Bats add their voice to the FOXP2 story

Sep 19, 2007

When it comes to the FOXP2 gene, humans have had most to shout about. Discoveries that mutations in this gene lead to speech defects and that the gene underwent changes around the time language evolved both implicate FOXP2 in the evolution of human language. More recently, patterns of gene expression in birds, humans and rodents have suggested a wider role in the production of vocalisations.

Yet numerous reports have established that FOXP2 shows very little genetic variation across even distantly related vertebrates - from reptiles to mammals – providing few extra clues as to the gene’s role.

A new study, undertaken by a joint of team of British and Chinese scientists, has found that this gene shows unparalleled variation in echolocating bats. The results, appearing in a study published in the online, open-access journal PLoS ONE on September 19, report that FOXP2 sequence differences among bat lineages correspond well to contrasting forms of echolocation.

Like speech, bat echolocation involves producing complex vocal signals via sophisticated coordination of the mouth and face. The involvement of FOXP2 in the evolution of echolocation adds weighty support to the theory that FOXP2 functions in the sensory-motor coordination of vocalisations.

Citation: Li G, Wang J, Rossiter SJ, Jones G, Zhang S (2007) Accelerated FoxP2 Evolution in Echolocating Bats. PLoS ONE 2(9): e900. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0000900

Source: Public Library of Science

Explore further: Biologists demonstrate how signals in plant roots determine the activity of stem cells

Related Stories

A bird's song may teach us about human speech disorders

Mar 06, 2012

(PhysOrg.com) -- Can the song of a small bird provide valuable insights into human stuttering and speech-related disorders and conditions, including autism and stroke? New research by UCLA life scientists ...

Recommended for you

Bacterial tenants in fungal quarters

5 hours ago

Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich researchers have sequenced the genome of a bacterial symbiont hosted by a mycorrhizal fungus. Analysis of the symbiont's genetic endowment reveals previously unknown ...

Natural enzyme examined as antibiotics alternative

8 hours ago

In 1921, Alexander Fleming discovered the antimicrobial powers of the enzyme lysozyme after observing diminished bacterial growth in a Petri dish where a drop from his runny nose had fallen. The famed Scottish ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.