Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Sex matters for microbes

Date:
January 3, 2014
Source:
University of Bristol
Summary:
Researchers have observed mating for the first time in the microbes responsible for African sleeping sickness.

Mating trypanosomes. Two different cells, one marked with red fluorescence and the other with green fluorescence, have intertwined their flagella to bring the cell bodies into close contact. Left: Brightfield image. Right: UV fluorescence image.
Credit: Image by Professor Wendy Gibson

Caught in the act! Researchers from the University of Bristol have observed mating for the first time in the microbes responsible for African sleeping sickness. This tropical disease is caused by trypanosomes, single-celled parasites that are found in the blood of those afflicted.

The Bristol team were able to see what the trypanosomes were getting up to inside the tsetse flies that carry the disease by using fluorescent markers [see image -- link below]. The microscopic beasts were seen twirling and gyrating together before joining up into one hybrid cell. To tell which was which, individual trypanosomes were tagged with different colours, with the result that the hybrid cells had both colours.

Professor Wendy Gibson, who led the research, commented: "It's not only bigger animals that have intricate courtship -- but you need a powerful microscope to see this!"

Sex matters for microbes because it enables genes to be swapped between different strains, leading to new combinations of genes. In the case of disease-causing microbes like the trypanosome, sex can potentially lead to a lot of harmful genes being combined in one strain. These new results suggest that sex is not an optional or rare part of this microbe's life cycle, but probably happens every time two different trypanosomes find themselves together in the same tsetse fly.

Trypanosomes belong to a strange group of protozoa that includes several other medically important parasites such as Leishmania, Trichomonas and Giardia. In the past, all these microbes were thought to reproduce just by splitting in half, but now results show that they also use sex to swap genes between strains. This research helps scientists understand how new strains of disease-causing microbes arise and how characteristics such as drug resistance get spread between different strains.


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. Lori Peacock, Mick Bailey, Mark Carrington, Wendy Gibson. Meiosis and Haploid Gametes in the Pathogen Trypanosoma brucei. Current Biology, 2014; DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2013.11.044

Cite This Page:

University of Bristol. "Sex matters for microbes." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 3 January 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140103204500.htm>.
University of Bristol. (2014, January 3). Sex matters for microbes. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 30, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140103204500.htm
University of Bristol. "Sex matters for microbes." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140103204500.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