’Odd Little Creature’ Skips Sex and Eats DNA
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
Latest News from our Front Page
Pressure from the United Patriots Front Stops Mosque Plan
Pressure from the United Patriots Front appears to have killed off a mosque development in Narre Warren North.
The City of Casey council now looks likely to withhold planning approval for the development in a special meeting set for Tuesday night.
A council report, to be considered by councillors on Tuesday, recommends that the approval be blocked.
The mosque opponents’ cause has been helped by councillor ...
Police face questions over the influence of the Freemasons
South Yorkshire Police today face questions over whether powerful 'secret society' the Freemasons held sway over the force at the time of Hillsborough.
Families of victims say that officers who were Masons were promoted into powerful positions despite being ill-equipped, including match commander David Duckenfield.
Duckenfield told the fresh inquests he had been a Freemason since 1975 and became head of his ...
England Bans its Own Flag to Avoid Offending Muslims
St. George's Cross "racist" towards immigrants
Government officials said their city was ‘too multicultural’ to celebrate St George’s Day, England’s version of the 4th of July.
The council said that displaying the English flag may have been seen as “racist” towards immigrants.
Half of Western European men descended from one Bronze Age ‘king’
Half of Western European men are descended from one Bronze Age ‘king’ who sired a dynasty of elite nobles which spread throughout Europe, a new study has shown.
The monarch, who lived around 4,000 years ago, is likely to have been one of the earliest chieftains to take power in the continent.
He was part of a new order which emerged in ...
"Local Residents" Are Filmed Stealing Dozens of Bottles of Water at London Marathon Stop
Editor's Comment: "Local" residents? Why bother blurring their faces? We know who they are.
London marathon runners were robbed of dozens of bottled waters when thieves raided a refreshment area armed with trolleys during today's race.
Nearby residents - including parents with children - were captured on camera piling up crates of free water handed out by volunteers during the 26-mile event.
|More News » |