The rise and fall of elephants

Earth-historical events such as ice ages or the shifting of continental plates are mainly responsible for the evolutionary success ofproboscideans, but also for their decline. This is the main conclusion of a study published this week in Nature Ecology & Evolution by an international research team from Spain, Finland, Great Britain, Germany and Argentina with the participation of the Museum für Naturkunde Berlin.

Quelle: IDW Informationsdienst Wissenschaft

Stoneflies: Youth influences adulthood

In the majority of insects, metamorphosis fosters completely different looking larval and adult stages. For example, adult butterflies are completely different from their larval counterparts, termed caterpillars. This “decoupling” of life stages is thought to allow for adaptation to different environments. Researchers of the University of Bonn now falsified this text book knowledge of evolutionary theory for stoneflies. They found that the ecology of the larvae largely determines the morphology of the adults by investigating 219 earwig and stonefly species at high-resolution particle accelerators. The study has now been published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

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Living as a social parasite leads to genetic impoverishment in ants / Publication in Nature Communications

An international team of researchers headed by biologist Lukas Schrader from Münster University show that a socially parasitic lifestyle of ants not only leads to a change in external traits, but also to a genome erosion in the species. This so-called genome erosion impacted genes particularly important for non-parasitic ants, such as olfactory receptors functioning in chemical communication. These findings indicate that the evolution of social parasitism follows similar evolutionary mechanisms as that of non-social, (“regular”) parasitism. The study is published in the journal “Nature Communications”.

Quelle: IDW Informationsdienst Wissenschaft

First description of a new octopus species without using a scalpel

An evolutionary biologist from the University of Bonn brought a new octopus species to light from depths of more than 4,000 meters in the North Pacific Ocean. The sensational discovery made waves in the media a few years ago. Researchers in Bonn have now published the species description and named the animal “Emperor dumbo” (Grimpoteuthis imperator). Just as unusual as the organism is the researchers’ approach: in order to describe the new species, they did not dissect the rare creature, but instead used non-destructive imaging techniques. The results have now been published in the prestigious journal “BMC Biology”.

Quelle: IDW Informationsdienst Wissenschaft

In search of the first bacterium

Evolutionary biology: publication in Communications Biology

What did the ancestor of all bacteria look like, where did it live and what did it feed on? A team of researchers from the Institute of Molecular Evolution at Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf (HHU) has now found answers to these questions by analysing biochemical metabolic networks and evolutionary trees. In the journal Communications Biology, they report on how they can now even infer the shape of the first bacterium.

Quelle: IDW Informationsdienst Wissenschaft

The migration of Austrian blackcaps decoded

Blackcaps (Sylvia atricapilla) are one of the most common bird species in Europe, and the most common in Austria. Across their range, they show a multitude of migratory strategies. Birds in the South are mostly sedentary, and the further North they breed, the longer their migrations get. Some populations can be found South of the Sahara Desert in winter. A research group from the Max-Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology in Plön – in collaboration with researchers from the Austrian Ornithological Centre at the Konrad Lorenz Institute of Ethology in Vienna – set off to investigate the variability of their migratory strategies, using geolocators which are attached to the bird´s bodies.

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When synthetic evolution rhymes with natural diversity

Researchers at GMI – Gregor Mendel Institute of Molecular Plant Biology of the Austrian Academy of Sciences, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and The Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) use two complementary approaches to unveil a co-evolutionary mechanism between bacteria and plants and also explain complex immune response patterns observed in the wild. Together the papers change the way scientists have been thinking about the relationship of a bacterial antigenic component with its plant immune receptor. The two papers are published back to back in the journal Cell Host & Microbe.

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Retracing the history of the mutation that gave rise to cancer decades later

Researchers reconstructed the evolutionary history of cancer cells in two patients, tracing the timeline of the mutation that causes the disease to a cell of origin. In a 63-year-old patient, it occurred at around age 19; in a 34-year-old patient, at around age 9.

Quelle: Sciencedaily

Natural History Museum Vienna and Evolution

Exactly 150 years ago, on 24 February 1871, Charles Darwin published his work The Descent of Man. To mark this anniversary the Natural History Museum Vienna aims to draw attention to the close links which exist between its first Superintendent, Ferdinand von Hochstetter (1829-1884), and the revolutionary theory of Charles Darwin (1809-1882). In this context, the museum wishes to raise the profile of the various evolutionary and co-evolutionary processes when redesigning its exhibition halls in the future.

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The lesser evil: Start of an evolutionary success story

– Joint press release by Kiel University and the Max-Planck-Institute for Evolutionary Biology Plön –

CRC 1182 research team from Plön and Kiel proposes new explanation for the origin of the symbiotic coexistence of complex organisms and their microbial co-inhabitants

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Ecological interactions as a driver of evolution

In a recent study, an international team of researchers including TUD botanist Prof. Stefan Wanke has investigated the origin of the mega-diversity of herbivorous insects. These account for a quarter of terrestrial diversity. The results of the study were recently published in the international journal Nature Communications. There the scientists show that the evolutionary success of insects may be linked to recurrent changes in host plants.

Quelle: IDW Informationsdienst Wissenschaft

The underestimated mutation potential of retrogenes

A new study resulting from a collaboration between the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology in Plön and the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing shows that the potential genetic burden of mutations arising from retrogenes is significantly greater than originally thought.

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From Coelacanths to Humans−What Evolution Reveals about the Function of Bitter Receptors

To evaluate the chemical composition of food from a physiological point of view, it is important to know the functions of the receptors that interact with food ingredients. These include receptors for bitter compounds, which first evolved during evolution in bony fishes such as the coelacanth. What 400 million years of evolutionary history reveal about the function of both fish and human bitter receptors was recently published in the journal Genome Biology and Evolution by a team of researchers led by the Leibniz Institute for Food Systems Biology at the Technical University of Munich and the University of Cologne.

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Cancer cells hibernate like bears to evade harsh chemotherapy

Researchers show that cancer cells hijack an evolutionary conserved program to survive chemotherapy. Furthermore, the researchers show that novel therapeutic strategies aimed at specifically targeting cancer cells in this slow-dividing state can prevent cancer regrowth.

Quelle: Sciencedaily

Possible explanation for more efficient maize growth

Biology: Publication in The Plant Cell

Plant researchers at Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf (HHU) have investigated the transport of compounds in maize. They focused on the mechanism used to transport the products of photosynthesis for further distribution in the plant through its phloem loading pathways. In the current edition of the journal “The Plant Cell”, they describe how this mechanism has potentially created a special evolutionary advantage for maize.

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Bugging bats – how and what do bats hear?

A new study published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B provides the most comprehensive comparative assessment of bat hearing capacities to date and highlights the evolutionary pressures acting on their sensory perception. Scientists from the Museum für Naturkunde Berlin studied bat hearing in both high and low frequency ranges used for echolocation and social communication and demonstrated that hearing sensitivity is equally good at both ranges. Moreover, a phylogenetic comparative analysis showed that changes in hearing sensitivity evolved in response to frequency changes of both echolocation and social calls.

Quelle: IDW Informationsdienst Wissenschaft

Large number of extinct bird species leads to misinterpretation of evolutionary dynamics

In the course of evolution, birds have adapted to the unique conditions of remote oceanic islands by losing their ability to fly. With the arrival of human on islands, most flightless birds have been driven to extinction. An international research group including Bayreuth ecologist Prof. Dr. Manuel Steinbauer has for the first time comprehensively investigated the extent of this bird extinction. The study, published in “Science Advances”, shows that a false picture of evolutionary dynamics in the bird kingdom arises when flightless bird species that have been wiped out by humankind are ignored.

Quelle: IDW Informationsdienst Wissenschaft

Natural Selection also Increases the Adaptability of Organism

Natural selection causes organisms to adapt continuously. Researchers at the University of Zurich now show for the first time that proteins in bacteria develop a new property more rapidly when the selection pressure is high. Natural selection can thus also increase the evolutionary capacity itself.

Quelle: IDW Informationsdienst Wissenschaft

Woodpeckers’ Drumming: Conserved Meaning Despite Different Structure over the Years

How do animals produce and perceive biological information in sounds? To what extent does the acoustic structure and its associated meaning change during evolution? An international team led by the University of Zurich and the University of Saint-Etienne reconstructed the evolutionary history of an animal communication system, focusing on drumming signals of woodpeckers.

Quelle: IDW Informationsdienst Wissenschaft

Viruses on glaciers highlight evolutionary mechanism to overcome host defenses

An international team of scientists led by Christopher Bellas from the University of Innsbruck, Austria, studying life on the surface of glaciers in the Arctic and Alps challenge assumptions on virus evolution. Their study, now published in the journal Nature Communications shows that, contrary to expectations, the viruses on glaciers in the Alps, Greenland and Spitsbergen are remarkably stable in the environment.

Quelle: IDW Informationsdienst Wissenschaft

Does city life make bumblebees larger?

Does urbanisation drive bumblebee evolution? A new study by Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg (MLU) and the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig provides an initial indication of this. According to the study, bumblebees are larger in cities and, therefore, more productive than their rural counterparts. In “Evolutionary Applications”, the research team reports that differences in body size maybe caused by the increasingly fragmented habitats in cities.

Quelle: IDW Informationsdienst Wissenschaft

Macht das Stadtleben Hummeln größer?

Treiben Städte die Evolution von Hummeln voran? Einen ersten Hinweis dafür liefern Befunde einer neuen Studie der Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg (MLU) und des Deutschen Zentrums für integrative Biodiversitätsforschung (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig: Demnach sind die Insekten in Städten größer und dadurch sogar produktiver als Vertreterinnen derselben Art auf dem Land. Die Unterschiede in der Körpergröße könnten eine Folge der zunehmend zerstückelten Lebensräume in Städten sein, wie das Forschungsteam in der Fachzeitschrift “Evolutionary Applications” schreibt.

Quelle: IDW Informationsdienst Wissenschaft

Newly Identified Gene Reduces Pollen Number of Plants

Producing less sperm cells can be advantageous in self-fertilizing plants. An international study led by the University of Zurich identified a gene in the model plant Arabidopsis that reduces the number of pollen. In addition to supporting the evolutionary theory, these findings could help to optimize plant breeding and domestication in agriculture.

Quelle: IDW Informationsdienst Wissenschaft

A Triassic stem-salamander from Kyrgyzstan and the origin of salamanders

Stuttgart, Germany, 11.05.2020. The origin of extant amphibians (frogs, salamanders and caecilians) remains largely obscure. This results from the long evolutionary history of the group (330 million years) as well as their tiny size, which makes their fossil preservation difficult. A new find from Kyrgyzstan in Inner Asia has now been recognized as most ancient salamander in the world.

Quelle: IDW Informationsdienst Wissenschaft

European Society for Evolutionary Biology awards its main prize to former young researcher from Kiel

Dr Camilo Barbosa receives the renowned John Maynard Smith Prize for his work on the prevention of antibiotic resistance

Quelle: IDW Informationsdienst Wissenschaft