Genes responsible for evolution of Darwin’s finches’ beaks identified

| | April 25, 2016
This article or excerpt is included in the GLP’s daily curated selection of ideologically diverse news, opinion and analysis of biotechnology innovation.

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this blog/article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion and analysis.

Researchers are pinpointing the genes that lie behind the varied beaks of Darwin’s finches – the iconic birds whose facial variations have become a classic example of Charles Darwin’s theory of natural selection.

Recently, researchers identified a gene that helps to determine the shape of the birds’ beaks. Now in Science, they report a different gene that controls beak size. Shifts in this gene underlay an evolutionary change that researchers watched in 2004–05, during a drought that ravaged the Galapagos Islands, where the finches live. The beak sizes of one population of finches shrank, so as to avoid competing for food sources with a different kind of finch – and their genetics changed accordingly.

“A big question was, ‘Is it possible to identify genes underlying such evolution in action, even in a natural population?’,” says Leif Andersson, a geneticist at Uppsala University in Sweden and one of the study’s authors. “We were able to nail down genes that have directly played a role in this evolutionary change.”

To examine the genetic basis for this variation, the researchers compared the genomes of 60 birds representing six species of Darwin’s finches, along with 120 specimens from other species to help them tease out phylogenetic relationships. As expected, closely related species had the most similar genomes.

Read full, original post: Evolution of Darwin’s finches tracked at genetic level

Outbreak
Outbreak Daily Digest
Biotech Facts & Fallacies
Talking Biotech
Genetics Unzipped
sperm swim

Video: Sperm are ‘spinners not swimmers’—because they are lopsided

Research by fertility scientists in the UK and Mexico challenges the accepted view of how sperm “swim”, suggesting that it ...
mag insects image superjumbo v

Disaster interrupted: Which farming system better preserves insect populations: Organic or conventional?

A three-year run of fragmentary Armageddon-like studies had primed the journalism pumps and settled the media framing about the future ...
dead bee desolate city

Are we facing an ‘Insect Apocalypse’ caused by ‘intensive, industrial’ farming and agricultural chemicals? The media say yes; Science says ‘no’

The media call it the “Insect Apocalypse”. In the past three years, the phrase has become an accepted truth of ...
breastfeeding bed x facebook x

Infographic: We know breastfeeding helps children. Now we know it helps mothers too

When a woman becomes pregnant, her risk of type 2 diabetes increases for the rest of her life, perhaps because ...
biotechnology worker x

Can GMOs rescue threatened plants and crops?

Some scientists and ecologists argue that humans are in the midst of an "extinction crisis" — the sixth wave of ...
food globe x

Are GMOs necessary to feed the world?

Experts estimate that agricultural production needs to roughly double in the coming decades. How can that be achieved? ...
eating gmo corn on the cob x

Are GMOs safe?

In 2015, 15 scientists and activists issued a statement, "No Scientific consensus on GMO safety," in the journal Environmental Sciences ...
Screen Shot at PM

Charles Benbrook: Agricultural economist and consultant for the organic industry and anti-biotechnology advocacy groups

Independent scientists rip Benbrook's co-authored commentary in New England Journal calling for reassessment of dangers of all GMO crops and herbicides ...
Screen Shot at PM

ETC Group: ‘Extreme’ biotechnology critic campaigns against synthetic biology and other forms of ‘extreme genetic engineering’

The ETC Group is an international environmental non-governmental organization (NGO) based in Canada whose stated purpose is to monitor "the impact of emerging technologies and ...
Share via
News on human & agricultural genetics and biotechnology delivered to your inbox.
Optional. Mail on special occasions.
Send this to a friend