In a study on two groups of parasites, the team detected differences in DNA sequences that could be attributed to the composition of their food.
‘We found that different levels of nitrogen in a parasite’s diet contributed to changes in its DNA. Specifically, parasites with low-nitrogen, high-sugar diets had DNA sequences that used less nitrogen than parasites with nitrogen-rich, high-protein diets.’
The study involved groups of eukaryotic parasites (Kinetoplastida) and bacterial parasites (Mollicutes) that infect different plant or animal hosts.
The results, based on novel mathematical models developed by the researchers, reveal a previously hidden relationship between cellular metabolism and evolution. They provide new insights into how DNA sequences can be influenced by adaptation to different diets. Paper. (public access) – Emily A. Seward, Steven Kelly. Dietary nitrogen alters codon bias and genome composition in parasitic microorganisms. Genome Biology, 2016; 17 (1) DOI: 10.1186/s13059-016-1087-9More.
The team hopes to test the thesis on more complex organisms. Like foodies, for example?
It would be good to have some serious nutrition information for once, instead of all the scams and scares fronted in popular mags.
See also: Epigenetics: Aeon writer says Darwin’s theory is “incomplete”
Epigenetic change: Lamarck, wake up, you’re wanted in the conference room!
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