Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Gregor Mendel, Charles Darwin, and Some Cheeky Salamanders #Science

Gregor Mendel is the Father of Genetics and he was a simple monk who opened one of the most extraordinary scientific revolutions ever and we're still watching it unfold.  He wasn't some ancient fellow who hung about with Saint Francis doing, well, whatever Saint Francis did since Mendel died in the late-19th century.

Through dedicated observation of pea plants, Mendel deduced a genetic contribution comes from each parent and these contributions dictate the nature of the progeny.  The decision table regarding the contributions and the maths behind it came to be known as Mendelian genetics and still is.  (WIKI:  Gregor Mendel)

Charles Darwin had gone off watching animals in such a way long before and that gave us the idea of evolution even without the actual mechanism for it.  Mendel demonstrated the mechanism and genetics / evolution have been off to the races ever since.  (WIKI: Charles Darwin)

That model worked ... until this cheeky salamander got into it and she may represent the only successful matriarchy on the planet insofar as she only has sisters and do believe this is going to get weird.

The all-female hybrid Ambystoma has found a simple genetic formula for success: Mate with multiple males and use equal parts of each partner's genetic material in her offspring. The finding points to the bizarre ways some animals -- from all-female populations of fish, lizards, and others -- can use their genomes to maximize their chances of success.

Credit: Robert Denton, Ohio State University

What do you know.  Ambystoma invented slut power long before it became fashionable.  (Science Daily:  Promiscuous salamander found to use genes from three partners equally)

Even with the smattering above, there's enough to show if Father Gregor had been studying these frisky li'l amphibians, he would probably still be trying to figure out the laws of genetics.

The UI researchers wondered how choosy the unisexual female is about which genes it keeps and uses when mating with males from different sexual salamander species. Using a specimen from the lab of Ohio State University biologist and study co-author H. Lisle Gibbs, the team analyzed nearly 3,000 genes in a unisexual female with three genomes (called a triploid). Of that total, they found 72 percent of the genes provided by the three male partners were expressed equally.

- SD

The interested student is invited to pursue the source article to discover how that works ... but ... here's a tip: they don't know yet how it works but they're on it for finding out.

That sound you hear is everything you learned in high school about sexual reproduction is flying out the window.  However, if there's anything we have learned from the Internet, it's that people are more than willing to study sexual reproduction, if not its culmination, in every way possible.  Now you can do that with salamanders.  You're welcome.

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