Biosingularity

Researchers observe evolution chain reaction

Posted on: February 8, 2009

A team of researchers are reporting the ongoing emergence of a new species of fruit fly–and the sequential development of a new species of wasp–in the February 6 issue of the journal Science.

Jeff Feder, a University of Notre Dame biologist, and his colleagues say the introduction of apples to America almost 400 years ago ultimately may have changed the behavior of a fruit fly, leading to its modification and the subsequent modification of a parasitic wasp that feeds on it.

The result is a chain reaction of biodiversity where the modification of one species triggers the sequential modification of a second, dependent species. The National Science Foundation supports the research.

“It’s a nice demonstration of how the initial speciation of one organism opens up an opportunity for another species in the ecosystem to speciate in kind,” said Feder. “Biodiversity in essence is the source for new biodiversity.”

For almost 250 years after the introduction of apples to North America, insects referred to as hawthorn flies, Rhagoletis pomonella, continued to meet on the small, red fruit of hawthorn trees to mate and lay eggs. Then, in the mid-1800s, some of these “hawthorn flies” began to mate and lay eggs on apples instead. According to Feder, the flies attracted to apples eventually became genetically differentiated from the flies attracted to hawthorns, and so did the wasps that live on the flies’ larvae.

The genetic distinctions mainly show up as gene frequency differences between the flies and their associated wasp populations rather than fixed, all or none, differences. This is consistent with the process by which new biological species arise.

“The Diachasma alloeum wasp that we studied is just one of several wasps that spend a significant portion of their lives attached to hawthorn and apple flies,” said Feder. “We have preliminary evidence that one of the other wasps also may be forming specialized races on the flies, but it is too early to tell definitively.”

“What is startling is how fast populations can ecologically adapt to new habitats and begin to evolve into different species in front of our eyes,” he said.

Feder says the research is important because it provides insights into solving Darwin’s mystery of the origins of new species. “Clues can be found right before us as we sit on our deck chairs barbecuing and drinking pop. All we have to do is open our eyes and we can see new life forms coming into being in that scraggly old apple tree in our backyard.”

National Science Foundation

About these ads

1 Response to "Researchers observe evolution chain reaction"

Biodiversity IS key. It’s nature’s defense. Makes you wonder why in mass agricuture we plant 100s or thousands of miles of “crops” all of the same species. It’s asking for disaster. ONE plague, ONE parasite, could wipe it all out.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 936 other followers

Follow me on Twitter

Medical Professional Database Award

 Doctor

Visitors Now

who's online

Blog Stats

  • 1,407,620 hits

Categories

Top Rated

Flickr Photos

moscow mime

Feeling autumnal evening winds

crete 11

City Curves

Snowy Plover Malibu Lagoon 1606

Today's sunrise - Explored October 30, 2014 -  # 1

Soar

The clown and the crocodile.

Marina Cars Mashup

@ ungherese

More Photos

Maps

Networked blogs

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 936 other followers

%d bloggers like this: