Re-Creation in the Lab
from across the UK - including the world-renowned Department of Genetics at the
University of Leicester - have examined a process that leads to the creation of
new species and engineered it in a lab.
work will have wide-ranging ramifications, from agriculture to medicine.
Ed Louis, of the Queen's award winning Department of Genetics at Leicester,
along with colleagues at the University of Manchester and The Institute of Food
Research, Norwich, report in the 6 March issue of NATURE that one process that
leads to the creation of new species can be engineered in the lab to study its
role in the evolution of yeasts.
Louis said: “The underlying evolutionary mechanisms that lead to the creation
of new species generally fall into three categories.
mechanism is through major gene differences, one occurs via general sequence
divergence and finally there one involves chromosomal rearrangements.
previous work we published in NATURE, we ruled out chromosomal rearrangements as
the major force in the evolution of current yeast species. In other work we
ruled out major gene differences and found evidence for general sequence
divergence behind current species barriers.
this we know that chromosomal rearrangements do have a role in keeping species
separate even if they are not the sole cause of speciation. In order to test the
role of chromosomal rearrangements in the speciation of yeasts, we engineered
changes in one species such that it was now equivalent to a related species.
these two species, with chromosome differences, could mate but were not fertile.
In the engineered species crosses, now with no chromosome differences, some
matings were fertile. These fertile matings had other abnormalities yet they
could produce offspring that may mimic intermediate stages in the evolution of
current yeast species. We essentially reversed the speciation process.
we found a novel role for chromosome rearrangements in the evolution of species.
important concern for genetically modified crops is the potential for the spread
of the modified genes by outbreeding with related plants. Engineered
rearrangements as studied here would prevent such outbreeding. In medicine a
number of disorders are associated with chromosome rearrangements and these
could be engineered in model organisms so that they can be studied.”
NOTE TO NEWSDESK: For more information, please contact Professor Edward J. Louis Department of Genetics, phone +44 (0)116 252 3426, FAX +44 (0)116 223 1387, LAB +44 (0)116 223 1329, email firstname.lastname@example.org OR email@example.com.