Video | Business Headlines | Internet | Science | Scientific Ethics | Technology | Search

 


Breakthrough in hybrid species science

Friday, March 7, 2014
Breakthrough in hybrid species science

Massey University scientists have discovered a universal law that explains how hybrid species survive and thrive.

Computational biologist Professor Murray Cox and molecular biologist Dr Austen Ganley led the research that analysed what happens when a new species is formed. Their findings were published today in the Public Library of Science online journal, Genetics.

“When two very different species suddenly merge together, a new species is created instantaneously that contains two different sets of machinery, or RNA (Ribonucleic acid) as it’s known,” Professor Cox says. “Some parts of this machinery won’t work together, so we asked the question, how does this hybrid survive?”

Professor Cox says hybrids are surprisingly common and can be seen in the cotton used to make bed-sheets, the wheat in bread and in New Zealand alpine plants.

His team used advanced computational biology methods to sequence and analyse hundreds of millions of RNA copies of a fungus found in grass. “This particularly fungus [epichloe endophyte] is one of the good guys," he says. "The plant gives the fungus a place to live, and the fungus produces chemicals that kill insects that try to eat the grass. This hidden relationship is a key reason for the success of New Zealand’s multibillion dollar dairy industry.”

Professor Cox was amazed to find that the RNA levels in the grass fungus were almost identical to the patterns found in cotton – the only other hybrid species that has undergone similar analysis.

“These species are radically different, for starters, one is a plant, the other is a fungus,” he says. “Therefore we realised we had identified universal rules that dictate how gene expression has to behave in order for hybrid species to control their two sets of machinery [RNA], regardless of what exact species those hybrids are."

These genetic rules revealed that the hybrid’s genes mimic one parent or the other. “The RNA levels showed one copy effectively gets turned off. It’s not simply an average of what its parents have. This pattern occurs in both fungi and plants — in other words, there are universal rules that control gene expression levels in hybrids across the tree of life.”

It is this final point that has generated the greatest interest in the scientific community and earned Professor Cox’s research a place in the PLOS Genetics publication.

ENDS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Business Headlines | Sci-Tech Headlines

 

Gordon Campbell: On Tiwai Point (And Saying “No” In Greece)

Its hard to see how Rio Tinto’s one month delay in announcing its intentions about the Tiwai Point aluminium smelter is a good sign for (a) the jobs of the workers affected or (b) for the New Zealand taxpayer. More>>

ALSO:

Half Empty: Dairy Product Prices Extend Slide To Six-Year Low

Dairy product prices continued their slide, paced by whole milk power, in the latest GlobalDairyTrade auction, weakening to the lowest level in six years. More>>

ALSO:

Copper Broadband: Regulator Set To Keep Chorus Pricing Largely Unchanged

The Commerce Commission looks likely to settle on a price close to its original decision on what telecommunications network operator Chorus can charge its customers, though it probably won’t backdate any update. More>>

ALSO:

Lower Levy For Safer Cars: ACC Backtracks On Safety Assessments

Dog and Lemon: “The ACC has based the entire levy system on a set of badly flawed data from Monash University. This Monash data is riddled with errors and false assumptions; that’s the real reason for the multiple mistakes in setting ACC levies.” More>>

ALSO:

Fast Track: TPP Negotiations Set To Accelerate, Groser Says

Negotiations for the Trans-Pacific Partnership will accelerate in July, with New Zealand officials working to stitch up a deal by the month's end, according to Trade Minister Tim Groser. More>>

ALSO:

Floods: Initial Assessment Of Economic Impact

Authorities around the region have compiled an initial impact assessment for the Ministry of Civil Defence, putting the estimated cost of flood recovery at around $120 million... this early estimate includes social, built, and economic costs to business, but doesn’t include costs to the rural sector. More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Sci-Tech
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news