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:6/5/2020)... ... June 04, 2020 , ... Murrieta Genomics has ... patent application for simplified sample preparation for Next Generation Genomic Sequencing (NGS) . ... cost, time, and complexity of sample preparation. , “I have been at the bench ...
(Date:6/2/2020)... ... June 02, 2020 , ... ... software developer and solutions provider, today reported that the implementation of browser-based, ... compliance by 100%, resulting in greater efficiency for global biotechnology company, bioMérieux. ...
(Date:5/28/2020)... ... May 27, 2020 , ... Today bioinformatics leader ... solution that uniquely combines lab testing insights and hc1’s exclusive Local Risk Index ... health and safety of employees returning to the workplace. , “Some of the ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:6/28/2020)... ... June 25, 2020 , ... Lumeda Inc. (“Lumeda”), ... announced the company has entered a license agreement with Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer ... exclusive rights to Roswell Park intellectual property surrounding a novel medical device and ...
(Date:6/23/2020)... ... June 23, 2020 , ... DeCurtis Corporation, the premier ... that Derek Fournier has been appointed CEO and President. Founder and former CEO, ... , “DeCurtis Corporation has been on an incredible journey for the last ...
(Date:6/23/2020)... ... June 23, 2020 , ... Nobilis ... announced that it has filed an Investigational New Drug application (IND) with the ... of its lead drug candidate NBTX-001 in patients with panic disorder (PD). , ...
(Date:6/11/2020)... ... June 09, 2020 , ... ... of a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program funded by the National Institute ... Toxin Detection in the Field”. The project’s goal was to engineer and develop ...
Breaking Biology Technology: