e-Science : April 2012 Issue 1
allow certain individuals to adapt better to a given environment. However, it usually takes a large number of generations, hence a very long time, for an adaptive mutation to spread widely. In contrast, a single environmental event can impact the DNA methylation in many individuals in a population at the same time, and these changes can be immediately passed on to the next generation. This represents a potential evolutionary speed boost that could help species to respond rapidly to sudden and drastic climate changes. A team of researchers have recently shown that it is possible to detect and measure DNA methylation in extinct species, using a 30,000-year-old Steppe bison. Hence, studying bison populations as they experience major environmental changes during the last Ice-Age is likely to show how animals adapt and respond to climate-change. This study was a collaboration between the Australian Centre for Ancient DNA at the University of Adelaide and Sydney’s Victor Change Cardiac Research Institute. The lead authors are from the School of Earth & Environmental Sciences, University of Adelaide. To link to the full research paper visit here http://www.plosone.org/ article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal. pone.0030226 PICTURE: Wheat as it is grown in the field.
July 2012 Issue 2