Animal minds Cell biology Darwinism Evolution

A gene survival strategy worthy of a murder mystery

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wtf4/María Angélica Bravo Núñez, Nicole Nuckolls

From ScienceDaily:

The researchers discovered that wtf genes poison their prey.

“The strategy that wtf selfish genes employ is to poison all the developing gametes, but then keep the antidote for themselves,” says Zanders, a Stowers assistant investigator. “The gametes that inherit the selfish genes are also exposed to the poison, but they don’t succumb to it because they have the antidote. And the gametes that don’t inherit the selfish gene are destroyed.”

Zanders likens the mechanism to a dinner party in a murder mystery novel, in which everyone, including the host, is poisoned, but the host has the antidote.

The findings are particularly interesting from an evolutionary perspective, Zanders says.

“The wtf genes make a poison that has the potential to kill everything, including themselves. That’s risky. Having this second component that’s an antidote, and keeping the antidote private, is the way they figured out how to selectively eliminate their competition.” Paper. (public access) – J Dylan Shropshire, Antonis Rokas. The gene family that cheats Mendel. eLife, 2017; 6 DOI: 10.7554/eLife.28567 More.

That’s pretty clever for a gene, which is not even a life form. Better keep an eye on this file.

See also: How do ground cuckoos come to sound like musk hogs to avoid being eaten?

One Reply to “A gene survival strategy worthy of a murder mystery

  1. 1
    Dionisio says:

    Very interesting article. Thanks.

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