Wednesday July 12, 2023

Mirage News

The overfishing of codfish spanning the second half of the 20th century indicates that human action can force evolutionary changes more quickly than widely believed, according to a Rutgers University-led study.

Published in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, a U.S. National Science Foundation-supported report offers the first genomic evidence that Atlantic cod evolved new traits over only decades during a period of overfishing – evolutionary changes that scientists formerly believed could take millions of years.

“The discovery was made possible by new technology that allowed us to extract and read the genetic code of cod, some caught more than 110 years ago, as well as new analytical techniques that detect subtle changes in that genetic code,” said Malin Pinsky, senior author on the study.

Scientists had noted that many overfished cod by the end of the 20th century had developed what looked to be a survival advantage – maturing earlier and growing less large, making them less likely to be singled out to be caught and more likely to reproduce before being caught. Searches for transformations in key genes, however, turned out to be unsuccessful.

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