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Animal with the most genes? A tiny crustacean
Date:2/3/2011

work resulting from the genome study, many in open-source journals published as a thematic series by BioMedCentral.

A list of these publications can be found at http://www.biomedcentral.com/series/Daphnia.

"Assembling so many experts around a shared research goal is no small feat," said Peter Cherbas, director of the CGB. "We're obviously proud of the CGB's catalytic role. The genome project signals the coming-of-age of Daphnia as a research tool for investigating the molecular underpinnings of key ecological and environmental problems."

Colbourne agreed, adding, "New model systems rarely arrive on the scene with such clear and important roles to play for advancing a new field of science."

The scientists present findings on the pace at which copied genes gain new functions, including a novel theory that accounts for the apparent rapid evolution of some of Daphnia's gene families (suites of related genes that result from repeated duplication events).

"Gene functions can become distinct very quickly," said Michael Pfrender, coauthor and associate professor of biology at the University of Notre Dame. "We had all assumed that newly copied genes that code for the same proteins would initially have the same functions, and that new functions evolve slowly with age, by acquiring rare beneficial mutations. Instead, we found that half of the newly copied genes had changed their expression very soon, possibly at the time of their origin."

Like in a mystery novel, the DNA evidence presented by examining the patterns of gene duplication in the study's first chapters was combined with clues of the genes' functions in later chapters to propose a new model for how genes accumulate in genomes.

"The smoking gun in this investigation was clear," said Kelley Thomas, coauthor and Hubbard Professor in Genomics at the University of New Hampshire. "A
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Contact: David Bricker
brickerd@indiana.edu
812-856-9035
Indiana University
Source:Eurekalert  

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