gets Bitten

Surfer Accidentally Stands on Shark, Gets Bitten

AP (Oct. 30, 2014) A 20-year-old competition surfer said on Thursday he accidentally stepped on a shark's head before it bit him off the Australian east coast. (Oct. 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola Inflicts Heavy Toll on Guinean Potato Trade

Ebola Inflicts Heavy Toll on Guinean Potato Trade

AFP (Oct. 30, 2014) The Ebola epidemic has seen Senegal and Guinea Bissau close its borders with Guinea and the economic consequences have started to be felt, especially in Fouta Djallon, where the renowned potato industry has been hit hard. Duration: 02:01 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Genetically Altered Glowing Flower on Display in Tokyo

Genetically Altered Glowing Flower on Display in Tokyo

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Oct. 30, 2014) Just in time for Halloween, a glowing flower goes on display in Tokyo. Instead of sorcery and magic, its creators used science to genetically modify the flower, adding a naturally fluorescent plankton protein to its genetic mix. Ben Gruber reports. Video provided by Reuters
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