Scientists at the University of Utah have found a hybrid inviability new gene for species of fruit fly.
A hybrid inviability gene, that caused dead or infertile progeny in two different species of fruit flies that mated with each other, has been discovered. The finding was at a genetic and molecular level and it is of seminal importance.
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This finding may shed light on the formation of new species and also elucidate as to how cancers develop within cells. Scientists have long since suspected that such a gene probably existed. And now they have been vindicated.
The new way this problem was tackled allowed the gene to be identified. The study was published in the journal Science.
"We knew for decades that something like this gene ought to exist, and our approach finally allowed us to identify it," says biologist Nitin Phadnis, principal author of the study.
A species cannot ordinarily breed with another species. This is next to an impossibility and the classic definition of a species has enshrined this rule in golden letters in its pantheon.
But to understand how these reproductive barriers got created in the first place is a very exciting and leading edge field of endeavor. All hybrids which are few and far between show sterility.
And death is the ordinary result of a life lived in which there is a brief window of opportunity in which to reproduce successfully. These processes were looked into with great interest by the scientists.
One of the biggest shocks came when it was discovered that the gene that makes fruit flies a hybrid species, named gfzf, stops cell division upon the appearance of any defects.
However, mutation and disability in this gene caused the survival of the male hybrid members of the fruit fly species. The gfzf gene evolves on a rapid cycle.
The fact that this gene caused death or infertility in the fruit flies is very important in the biology of cancer. Cancer occurs when cells proliferate in a wild and haphazard manner.
The mechanism behind cancer and cell cycle checkpoints is of crucial importance. Some elements within the body’s microlevel machinery may be rapidly advancing in a slipshod manner. Or so the scientists surmised.
This process is of key significance in several other species as well. Two species of Drosophila were examined. They have evolved over millions of years. Hybrids of the two are inviable.
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The studies began almost a century ago. The traditional barriers were overcome although with difficulty. A mutation-causing chemical was fed to the species. Thus some offspring managed to survive. Normally they would have died out, but due to the silencing of the gene, this was hardly the case.