Navigation Links
A University of Tennessee professor's hypothesis may be game changer for evolutionary theory
Date:4/4/2012

A new hypothesis posed by a University of Tennessee, Knoxville, associate professor and colleagues could be a game changer in the evolution arena. The hypothesis suggests some species are surviving by discarding genes and depending on other species to play their hand.

The groundbreaking "Black Queen Hypothesis" got its name from the game of Hearts.

In Hearts, the goal is to avoid "winning" the Queen of Spades (the Black Queen), which is worth a lot of points. Subsequently, players allow others to take the high-point card while they enjoy low-score tallies.

This same premise applies in evolution, the scientists say.

According to the hypothesis, evolution pushes microorganisms to lose essential functions when there is another species around to perform them. This idea counters popular evolutionary thinking that living organisms evolve by adding genes rather than discarding them.

"A common assumption about evolution is that it is directed toward increasing complexity," said Erik Zinser, associate professor of microbiology. "But we know from analysis of microbial genomes that some lineages trend toward decreasing complexity, exhibiting a net loss of genes relative to their ancestor."

Zinser's opinion piece is published in mBio, the online open-access journal of the American Society for Microbiology. Jeffrey Morris and Richard Lenski of Michigan State University are co-authors. Morris was Zinser's doctoral student at UT.

The authors formed their theory after studying photosynthetic bacteria called Prochlorococcus.

"This marine microorganism continued to mystify us because it is the most common photosynthetic organism on Earth, but it is extremely difficult to grow in pure culture," Zinser said. "A major reason for this difficulty is that Prochlorococcus is very sensitive to reactive oxygen species such as hydrogen peroxide and relies on other bacteria to protect them by breaking down these toxic substances for them."

Prochlorococcus had once performed this function itself, but natural selection decided it was too costly, like carrying the Queen of Spades, and discarded this ability. Instead Prochlorococcus benefits from the hard work of others within its community allowing it to concentrate its energies elsewheresuch as multiplying.

The hypothesis offers a new way of looking at complicated, interdependent communities of microorganisms.

"We know that certain microbial activities, such as hydrogen peroxide scavenging, are 'leaky,' meaning their impacts extend beyond the cell and into the environment," Zinser said. "What the hypothesis suggests is that this leakiness can drive a community toward greater interdependence, even if some members are unwitting participants in this process."

This interdependence could lend itself to vulnerabilities. The scientists say the work highlights the importance of biological diversity, because if rare members are lost, "the consequences for the community could be disastrous." This would be analogous to attempting to play Hearts without the Queen of Spades.

Currently, the hypothesis is limited to microorganisms, but Zinser thinks the hypothesis could be extended to larger free-living organisms. All that is needed is a card which no player wants yet is crucial for the game to be played.


'/>"/>

Contact: Whitney Heins
wheins@utk.edu
865-974-5460
University of Tennessee at Knoxville
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Rice University establishes National Corrosion Center
2. Case Western Reserve University researchers track Chernobyl fallout
3. Case Western Reserve University project ties soil conservation and river management together
4. Brown University and Women & Infants Hospital expand national childrens study to Bristol County
5. NIH selects Case Western Reserve University to participate in National Childrens Study
6. US Senate confirms Clemson University engineering Dean Esin Gulari to National Science Board
7. University professor stresses links between US Navy sonar and whale strandings
8. Scent on demand: Hebrew University scientists enhance the scent of flowers
9. University success at national engineering awards
10. University of Leicester professor adds new perspective to rainforest debate
11. Providing toilets, safe water is top route to reducing world poverty: UN University
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:4/18/2017)...  Socionext Inc., a global expert in SoC-based imaging and computing ... M820, which features the company,s hybrid codec technology. A demonstration utilizing ... Inc., will be showcased during the upcoming Medtec Japan at Tokyo ... Las Vegas Convention Center April 24-27. ... Click here for an image ...
(Date:4/11/2017)... DUBLIN , Apr. 11, 2017 Research ... Tracking Market 2017-2021" report to their offering. ... The global eye tracking market to grow at ... The report, Global Eye Tracking Market 2017-2021, has been prepared based ... report covers the market landscape and its growth prospects over the ...
(Date:4/5/2017)... 5, 2017 Today HYPR Corp. , ... server component of the HYPR platform is officially ... end-to-end security architecture that empowers biometric authentication across Fortune ... already secured over 15 million users across the financial ... connected home product suites and physical access represent a ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:8/10/2017)... ... August 09, 2017 , ... As a full-service ... its ideal customers with the right message. Their effective, cutting-edge inbound marketing strategies ... we realize how crucial the agriculture industry is,” said David Phelps, chief marketing ...
(Date:8/10/2017)... ... August 09, 2017 , ... ... in the clinic is here. The team at Capricor Therapeutics, Inc. utilized a ... for clinical studies. , Dr. Travis Antes, head of analytical development at ...
(Date:8/10/2017)... ... August 09, 2017 , ... Okyanos Center for Regenerative ... at the Pelican Bay Hotel in Freeport, Grand Bahama on September 27, 2017. This ... , With oversight from the Ministry of Health’s National Stem Cell Ethics Committee ...
(Date:8/10/2017)... London UK (PRWEB) , ... August 10, 2017 , ... ... host a new educational webinar to demonstrate how Good Clinical Practice (GCP) ... and site documents. In addition the webinar will discuss the importance of GCP compliance, ...
Breaking Biology Technology: