The theory of how the mother song emerged as a way of sharing genes between different species is not a new idea, but its new interpretation has the potential to change our understanding of how life arose.
The theory is based on a number of lines of evidence, including the discovery of a gene that has the capacity to modify the rate at which different cells in a cell replicate.
It also suggests that when the cell divides, it may be more likely to replicate genes, making it easier for those to survive to a certain age.
The paper, which was published today in the journal Nature, also suggests how the gene was able to change its own shape in response to its environment, leading to changes in the structure of the cell.
It was suggested that the mother’s song was created to help other mother-songbirds keep track of which of their offspring had reached adulthood.
The researchers also say that this is not the only way that a song may be modified in the evolution of a particular cell.
The mother’s genes are not the first to be modified, but the gene that appears to have changed most dramatically is the one that affects the rate of replication of DNA, called the rate-limiting enzyme (RLE).
The idea that the RLE is involved in the formation of the mother-son song was suggested by a 2012 study in Nature that found the Rle to be a major determinant of the rate by which new DNA is created in the genome.
Previous work suggests that the process of creating new DNA in the DNA of a cell is an important step in the creation of a species.
The authors of this study, from the University of Bristol, say that the new theory suggests that, although the original RLE gene was present in the mother bird, it was not in use at the time the song evolved.
Rather, it had evolved during the evolutionary process.
“The mother song is not really a single, homogenous group of genes, but rather an assemblage of a number in different species,” said lead author Dr Michael Gifford, from Bristol’s School of Biological Sciences.
“This is a great example of the complexity of evolution.”
In addition to their findings on the nature of the Rles, the researchers also found that the gene may have been used by a number different species.
For example, they found that different types of birds that have a similar gene, such as a crow, have different song responses, including a higher rate of duplication.
Dr Giffords added that it was the first time that this gene had been found to be involved in song-making in the wild, and it could be the result of a mutation or a combination of genetic changes.
The research is an example of how researchers are increasingly finding new and different ways to understand how genes and other genetic changes are related to the development of different species, he said.
“Genes can play an important role in the development and spread of new species, but these results show that these effects may be mediated by the interaction of genetic and environmental factors,” Dr Gafford said.
The team say that it is important to keep in mind that it has not been established that the original mother song was altered by a mutation, and that the other genes that have changed the Rls DNA are also present in other species.
This means that they are not necessarily the same as those that were altered, but that these genes are also important in determining the expression of the original song in the other species, they said.
Dr Ian Meehan, a senior lecturer in evolutionary biology at the University, said that the findings were interesting, and said that there are many ways that we can look at how genes are linked to the formation and survival of species.
“These results may help us understand how species evolve in the past,” he said, “but also show how the effects of evolution can be replicated in other ways, so that the changes we see in the present can also be seen in the distant past.”
Dr Meehans work is part of a project funded by the Natural History Museum and the European Science Foundation (ESF).