Friday, September 01, 2006

 

Evolution of Old World fruit flies on three continents mirrors climate change

Drosophila subobscura Climate Change Fruit-Fly (Evolution Research: John Latter / Jorolat)Evolution of Old World fruit flies on three continents mirrors climate change:

Fast-warming climate appears to be triggering genetic changes in a species of fruit fly that is native to Europe and was introduced into North and South America about 25 years ago.

"This is a clear signal on three different continents that climate change is occurring, and that genetic change is going along with it," said Raymond Huey, a University of Washington biology professor who is co-author of a paper describing the findings, published Aug. 31 in Science Express, the online edition of the journal Science.

The research deals with an Old World fruit fly species called Drosophila subobscura, which originally ranged from the Mediterranean Sea to Scandinavia. European biologists who studied the insect's genetic makeup more than 40 years ago noted that sections of chromosomes were inverted, something like taking part of a bar code from a consumer product and flipping it backwards. The biologists found that the frequency of particular inversions was correlated with the latitude where a given insect was found. Inversions that were common in the north were uncommon in the south, and vice versa.
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Based on "Global Genetic Change Tracks Global Climate Warming in Drosophila subobscura" (Abstract)

Update Monday, September 4, 2006: The Washington Post's 'Science Notebook' also features an article on the above paper: "Fly's Evolution Tied to Warming" (scroll down the page).

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