Many genes relatively new, scientists find
|April 29, 2014||Posted by News under Evolution, Genomics, Genetics|
Science writer Carl Zimmer in the New York Times on recent discoveries in the ongoing evolution of genes:
New genes were long thought to derive from duplications or mistakes in older genes. But small mutations can also form new genes from scratch.
For some scientists, like Dr. Tautz, the data pointed to an inescapable conclusion: Orphan genes had not been passed down through the generations for billions of years. They had come into existence much later.
“It’s almost like Sherlock Holmes,” said Dr. Tautz, citing the detective’s famous dictum: “When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.”
Dr. Begun and his colleagues renamed orphan genes “de novo genes,” from the Latin for new. He found that many of his fellow scientists weren’t ready to accept this idea.
Can’t think why not, can you? 😉
While many de novo genes ultimately vanish, some cling to existence and take on essential jobs. Dr. Tautz said the rise of these genes might be as important a factor in evolution as gene duplication.
Now how will this affect attempts to construct evolutionary histories via genome mapping?
More Zimmer on the genome:
One gets the impression that the guy who thought our genomes were in some sense “us” spoke too quickly.
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