- Appointment to NERC Peer Review College Pool of Chairs
- Prof Georgina Mace comments in Nature: Ecology must evolve
- RA Fisher Centre for Computational Biology UCL/LRI Meeting
- Collaboration with Bayer on Crop Genomics
- Lactase and Co-Evolution of Genes and Culture
- Gene tweaking for conservation
- Senior Professorial Promotions
- IHA raises funds for Macmillan
- Boom & Bust in Ancient Farming Populations
- Farewell party for Mari-Wyn Burley
- Gargantuan gang of GEE PhDs graduated this week
- More on milk and human adaptation by Dallas Swallow’s group
- Judith Mank talks about sex evolution
- Senior Promotions
- Hazel Smith appointed Faculty Tutor
- Doug Speed named the best young biometrician of the year
- Linda Partridge talks about the genetics of ageing
- Nick Luscombe elected member of the European Molecular Biology Organisation (EMBO)
- Viva success for Siobhan Cox
- Jonathan Freedland talks to Adam Rutherford, Barbara Sahakian, Steve Jones and Susan Aldworth about life, decision-making and our sense of self.
- Steve Jones updates the Bible from the point of view of modern science
- Obituary: Professor David Wilkie, born 6th August 1923, died 3rd March 2013
- Exaggerated claims from genetic ancestry testing companies undermine serious research into human genetic history
- Animal model of human evolution indicates thick hair mutation emerged 30,000 years ago
- Pascale Gerbault PhD Success
- Congratulations Liz Harley on the successful completion of her PhD
- Matt Piper on diet and ageing
- Orgin of life emerged from cell membrane bioenergetics
- More than 200 hundred genes identified for Crohn’s Disease by the Maniatis group at GEE
- Prof Max Telford awarded ERC Grant
- Congratulations to Prof Roger Wotton recipient of UCL Research Frontiers prize
- Prof Jürg Bähler publishes lead article on Fission Yeast in Cell journal
- Prof Steve Jones and Dr Nick Lane feature in BBC documentary on the secret life of the cell
- Prof Kate Jones's and the Bat Detective project launched plus interview on BBC World
- Exciting developments from the IHA's contribution at the Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition
- IHA awarded major Wellcome Trust grant
- EMBO grant awarded to Prof Jurg Bahler
- Is DNA the future of large-scale digital storage?
- Launch of Centre for Biodiversity and Environmental Research
- Academic promotions: Congratulations to Prof David Gems
- Prof Linda Partridge in top 30 of most cited authors in ageing research
- GEE Appoints Chair of Biodiversity and Ecosystems
- Prof Steve Jones: The life scientific
- Nature article by Prof Andres Ruiz-Linares: DNA study bolsters disputed view of migration into North America
- GEE's Dr Nick Lane reflects on his experience as Provost's Venture Research Fellow
- GEE's Dr Nick Lane reflects on the chances of life in the universe
- GEE's Prof Mark Thomas discusses when it comes to culture, the more the merrier, and brain size in The Times' Eureka science supplement
- GEE's Prof Mark Thomas reports in Nature on pottery shards putting a date on Africa’s dairying
- GEE's Mark Thomas in conversation at the Cheltenham Literature Festival
- Butterfly genome reveals a promiscuous past: paper by Dr Kanchon Dasmahapatra with Prof Jim Mallet published in Nature
- GEE's Dr Nick Lane wins BioMed Central Genetics, Genomics, Bioinformatics and Evolution Research Award
- Congratulations to Daniel Pearce for BBSRC grant award
- Helena Cocheme - Nature Protocols paper
- A matter of priorities: Bacteria evolved way to safeguard crucial genetic material, Prof Nick Luscombe publishes in Nature
- Prof Steve Jones is elected as a Fellow of The Royal Society
- GEE's Prof Mark Thomas co-authors genetic study on the origin of modern cows
- GEE's Dr Nick Lane and colleagues in SMB and Chemistry awarded Leverhulme Trust grant for Origins of Life research
- GEE/IHA's Dr Matthew Piper awarded grant from the Royal Society
- GEE's Mark Thomas, David Gems and Matt Piper speaking at the Cheltenham Science Festival
- GEE's Tosin Taiwo's paper on Methylome analysis published in Nature
- GEE's Dr Nick Lane talks about free radicals and life in PI Newspaper
- GEE's Carl Smith successfully defended his Ph.D. thesis on 'Sexual selection in yeast'
- Royal Society URFs in GEE
- UCL announces BBSRC London Interdisciplinary Biosciences PhD Consortium
- Mitochondria and the great gender divide - GEE's Profs Andrew Pomiankowski, Rob Seymour and Dr Nick Lane and Zena Hadjivasiliou publish paper in Proceedings of the Royal Society B
- GEE team led by Dr Nik Maniatis makes important progress on way to dissect the genetics of complex inheritance
- GEE launches MRes course in Biodiversity, Evolution and Conservation
- Paper by Roger Wotton and Terry Preston selected for book published by the University of California Press
- Indians share milk-digesting trait with Europeans: new Cambridge study published in collaboration with GEE's Profs Mark Thomas and Dallas Swallow
- Publication in Nature of controversial study led by GEE's Gems and Partridge labs
- GEE's Prof Max Telford recipient of prestigious Royal Society Wolfson Research Merit Award
- Iberian Lynx not doomed by its genetics says GEE's Prof Mark Thomas co-author of study
- Congratulations go to former PhD student
- Prof Linda Partridge awarded an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Science by the University of Bath
- Prof Linda Partridge awarded an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Science by Oxford University at Encaenia
- GEE Professor Emeritus comments on the genetic predisposition for cleft lips
- GEE Summer Studentship funding success
- Congratulations go to Prof Jürg Bähler
- GRANT SUCCESSES FOR GEE
- Inaugural lecture date for three GEE professors
- GEE has moved!
- GEE's Prof Steve Jones elected to membership of the American Philosophical Society
- 2011 is the 100th anniversary of the death of Francis Galton
- GEE Research Away Day 2011
- GEE Post-graduate Symposium 2011
- Publicity for the Annals of Human Genetics
- New species from Lake Tanganyika
- Lecturecast available of BIOL1005
- Award of Bogue Fellowship
- More grant successes for GEE!
- GEE/IHA's Prof Linda Partridge receives an honorary degree from the University of Oxford
- The Grant Museum celebrates its re-opening and fantastic new location
- Professors Steve Jones & Mark Thomas feature in BBC 'Horizon' programme: 'Are we still evolving?'
- GEE's Dr Nick Lane as Principal Organizer with others awarded Royal Society support to hold two-day meeting & a satellite meeting
- Nick Lane selected 2011 Brockington Visitor to Queen's University, Kingston, Canada
- GEE PhD student publishes an exciting first author paper in JAMA
- Congratulations to Prof Ziheng Yang
- 'Evolution: a can of worms'
- BBSRC award goes to GEE's Prof Jürg Bähler and Dr Matt Piper
- 'Genetic link to high cholesterol is being missed'
- Darwin 'would struggle to get funding today' debates GEE's Anjali Goswami
- GEE Lunch-time seminars (for UCL Staff and Students only)
- Darwin's Birthday Party 2011 at the Natural History Museum!
- Prof Steve Jones elected President of the Association of Science Education
- Prof Steve Jones elected President of the Association of Science Education
- We are Green Champions!
- ‘Genes of an 18th century ‘giant’ could change the lives of 21st century patients’
- Professor Andrew Pomiankowski honoured as AAAS Fellow
- And warmest congratulations go to...
- Dr Anjali Goswami lead author in Royal Society Proceedings B
- Dr Lazaros Foukas, GEE/IHA, recipient of Wellcome Trust University Award
- Professor Jürg Bähler elected as a member of EMBO
- Dr Julia Day awarded a grant by the National Geographic Society / Waitt Grants program.
- Dr Lisa De Silva successfully defended her Ph.D. thesis on the 'Biogeography and molecular evolution of Oleria (Ithomiinae) butterflies.
- Dr Nick Lane co-author of Nature article on 'The energetics of genome complexity'
- Professor Andrew Pomiankowski co-recipient of EPSRC Cross-Disciplinary Landscape Award (UCL and Oxford)
- Professor Ziheng Yang FRS appointed R A Fisher Chair of Statistical Genetics
- Two senior promotions announced in GEE
- City living helped humans evolve immunity to TB
- Mother’s care is key to a big brain
- New publication by Anjali Goswami et al
- Wellcome profiling Linda Partridge's and team's research into Alzheimer's Disease
- Provost's Teaching Awards 2010
- Latest grant success for GEE
- Andrew Pomiankowski has been recently elected as a Fellow of Linnean Society of London
- Linda Partridge receives 2010 Glenn Award for Research in Biological Mechanisms of Aging
- GEE Headship celebration
- 2 GEE authors on long list for Royal Society Prize for Science Books
- Neuron video abstract
- Grant successes for Dr Paola Oliveri
- Dr Julia Day gives an insight into her work
- New CEE website launched
- LeCHE MEETING
- Prof Steve Humphries elected to Academy of Medical Sciences
- A Crucial Difference: Celebrating Diversity in Nature
- Linda Partridge elected as a Foreign Honorary Member, AAAS
- Steve Jones addresses Royal Institution
- Dr Ivana Bjedov awarded an ERC Starting Grant for her cancer research
- Election of Prof Bill Richardson to the Royal Society
Published: Aug 4, 2015 11:24:00 AM
Published: Aug 4, 2015 11:22:00 AM
The Challenge of Monitoring Biodiversity
Tue, 04 Aug 2015 14:12:04 +0000
a guest blog by Charlie Outhwaite, written for the 2015 Write About Research Competition. Biological diversity, or biodiversity, is a complex term encompassing the variety of life found on Earth. It incorporates not only differences between species but within species themselves and of the environments and ecosystems where they are found. We as humans benefit […]Read more...
Mother’s care is key to a big brain
7 September 2010
Coverage in the New Scientist
The evolution of big-brained mammals may be due to maternal investment, rather than metabolism, according to a new study by scientists at UCL (University College London) and the University of Cambridge.
Published today in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) the study analysed data sets of the brain sizes of 197 marsupial and 457 placental mammals to test the influences of metabolism versus maternal investment on brain size evolution.
Contrary to popular hypotheses, researchers found that marsupial
mammals, for example kangaroos and possums, had relative brain sizes
that are just as big as placental mammals (dogs, horses etc), and even
tend to be bigger-brained in some cases.
Big brains in both groups were correlated to length of maternal care,
for example a longer period of lactation. However, basal metabolic
rate, or the energy an animal expends at rest, did not correlate with
marsupial brain size, whereas they did correlate in placental mammals.
High metabolism was previously thought to be a requirement for big
brains as brain tissue is costly to run.
Marsupial brains grow slowly and mainly after birth in the mother’s
pouch, whereas placental mammal brains grow rapidly during gestation,
where they benefit from the high metabolic rate of the mother. This
study suggests that large brain size can evolve in mammals with low
metabolisms as long as they have a period of extended maternal care
The researchers also suggest that the evolution of the hugely enlarged brains of some primates can be accounted for by their extended brain growth both during gestation and after birth during a lengthy maternal caring period.
Dr Vera Weisbecker, a joint postdoctoral fellow at the University of Cambridge, Jena University (Germany) and UCL’s Department of Genetics, Evolution & Environment, and lead author of the paper said: “Maternal investment is a much more universal factor in the evolution of big brains than metabolic rate”.
Dr Anjali Goswami, UCL Department of Genetics, Evolution &
Environment and Earth Sciences, and co-author of the paper added, “For
a long time, our interest in our own large brains has focused the field
on placental characteristics, such as high basal metabolic rate, and
made us overlook the role of maternal care after birth on the evolution
of big brains.
“However, if we take primates out of the equation, we discover that marsupials, despite having much lower metabolic rates, have similarly sized brains, or sometimes even bigger brains, than their placental mammal counterparts. So clearly, evolving big brains isn’t just about having a high metabolism. Instead, it seems that maternal care is the most consistent factor driving the development of big brains across all mammals.”
Brain development in the two groups is a case of ‘the hare and the tortoise’. Placental mammals are the ‘hares’ – their brains develop very fast during gestation, with relatively little growth after birth. Marsupials are the ‘tortoises’ – they are born with very little of their brain developed but then grow slowly and steadily for an extended period after birth whilst they are being cared for by their mothers.
“It appears that primate brains benefit from the best of both methods of increasing brain size – their brains grow rapidly during gestation in line with their fellow placental mammals, but also develop significantly after birth during a maternal care period which is only comparable to marsupials in terms of length,” added Dr Goswami.
The research was funded by a Volkswagen Foundation Evolution Initiative Postdoctoral Fellowship Grant to V Weisbecker.
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