Navigation Links
Genetic clues to evolution of jaws in vertebrates unearthed by CU-led team

A half-billion years ago, vertebrates lacked the ability to chew their food. They did not have jaws. Instead, their heads consisted of a flexible, fused basket of cartilage.

This week, an international team of researchers led by a faculty member from the University of Colorado at Boulder published evidence that three genes in jawless vertebrates might have been key to the development of jaws in higher vertebrates.

The finding is potentially significant in that it might help explain how vertebrates shifted from a life of passive "filter feeding" to one of active predation.

"Essentially what we found is that the genetic roots of the vertebrate jaw can be found in the embryos of a weird jawless fish called the sea lamprey," said Daniel Meulemans Medeiros, an assistant professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at CU-Boulder and lead author of the study.

Medeiros' team included Robert Cerny, assistant professor of zoology at Charles University in Prague; Maria Cattell, a researcher in the Medeiros lab; and Tatjana Sauka-Spengler, Marianne Bronner-Fraser and Feiqiao Yu from the California Institute of Technology. Their findings were published in the Sept. 22 edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Lampreys are eel-like fish with no jaws and a "very strange skeleton compared to their cousins" with jaws, Medeiros said. But "when we looked carefully at how genes are used during the development of the lamprey head, we saw that the basic plan for a jaw is there, and that only a few genes likely had to be moved around to create full-blown jaws."

Between jawless vertebrates -- called agnathans -- and vertebrates with jaws -- called gnathosomes -- only three genes of the 12 genes the team looked at appeared to be used differently, Medeiros said. This finding suggests that "creating a jaw in a jawless ancestor was a relatively simple matter of altering when and where these few genes are used."

The findings support a new scenario for jaw evolution, an area that has been an open question in vertebrate evolution. Viewing the eel-like fish, "It was hard to imagine how something like that could evolve into the strong, snapping, biting, chewing jaws of a shark, fish or mammal," Medeiros said.


Contact: Daniel Meulemans Medeiros
University of Colorado at Boulder

Related biology news :

1. Hard-wired for chocolate and hybrid cars? How genetics affect consumer choice
2. Interviews bring genetics to life in new book
3. Improving cotton the goal of $3.8 million grant to University of Texas at Austin plant geneticist
4. Adapting to darkness: How behavioral and genetic changes helped cavefish survive extreme environment
5. Manatee subspecies genetically confirmed, but diversity challenge looms
6. OU study on genetics in fruit flies leads to new method for understanding brain function
7. Use of informatics, EMRs enable genetic study of vascular disease
8. American Society of Human Genetics to host 60th Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C.
9. Largest ever epigenetics project launched
10. DNA fingerprinting pioneer discovers role of key genetic catalyst for human diversity
11. Third generation map of human genetic variation published
Post Your Comments:
(Date:11/10/2015)... About signature verification Signature ... identify and verify the identity of an individual ... secure and accurate method of authentication and is ... because each individual,s signature is highly unique. Signature ... signature of an individual is compared and matched ...
(Date:11/2/2015)...  SRI International has been awarded a contract of ... to the National Cancer Institute (NCI) PREVENT Cancer Program ... modern testing and support facilities, and analytical instrumentation to ... studies to evaluate potential cancer prevention drugs. ... Drug Development Program is an NCI-supported pipeline to bring ...
(Date:10/29/2015)... , Oct. 29, 2015  Rubicon Genomics, ... for U.S. distribution of its DNA library preparation ... and Rubicon,s new ThruPLEX Plasma-seq kit. ThruPLEX Plasma-seq ... the preparation of NGS libraries for liquid biopsies--the ... diagnostic and prognostic applications in cancer and other ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:11/24/2015)... (PRWEB) , ... November 24, 2015 , ... ... event of the year and one of the premier annual events for pharmaceutical ... ran from 8–11 November 2015, where ISPE hosted the largest number of attendees ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... ... ... The Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA), led by its Executive Council, has ... Prix, to represent the First–Person View (FPV) racing community. , FPV racing has exploded ... of racing and several new model aviation pilots have joined the community because of ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... 24, 2015  Twist Bioscience, a company focused ... Ph.D., Twist Bioscience chief executive officer, will present ... December 1, 2015 at 3:10 p.m. Eastern Time at The ... --> --> ... Bioscience is on Twitter. Sign up to follow ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... Nov. 24, 2015 Capricor Therapeutics, Inc. ... on the discovery, development and commercialization of first-in-class therapeutics, ... Executive Officer, is scheduled to present at the 2015 ... 10:50 a.m. EST, at The Lotte New York Palace ... . --> ...
Breaking Biology Technology: