Science How electric fish were able to evolve electric organs

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Electric organs help electric fish, such as the electric eel, do all sorts of amazing things: They send and receive signals that are akin to bird songs, helping them to recognize other electric fish by species, sex and even individual. A new study in Science Advances explains how small genetic changes enabled electric fish to evolve electric organs. The finding might also help scientists pinpoint the genetic mutations behind some human diseases.

Evolution took advantage of a quirk of fish genetics to develop electric organs. All fish have duplicate versions of the same gene that produces tiny muscle motors, called sodium channels. To evolve electric organs, electric fish turned off one duplicate of the sodium channel gene in muscles and turned it on in other cells. The tiny motors that typically make muscles contract were repurposed to generate electric signals, and voila! A new organ with some astonishing capabilities was born.

"This is exciting because we can see how a small change in the gene can completely change where it's expressed," said Harold Zakon, professor of neuroscience and integrative biology at The University of Texas at Austin and corresponding author of the study.

In the new paper, researchers from UT Austin and Michigan State University describe discovering a short section of this sodium channel gene—about 20 letters long—that controls whether the gene is expressed in any given cell. They confirmed that in electric fish, this control region is either altered or entirely missing. And that's why one of the two sodium channel genes is turned off in the muscles of electric fish. But the implications go far beyond the evolution of electric fish.

 
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  • tom_mai78101 tom_mai78101:
    Hmm, about the Headline News, I noticed threads are being moved into the subforum (Health News, Environmental News, etc.). When that happens, the TH Forum Home page loses the articles, and instead would show old articles posted 1 or 2 weeks ago.
  • tom_mai78101 tom_mai78101:
    What do we do with the Home page?
  • Ghan Ghan:
    I added those forums to the filter for that widget.
    +1
  • tom_mai78101 tom_mai78101:
    Oh nice. They're back. Thanks.
  • tom_mai78101 tom_mai78101:
    Now I think it makes more sense for me to put news in their own subforums, without worry.
  • The Helper The Helper:
    Awesome Ghan thanks! I was purposely not moving the first 15 news articles in Headline news to the different subforums but I guess I don't have to do that now?
  • tom_mai78101 tom_mai78101:
    Question: Is there a way to remove thread redirects? It creates a copy of the moved thread and takes up space, and I am leaning towards wanting to remove them in the Headline News. But if they have an expiration date, I guess I'm fine with it.
  • The Helper The Helper:
    If you move a thread please leave a permanent redirect. You can delete any redirects after 6 months. The redirects are left to help Search Engines find the moved content.
  • tom_mai78101 tom_mai78101:
    What if you move the permanent redirect, not the thread?
  • The Helper The Helper:
    I think that works but I have not messed with it. You can delete redirects though if you have to that will not delete the original thread
  • The Helper The Helper:
    if a redirect ends up in the same forum as the post it goes to though I think the redirect drops or fails or something but they are not bugged out and when you are working on an indirect the original post is safe.
  • The Helper The Helper:
    Happy Early Friday :)
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    Happy Friday :)
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    Fun Friday for me
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    Happy Fun Friday to all.
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    Happy Sunday everyone!!!
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    Happy monday :p
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    Everyone hates mondays?
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    Happy Tuesday!
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  • tom_mai78101 tom_mai78101:
    I found out you can't delete nor hide redirect links to existing threads. It will just stay there. I have no choice now but to start moving thread redirects to News Archive.
  • The Helper The Helper:
    That is not the way that it works for me I can delete redirects you just have to hit refresh sometimes big deletes will take a while as long as moves\
  • The Helper The Helper:
    You don't have to do that you can just leave stuff there in headline news for up to a year it was already down to like 8 months there is no rush.

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