Genetics Intelligent Design News

Non-gene inheritance in flies?

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Neriid flies/Russell Bonduriansky

They tell us this can only happen to flies:

Scientists have discovered a new form of non-genetic inheritance, showing for the first time that offspring can resemble a mother’s previous sexual partner — in flies at least.

This confronting idea, known as telegony, dates back to ancient Greek times, but was discredited in the early 20th Century with the advent of genetics.

To test it out, UNSW Australia scientists Dr Angela Crean, Professor Russell Bonduriansky and Dr Anna Kopps manipulated the size of male flies and studied their offspring.

They found that the size of the young was determined by the size of the first male the mother mated with, rather than the second male that sired the offspring.

“Our discovery complicates our entire view of how variation is transmitted across generations, but also opens up exciting new possibilities and avenues of research. Just as we think we have things figured out, nature throws us a curve ball and shows us how much we still have to learn,” says lead author Dr Crean.

The researchers propose that the effect is due to molecules in the seminal fluid of the first mate being absorbed by the female’s immature eggs and then influencing the growth of offspring of a subsequent mate.

Abstract

Newly discovered non-genetic mechanisms break the link between genes and inheritance, thereby also raising the possibility that previous mating partners could influence traits in offspring sired by subsequent males that mate with the same female (‘telegony’). In the fly Telostylinus angusticollis, males transmit their environmentally acquired condition via paternal effects on offspring body size. We manipulated male condition, and mated females to two males in high or low condition in a fully crossed design. Although the second male sired a large majority of offspring, offspring body size was influenced by the condition of the first male. This effect was not observed when females were exposed to the first male without mating, implicating semen-mediated effects rather than female differential allocation based on pre-mating assessment of male quality. Our results reveal a novel type of transgenerational effect with potential implications for the evolution of reproductive strategies. (You have to pay to read the article.)

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9 Replies to “Non-gene inheritance in flies?

  1. 1
    Mung says:

    Given that Darwin had no clue as to how inheritance actually worked, this is not anti-Darwinian.

  2. 2
    ppolish says:

    And even if Darwin had a clue about inheritance systems, a light bulb still would not have lit up over his head. Light bulbs were not invented yet.

  3. 3
    Box says:

    Just as we think we have things figured out, nature throws us a curve ball and shows us how much we still have to learn.”

    Indeed, neo-darwinism was so close to having things figured out! Just about everything! Just some unresolved details here and there…

    /sarc

  4. 4
    ppolish says:

    Darwinism was on its deathbed when it was resuscitated by NeoDarwinism. So, what will resuscitate NeoDarwinism? I vote for IntelligentDarwinism, or ID for short. Do I get a vote?

  5. 5
    Mung says:

    ppolish,

    First we need to complete the it really is still Darwinism even thought it really isn’t still Darwinism phase.

  6. 6
    ppolish says:

    Mung
    Yes, the Denial Phase. Some have already moved past to the the Anger Phase grrr. Then comes Depression and finally Acceptance.

    I need to remember it is important to be supportive. Although as a former NeoDarwinist, I must say the World seems so much more Awesome now. I look at ants differently for example. Geesh they’re gullible.

  7. 7
    awstar says:

    They found that the size of the young was determined by the size of the first male the mother mated with, rather than the second male that sired the offspring.

    But to Bible believing creationists, what was once taken on faith; namely: “For, as it is written, ‘The two will become one flesh.'” now has some scientific evidence that may corroborate it.

  8. 8
    Dr JDD says:

    Don’t worry everyone, I am sure our Darwinian friends will be along shortly to assure us that this is in fact genetic inheritance as it will either be proteins in the seminal fluid or other molecules influencing the transcription rates or similar genetic control in the offspring both of which can be traced to genetic origin (haven’t read the paper but if it is one of these mechanisms I predict the standard Darwinian response to apply).

  9. 9
    ppolish says:

    Like Mung said, Darwin did not know about genes. He was all “Survival of THE fittest”. But this finding shows “Survival of various dudes”. Major violation.

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