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What Is the Tree of Life?

What Is the Tree of Life? | Evolution baby!! | Scoop.it
A universal Tree of Life (TOL) has long been a goal of molecular phylogeneticists, but reticulation at the level of genes and possibly at the levels of cells and species renders any simple interpretation of such a TOL, especially as applied to prokaryotes, problematic.
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Genome sequencing of the phytoseiid predatory mite Metaseiulus occidentalis reveals completely atomised Hox genes and super-dynamic intron evolution

Genome sequencing of the phytoseiid predatory mite Metaseiulus occidentalis reveals completely atomised Hox genes and super-dynamic intron evolution | Evolution baby!! | Scoop.it
Metaseiulus occidentalis is an eyeless phytoseiid predatory mite employed for the biological control of agricultural pests including spider mites. Despite appearances, these predator and prey mites are separated by some 400 million years of evolution and radically different lifestyles. We present a 152 Mbp draft assembly of the M. occidentalis genome: larger than that of its favoured prey, Tetranychus urticae, but considerably smaller than those of many other chelicerates, enabling an extremely contiguous and complete assembly to be built – the best arachnid to date. Aided by transcriptome data, genome annotation catalogued 18,338 protein-coding genes and identified large numbers of Helitron transposable elements. Comparisons with other arthropods revealed a particularly dynamic and turbulent genomic evolutionary history. Its genes exhibit elevated molecular evolution, with strikingly high numbers of intron gains and losses, in stark contrast to the deer tick Ixodes scapularis. Uniquely amongst examined arthropods, this predatory mite’s Hox genes are completely atomised, dispersed across the genome, and it encodes five copies of the normally single-copy RNA processing Dicer-2 gene. Examining gene families linked to characteristic biological traits of this tiny predator provides initial insights into processes of sex determination, development, immune defence, and how it detects, disables, and digests its prey. As the first reference genome for the Phytoseiidae, and for any species with the rare sex determination system of parahaploidy, the genome of the western orchard predatory mite improves genomic sampling of chelicerates and provides invaluable new resources for functional genomic analyses of this family of agriculturally important mites.
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Birth of a new gene on the Y chromosome of Drosophila melanogaster

Birth of a new gene on the Y chromosome of Drosophila melanogaster | Evolution baby!! | Scoop.it
Mammalian Y chromosomes are believed to evolve mainly through gene inactivation and loss. Drosophila Y chromosomes seem to not obey this rule, as gene gains are the dominating force in their evolution. Here we describe flagrante delicto Y (FDY), a very young gene that shows how Y-linked genes were acquired. FDY originated 2 million years ago from a duplication of a contiguous autosomal segment of 11 kb containing five genes that inserted into the Y chromosome. Four of these autosome-to-Y gene copies became inactivated (“pseudogenes”), lost part of their sequences, and most likely will disappear in the next few million years. FDY, originally a female-biased gene, acquired testis expression and remained functional.
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The genome sequence of Saccharomyces eubayanus and the domestication of lager-brewing yeasts

The genome sequence of Saccharomyces eubayanus and the domestication of lager-brewing yeasts | Evolution baby!! | Scoop.it
The dramatic phenotypic changes that occur in organisms during domestication leave indelible imprints on their genomes. Although many domesticated plants and animals have been systematically compared to their wild genetic stocks, the molecular and genomic processes underlying fungal domestication have received less attention. Here we present a nearly complete genome assembly for the recently described yeast species Saccharomyces eubayanus and compare it to the genomes of multiple domesticated alloploid hybrids of S. eubayanus x S. cerevisiae (S. pastorianus syn. S. carlsbergensis), which are used to brew lager-style beers. We find that the S. eubayanus subgenomes of lager-brewing yeasts have experienced increased rates of evolution since hybridization, and that certain genes involved in metabolism may have been particularly affected. Interestingly, the S. eubayanus subgenome underwent an especially strong shift in selection regimes, consistent with more extensive domestication of the S. cerevisiae parent prior to hybridization. In contrast to recent proposals that lager-brewing yeasts were domesticated following a single hybridization event, the radically different neutral site divergences between the subgenomes of the two major lager yeast lineages strongly favor at least two independent origins for the S. cerevisiae x S. eubayanus hybrids that brew lager beers. Our findings demonstrate how this industrially important hybrid has been domesticated along similar evolutionary trajectories on multiple occasions.
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PLOS Genetics: The Philosophical Approach: An Interview with Ford Doolittle

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Does evolutionary theory need a rethink?

Does evolutionary theory need a rethink? | Evolution baby!! | Scoop.it
Researchers are divided over what processes should be considered fundamental.
Gabriel Wallau's insight:

Well after reading so good reasoning I could no agree more with "Does evolutionary theory need a rethink? No, all is well"

 

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Evolution in an Ancient Detoxification Pathway Is Coupled with a Transition to Herbivory in the Drosophilidae

Evolution in an Ancient Detoxification Pathway Is Coupled with a Transition to Herbivory in the Drosophilidae | Evolution baby!! | Scoop.it
Gabriel Wallau's insight:

Chemically defended plant tissues present formidable barriers to herbivores. Although mechanisms to resist plant defenses have been identified in ancient herbivorous lineages, adaptations to overcome plant defenses during transitions to herbivory remain relatively unexplored. The fly genus Scaptomyza is nested within the genusDrosophila and includes species that feed on the living tissue of mustard plants (Brassicaceae), yet this lineage is derived from microbe-feeding ancestors. We found that mustard-feeding Scaptomyza species and microbe-feeding Drosophila melanogaster detoxify mustard oils, the primary chemical defenses in the Brassicaceae, using the widely conserved mercapturic acid pathway. This detoxification strategy differs from other specialist herbivores of mustard plants, which possess derived mechanisms to obviate mustard oil formation. To investigate whether mustard feeding is coupled with evolution in the mercapturic acid pathway, we profiled functional and molecular evolutionary changes in the enzyme glutathione S-transferase D1 (GSTD1), which catalyzes the first step of the mercapturic acid pathway and is induced by mustard defense products in Scaptomyza. GSTD1 acquired elevated activity against mustard oils in one mustard-feeding Scaptomyzaspecies in which GstD1 was duplicated. Structural analysis and mutagenesis revealed that substitutions at conserved residues within and near the substrate-binding cleft account for most of this increase in activity against mustard oils. Functional evolution of GSTD1 was coupled with signatures of episodic positive selection in GstD1 after the evolution of herbivory. Overall, we found that preexisting functions of generalized detoxification systems, and their refinement by natural selection, could play a central role in the evolution of herbivory.

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Universal pacemaker of genome evolution in animals and fungi and variation of evolutionary rates in diverse organisms

Universal pacemaker of genome evolution in animals and fungi and variation of evolutionary rates in diverse organisms | Evolution baby!! | Scoop.it
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Journal of Biomedical Science | Full text | DNA transposon-based gene vehicles - scenes from an evolutionary drive

DNA transposons are primitive genetic elements which have colonized living organisms from plants to bacteria and mammals. Through evolution such parasitic elements have shaped their host genomes by replicating and relocating between chromosomal loci in processes catalyzed by the transposase proteins encoded by the elements themselves. DNA transposable elements are constantly adapting to life in the genome, and self-suppressive regulation as well as defensive host mechanisms may assist in buffering ‘cut-and-paste’ DNA mobilization until accumulating mutations will eventually restrict events of transposition. With the reconstructed Sleeping Beauty DNA transposon as a powerful engine, a growing list of transposable elements with activity in human cells have moved into biomedical experimentation and preclinical therapy as versatile vehicles for delivery and genomic insertion of transgenes. In this review, we aim to link the mechanisms that drive transposon evolution with the realities and potential challenges we are facing when adapting DNA transposons for gene transfer. We argue that DNA transposon-derived vectors may carry inherent, and potentially limiting, traits of their mother elements. By understanding in detail the evolutionary journey of transposons, from host colonization to element multiplication and inactivation, we may better exploit the potential of distinct transposable elements. Hence, parallel efforts to investigate and develop distinct, but potent, transposon-based vector systems will benefit the broad applications of gene transfer. Insight and clever optimization have shaped new DNA transposon vectors, which recently debuted in the first DNA transposon-based clinical trial. Learning from an evolutionary drive may help us create gene vehicles that are safer, more efficient, and less prone for suppression and inactivation.
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Horizontal Transfer of Entire Genomes via Mitochondrial Fusion in the Angiosperm Amborella

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We report the complete mitochondrial genome sequence of the flowering plant Amborella trichopoda. This enormous, 3.9-megabase genome contains six genome equivalents of foreign mitochondrial DNA, acquired from green algae, mosses, and other angiosperms. Many of these horizontal transfers were large, including acquisition of entire mitochondrial genomes from three green algae and one moss. We propose a fusion-compatibility model to explain these findings, with Amborella capturing whole mitochondria from diverse eukaryotes, followed by mitochondrial fusion (limited mechanistically to green plant mitochondria) and then genome recombination. Amborella’s epiphyte load, propensity to produce suckers from wounds, and low rate of mitochondrial DNA loss probably all contribute to the high level of foreign DNA in its mitochondrial genome.

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Trends in Ecology and Evolution - Genome sequencing and population genomics in non-model organisms

Trends in Ecology and Evolution - Genome sequencing and population genomics in non-model organisms | Evolution baby!! | Scoop.it
Gabriel Wallau's insight:

High-throughput sequencing technologies are revolutionizing the life sciences. The past 12 months have seen a burst of genome sequences from non-model organisms, in each case representing a fundamental source of data of significant importance to biological research. This has bearing on several aspects of evolutionary biology, and we are now beginning to see patterns emerging from these studies. These include significant heterogeneity in the rate of recombination that affects adaptive evolution and base composition, the role of population size in adaptive evolution, and the importance of expansion of gene families in lineage-specific adaptation. Moreover, resequencing of population samples (population genomics) has enabled the identification of the genetic basis of critical phenotypes and cast light on the landscape of genomic divergence during speciation.

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BMC Genomics | Abstract | Functional requirements driving the gene duplication in 12 Drosophila species

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Background

Gene duplication supplies the raw materials for novel gene functions and many gene families arisen from duplication experience adaptive evolution. Most studies of young duplicates have focused on mammals, especially humans, whereas reports describing their genome-wide evolutionary patterns across the closely related Drosophila species are rare. The sequenced 12 Drosophila genomes provide the opportunity to address this issue.

Results

In our study, 3,647 young duplicate gene families were identified across the 12 Drosophila species and three types of expansions, species-specific, lineage-specific and complex expansions, were detected in these gene families. Our data showed that the species-specific young duplicate genes predominated (86.6%) over the other two types. Interestingly, many independent species-specific expansions in the same gene family have been observed in many species, even including 11 or 12 Drosophila species. Our data also showed that the functional bias observed in these young duplicate genes was mainly related to responses to environmental stimuli and biotic stresses.

Conclusions

This study reveals the evolutionary patterns of young duplicates across 12 Drosophila species on a genomic scale. Our results suggest that convergent evolution acts on young duplicate genes after the species differentiation and adaptive evolution may play an important role in duplicate genes for adaption to ecological factors and environmental changes in Drosophila.

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MIMIVIRE is a defence system in mimivirus that confers resistance to virophage : Nature : Nature Publishing Group

MIMIVIRE is a defence system in mimivirus that confers resistance to virophage : Nature : Nature Publishing Group | Evolution baby!! | Scoop.it
Since their discovery, giant viruses have revealed several unique features that challenge the conventional definition of a virus, such as their large and complex genomes, their infection by virophages and their presence of transferable short element transpovirons1, 2, 3, 4, 5. Here we investigate the sensitivity of mimivirus to virophage infection in a collection of 59 viral strains and demonstrate lineage specificity in the resistance of mimivirus to Zamilon6, a unique virophage that can infect lineages B and C of mimivirus but not lineage A. We hypothesized that mimiviruses harbour a defence mechanism resembling the clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeat (CRISPR)-Cas system that is widely present in bacteria and archaea7, 8, 9, 10. We performed de novo sequencing of 45 new mimivirus strains and searched for sequences specific to Zamilon in a total of 60 mimivirus genomes. We found that lineage A strains are resistant to Zamilon and contain the insertion of a repeated Zamilon sequence within an operon, here named the ‘mimivirus virophage resistance element’ (MIMIVIRE). Further analyses of the surrounding sequences showed that this locus is reminiscent of a defence mechanism related to the CRISPR–Cas system. Silencing the repeated sequence and the MIMIVIRE genes restores mimivirus susceptibility to Zamilon. The MIMIVIRE proteins possess the typical functions (nuclease and helicase) involved in the degradation of foreign nucleic acids. The viral defence system, MIMIVIRE, represents a nucleic-acid-based immunity against virophage infection.
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Horizontal DNA Transfer Mechanisms of Bacteria as Weapons of Intragenomic Conflict

Horizontal DNA Transfer Mechanisms of Bacteria as Weapons of Intragenomic Conflict | Evolution baby!! | Scoop.it
Horizontal DNA transfer (HDT) is a pervasive mechanism of diversification in many microbial species, but its primary evolutionary role remains controversial. Much recent research has emphasised the adaptive benefit of acquiring novel DNA, but here we argue instead that intragenomic conflict provides a coherent framework for understanding the evolutionary origins of HDT. To test this hypothesis, we developed a mathematical model of a clonally descended bacterial population undergoing HDT through transmission of mobile genetic elements (MGEs) and genetic transformation. Including the known bias of transformation toward the acquisition of shorter alleles into the model suggested it could be an effective means of counteracting the spread of MGEs. Both constitutive and transient competence for transformation were found to provide an effective defence against parasitic MGEs; transient competence could also be effective at permitting the selective spread of MGEs conferring a benefit on their host bacterium. The coordination of transient competence with cell–cell killing, observed in multiple species, was found to result in synergistic blocking of MGE transmission through releasing genomic DNA for homologous recombination while simultaneously reducing horizontal MGE spread by lowering the local cell density. To evaluate the feasibility of the functions suggested by the modelling analysis, we analysed genomic data from longitudinal sampling of individuals carrying Streptococcus pneumoniae. This revealed the frequent within-host coexistence of clonally descended cells that differed in their MGE infection status, a necessary condition for the proposed mechanism to operate. Additionally, we found multiple examples of MGEs inhibiting transformation through integrative disruption of genes encoding the competence machinery across many species, providing evidence of an ongoing “arms race.” Reduced rates of transformation have also been observed in cells infected by MGEs that reduce the concentration of extracellular DNA through secretion of DNases. Simulations predicted that either mechanism of limiting transformation would benefit individual MGEs, but also that this tactic’s effectiveness was limited by competition with other MGEs coinfecting the same cell. A further observed behaviour we hypothesised to reduce elimination by transformation was MGE activation when cells become competent. Our model predicted that this response was effective at counteracting transformation independently of competing MGEs. Therefore, this framework is able to explain both common properties of MGEs, and the seemingly paradoxical bacterial behaviours of transformation and cell–cell killing within clonally related populations, as the consequences of intragenomic conflict between self-replicating chromosomes and parasitic MGEs. The antagonistic nature of the different mechanisms of HDT over short timescales means their contribution to bacterial evolution is likely to be substantially greater than previously appreciated.
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How does the immune system tolerate food?

How does the immune system tolerate food? | Evolution baby!! | Scoop.it
The gastrointestinal immune system (gut-associated lymphoid tissue) has the unique capacity to discriminate between harmless and potentially dangerous material. It can raise a protective response against pathogenic microbes and toxins while tolerating food antigens and commensal microbes. This is a challenge given the vast number of foreign antigens, mainly derived from food (>100 g of protein per day), and commensal microbes colonizing the gut (an estimated 100 trillion, 10 times the number of cells in the human body). Dysfunction of this delicate balance between immunity and tolerance can lead to pathologies such as food allergy, autoimmune diseases, and infections. On page 858 of this issue, Kim et al. (1) show that dietary antigens trigger the generation of a regulatory T (Treg) cell type in the small intestine that suppresses immune responses to food. These Treg cells are phenotypically and functionally distinct from those in the colon that suppress immune responses to commensal microbes (2, 3)
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Symbioses Becoming Permanent: The Origins and Evolutionary Trajectories of Organelles Sackler Colloquium (Free Online)

Symbioses Becoming Permanent: The Origins and Evolutionary Trajectories of Organelles Sackler Colloquium (Free Online) | Evolution baby!! | Scoop.it
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Inferring Horizontal Gene Transfer

Inferring Horizontal Gene Transfer | Evolution baby!! | Scoop.it
Horizontal or Lateral Gene Transfer (HGT or LGT) is the transmission of portions of genomic DNA between organisms through a process decoupled from vertical inheritance. In the presence of HGT events, different fragments of the genome are the result of different evolutionary histories. This can therefore complicate the investigations of evolutionary relatedness of lineages and species. Also, as HGT can bring into genomes radically different genotypes from distant lineages, or even new genes bearing new functions, it is a major source of phenotypic innovation and a mechanism of niche adaptation. For example, of particular relevance to human health is the lateral transfer of antibiotic resistance and pathogenicity determinants, leading to the emergence of pathogenic lineages [1]. Computational identification of HGT events relies upon the investigation of sequence composition or evolutionary history of genes. Sequence composition-based ("parametric") methods search for deviations from the genomic average, whereas evolutionary history-based ("phylogenetic") approaches identify genes whose evolutionary history significantly differs from that of the host species. The evaluation and benchmarking of HGT inference methods typically rely upon simulated genomes, for which the true history is known. On real data, different methods tend to infer different HGT events, and as a result it can be difficult to ascertain all but simple and clear-cut HGT events.
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Evolution of herbivory in Drosophilidae linked to loss of behaviors, antennal responses, odorant receptors, and ancestral diet

Evolution of herbivory in Drosophilidae linked to loss of behaviors, antennal responses, odorant receptors, and ancestral diet | Evolution baby!! | Scoop.it
Herbivory is a key innovation in insects, yet has only evolved in one-third of living orders. The evolution of herbivory likely involves major behavioral changes mediated by remodeling of canonical chemosensory modules. Herbivorous flies in the genus Scaptomyza (Drosophilidae) are compelling species in which to study the genomic architecture linked to the transition to herbivory because they recently evolved from microbe-feeding ancestors and are closely related to Drosophila melanogaster. We found that Scaptomyza flava, a leaf-mining specialist on plants in the family (Brassicaceae), was not attracted to yeast volatiles in a four-field olfactometer assay, whereas D. melanogaster was strongly attracted to these volatiles. Yeast-associated volatiles, especially short-chain aliphatic esters, elicited strong antennal responses in D. melanogaster, but weak antennal responses in electroantennographic recordings from S. flava. We sequenced the genome of S. flava and characterized this species’ odorant receptor repertoire. Orthologs of odorant receptors, which detect yeast volatiles in D. melanogaster and mediate critical host-choice behavior, were deleted or pseudogenized in the genome of S. flava. These genes were lost step-wise during the evolution of Scaptomyza. Additionally, Scaptomyza has experienced gene duplication and likely positive selection in paralogs of Or67b in D. melanogaster. Olfactory sensory neurons expressing Or67b are sensitive to green-leaf volatiles. Major trophic shifts in insects are associated with chemoreceptor gene loss as recently evolved ecologies shape sensory repertoires.
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Comparative Phylogenomics Uncovers the Impact of Symbiotic Associations on Host Genome Evolution

Comparative Phylogenomics Uncovers the Impact of Symbiotic Associations on Host Genome Evolution | Evolution baby!! | Scoop.it
PLOS Genetics is an open-access
Gabriel Wallau's insight:

Mutualistic symbioses between eukaryotes and beneficial microorganisms of their microbiome play an essential role in nutrition, protection against disease, and development of the host. However, the impact of beneficial symbionts on the evolution of host genomes remains poorly characterized. Here we used the independent loss of the most widespread plant–microbe symbiosis, arbuscular mycorrhization (AM), as a model to address this question. Using a large phenotypic approach and phylogenetic analyses, we present evidence that loss of AM symbiosis correlates with the loss of many symbiotic genes in the Arabidopsis lineage (Brassicales). Then, by analyzing the genome and/or transcriptomes of nine other phylogenetically divergent non-host plants, we show that this correlation occurred in a convergent manner in four additional plant lineages, demonstrating the existence of an evolutionary pattern specific to symbiotic genes. Finally, we use a global comparative phylogenomic approach to track this evolutionary pattern among land plants. Based on this approach, we identify a set of 174 highly conserved genes and demonstrate enrichment in symbiosis-related genes. Our findings are consistent with the hypothesis that beneficial symbionts maintain purifying selection on host gene networks during the evolution of entire lineages.

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BMC Evolutionary Biology | Abstract | A recently transferred cluster of bacterial genes in Trichomonas vaginalis - lateral gene transfer and the fate of acquired genes

Lateral Gene Transfer (LGT) has recently gained recognition as an important contributor to some eukaryote proteomes, but the mechanisms of acquisition and fixation in eukaryotic genomes are still uncertain. A previously defined norm for LGTs in microbial eukaryotes states that the majority are genes involved in metabolism, the LGTs are typically localized one by one, surrounded by vertically inherited genes on the chromosome, and phylogenetics shows that a broad collection of bacterial lineages have contributed to the transferome.
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Interkingdom transfer of the acne causing agent, Propionibacterium acnes, from human to grapevine

Interkingdom transfer of the acne causing agent, Propionibacterium acnes, from human to grapevine | Evolution baby!! | Scoop.it
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Origin and Spread of de Novo Genes in Drosophila melanogaster Populations

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Comparative genomic analyses have revealed that genes may arise from ancestrally nongenic sequence. However, the origin and spread of these de novo genes within populations remain obscure. We identified 142 segregating and 106 fixed testis-expressed de novo genes in a population sample of Drosophila melanogaster. These genes appear to derive primarily from ancestral intergenic, unexpressed open reading frames, with natural selection playing a significant role in their spread. These results reveal a heretofore unappreciated dynamism of gene content.

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PLOS Genetics: De Novo ORFs in Drosophila Are Important to Organismal Fitness and Evolved Rapidly from Previously Non-coding Sequences

PLOS Genetics: De Novo ORFs in Drosophila Are Important to Organismal Fitness and Evolved Rapidly from Previously Non-coding Sequences | Evolution baby!! | Scoop.it
PLOS Genetics is an open-access
Gabriel Wallau's insight:

How non-coding DNA gives rise to new protein-coding genes (de novo genes) is not well understood. Recent work has revealed the origins and functions of a few de novo genes, but common principles governing the evolution or biological roles of these genes are unknown. To better define these principles, we performed a parallel analysis of the evolution and function of six putatively protein-coding de novo genes described in Drosophila melanogaster. Reconstruction of the transcriptional history of de novo genes shows that two de novo genes emerged from novel long non-coding RNAs that arose at least 5 MY prior to evolution of an open reading frame. In contrast, four other de novo genes evolved a translated open reading frame and transcription within the same evolutionary interval suggesting that nascent open reading frames (proto-ORFs), while not required, can contribute to the emergence of a new de novo gene. However, none of the genes arose from proto-ORFs that existed long before expression evolved. Sequence and structural evolution of de novo genes was rapid compared to nearby genes and the structural complexity of de novo genes steadily increases over evolutionary time. Despite the fact that these genes are transcribed at a higher level in males than females, and are most strongly expressed in testes, RNAi experiments show that most of these genes are essential in both sexes during metamorphosis. This lethality suggests that protein coding de novo genes in Drosophila quickly become functionally important.

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MEGA6: Molecular Evolutionary Genetics Analysis version 6.0

MEGA6: Molecular Evolutionary Genetics Analysis version 6.0 | Evolution baby!! | Scoop.it
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We announce the release of an advanced version of the Molecular Evolutionary Genetics Analysis (MEGA) software, which currently contains facilities for building sequence alignments, inferring phylogenetic histories, and conducting molecular evolutionary analysis. In version 6.0, MEGA now enables the inference of timetrees, as it implements our RelTime method for estimating divergence times for all branching points in a phylogeny. A new Timetree Wizard in MEGA6 facilitates this timetree inference by providing a graphical user interface (GUI) to specify the phylogeny and calibration constraints step-by-step. This version also contains enhanced algorithms to search for the optimal trees under evolutionary criteria and implements a more advanced memory management that can double the size of sequence data sets to which MEGA can be applied. Both GUI and command-line versions of MEGA6 can be downloaded from www.megasoftware.netfree of charge.

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