Pitcher-plant-dwelling mosquito shows effects of Earth's changing climate

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Washington, Aug 25 (ANI): Scientists at the University of Oregon have determined the genetic structure of the pitcher-plant-dwelling mosquito, the first animal to show an evolutionary response to rapid climate change.

They used a high-throughput sequencing technique called Restriction-site Associated DNA (RAD) tagging to make the discovery.

Using the RAD-Tag approach, the scientists have demonstrated that post-glacial populations of this mosquito originated from a southern Appalachian Mountain refugium after recession of the Laurentide Ice Sheet some 22,000 to 19,000 years ago.

Range expansion into the previously glaciated north proceeded in a sequential, ordered wave.

With this information, they can now determine the genetic mechanism underlying photoperiod response to rapid climate change-responsible for the correct timing of dormancy, migration, development and reproduction in temperate organisms.

The knowledge will act as a template for research on blood feeding in mosquito vectors of dengue, encephalitis and malaria.

Researchers can accurately describe genome-wide variation to shed light on evolution at the population level, to predict patterns of invasion of species during rapid climate change, and to correlate gene-based illnesses with susceptible human populations on a local or worldwide scale.

"Along with the ability to illustrate the fine-scale phylogeographic patterns in species with few or no prior genomic resources, this technique will have applications in fields from ecology and evolution to human behavior and medicine," said William Cresko.

The study is published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. (ANI)

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