Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

New Method Can Reveal Ancestry Of All Genes Across Many Different Genomes

Date:
September 17, 2007
Source:
Massachusetts Institute Of Technology
Summary:
The wheels of evolution turn on genetic innovation -- new genes with new functions appear, allowing organisms to grow and adapt in new ways. But deciphering the history of how and when various genes appeared, for any organism, has been a difficult and largely intractable task.

A scanning electron micrograph of one of the seventeen fungal species analyzed in the study.
Credit: Image courtesy / Janice Carr, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

The wheels of evolution turn on genetic innovation -- new genes with new functions appear, allowing organisms to grow and adapt in new ways. But deciphering the history of how and when various genes appeared, for any organism, has been a difficult and largely intractable task.

Related Articles


Now a team led by scientists at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard has broken new ground by developing a method, described in the September 6 advance online edition of Nature, that can reveal the ancestry of all genes across many different genomes. First applied to 17 species of fungi, the approach has unearthed some surprising clues about why new genes pop up in the first place and the biological nips and tucks that bolster their survival.

"Having the ability to trace the history of genes on a genomic scale opens the doors to a vast array of interesting and largely unexplored scientific questions," said senior author Aviv Regev, an assistant professor of biology at MIT and a core member of the Broad Institute. Although the principles laid out in the study pertain to fungi, they could have relevance to a variety of other species as well.

It has been recognized for decades that new genes first arise as carbon copies of existing genes. It is thought that this replication allows one of the gene copies to persist normally, while giving the other the freedom to acquire novel biological functions. Though the importance of this so-called gene duplication process is well appreciated -- it is the grist for the mill of evolutionary change -- the actual mechanics have remained murky, in part because scientists have lacked the tools to study it systematically.

Driven by the recent explosion of whole genome sequence data, the authors of the new study were able to assemble a natural history of more than 100,000 genes belonging to a group of fungi known as the Ascomycota. From this, the researchers gained a detailed view of gene duplication across the genomes of 17 different species of fungi, including the laboratory model Saccharomyces cerevisiae, commonly known as baker's yeast.

The basis for the work comes from a new method termed "SYNERGY", which first author Ilan Wapinski and his coworkers developed to help them reconstruct the ancestry of each fungal gene. By tracing a gene's lineage through various species, the method helps determine in which species the gene first arose, and if -- and in what species -- it became duplicated or even lost altogether. SYNERGY draws its strength from the use of multiple types of data, including the evolutionary or "phylogenetic" tree that depicts how species are related to each other, and the DNA sequences and relative positions of genes along the genome.

Perhaps most importantly, the method does not tackle the problem of gene origins in one fell swoop, as has typically been done, but rather breaks it into discrete, more manageable bits. Instead of treating all species at once, SYNERGY first focuses on a pair of the most recently evolved species -- those at the outer branches of the tree -- and works, two-by-two, toward the more ancestral species that comprise the roots.

From this analysis, Regev and her colleagues were able to identify a set of core principles that govern gene duplication in fungi. The findings begin to paint a picture of how new genes are groomed over hundreds of millions of years of evolution.

The study was supported by grants from the Burroughs Wellcome Fund and the National Institute of General Medical Sciences.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Massachusetts Institute Of Technology. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Massachusetts Institute Of Technology. "New Method Can Reveal Ancestry Of All Genes Across Many Different Genomes." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 17 September 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/09/070911155206.htm>.
Massachusetts Institute Of Technology. (2007, September 17). New Method Can Reveal Ancestry Of All Genes Across Many Different Genomes. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 27, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/09/070911155206.htm
Massachusetts Institute Of Technology. "New Method Can Reveal Ancestry Of All Genes Across Many Different Genomes." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/09/070911155206.htm (accessed January 27, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Fossils & Ruins News

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Gallery Takes Two Years to Carefully Repair Hole Punched in $12 Million Monet

Gallery Takes Two Years to Carefully Repair Hole Punched in $12 Million Monet

Buzz60 (Jan. 26, 2015) — An Irish art gallery details the extensive surgery a priceless Monet underwent after being punched by some crazy Irish guy. Jen Markham (@jenmarkham) has the story. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
India Clears Cows, Dogs, Dust for Obama Taj Mahal Trip

India Clears Cows, Dogs, Dust for Obama Taj Mahal Trip

AFP (Jan. 23, 2015) — Preparations are under way at the Taj Mahal ahead of a visit by Barack and Michelle Obama. Duration: 01:11 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Lincoln Collection to Be Auctioned in Dallas

Lincoln Collection to Be Auctioned in Dallas

AP (Jan. 23, 2015) — Hundreds of pieces of Lincoln memorabilia collected by a Fort Worth, Texas businessman are set to be auctioned this weekend. (Jan. 23) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Phones Used 100 Years Ago on Display

Phones Used 100 Years Ago on Display

AP (Jan. 22, 2015) — The phones used to make the world&apos;s first coast-to-coast conference call 100 years ago have been put on display at the California Historical Society&apos;s 1915 World&apos;s Fair exhibit space in San Francisco. (Jan. 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

    Health News

    Environment News

    Technology News



    Save/Print:
    Share:  

    Free Subscriptions


    Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

    Get Social & Mobile


    Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

    Have Feedback?


    Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
    Mobile iPhone Android Web
    Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
    Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
    Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins