Monday, May 30, 2016

Relationship Goals

Earlier this month we were talking about the different forms of animal partnerships, including the rare monogamy. When most people think of monogamy they automatically think of humans as being the primary example of this practice, but as it turns out, there are quite a few animals out there that are much more faithful to their mate then humans are. In fact, the prairie vole, pictured above, is commonly referred to as an animal model of monogamy in humans. I've attached a link to a website that describes the 11 most monogamous animals in the world. Some are obvious such as the famous swans but others come as a surprise like the Schistosoma mansoni worm parasites.

old faithful: 11 animals that mate for life


Controlling the Spread of Mosquitoes Through Genetic Means?

Hi guys!  So I know this isn't related to anything that we are learning this quarter very much, but we were reading articles about using different methods of genetic control in our Invertebrate Zoology class, and I thought you guys would find this interesting, so I thought I would drop it here. :)

It's a cool read and it opens up a lot of discussion, so enjoy!


Fungal / Plant Parallels in Biochemical Pathways

Hey everyone!
    In class we had a brief discussion on fungus-produced chemicals like toxins in Amanitas or penicillins from molds. I just found this article on ScienceDaily and wanted to share it. The researchers found independently-evolved biochemical pathways on synthesis of alkaloids (well-known examples from plants include morphine and caffeine) in Aspergillus fumigatus, a species of mold. This could open many new doors in looking for new compounds to tackle antibiotic-resistant bacteria or for a variety of other diseases as these compounds were previously not well known in fungi. Anyways, cool to think about both in evolutionary and molecular regards.
On ScienceDaily
Original Article
See you all tomorrow and hope you're all enjoying the day off!

Lake Trophic Structures

Hey guys I know this was a few weeks ago. But we talked about trophic cascade models in class, and how over fishing can cause trophic cascade. I had actually written a case study on this subject recently and I thought you guys might be interested in reading a little more on it from a modeling prospective. I did my case study on a paper by Murdoch et al. They test out a few different hypothesis for what may cause a trophic cascade within Daphnia population with one of them being over fishing. Its a little old but I think its still a good base line paper.

 -Tiffany Cedeno

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Crocs, Birds, Dinos

It's well known that dinosaurs are the ancestors of birds, but mostly due from observing genetic material. Using a closely related group to the dinosaurs; crocodilians, we can observe the physical similarity between birds and crocodiles.

Dinosaurs and Crocodilians are both part of the Archosaur groups. Comparing present day members of each group, we can observe that unidirectional airflow through the lungs was a trait archosaur ancestors obtained.  By installing flowmeters into the lungs of crocodiles, researchers were able to observe their airflow as they artificially ventilated their lungs. Another method of observing flow was applying flowmeters, but recording crocodiles naturally breathe. A third method was filling the lungs with fluorescent beads to observe the fluid flow direction in the lungs.

Results from all three methods reveal that crocodiles do have unidirectional flow in their lungs, supporting that unidirectional flow is a common trait in all archosaurs. It also reinforces the idea that avians are descendants of dinosaurs.

Farmer, C. G. "Similarity of crocodilian and avian lungs indicates unidirectional flow is ancestral for Archosaurs." Integrative and comparative biology (2015): icv078.

Homologous traits in many organisms in the eye

The eyes, or at least the proteins used for eyes, is similar in all organisms. The first use of eyes was simply to detect the presence or the absence of life. Over time, the development of eyes became more complex and more useful in creating images.

Eyes from different species hold different combinations of cones and rods, but the proteins that make them are the same. Opsins are present in all organisms that use eyes or once did (the blind mole rat still has opsins, but modified for a different function).

In contrast, the lens used for the full development of eyes are composed of different proteins. However, the process of creating lens from a different combination of proteins is homologous in different species of animals. It's an example of convergent evolution, the development of lens for each species is the same however the building materials are different.

It's unique that the eyes are both homologous yet completely different.

Land, Michael F., and Russell D. Fernald. "The evolution of eyes." Annual review of neuroscience 15.1 (1992): 1-29.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Why do we feel guilt?

So today John mentioned this question and although we didn't spend much time on it it really struck me as something strange. Why, exactly, do we feel guilt. I mean, what was its evolutionary benefit. I've never really thought about it before so I wanted to see if there was any research on this topic. I found this article from Peter R. Breggin from the Center for the Study of Empathetic Therapy. He makes the point that humans by nature are quite violent. Because of this violent nature, it would have been difficult for humans to live together in close-knit families and thus evolution's answer was the development of guilt, shame and anxiety. In other words, "internal emotional inhibitions or restraints specifically against aggressive self-assertion within the family and other close relationships". Beggin called this concept the theory of negative legacy emotions. It basically says that "natural selection favored individuals with built-in emotional restraints that reduced conflicts within their family and tribal unit, optimizing their capacity to survive and reproduce within the protection of their small, intimate societies, while maintaining their capacity for violence against outsiders".  I thought this concept was really interesting and it does provide logical support for the evolutionary development of guilt. 



Animal Communication?

Not academic at all but it

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Adaptive Radiation

Hey, Everyone!

I thought I'd share something cool I learned in my macroevolution class today because it relates back to some of the things we've been learning in CCS too, and it's pretty interesting. So, for those of you who haven't encountered the term before, adaptive radiation refers to the diversification of species to fill certain niches. This relates back to evolution because a HUGE amount of adaptive radiation occurs after mass extinctions (when there are tons of niches to be filled). This is how diversity recovered after such an event. The speciation with adaptive radiation occurs within a rapidly multiplying lineage. Schluter defined the four criteria for adaptive radiation to be: common ancestry, phenotype-environment correlation, trait utility and rapid speciation.

So this is cool and all...and (currently) a pretty essential concept in biology but, a specific lineage of lizards is making some scientists re-think this concept altogether. TAKE A LOOK!

Peace out,

Friday, May 13, 2016

Mitochondria is the powerhouse of the eukaryotic cell...or is it?

Anna Karnkowska from the Czech Republic found a eukaryotic cell that lacks mitochondria, recently (granted more studies will have to support the finding to ensure that this is actually the case). Found within the gut of a chinchilla, a species in the genus Monocercomonoides seems to lack genes and key proteins related to mitochondria. The suggestion that it lacks mitochondria goes against the current definition that eukaryotes has mitochondria. It seems that the nutrient rich gut environment may have driven oxymonad Monocercomonoides to direct itself in a way where it has no need for mitochondria to produce energy for it. Oxygen is scarce in the gut and it seems to be relying on enzymes found in the cytoplasm to provide energy. I will be very interested to see what pans out for this eukaryote without a mitochondria.
"A Eukaryote without a Mitochondrial Organelle"