Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Reconstruction of prehistoric DNA refutes criticism on theory of evolution

Date:
December 11, 2012
Source:
VIB
Summary:
Scientists have succeeded in reconstructing DNA and proteins from prehistoric yeast cells. This made it possible to determine how genes developed and evolved into their current form over more than 100 million years.

Scientists from VIB, KU Leuven, UGent and Harvard have succeeded in reconstructing DNA and proteins from prehistoric yeast cells. This made it possible to determine how genes developed and evolved into their current form over more than 100 million years.

Kevin Verstrepen (VIB/KU Leuven) said: "These results provide answers to an argument frequently used by opponents of the theory of evolution: the chance of the occurrence of a new characteristic -a functional new segment of DNA -- from scratch is similar to the chance of a modern jumbo jet assembling spontaneously from a few pieces of scrap metal… Many scientists have proposed that the new functional DNA does not appear out of thin air, but is built up gradually from a copy of an existing segment of functional DNA. By reconstructing a piece of prehistoric DNA that was copied several times during evolution, we were able to investigate the changes that occur in each of the copies and which gradually lead to new functions."

Characteristics from nothing

An important unanswered question in Darwin's theory of evolution is how new characteristics seem to appear out of nowhere. Such innovations appear to contradict the principle of gradual change, in which existing characteristics slowly evolve into another form. Yet we know that may "inventions" took place during the evolution of life.

We do not know which processes form the basis of this "evolutionary innovation." One of the biggest problems is that virtually no prehistoric DNA sequences or proteins have been conserved, so that it is not possible to examine how these ancient versions differ from the current versions. This prevents us from understanding how new sections of DNA and new proteins developed.

Rebuilding prehistoric DNA and proteins

Using a combination of the latest techniques in biology, the scientists Karin Voordeckers, Chris Brown and Kevin Verstrepen from VIB in Leuven, together with Steven Maere (VIB/UGent) succeeded in rebuilding the DNA and proteins of prehistoric yeast cells.

Steven Maere said, "We used sequence reconstruction algorithms to predict the DNA sequence of ancestral genes from dozens of present-day DNA sequences. This enabled us to rebuild the corresponding ancestral proteins."

Karin Voordeckers said, "We searched very specifically for how the yeast adapted to break down various sources of sugar. We found that the primal gene that codes for the protein for the digestion of maltose -- a sugar in grain -- was copied a number of times during evolution. The DNA of some copies changed slightly, resulting in new proteins that could break down different sugars. By modeling these changes in the corresponding proteins, we now understand how just a few changes in the DNA can lead to the development of new activity in the corresponding proteins."

The scientists think that this type of duplication of the DNA often forms the basis of the emergence of apparently "new" proteins. In other words: the jumbo jet is gradually built from a copy of an existing airplane.


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. Karin Voordeckers, Chris A. Brown, Kevin Vanneste, Elisa van der Zande, Arnout Voet, Steven Maere, Kevin J. Verstrepen. Reconstruction of Ancestral Metabolic Enzymes Reveals Molecular Mechanisms Underlying Evolutionary Innovation through Gene Duplication. PLoS Biology, 2012; 10 (12): e1001446 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pbio.1001446

Cite This Page:

VIB. "Reconstruction of prehistoric DNA refutes criticism on theory of evolution." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 11 December 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/12/121210200440.htm>.
VIB. (2012, December 11). Reconstruction of prehistoric DNA refutes criticism on theory of evolution. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/12/121210200440.htm
VIB. "Reconstruction of prehistoric DNA refutes criticism on theory of evolution." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/12/121210200440.htm (accessed April 20, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Mich. Boy Unearths 10,000-Year-Old Mastodon Tooth

Mich. Boy Unearths 10,000-Year-Old Mastodon Tooth

Newsy (Apr. 20, 2014) A 9-year-old Michigan boy was exploring a creek when he came across a 10,000-year-old tooth from a prehistoric mastodon. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Vermont Goat Meat Gives Refugees Taste of Home

Vermont Goat Meat Gives Refugees Taste of Home

AP (Apr. 18, 2014) Dairy farmers and ethnic groups in Vermont are both benefiting from a unique collaborative effort that's feeding a growing need for fresh and affordable goat meat. (April 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Man Claims He Found Loch Ness Monster With... Apple Maps?

Man Claims He Found Loch Ness Monster With... Apple Maps?

Newsy (Apr. 18, 2014) Andy Dixon showed the Daily Mail a screenshot of what he believes to be the mythical beast swimming just below the lake's surface. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
First Ever 'Female Penis' Discovered In Animal Kingdom

First Ever 'Female Penis' Discovered In Animal Kingdom

Newsy (Apr. 18, 2014) Not only are these newly discovered bugs' sex organs reversed, but they also mate for up to 70 hours. Video provided by Newsy
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:

More Coverage


Resurrection of Extinct Enzymes Reveals Evolutionary Strategy for the Invention of New Functions

Dec. 11, 2012 How does evolution innovate? By reconstructing DNA and proteins from prehistoric yeast cells, scientists have been able to directly examine the evolutionary forces that have acted over the last 100 ... read more
from the past week

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