Monday, November 16, 2015

Exclusively Female Invertebrates Survive on the DNA of Others

Mother Nature can go all out sometimes when it comes to survival of the fittest, and for the group of invertebrate known as Bdelloids (pronounced Del-oyds), she pulled out all the stops. The first thing that stands out about class of rotifers, a phylum of near microscopic animals, is that they are exclusively female. For the past 80 million years, dbelloids have not has sex, and instead reproduced exclusively asexually. And with a over 400 known dbelloid species, all with the ability to easily survive rapid destruction of its own habitat (usually fresh or brackish water), this comes as a surprise. From a biological perspective, a sexually reproducing species allows for specie to have a consistent change in future generation's genetic makeup and allow them to adapt to survive. But an asexually reproducing animal should not have such diversity in its genome, and it's thought, they should not be able to thrive and adapt easily to new environments, but bdelloids seem to disregard this.

A group of 2008 a group of researchers decided to try and figure out why these animals so adamantly turned their backs to evolutionary logic. They found that bdelloids contain from organisms other than its own species. Delving further into this genetic mystery, the team discovered that nearly 10% of bdelliod DNA was not its own, but instead adapted from over 500 different species. And these aren't just useless snippets of DNA mind you, almost all of the DNA obtained from other species by the bdelloids were used to code for enzyme creation.

Of course it is still unclear how the bdelloids are able to obtain DNA from other organisms, and assimilate them into their own. Personally I believe that it could be through the parent obtaining DNA from its meals, and inserting it into it's daughters' genomes.

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