Reproduction through sex carries substantial costs, mainly because only half of sexual adults produce offspring. It has been theorized that these costs could be countered if sex allows sexual selection to clear the universal fitness constraint of mutation load. Under sexual selection, competition between (usually) males and mate choice by (usually) females create important intraspecific filters for reproductive success, so that only a subset of males gains paternity. If reproductive success under sexual selection is dependent on individual condition, which is contingent to mutation load, then sexually selected filtering through /`genic capture/' could offset the costs of sex because it provides genetic benefits to populations. Here we test this theory experimentally by comparing whether populations with histories of strong versus weak sexual selection purge mutation load and resist extinction differently. After evolving replicate populations of the flour beetle Tribolium castaneum for 6 to 7 years under conditions that differed solely in the strengths of sexual selection, we revealed mutation load using inbreeding. Lineages from populations that had previously experienced strong sexual selection were resilient to extinction and maintained fitness under inbreeding, with some families continuing to survive after 20 generations of sib [times] sib mating. By contrast, lineages derived from populations that experienced weak or non-existent sexual selection showed rapid fitness declines under inbreeding, and all were extinct after generation 10. Multiple mutations across the genome with individually small effects can be difficult to clear, yet sum to a significant fitness load; our findings reveal that sexual selection reduces this load, improving population viability in the face of genetic stress.
Many studies suggest that women scientists aspiring to careers in academe face roadblocks, including bias -- implicit or overt -- in hiring. But a new study is throwing a curveball into the literature, suggesting that women candidates are favored 2 to 1 over men for tenure-track positions in the science, technology, engineering and math fields. Could it be that STEM gender diversity and bias awareness efforts are working, or even creating a preference for female candidates -- or is something more nuanced going on? Experts say it’s probably both....
FOR the past year or so genetic scientists at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York have been collaborating with a specialist from another universe: Daniel Kohn, a Brooklyn-based painter and conceptual artist.
A plant scientist from The Australian National University (ANU) has called for the United Nations to guarantee free and open access to plant DNA sequences to enable scientists to continue work to sustainably intensify world food production. Dr Norman Warthmann, a plant geneticist at the ANU Research School of Biology, has lodged a submission with the UN, which is currently considering issues to include in its 2015 Global Sustainable Development Report.
“Slim by Chocolate!” the headlines blared. A team of German researchers had found that people on a low-carb diet lost weight 10 percent faster if they ate a chocolate bar every day. It made the front page of Bild, Europe’s largest daily newspaper, just beneath their update about the Germanwings crash. From there, it ricocheted around the internet and beyond, making news in more than 20 countries and half a dozen languages. It was discussed on television news shows. It appeared in glossy print, m
..., researchers ... have finally discovered that a small, PIWI-interacting RNA molecule (piRNA) produced by the female chromosome is the determining factor of femaleness in the worms (1). It’s the first known instance of a non-coding RNA molecule determining sex, and the finding paves the way toward not only new breeding techniques for silkworms but also a better understanding of the regulation of small RNA molecules.
Gil McVean, Alexander Dilthey and colleagues present a graphical model-based method for accurate genomic assembly that uses the diversity present in multiple reference sequences, as represented by a population reference graph. The method is applied to simulated and empirical data from the human MHC region to demonstrate the improved accuracy of genomic inference.
Land use management is a central challenge for the 21st century with unprecedented and competing demands to produce food, feed/fodder, fibre, fuel, and essential ecosystem services which sustain life. Global change requires rapid adaptation in current and emerging crops as well as in the foundation species of natural ecosystems.
Revolutions in genomics and high throughput experimentation are transforming breeding so that adaptive traits in new environments can be predicted and selected more directly from germplasm collections of crops and wild species. This genomic breeding is now feasible in almost any species and has promise to help meet the need to feed and nourish over 9 billion people by 2050.
Genomic techniques can accelerate our response to food security challenges of yield, quality and resilience and also address environmental security challenges. To achieve its potential there will need to be widespread and ongoing investments in the human capital to promote genomic breeding...
Advanced plant science and genomics have revolutionised breeding and crop improvement, and will continue to do so. Innovation in collecting genotypes, phenotypes, and intermediate characteristics, is allowing new crop varieties to be selected faster and more accurately than ever before.
With genomic techniques researchers can help address food security challenges of yield, quality, resilience, and other environmental and social needs. Investing in the human capital to perform genomic breeding is needed to improve food security, environments and livelihoods.
In the lead up to climate meetings in Paris at the end of the year, countries will release draft targets - the framework of a possible global climate deal. Follow our interactive map as we track these targets.
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