Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Inherited epigenetics produced record fast evolution

Date:
February 29, 2012
Source:
Linkoeping Universitet
Summary:
The domestication of chickens has given rise to rapid and extensive changes in genome function. Scientists have established that the changes are heritable, although they do not affect the DNA structure.

A brown Polish frizzle chicken, one of many varieties of domesticated chickens. The domestication of chickens has given rise to rapid and extensive changes in genome function.
Credit: © msibley / Fotolia

The domestication of chickens has given rise to rapid and extensive changes in genome function. A research team at Linköping University in Sweden has established that the changes are heritable, although they do not affect the DNA structure.

Humans kept Red Junglefowl as livestock about 8000 years ago. Evolutionarily speaking, the sudden emergence of an enormous variety of domestic fowl of different colours, shapes and sizes has occurred in record time. The traditional Darwinian explanation is that over thousands of years, people have bred properties that have arisen through random, spontaneous mutations in the chickens' genes.

Linköping zoologists, with Daniel Nätt and Per Jensen at the forefront, demonstrate in their study that so-called epigenetic factors play a greater role than previously thought. The study was published in the journal BMC Genomics.

They studied how individual patterns of gene activity in the brain were different for modern laying chickens than the original form of the species, the red jungle fowl. Furthermore they discovered hundreds of genes in which the activity was markedly different.

Degrees of a kind of epigenetic modification, DNA methylation, were measured in several thousand genes. This is a chemical alteration of the DNA molecule that can affect gene expression, but unlike a mutation it does not appear in the DNA structure. The results show clear differences in hundreds of genes.

Researchers also examined whether the epigenetic differences were hereditary. The answer was yes; the chickens inherited both methylation and gene activity from their parentages. After eight generations of cross breeding the two types of chickens, the differences were still evident.

The results suggest that domestication has led to epigenetic changes. For more than 70 % of the genes, domesticated chickens retained a higher degree of methylation. Since methylation is a much faster process than random mutations, and may occur as a result of stress and other experiences, this may explain how variation within a species can increase so dramatically in just a short time.

Nätt and Jensen's research may lead to a review of the important foundations for the theory of evolution.


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. Daniel Natt, Carl-Johan Rubin, Dominic Wright, Martin Johnsson, Johan Belteky, Leif Andersson, Per Jensen. Heritable genome-wide variation of gene expression and promoter methylation between wild and domesticated chickens. BMC Genomics, 2012; 13 (1): 59 DOI: 10.1186/1471-2164-13-59

Cite This Page:

Linkoeping Universitet. "Inherited epigenetics produced record fast evolution." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 29 February 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/02/120229091844.htm>.
Linkoeping Universitet. (2012, February 29). Inherited epigenetics produced record fast evolution. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 30, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/02/120229091844.htm
Linkoeping Universitet. "Inherited epigenetics produced record fast evolution." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/02/120229091844.htm (accessed September 30, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

California University Designs Sustainable Winery

California University Designs Sustainable Winery

Reuters - US Online Video (Sep. 27, 2014) — Amid California's worst drought in decades, scientists at UC Davis design a sustainable winery that includes a water recycling system. Vanessa Johnston reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Argentina Worries Over Decline of Soybean Prices

Argentina Worries Over Decline of Soybean Prices

AFP (Sep. 27, 2014) — The drop in price of soy on the international market is a cause for concern in Argentina, as soybean exports are a major source of income for Latin America's third largest economy. Duration: 01:10 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Mama Bear, Cubs Hang out in California Backyard

Mama Bear, Cubs Hang out in California Backyard

Reuters - US Online Video (Sep. 27, 2014) — A mama bear and her two cubs climb trees, wrestle and take naps in the backyard of a Monrovia, California home. Vanessa Johnston reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
'Crazy' Climate Forces Colombian Farmers to Adapt

'Crazy' Climate Forces Colombian Farmers to Adapt

AFP (Sep. 26, 2014) — Once upon a time, farming was a blissfully low-tech business on Colombia's northern plains. Duration: 02:05 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