’Odd Little Creature’ Skips Sex and Eats DNA
2012-12-03 0:00

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

'Whiteness is terror': Black professor says white people 'conditioned' to commit mass murder
2015-07-01 21:55
A former professor at the University of Memphis used her Twitter account – promoted at the time by the university’s website – to make the claim that the Charleston church gunman was not mentally ill, but just acting the way white people are “conditioned” to act. Assistant professor of sociology Zandria Robinson took to social media to try to make the ...
Norwegian, Danish ships rescue nearly 1,000 migrants
2015-07-01 21:38
Copenhagen Denmark (AP) — Ships from Norway and Denmark have picked up nearly 1,000 migrants from small boats off the coast of Libya in the past 24 hours. Svein Kvalavaag, the captain of the Norwegian Siem Pilot vessel, said on Monday he picked up 671 from two wooden boats north of the Libyan capital, Tripoli. Late Monday night, it was asked ...
The Muslims are coming: Quick, hide the miniskirts
2015-07-01 21:12
What happens when two opposing cultures meet up, one based on permissive Western values and the other on repressive Islamic doctrine? If the latest news out of Germany is any indication, the latter wins. Earlier this month, 200 Syrian refugees arrived in Pocking, Bavaria, and the local school system set up an emergency shelter right next to the gym of Wilhelm-Diess-Gymnasium, Die ...
UK Police Tell Subjects Not to Harm Their Attackers, Get a Rape Alarm
2015-07-01 1:17
The latest dispatch from the United Kingdom’s ongoing campaign to eliminate all forms of armed self-defense seems too incredible to be true. Unfortunately, after tracking down the origin of a publicly distributed statement regarding self-defense products on the country’s “Ask the Police” website, we can confirm that British subjects continue to live at the mercy of their potential attackers.  Even ...
Activists Plan to Burn American Flags in New York City Ahead of Fourth of July
2015-07-01 1:52
Burning the flag in Charleston, South Carolina on June 22, 2015 A group calling for the immediate disarmament of the New York Police Department plans to burn American flags in a Brooklyn park on Wednesday, just days before the Fourth of July holiday. “Disarm NYPD” announced the “Burn the American Flags” event on Facebook, inviting individuals to join the organization at Fort ...
More News »