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Biologists have grown with the genes of a fly the time of the dinosaurs

Биологи вырастили муху с генами времен динозавровBiologists have studied gene Bicoid.

Scientists using genetic engineering got a line of fruit flies, the genome of which there emerged about 140 million years ago mutations. These modifications significantly influenced the development of the animal body, and, reversing them, the authors were able to understand what ancient mutations caused important evolutionary changes in the embryonic development of organisms. The results outlined in the journal eLife.

Scientists have long tried to understand how mutations in the genes to change the embryonic development of organisms, so that life forms on Earth became so diverse. However, just install a key mutation extremely difficult, as they emerged in the distant past, long extinct animals, and their traces in the genome have since been concealed subsequent mutations.

“By introducing individual mutations that have occurred in the deep past in ancient genes, we could accurately show how each of them influenced the development of organisms millions of years ago, says lead author Stephen small from new York University (USA). We found that the main cause radical changes in the process of development of the animal, which have become indispensable for all their descendants, were just two random mutations”.

In this work, biologists have studied gene Bicoid, which controls the formation of the head in the embryo flies. Organisms with a broken variant of the gene die early, as they have at both ends of the body begins to form the abdomen. However, Bicoid is not found in other insects or more distant relatives of the flies, which shows how even the fundamental aspects of development can radically change the process of evolution.

Researchers removed the flies, the gene Bicoid, and put his reconstructed ancestor. These animals also began to die. Then biologists began one by one to add the mutations that have occurred in this gene millions of years ago. Most of them produced little effect or did not produce no, but the two together did the gene is active, so that the embryo was formed distorted, but recognizable head in the right place.

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