Although there are many examples of contemporary directional selection, evidence for responses to selection that match predictions are often missing in quantitative genetic studies of wild populations. This is despite the presence of genetic variation and selection pressures – theoretical prerequisites for the response to selection. This conundrum can be explained by statistical issues with accurate parameter estimation, and by biological mechanisms that interfere with the response to selection. These biological mechanisms can accelerate or constrain this response. These mechanisms are generally studied independently but might act simultaneously. We therefore integrated these mechanisms to explore their potential combined effect. This has implications for explaining the apparent evolutionary stasis of wild populations and the conservation of wildlife. Recent discoveries at the intersection of quantitative genetics and evolutionary ecology are challenging our views on the potential of wild populations to respond to selection. Multiple biological mechanisms can disconnect genetic variation from the response to selection in the wild. We highlight areas for future research. We provide an integrative framework that can be used to qualitatively assess the combined influence of these mechanisms on the response to selection.
We challenge the view that our species, Homo sapiens, evolved within a single population and/or region of Africa. The chronology and physical diversity of Pleistocene human fossils suggest that morphologically varied populations pertaining to the H. sapiens clade lived throughout Africa. Similarly, the African archaeological record demonstrates the polycentric origin and persistence of regionally distinct Pleistocene material culture in a variety of paleoecological settings. Genetic studies also indicate that present-day population structure within Africa extends to deep times, paralleling a paleoenvironmental record of shifting and fractured habitable zones. We argue that these fields support an emerging view of a highly structured African prehistory that should be considered in human evolutionary inferences, prompting new interpretations, questions, and interdisciplinary research directions.
Nuclear antigen Ki-67 is widely accepted as a cell proliferation marker in both research and cancer diagnostic settings. Despite its extensive use and clinical value, very little is still known about the biological function of Ki-67. A recent work published in has revealed important novel aspects of Ki-67 regulation that could provide new and extended prognostic and therapeutic value.
How can blood rapidly and precisely reach active neurons at a given time and location has remained enigmatic for a long time. A 2003 paper by Zonta suggested key roles for astrocytes in the signaling between neurons and blood vessels. While a consensus on the specific intermediary roles of astrocytes in this process is still evolving, research in the past 15 years has led to a deeper and more refined understanding of the neuro-glio-vascular unit.
Is the European Union (EU) regulatory framework for genetically modified organisms (GMOs) adequate for emerging techniques, such as genome editing? This has been discussed extensively for more than 10 years. A recent proposal from The Netherlands offers a way to break the deadlock. Here, we discuss how the proposal would affect examples from public plant research.
Clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR) technology has enabled genetic engineering feats previously considered impracticable, offering great hopes for solutions to problems facing society. We consider it timely to highlight how CRISPR can benefit public health, medicine, and agriculture in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) and offer recommendations for successful implementation.
In 1983 Libet . demonstrated that brain activity associated with a voluntary act precedes conscious experience of the intention to act by several hundred milliseconds. The implication that it is the brain, rather than ‘free will’, that initiates voluntary acts has been discussed ever since by philosophers and lawyers, as well as by scientists. We show here how Libet’s original study gave rise to an entire research field of experimental investigations of volition.
The field of ecology has focused on understanding characteristics of natural systems in a manner as free as possible from biases of human observers. However, demand is growing for knowledge of human–nature interactions at the level of individual people. This is particularly driven by concerns around human health consequences due to changes in positive and negative interactions. This requires attention to the biased ways in which people encounter and experience other organisms. Here we define such a ‘personalised ecology’, and discuss its connections to other aspects of the field. We propose a framework of focal research topics, shaped by whether the unit of analysis is a single person, a single population, or multiple populations, and whether a human or nature perspective is foremost. Traditionally, ecologists have focused on understanding the ecological world unbiased by how human observers interact with it. However, both the positive and negative nature interactions that people experience are the result of these biases. The nature interactions people experience will be heavily dependent on the ecology of species, as well as their own opportunities and behaviour. Scientists and policymakers need to determine and account for this ‘personalised ecology’, to better understand and balance the benefits that people gain from the natural world, whilst limiting negative impacts upon it.
Since the past few decades, the small RNA (sRNA) technologies including small interfering RNA and miRNA have been widely explored for therapeutic development. Classically, these sRNAs target the coding regions of mRNA to exert temporal gene silencing in a post-transcriptional manner. Interestingly, sRNAs targeting gene promoters have been recently described to mediate long-term transcriptional gene silencing (TGS) by epigenetic modifications. This has further harnessed the potential applications in gene therapy. However, efficient delivery is a common hurdle for almost any types of gene therapy approaches. In a recent issue of Trends in Biochemical Sciences, Baltusnikas et al. have proposed to use RNA viruses to deliver sRNA for long-term TGS, suggesting long-term therapy by a single administration approach for various diseases, including chronic, incurable, and fatal illnesses. Being a novel and ambitious gene therapy strategy, we hereby would like to emphasize three major challenges and propose potential solutions.
Mitochondrial fatty acid β-oxidation (FAO) is a major catabolic process that degrades long-chain fatty acids. Recent reports reveal a broad role for FAO in cell fate control in endothelial cells, immune cells, and cancer cells. Concurrently, unique molecular pathways influenced by FAO have been identified that alter cell fate decisions.