The new study ?funded by the National Science Foundation and National Institutes of Health ?doesn’t tell exactly which genes drive the mosquito’s response, "but it does tell us in what parts of the genome we must look to identify the mechanism of photoperiodism," Bradshaw said. Collaborative studies already are underway to determine the same genes in stickleback fish at the UO and in fruit flies at the University of Pennsylvania.
"The response to climate warming in animal populations has penetrated to the level of the gene," Bradshaw said. "It affects development, reproduction and dormancy, and this response is occurring in diverse groups of animals from insects to birds and mammals."
The chromosomal map was created using mosquitoes that had developed in precisely controlled environmental rooms that allow the UO researchers to simulate climatic conditions occurring in nature anywhere in the world, from the tropics to the polar regions.
The newly created map contains 900 million DNA base pairs. There are three billion base pairs in humans. As various genome maps are being completed, scientists now face the task of determining how genes interact and how they produce specific phenotypes (observable traits), which include photoperiodic response and dormancy.
"Climate changes already are extending the growing seasons," Holzapfel said. "We know that portions of the country are becoming warmer and dryer than others. Plants and animals are not confronting this stress directly, but rather they are flowering, reproducing and going dormant at different times of the year than they used to. Many species will be unable to change quickly enough and will become extinct."
"Climate change will change the seasonal ecology of many animals,"
Source:University of Oregon