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

 

Finance: Major Campaign To End "Gross Overtaxation Of Savings"

The campaign – which includes a special web site through which New Zealanders can e-mail their own and other MPs and party leaders – is backed by Age Concern, Consumer NZ, the Financial Services Council and the Taxpayers’ Union. More>>

ALSO:

Scoop Business: Leighton-Led WGP To Build, Manage Transmission Gully

The Wellington Gateway Partnership, led by a unit of ASX-listed Leighton Holdings, has won the $1 billion contract to build the Transmission Gully road north of Wellington. More>>

ALSO:

Gareth Morgan: The Government’s Fresh Water Policy – Revisited

Fresh water quality is the latest area to be in the sights of Gareth Morgan and his research organisation The Morgan Foundation... They found that the fresh water policy was a bit murkier than the Environment Minister let on. More>>

ALSO:

Interest Rates: RBNZ Hikes OCR To 3.5%, ‘Period Of Assessment’ Now Needed

Reserve Bank governor Graeme Wheeler raised the official cash rate as expected, while signalling a pause in rate hikes to assess the impact of moves so far this year. The kiwi dollar sank after Wheeler said its strength was “unjustified” and that the currency could have “a significant fall.” More>>

ALSO:

Fonterra: Canpac Site 'Resize' To Focus More On Paediatrics

Fonterra is looking at realigning its packing operations at Canpac, in the Waikato, to focus more on paediatric nutritionals... The proposed changes could mean around 110 roles may not be required at the site which currently employs 330. More>>

ALSO:

Scoop Business: Postie Plus Brand Gets 2nd Chance With Well-Funded Pepkor

The Postie Plus brand is getting a new lease of life after South Africa’s Pepkor bought the failed retailer’s assets out of administration and said it will use its purchasing power to reduce costs of stock and fatten margins. More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 
 
Computer Power Plus

Standards New Zealand

Standards New Zealand
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Sci-Tech
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news