’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

Norway Joins the Race to Develop Killer Robots
2014 10 24
Norway is a large exporter of weapons, which makes the resolution of the debate about creating killer robots an important issue for everyone.  One could debate the overall merits or failings of robotic systems, but an area that clearly has become a point for concern on all sides is the emergence of "killer robots." According to robotics pioneer, David Hanson, ...
Gene That Once Aided Survival in the Arctic Found to Have Negative Impact on Health Today
2014 10 23
In individuals living in the Arctic, researchers have discovered a gene variant that arose thousands of years ago and most likely provided an evolutionary advantage for processing high-fat diets or for surviving in a cold environment; however, the variant also seems to increase the risk of hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar, and infant mortality in today’s northern populations. {snip} “Our work ...
The Ebola hoax: questions, answers, and the false belief in the “One It”
2014 10 23
“The Reality Manufacturing Company doesn’t just sell ‘fake paintings’ that are easy to spot. No. They also sell images that are geared to mesh with people’s deeply held instincts and thereby produce rigid false beliefs. People are sure that if they gave up such beliefs, their world would fall apart and blow away in the wind.” ...
New Controversial Theory Suggests "Hobbits" Were Not Human - Who Were These Mysterious Beings?
2014 10 23
The origin of the Hobbit species remains a challenging subject to scientists. The Hobbit’s discovery confirmed the view that the Earth was once populated by many species of human, but new research the Hobbit’s were not human at all! So, who were these mysterious beings? Where did they come from? The idea that our species, Homo sapiens, was the only species of human on ...
Right into enemy hands? ISIS shows off new weapons allegedly airdropped by US (VIDEO)
2014 10 23
Islamic State has published a new video in which a jihadist shows off brand-new American hardware, which was purportedly intended for the Kurds they are fighting in the Syrian border town of Kobani. The undated video, posted by the unofficial IS mouthpiece “a3maq news”, sees a jihadist showing several boxes of munitions with English-language markings, with a parachute spread out on ...
More News »