Friday Quote: Good stuff

Despite the common view that a causal link exists between complexity at the genomic and organismal levels, little thought has gone into the mechanisms that are responsible for the origin of the fundamental features of the eukaryotic genome. Using population-genetic principles as a guide to understanding the evolution of duplicate genes, introns, mobile-genetic elements, and regulatory-region complexity, our work is advancing the hypothesis that much of eukaryotic genomic complexity initially evolved as a passive indirect response to reduced population size (relative to the situation in prokaryotes).

One of the primary goals of our work on gene duplication is to explain the shortcomings of the classical model, which postulates that the usual fates of duplicated genes are either conversion to a nonfunctional pseudogene or acquisition of a new function. We believe that duplicate genes are frequently preserved through a partitioning of functions of ancestral genes, rather than by the evolution of new functions. We have developed methods to estimate the rate of origin and loss of duplicate genes, and are currently extending this work to understand the evolutionary dynamics of duplication spans internal to genes. Our empirical work on the evolutionary fates of duplicate genes is focused on the genomes in the Paramecium aurelia complex, which are products of an ancient polyploidization event that appear to have generated a species radiation.

In addition, we have recently shown that the modular regulatory-region architecture common in eukaryotes can spontaneously emerge in populations of sufficiently small size. These results, along with our theoretical work on network evolution, challenge the popular idea that modularity arises as a direct consequence of selection for morphological complexity, and by extension raise questions about the common assumption that natural selection was responsible for the emergence of multicellularity.

Michael Lynch

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4 responses to “Friday Quote: Good stuff

  1. Mike,
    you used to have a post on cAMP and the flight and fight response with G-proteins and whatnot.
    I can’t find it anywhere. Do you still have that one?

  2. is Teleologic gone for good?

    Any chance you’ll re-make a repository where alot of your old postings can be found. In a similar manner like you used to have there?

  3. I’ll try to re-post that essay here sometime in the near future.

  4. Kick ass!

    You’re the best, Mike.

    PS – it’s Scatman 🙂

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