Parasite dispersal ability and gene insertion rates – a study

Researchers are analyzing the relationship between the dispersal capacity of different types of parasites and their rates of gene insertion

The results were recently published in the journal Communication Biology, Has important applications in the field of evolutionary biology

The physical movement of a species determines its potential range of leaving its basic ecosystem behind in the search for new areas of survival or reproduction – a critical factor for the processes that determine their genetic characteristics.

Researchers from the University of Granada (UGR) and University of Illinois (UI) have, for the first time, analyzed the relationship between this ability to locate in different types of parasites – their ability to disperse – and their levels of gene insertion. Introduction – the progressive movement of genes from one species to the gene pool of another species – affects the ratio of genome regions of a particular species that come from different species by crossbreeding.

The new study on this phenomenon was led by Jorge Donía Regera, a postdoctoral researcher at Marie Curie from the Department of Zoology at the University of Granada and a member of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. His results were recently published in the journal Communication Biology.

The team of scientists showed that differences in the dispersal capabilities of different species could modulate levels of genetic input – that is, the parasite species with greater access to different host species presented higher levels of subduction.

Doña Reguera, together with Drs Andrew Sweet and Kevin Johnson, began this study in 2018, focusing on the relationship between dispersal capabilities and levels of genetic input in the case of bird lice. Currently, the research is expanding its focus within the Marie Curie project “INTROSYM” where UGR’s Dr Juan Gabriel Martinez Suarez and Kevin Johnson are investigating the introductions into cohabitants. This project will analyze the occurrence of this phenomenon and its impact on the environment, the evolution and conservation of commensal species (for more information, visit Union /The project /Identification card /886532 /at).

Returning to the study of bird lice, an ecosystem of wing and body lice has been used for pigeons and pigeons. That is, this repeating system (which is similar ecologically, but relatively independent), was used to study both the group of lice with the highest dispersal capabilities (wing louse) and the group with the lowest dispersal capacity (body louse).

First, the authors found a higher percentage of developing regions and, consequently, a greater number of retinal development networks in the wing louse genus. Therefore, the results indicated that species with higher dispersal capabilities present increased genomic fingerprints for introduction (due to hybridization events).

“The fact that dispersal capabilities are related to reproductive rates can enable us to get closer to predicting the rate of entry of a specific parasite, which could have very important implications for understanding the dynamics of the host parasite,” explains the UGR researcher.

For example, this knowledge can be of great value in the case of inter-species adaptations (i.e. adaptation of one species in response to an interaction with another species) or modification of parasite speciation processes by modifying opportunities for colonization of the species. New hosts, “Something that could be important in understanding the emergence of infectious diseases.”

Donia notes the warm reception the publication received in the scientific community, although due to the novelty of the topic, much remains to be done. Thing. “A very important aspect of this work is that the study system we used, the bird louse, was the same as the many foundational studies system in co-evolutionary biology and reference books such as coevolution of life on hosts,” he says. “The fact that we found evidence of engaging in this system opens many questions, such as how does this new process / outcome fit with everything we knew before?” As the INTROSYM project continues to evolve, new answers are expected to be revealed.


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