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1 worm, 2 mouths
Date:11/7/2013

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Exactly how the environment and genes interact is a controversial topic among evolutionary biologists in certain respects. It is clear that the environment selects between genetically different variants this is Darwin's natural selection. However, researchers like American biologist Mary-Jane West-Eberhard claim that the environment can also directly influence the emergence of new phylogenetic characteristics.

In the case of a "plastic" characteristic like the shape of the mouth aperture, external circumstances determine whether it presents in one form or another. West-Eberhard and other scientists suspect that a characteristic determined by the environment in this way can then become permanently defined at genetic level. Speciation or the division of species could even arise in this manner. However, this is little more than a controversial theory, for which hardly anything by way of experimental proof could be provided to date.

With the discovery of the switch gene eud-1, the Max Planck scientists in Tbingen have identified a genetic mechanism that fits well with this hypothesis. Hence, complex evolutionary models with plasticity and environmental influences as driving forces may perhaps be more than controversial musings.


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Contact: Erik Ragsdale
erik.ragsdale@tuebingen.mpg.de
49-070-716-01496
Max-Planck-Gesellschaft
Source:Eurekalert  

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