(Press-News.org) We usually assume that inbreeding is bad and should be avoided under all circumstances. But new research performed by researchers at Stockholm University, published in Nature Ecology and Evolution, shows that there is little support for this assumption.
The idea that animals should avoid mating with relatives has been the starting point for hundreds of scientific studies performed among many species. But it turns out the picture is more complicated.
"People assume that animals should avoid mating with a relative when given the chance", says Raïssa de Boer, researcher in zoology at Stockholm University. "But evolutionary theory has been telling us that animals should tolerate, or even prefer, mating with relatives under a broad range of conditions for more than four decades".
The study provides a synthesis of 139 experimental studies in 88 species spanning 40 years of research, settling the longstanding debate between theoretical and empirical expectations about if and when animals should avoid inbreeding.
"We address the 'elephant in the room' of inbreeding avoidance studies by overturning the widespread assumption that animals will avoid inbreeding whenever possible", says Raïssa de Boer.
The study demonstrates that animals rarely attempt to avoid mating with relatives, a finding that was consistent across a wide range of conditions and experimental approaches.
"Animals don't seem to care if their potential partner is a brother, sister, cousin or an unrelated individual when they are choosing who to mate with", says Regina Vega Trejo, a researcher at Stockholm University and an author of the paper.
The study also looked at inbreeding avoidance in humans, comparing the results with similar experiments with animals.
"We compared studies that asked if humans avoid inbreeding when presented with pictures of faces that were digitally manipulated to make the faces look either more or less related to studies that used similar approaches in other animals. Just like other animals, it turns out that there is no evidence that humans prefer to avoid inbreeding", says Raïssa de Boer.
"Our findings help explain why many studies failed to find clear support for the inbreeding avoidance and offer a useful roadmap to better understand how cognitive and ecologically relevant factors shape inbreeding avoidance strategies in animals", says John Fitzpatrick an associate professor in Zoology at Stockholm University and the senior author of the study.
The findings will have wide reaching implications for conservation biology. Mate choice is increasingly being used in conservation breeding programs in an attempt to the success of conservation efforts for endangered species. What does this mean?
"A primary goal of conservation efforts is to maintain genetic diversity, and mate choice is generally expected to achieve this goal. Our findings urge caution in the application of mate choice in conservation programs", says John Fitzpatrick.
A Wyss Institute-led collaboration spanning four research labs and hundreds of miles has used the Institute's organ-on-a-chip (Organ Chip) technology to identify the antimalarial drug amodiaquine as a potent inhibitor of infection with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.
The Organ Chip-based drug testing ecosystem established by the collaboration greatly streamlines the process of evaluating the safety and efficacy of existing drugs for new medical applications, and provides a proof-of-concept for the use of Organ Chips to rapidly repurpose existing drugs for new medical applications, including future pandemics. The research is reported in Nature Biomedical Engineering.
While many groups around the ...
Two of the most destructive forces of nature - earthquakes and tsunamis - might actually be more of a threat than current estimates according to new research conducted by scientists at The University of New Mexico and the Nanyang Technological University published today in Nature Geoscience.
The researchers developed a new method to assess earthquake and tsunami hazards represented by the most distant part of offshore subduction zones and found that the hazard might have been systematically underestimated in some areas, meaning that tsunami risk assessments should be redone given the ...
A grass commonly used to fight soil erosion has been genetically modified to successfully remove toxic chemicals left in the ground from munitions that are dangerous to human health, new research shows.
The study - led by the University of York- demonstrates that genetically modified switchgrass (Panicum virgatum) can detoxify residues of the military explosive, RDX, left behind on live-fire training ranges, munitions dumps and minefields.
RDX has been a major component of munitions since WW2 which are still used extensively on military training grounds. This use has now resulted in widespread pollution of groundwater.
Researchers generated the plants by inserting two genes from bacteria able to breakdown RDX. The plants were then grown in RDX contaminated ...
Researchers are now able to wirelessly record the directly measured brain activity of patients living with Parkinson's disease and to then use that information to adjust the stimulation delivered by an implanted device. Direct recording of deep and surface brain activity offers a unique look into the underlying causes of many brain disorders; however, technological challenges up to this point have limited direct human brain recordings to relatively short periods of time in controlled clinical settings.
This project, published in the journal Nature Biotechnology, was funded by the National Institutes of Health's ...
A research team led by City University of Hong Kong (CityU) scientists recently developed a new generation of microneedles technology which allows the intradermal delivery of living cells in a minimally invasive manner. Their experiment showed that vaccination using therapeutic cells through this ground-breaking technology elicited robust immune responses against tumours in mice, paving the way for developing an easy-to-use cell therapy and other therapeutics against cancers and other diseases.
The study was led by Dr Xu Chenjie, Associate Professor at the Department of Biomedical Engineering (BME) at CityU. The latest findings have been published in the scientific journal Nature Biomedical Engineering, titled "Cryomicroneedles for Transdermal Cell Delivery".
The new technology ...
Researchers at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) have devised a four-part small-molecule cocktail that can protect stem cells called induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) from stress and maintain normal stem cell structure and function. The researchers suggest that the cocktail could enhance the potential therapeutic uses of stem cells, ranging from treating diseases and conditions -- such as diabetes, Parkinson's disease and spinal cord injury -- to genome editing.
Human pluripotent stem cells are cells that, in theory, can grow forever and serve as an inexhaustible source for specialized cells, such as brain, kidney and heart cells. But stem cells are sensitive, and their potential uses in ...
Tiny 3-D models that mimic vital aspects of the human nervous system have been developed in a step that could accelerate drug research for neurological conditions such as multiple sclerosis (MS).
The millimetre-wide models - created using stem cells from human skin samples - will be used to study myelin, an insulating substance that helps nerve cells communicate with each other.
Researchers say the models are the most natural representation of human myelination developed in a lab and are a promising platform for studying neurological diseases and for testing drugs for conditions linked to myelin loss, including MS.
Nerve cells are found in the brain and the spinal cord and connect to each other with ...
PHILADELPHIA - Belief in conspiracies about the COVID-19 pandemic increased through the early months of the U.S. outbreak among people who reported being heavy users of conservative and social media, a study by Annenberg Public Policy Center (APPC) researchers has found. ...
Many people in Switzerland experienced considerable psychological distress during the first COVID-19 lockdown from mid-March to the end of April 2020. Researchers from the Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Psychotherapy at the University Hospital of Psychiatry Zurich (PUK) and the University of Zurich in collaboration with the La Source School of Nursing have now examined the most common sources of stress among children, adolescents, their parents and young adults. For their study, the researchers used representative samples in Switzerland of 1,627 young adults aged 19 to 24 as well as 1,146 children and adolescents between the ages of 12 and 17 and their parents.
Uncertainty, disruption, postponement
"Uncertainty during last year's lockdown was considerable ...
HOUSTON - (May 3, 2021) - Ever look at a flatfish like a flounder or sole, with two eyes on one side of its head, and think, "How did that happen?"
You're in luck. Rice University biologist Kory Evans has the answer.
"Flatfishes are some of the weirdest vertebrates on the planet, and they got weird very, very fast by changing multiple traits at once over a short period of time," said Evans, an assistant professor of biosciences at Rice who specializes in studying the evolution of fish over long time scales.
Of all mammals, reptiles, birds, amphibians and fish, flatfish are easily the most asymmetric. Evans, the corresponding author ...