’Odd Little Creature’ Skips Sex and Eats DNA
2012 12 03

From: LiveScience

The tiny, all-female bdelloid rotifers have endured the past 80 million years without sex. New research shows that gobbling up foreign DNA from other simple life-forms might be the asexual animal’s secret to survival.

In the study, scientists discovered that up to 10 percent of the active genes in microscopic bdelloids comes from bacteria and other organisms like fungi and algae. The finding adds to "the weirdness of an already odd little creature," said Alan Tunnacliffe, a University of Cambridge professor and lead author of the study.


A pair of bdelloids probably don’t get excited about each other as two humans in such close proximity might. Bdelloids don’t need sex to reproduce.


"We don’t know how the gene transfer occurs, but it almost certainly involves ingesting DNA in organic debris, which their environments are full of," Tunnacliffe explained in a statement. "Bdelloids will eat anything smaller than their heads!"

Many asexual creatures are thought to be doomed to extinction due to the lack of genetic diversity and build-up of mutations that often come with reproducing from just one parent’s DNA. But bdelloids have managed to avoid such pitfalls of asexual life, diversifying into at least 400 species.

One of the critters’ more remarkable qualities is their ability to withstand extreme dehydration, which could be, in part, thanks to the alien DNA. The new study found that some of the foreign genes are activated when the bdelloids begin to dry out in their ephemeral aquatic homes. These genes also might be behind powerful antioxidants thought to protect bdelloids from the by-products of drying out.

"These antioxidants have not yet been identified, but we think that some of them result from foreign genes," Tunnacliffe added.

Bdelloids’ success could also be attributed to their potent DNA repair mechanisms, which seem to have evolved thanks to a duplicate set of genes, according to research detailed in 2008 in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The new findings were detailed in the journal PLoS Genetics Thursday (Nov. 15).


Article from: yahoo.com







Related Articles


Latest News from our Front Page

Seven Points of Agreement Between Individuals
2014 10 02
In what follows, underlined words are my modifications to the original (cite given at the end) "Seven Points of Agreement Between Individuals" -- a binding contract entered into by individuals with other individuals so as to create a society within which individual sovereignty is upheld. These agreements are thought by the author of the book within which they appear to ...
If Someone Secretly Controlled What You Say, Would Anyone Notice?
2014 10 01
The subject enters a room in which a 12-year-old boy is seated. A 20-minute conversation ensues. The subject quizzes the boy about current events and other topics to get a sense of his intelligence and personality. But the boy is not what he appears to be. Unbeknownst to the subject, the boy is wearing a radio receiver in his ear, and ...
Obama has had accurate intelligence about ISIS since BEFORE the 2012 election, says administration insider
2014 10 01
‘President Barack Obama’s intelligence briefings have provided him with specific information since before he won re-election in 2012 about the growing threat of the terror group now known alternatively as ISIS and ISIL, an administration insider told MailOnline on Monday. ‘Unless someone very senior has been shredding the president’s daily briefings and telling him that the dog ate them, highly accurate ...
Can holding a magnet against your head help defeat depression?
2014 10 01
Former GP Sue Mildred suffered from crippling depression and anxiety for 20 years. On two occasions it was so severe that she ended up in hospital, and for 15 years she was unable to work. Sue, 51, has tried antidepressants, talking therapies and, out of desperation, even ECT (electro-convulsive therapy), where an electric current is passed through the brain. This did ...
Extremists to have Facebook and Twitter vetted by anti-terror police
2014 09 30
Theresa May to announce new Extremist Disruption Orders to strengthen counter-terrorism if the Tories win the next general election Extremists will have to get posts on Facebook and Twitter approved in advance by the police under sweeping rules planned by the Conservatives. They will also be barred from speaking at public events if they represent a threat to “the functioning of democracy”, ...
More News »