Cells are the building blocks of life and have witnessed many exciting phases of evolution. Over this period, since the beginning of life several million years ago, the functionalities of the cell and its organelles have become sophisticated. Cells have also evolved smarter ways to address common challenges and one of them is the acidification of the enzymes found inside cells. While this acidic environment serves many well known functions, a new study shares an interesting hypothesis on the reason behind the acidic pH -- detecting leaks in the cell. Since synthesis of enzymes is an expensive process, the study argues that cells use the acidic medium to detect possible leaks, thus saving energy in the process.
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Evolutionary changes are manifested in natural populations over many generations, which makes it difficult to observe evolution in real-time. Nevertheless, there are many evolutionary biologists who are keen to understand the intricacies of this process and Prof. N G Prasad from the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER), Mohali is one of them. Recently, Prof. Prasad and his colleagues published a study based on how fruit flies respond to crowding during larval stages of development.