There are three to five million species living in the earth, and the range of their habitat is variable between species. For instance, house mice live in a widespread area in the world ranging from tropical to temperate area, and in the various environments such as in the grass, fields, riverside areas, banks, wildlands, sand dunes and houses.
However, jerboas can live only in the desert although they are related to house mice. It is considered that while species living in the limited environment are greatly influenced by environmental changes like global warming, species living in the various environments are easy to stand these changes and new environments. However, what mechanism provides environmental variability has remained poorly understand.
A research group led by Assistant Professor Takashi Makino and Professor Masakado Kawata at Graduate School of Life Sciences, Tohoku University has shown that the number of duplicated genes may be a key factor involved in environmental variability. The research group has compared the proportion of duplicated genes in the genomes of 11 Drosophila species, and has discovered that the higher habitat variability the species have, the more duplicated genes they have in their genome. Recently, there are growing concerns that more species would become extinct due to the climate change and other environmental changes. Therefore, the plans for biodiversity conservation must be developed urgently. For setting priorities of conservation, although it is important to know what kinds of species are vulnerable to environmental changes, it couldn't be realized because there is no index of resistance to environmental changes. This research result has shown the possibilities that the proportion of duplicate genes can be the index of resistance to environmental changes. The result will be expected to advance biodiversity conservation by a new scientific approach.
Assistant Professor Takashi Makino
Graduate School of Life Sciences, Tohoku University
E-mail: tamakino*m.tohoku.ac.jp (Replace * with @)