Evolution theory

Bengaluru researchers propose a new theory of evolution

Express press service

BENGALURU: Researchers from the National Center for Biological Sciences (NCBS) in Bengaluru have formulated a potential evolutionary hypothesis, based on the development of flies.

The study proposes that a new hypothesis can be found from the recent evolution of the apple maggot based in the United States in the 19th century, which may involve the rate of development in the brain as well as chemical changes. The fly, Rhagoletis pomonella, originally infested hawthorn fruit native to the United States.

However, following the introduction of apples to the United States in the 19th century, the fly evolved into two species in just a century and a half, one which infested common hawthorn fruit and the other which evolved to n infest only apples.

“Factors such as new environment, climate, competition and habitats are known to lead to the formation of different species. However, the changes that individuals undergo during evolution are still an area of ​​study. The fly has provided researchers with a unique opportunity to study a system currently forming a new species, than in the distant past,” a statement read.

The researchers studied species of flies in Bengaluru, where they tried to determine if changes in their brains could encourage them to evolve further. They monitored the brains of the flies’ developing pupae, to measure 14 chemicals (neuromodulators) in the brain like dopamine, serotonin and histamine.

“Surprisingly, even when we controlled for their hibernation period, the apple maggot developed the adult brain faster than the hawthorn maggot. Additionally, the apple maggot brains, which grew faster, also showed reduced levels of neurochemicals. Our results suggest that changes in neurochemicals during specific stages of brain development could influence host choice in adult flies, providing a novel evolutionary hypothesis,” said Hinal Kharva, lead researcher.

“Linking changes in brain development and neurotransmitters to an insect’s life cycle has interesting implications not only for the generation of new species, but also for how changes in the environment, such as climate change , could impact the choices insects make – like which plants to infest,” said Dr Shannon Olsson, who led the study.

BENGALURU: Researchers from the National Center for Biological Sciences (NCBS) in Bengaluru have formulated a potential evolutionary hypothesis, based on the development of flies. The study proposes that a new hypothesis can be found from the recent evolution of the apple maggot based in the United States in the 19th century, which may involve the rate of development in the brain as well as chemical changes. The fly, Rhagoletis pomonella, originally infested hawthorn fruit native to the United States. However, following the introduction of apples to the United States in the 19th century, the fly evolved into two species in just a century and a half, one which infested common hawthorn fruit and the other which evolved to n infest only apples. “Factors such as new environment, climate, competition and habitats are known to lead to the formation of different species. However, the changes that individuals undergo during evolution are still an area of ​​study. The fly has provided researchers with a unique opportunity to study a system currently forming a new species, than in the distant past,” a statement read. The researchers studied species of flies in Bengaluru, where they tried to determine if changes in their brains could encourage them to evolve further. They monitored the brains of the flies’ developing pupae, to measure 14 chemicals (neuromodulators) in the brain like dopamine, serotonin and histamine. “Surprisingly, even when we controlled for their hibernation period, the apple maggot developed the adult brain faster than the hawthorn maggot. Additionally, the apple maggot brains, which grew faster, also showed reduced levels of neurochemicals. Our results suggest that changes in neurochemicals during specific stages of brain development could influence host choice in adult flies, providing a novel evolutionary hypothesis,” said Hinal Kharva, lead researcher. “Linking changes in brain development and neurotransmitters to an insect’s life cycle has interesting implications not only for the generation of new species, but also for how changes in the environment, such as climate change , could impact the choices insects make – like which plants to infest,” said Dr Shannon Olsson, who led the study.