Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Brewing yeasts reveal secrets of chromosomal warfare, dysfunction

Date:
June 25, 2014
Source:
Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
Summary:
Using two yeasts that have been used to brew tea and beer for centuries, researchers have revealed how reproductive barriers might rapidly arise to create species boundaries. Schizosaccharomyces pombe has been used to brew beer in Africa, whereas its close relative S. kombucha is a component of kombucha tea commonly found in health-food stores.

Dr. Sarah Zanders of the Basic Sciences Division at Fred Hutch.
Credit: Bo Jungmayer / Fred Hutch file

Using two yeasts that have been used to brew tea and beer for centuries, researchers at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center have revealed how reproductive barriers might rapidly arise to create species boundaries. Schizosaccharomyces pombe has been used to brew beer in Africa, whereas its close relative S. kombucha is a component of kombucha tea commonly found in health-food stores.

A team of researchers led by Dr. Sarah Zanders of the Basic Sciences Division at Fred Hutch, has uncovered why hybrids between these yeasts (commonly referred to as fission yeasts) are almost completely sterile despite being 99.5 percent identical at the DNA level.

The study, published this month in the open-access journal eLife, found that the surprisingly rapid onset of infertility has two major causes. First, the study revealed that genome rearrangements limit the ability of the hybrids to produce offspring that contain a full set of genes. Second, the study found that three meiotic drive genes severely decrease fertility in the hybrids. Meiotic drive genes are "selfish genes"' that persist and spread in populations by cheating the process of sexual reproduction to increase their own transmission. Zanders and colleagues found evidence of three independently acting meiotic drivers, which appear to somehow kill cells that do not inherit them. Their combined action is sufficient to almost completely debilitate hybrid fertility.

"Both changes in genome structure and meiotic drivers are commonly observed in other organisms, including in human populations," Zanders said, "but our ability to discover and fully understand their biology is greatly improved in genetic model organisms like fission yeast."

The researchers also found that the two species and hybrids between them greatly differ in their propensity to experience aneuploidy, or aberrant chromosomal configurations. Such aneuploidy is commonly observed in human cancers and is also the underlying cause of birth defects such as Down syndrome. "The model we have developed provides an exciting means to uncover the causes underlying genetic predisposition to aneuploidy," Zanders said.

The work also exemplifies the uniquely collaborative scientific atmosphere at Fred Hutch. Zanders was co-advised by Dr. Gerald Smith, whose lab at Fred Hutch studies recombination and meiosis in fission yeast, and Dr. Harmit Malik, also of the Basic Sciences Division at Fred Hutch, whose lab studies evolutionary genetic conflicts and speciation. Although this atmosphere provided the best opportunity to make new discoveries, Malik and Smith also credited Zanders' ability to bridge the strengths of both labs for the ultimate success of the project.

"Despite speciation being one of the most intriguing problems in biology, one that even Darwin termed the "mystery of mysteries," our ability to understand how new species form will be greatly enhanced by new model systems in which we can fully understand the genetic and molecular basis underlying hybrid dysfunction," Malik said. "The prospect of using these discoveries to understand the genetic basis of chromosome dysfunction and human disease is exciting, and it's a foreseeable outcome of such basic research."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. S. E. Zanders, M. T. Eickbush, J. S. Yu, J.-W. Kang, K. R. Fowler, G. R. Smith, H. S. Malik. Genome rearrangements and pervasive meiotic drive cause hybrid infertility in fission yeast. eLife, 2014; 3 (0): e02630 DOI: 10.7554/eLife.02630

Cite This Page:

Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. "Brewing yeasts reveal secrets of chromosomal warfare, dysfunction." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 25 June 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/06/140625101806.htm>.
Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. (2014, June 25). Brewing yeasts reveal secrets of chromosomal warfare, dysfunction. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/06/140625101806.htm
Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. "Brewing yeasts reveal secrets of chromosomal warfare, dysfunction." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/06/140625101806.htm (accessed October 21, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

'Cadaver Dog' Sniffs out Human Remains

'Cadaver Dog' Sniffs out Human Remains

AP (Oct. 21, 2014) Where's a body buried? Buster's nose can often tell you. He's a cadaver dog, specially trained to find human remains and increasingly being used by law enforcement and accepted in courts. These dogs are helping solve even decades-old mysteries. (Oct. 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
White Lion Cubs Born in Belgrade Zoo

White Lion Cubs Born in Belgrade Zoo

AFP (Oct. 20, 2014) Two white lion cubs, an extremely rare subspecies of the African lion, were recently born at Belgrade Zoo. They are being bottle fed by zoo keepers after they were rejected by their mother after birth. Duration: 00:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Traditional Farming Methods Gaining Ground in Mali

Traditional Farming Methods Gaining Ground in Mali

AFP (Oct. 20, 2014) He is leading a one man agricultural revolution in Mali - Oumar Diatabe uses traditional farming methods to get the most out of his land and is teaching others across the country how to do the same. Duration: 01:44 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Goliath Spider Will Give You Nightmares

Goliath Spider Will Give You Nightmares

Buzz60 (Oct. 20, 2014) An entomologist stumbled upon a South American Goliath Birdeater. With a name like that, you know it's a terrifying creepy crawler. Sean Dowling (@SeanDowlingTV) has the details. Video provided by Buzz60
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