Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Key to growth differences between species

Date:
February 23, 2012
Source:
University of Rochester
Summary:
The tiny, little-noticed jewel wasp may provide some answers as to how different species differ in size and shape. And that could lead to a better understanding of cell growth regulation, as well as the underlying causes of some diseases.

Two Nasonia wasps, N. giraulti (left) and N. vitripennis (right), have significantly different wing sizes.
Credit: Mike Osadciw/University of Rochester

The tiny, little-noticed jewel wasp may provide some answers as to how different species differ in size and shape. And that could lead to a better understanding of cell growth regulation, as well as the underlying causes of some diseases.

Using the wings of these insects as a tool to study how growth is regulated, biologists at the University of Rochester have discovered that changes in expression of a well-known cell regulator gene called "unpaired" (upd) accounts for wing growth differences between males of closely related species. Unpaired is distantly related to a class of genes called "interleukins'" which affect cell growth and specialization in humans. The discovery illustrates the principle that animals -- from insects to humans -- often use the same "genetic toolkit," despite immense differences in their biology. The findings are being published in the current issue of the journal Science.

Prof. John (Jack) Werren and doctoral student David Loehlin isolated the gene causing the wing difference through a technique called positional cloning. The large-winged N. giraulti and small-winged N. vitripennis wasps were crossbred, resulting in hybrid wasps with mixed chromosomes. Afterwards, the offspring with the largest wings were crossbred with pure N. vitripennis wasps, until, after ten generations, Werren and Loehlin had pure N. vitripennis wasps, with one exception: The young wasps now had DNA for large wings. They then used the same method to "break" the isolated genetic material into parts, in order to investigate how DNA flanking the gene affected its regulation and growth of the wings.

"The NIH had already supported sequencing of the genomes of the wasps, so we had the necessary tools to do the work," said Werren. Specifically, Werren and Loehlin found that the change in wing size wasn't due to the gene, but to the regulation of the gene.

"The DNA sequence next to the gene controls where in the wing the gene is turned on or off," said Loehlin, the first author of the research project. "This is one of the first cases where scientists have found genetic material responsible for naturally-occurring growth differences in animals."

Normal growth regulation is also required for an animal to develop, and inappropriate regulation of growth causes disease, including cancer. "This work is another clear example that regulating the activity of genes contributes to the incredible diversity of life on Earth," said Susan Haynes, Ph.D., who oversees developmental biology grants at the National Institutes of Health's National Institute of General Medical Sciences, which partially funded the work. "In this case, modulating the activity of a gene for cell growth reshapes and resizes a wasp's wing. Because insects and humans use similar genetic networks to create organs, this research could help us better understand our own development and the underlying causes of certain diseases."

Nasonia are emerging as a model insect for research because the male wasps are haploid, which means they have only one set of chromosomes, while the females are diploid, having two sets of chromosomes. Since a single gene in a male wasp controls a given trait -- without consideration for whether that gene is dominant or recessive -- the result is that physical changes to the male wasps showed up more quickly from one generation to the next.


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. D. W. Loehlin, J. H. Werren. Evolution of Shape by Multiple Regulatory Changes to a Growth Gene. Science, 2012; 335 (6071): 943 DOI: 10.1126/science.1215193

Cite This Page:

University of Rochester. "Key to growth differences between species." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 23 February 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/02/120223142638.htm>.
University of Rochester. (2012, February 23). Key to growth differences between species. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 18, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/02/120223142638.htm
University of Rochester. "Key to growth differences between species." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/02/120223142638.htm (accessed April 18, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Friday, April 18, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Vermont Goat Meat Gives Refugees Taste of Home

Vermont Goat Meat Gives Refugees Taste of Home

AP (Apr. 18, 2014) Dairy farmers and ethnic groups in Vermont are both benefiting from a unique collaborative effort that's feeding a growing need for fresh and affordable goat meat. (April 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
First Ever 'Female Penis' Discovered In Animal Kingdom

First Ever 'Female Penis' Discovered In Animal Kingdom

Newsy (Apr. 18, 2014) Not only are these newly discovered bugs' sex organs reversed, but they also mate for up to 70 hours. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Great British Farmland Boom

The Great British Farmland Boom

Reuters - Business Video Online (Apr. 17, 2014) Britain's troubled Co-operative Group is preparing to cash in on nearly 18,000 acres of farmland in one of the biggest UK land sales in decades. As Ivor Bennett reports, the market timing couldn't be better, with farmland prices soaring over 270 percent in the last 10 years. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Flamingo Frenzy Ahead of Zoo Construction

Flamingo Frenzy Ahead of Zoo Construction

AP (Apr. 17, 2014) With plenty of honking, flapping, and fluttering, more than three dozen Caribbean flamingos at Zoo Miami were rounded up today as the iconic exhibit was closed for renovations. (April 17) Video provided by AP
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:

More Coverage


A Biodiversity Discovery That Was Waiting in the Wings -- Wasp Wings, That Is

Feb. 24, 2012 From spaghetti-like sea anemones to blobby jellyfish to filigreed oak trees, each species in nature is characterized by a unique size and shape. But the evolutionary changes that produce the ... read more
from the past week

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