Current Evolutionary Biology News and Events

Current Evolutionary Biology News and Events, Evolutionary Biology News Articles.
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Toxins from one bacterial species contribute to genetic diversity of others
A toxin produced by bacteria as a defence mechanism causes mutations in target bacteria that could help them survive. (2021-02-23)

Rapid evolution may help species adapt to climate change and competition
A study shows that a fruit fly species can adapt rapidly to an invader and this evolutionary change can affect how they deal with a stressful climate. Over a few months, the naturalized species adapted to the invasive species' presence. This affected how the flies adapted to cold weather. The flies exposed to invasive species evolved in the fall to be larger, lay fewer eggs and develop faster than flies that hadn't been exposed. (2021-02-22)

How a gene called HAND2 may impact the timing of labor
Using new and existing datasets the team studied genes that were active in the uterine linings of different animals while pregnant or carrying eggs. Scientists also investigated the changing levels of HAND2 during gestation. (2021-02-22)

The distribution of vertebrate animals redefines temperate and cold climate regions
The distribution of vegetation is routinely used to classify climate regions worldwide, yet whether these regions are relevant to other organisms is unknown. Umeå researchers have established climate regions based on vertebrate species' distributions in a new study published in eLife. They found that while high-energy climate regions are similar across vertebrate and plant groups, there are large differences in temperate and cold climates. (2021-02-18)

New UCF study examines leeches for role in major disease of sea turtles in Florida
University of Central Florida researchers are homing in on the cause of a major disease of sea turtles, with some of their latest findings implicating saltwater leeches as a possible factor. The results, published recently in the journal Diseases of Aquatic Organisms, present the first evidence of a significant association between leeches and the disease in sea turtles, according to the researchers. (2021-02-18)

Online tool helps estimate COVID's true toll on sub-Saharan Africa
Although early reporting portrayed sub-Saharan Africa as being largely spared from the coronavirus pandemic, an international team led by Princeton researchers reported that determining the true impact of the novel coronavirus in sub-Saharan Africa may be complicated by a tremendous variability in risk factors and obscured by surveillance challenges. The researchers developed an interactive online tool for estimating severe coronavirus infections per country based on the impact of various risk factors, such as chronic diseases and access to healthcare. (2021-02-17)

Evolution's game of rock-paper-scissors
A group of scientists at Lehigh University led by Gregory Lang, associate professor in the Department of Biological Sciences, has recently provided empirical evidence that evolution can be nontransitive. Lang and his team identify a nontransitive evolutionary sequence through a 1,000-generation yeast evolution experiment. In the experiment, an evolved clone outcompetes a recent ancestor but loses in direct competition with a distant ancestor. (2021-02-16)

A glimpse into the formation of mitoribosome
SciLifeLab Fellow Alexey Amunts and his team together with researchers from the Czech Academy of Sciences report an assembly intermediate of the ribosome in mitochondria. It reveals 22 associated factors that cooperatively organize the biogenesis process. (2021-02-16)

Plant as superhero during nuclear power plant accidents
A collaborative study by a group of scientists from Iwate University, The University of Tokyo and Shimane University, Japan demonstrated for the first time that two ATP binding cassette proteins ABCG33 and ABCG37 function as potassium-independent cesium uptake carriers. (2021-02-16)

A genetic variant inherited from Neanderthals reduces the risk of severe COVID-19
SARS-CoV-2 impacts people in different ways after infection. Some experience only mild or no symptoms at all while others become sick enough to require hospitalization. Now, researchers at the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University (OIST) in Japan and the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology in Germany have found that a group of genes that reduces the risk of severe COVID-19 by around 20% is inherited from Neanderthals. (2021-02-16)

Neandertal gene variants both increase and decrease the risk for severe COVID-19
Last year, researchers at Karolinska Institutet in Sweden and the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany showed that a major genetic risk factor for severe COVID-19 is inherited from Neandertals. Now the same researchers show, in a study published in PNAS, that Neandertals also contributed a protective variant. Half of all people outside Africa carry a Neandertal gene variant that reduces the risk of needing intensive care for COVID-19 by 20 percent. (2021-02-16)

Can evolution be predicted?
Evolution adapts and optimizes organisms to their ecological niche. This could be used to predict how an organism evolves, but how can such predictions be rigorously tested? The Biophysics and Computational Neuroscience group led by professor Gašper Tkačik at the Institute of Science and Technology (IST) Austria has now created a mathematical framework to do exactly that. (2021-02-15)

Climate change forces rethinking of conservation biology planning
For more than a decade, governments in countries across the world have made significant progress to expand their protected areas network to conserve the planet's biodiversity. According to a new study published in the journal Global Change Biology, the locations of these protected areas do not take into account the potential long-term effects of climate change in these protected areas. (2021-02-15)

Biodiversity protects bee communities from disease
A new analysis of thousands of native and nonnative Michigan bees shows that the most diverse bee communities have the lowest levels of three common viral pathogens. (2021-02-12)

Neandertal genes alter neurodevelopment in modern human brain organoids
Building modern human brain organoids with the Neanderthal variant of a gene has provided a glimpse into the way substitutions in this gene impacted our species' evolution. (2021-02-11)

Why overfishing leads to smaller cod
Overfishing, hunting and intensive agriculture and forestry can sometimes contribute to plants and animals becoming endangered. New research from Lund University in Sweden and University of Toronto can now show why this leads to entire populations becoming smaller in size, as well as reproducing earlier. The study is published in the journal PNAS. (2021-02-10)

Gulls, sentinels of bacteria in the environment
Gulls are one of the main wild birds that act as reservoirs of Campylobacter and Salmonella, two most relevant intestinal antibiotic-resistant bacteria causing gastroenteritis in humans. Therefore, according to an article published in the journal Science of the Total Environment seagulls could act as sentinels of the antibiotic pressure in the environment. (2021-02-10)

Unusual DNA folding increases the rates of mutations
DNA sequences that can fold into shapes other than the classic double helix tend to have higher mutation rates than other regions in the human genome. New research shows that the elevated mutation rate in these sequences plays a major role in determining regional variation in mutation rates across the genome. (2021-02-09)

Color is in the eye of the beholder
Researchers led by Harvard University develop a novel method to express long wavelength invertebrate opsin proteins in vitro and detail the molecular structure of long- and short-wavelengths in the opsins of the lycaenid butterfly, Eumaeus atala, discovering previously unknown opsins that result in red-shifted long wavelength sensitivity in their visual system. The new method pinpoints the specific base pair changes responsible for the spectral tuning of these visual proteins and reveal how vision genes evolved. (2021-02-09)

Relaxed precautions, not climate, the biggest factor driving wintertime COVID-19 outbreaks
Wintertime outbreaks of COVID-19 have been largely driven by whether people adhere to control measures such as mask wearing and social distancing, according to a study by researchers affiliated with the Climate Change and Infectious Disease initiative based in Princeton University's High Meadows Environmental Institute. Climate and a lack of population immunity are playing smaller roles during the pandemic phase of the virus, but will become more impactful as infections slow. (2021-02-09)

These shrimplike crustaceans are the fastest snappers in the sea
The snapping claws of male amphipods--tiny, shrimplike crustaceans--are among the fastest and most energetic of any life on Earth. Researchers reporting in the journal Current Biology on February 8 find that the crustaceans can repeatedly close their claws in less than 0.01% of a second, generating high-energy water jets and audible pops. The snapping claws are so fast, they almost defy the laws of physics. (2021-02-08)

UMass Amherst researchers gain insight into the biology of a deadly fungus
Researchers at the University of Massachusetts Amherst have gained new insight into the biological processes of a chytrid fungus responsible for a deadly skin infection devastating frog populations worldwide. (2021-02-08)

Some types of coronavirus steal the hosts' genes to elude their immune system
Researchers discovered this while analysing pathogens found in European hedgehogs that present the same strain of Beta-CoV responsible for both COVID-19 and MERS but without evidence of human transmissibility. It is the first time this ability is observed in coronaviruses (2021-02-08)

Scientists discover how a group of caterpillars became poisonous
The Atala butterfly and its five closest relatives in the genus Eumaeus like to display their toxicity. Their toxicity comes from what they eat as caterpillars: plants called cycads that have been around since before dinosaurs roamed the Earth and contain a potent liver toxin. New research tells the evolutionary tale of how these butterflies gained their toxin-laced defenses as well as the bold colors and behaviors that tell all would-be predators to steer clear. (2021-02-08)

Nehandertals' gut microbiota and the bacteria helping our health
Through the study of ancient DNA from 50,000-year-old Neanderthal faecal sediments, an international research group isolated a group of micro-organisms whose characteristics are similar to those of modern Sapiens: such findings can be instrumental to the protection of our gut microbiota (2021-02-05)

Pangolin coronavirus could jump to humans
Scientists at the Francis Crick Institute have found important structural similarities between SARS-CoV-2 and a pangolin coronavirus. (2021-02-05)

Researchers replicate a potential step of the fin-to-limb transition in zebrafish
By tweaking a single gene, scientists engineered zebrafish that show the beginnings of limb-like appendages. The researchers stumbled upon this mutation, which may shed light on the sea-to-land transition of vertebrates, while screening for gene mutants and their impact on fish development. Their discovery, outlined February 4th in the journal Cell, marks a fundamental step in our understanding of fin-to-limb evolution and how simple genetic changes can create leaps in the development of complex structures. (2021-02-04)

Could playing host to hookworms help prevent ageing?
Parasitic worms could hold the key to living longer and free of chronic disease, according to a review article published today in the open-access eLife journal. (2021-02-02)

What evolution reveals about the function of bitter receptors
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. (2021-02-02)

Snake micro scales reveal secrets of sidewinding and slithering
The mesmerizing flow of a sidewinder moving obliquely across desert sands has captivated biologists for centuries and has been variously studied over the years, but questions remained about how the snakes produce their unique motion. (2021-02-02)

The underestimated mutation potential of retrogenes
mRNA molecules from retrogenes are reverse transcribed to DNA and incorporated into the genome. (2021-02-02)

Pollinator host-switches and fig hybridization dominate fig-wasp coevolution
Together with colleagues from 11 institutions from home and abroad, researchers from the Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden (XTBG) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences have recently shown that the fig hybridization mediated by pollinator host-switching in the obligate fig-wasp pollination system is more common than previously thought. (2021-02-02)

Synthetic biology reinvents development
The research team have used synthetic biology to develop a new type of genetic design that can reproduce some of the key processes that enable creating structures in natural systems, from termite nests to the development of embryos. (2021-02-01)

Size matters: How the size of a male's weapons affects its anti-predator tactics
When males have to fight for reproductive rights, having larger weapons such as horns gives them an edge. However, this can also limit their mobility, making them more vulnerable to predators. In a recent study, scientists from Japan proved, for the first time, that males of a species adopt different anti-predator tactics--tonic immobility or escape--based on the size of their weapons, opening doors to a better understanding of the evolution of animal behaviors. (2021-01-28)

Researchers use car collisions with deer to study mysterious animal-population phenomena
By parsing data on weather, deer populations and deer-vehicle collisions in Wisconsin, investigators at the University of Kansas show spatial synchrony could be driving population cycles, rather than the reverse. (2021-01-27)

Stimulating brain pathways shows origins of human language and memory
Scientists have identified that the evolutionary development of human and primate brains may have been similar for communication and memory. (2021-01-25)

The surprises of color evolution
Nature is full of colour. For flowers, displaying colour is primarily a means to attract pollinators. Insects use their colour vision not only to locate the right flowers to feed on but also to find mates. The evolutionary interaction between insects and plants has created complex dependencies that can have surprising outcomes. Casper van der Kooi, a biologist at the University of Groningen, uses an interdisciplinary approach to analyse the interaction between pollinators and flowers. (2021-01-25)

Genetic sequence for parasitic flowering plant Sapria
A team of Harvard-led researchers presented the most complete genome yet assembled of one of the major Rafflesiaceae lineages, Sapria himalayana. (2021-01-22)

Neuronal recycling: This is how our brain allows us to read
Is there an area and cognitive mechanism in our brain specifically devoted to reading? Probably not. According to new research, underlying reading there is evolutionarily ancient function more generally used to process many other visual stimuli. We process letters and words similarly to how we do with any visual stimulus: we identify basic features as shape, size, structure. On the basis of the statistical frequency of specific symbols, we can recognise orthography, understand it and immerse ourselves in the pleasure of reading. (2021-01-21)

Researchers demonstrate snake venom evolution for defensive purposes
Researchers from LSTM's Centre for Snakebite Research and Interventions (CSRI) have led an international team investigating the evolutionary origins of a novel defensive trait by snakes - venom spitting - and demonstrated that defensive selection pressures can influence venom composition in snakes in a repeatable manner. (2021-01-21)

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