Two Minute Talk – Video Abstract for Leaver et al, Biology Open 2016.


Hi, my name is Mark Leaver, and today I’m
going to be talking about work that my colleagues and I recently published in the journal Biology
Open. I’m interested in the genetics of how organisms adapt to higher temperatures, and
I’ve chosen to study this in the nematode Pristionchus pacificus for 3 reasons: it’s
cold-blooded, it’s great for genetics, and we have a collection of strains from all over
the world. We started by looking for two strains that respond differently to temperature and
found one from California and another from Japan. When we grow these strains in the lab
at a normal temperature, the worms go through their life cycle. However, if we grow the
California strain at 30 degrees, the next generation is infertile. But, at the same
temperature, the Japanese strain remains fertile indefinitely. Looking in more detail, we measured
the total number of offspring over a range of temperatures. The strain from California
does better at lower temperatures, but the strain from Japan does much better at higher
temperatures. This is just like what we see for two other species of nematode. To test
if this had a genetic cause, we mated the two strains. When we do this, the offspring
are fertile at 30 degrees, just like the Japanese strain. And, in the second generation, the
phenotype segregates so that the worms are either like the Japanese strain or like the
California strain. This shows us that the phenotype is dominant and segregates according
to the laws of Mendel. This means that there is likely to be one gene, or a cluster of
genes, that controls fertility at 30 degrees, and that this gene is different in the two
strains. We are now currently working hard to identify what the gene is. Thanks for watching!