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SDSC's CIPRES Science Gateway clarifies branches in evolution's 'tree of life'
Date:7/3/2012

and Evolution.

In another project, Andrew F. Hugall and Devi Stuart-Fox, zoology researchers in the Department of Zoology at the University of Melbourne in Australia, used the CIPRES Gateway to provide the first phylogenetic analysis supporting an evolutionary theory that new species of birds are generated faster when the ancestral species exhibits color variations in its feathers.

Hugall and Stuart-Fox reported in the May 9, 2012, issue of Nature that speciation rates were almost three times higher for so-called color polymorphic species of birds of prey than similar monomorphic bird species. As the prevalence of feather-color polymorphism falls, so too does the rate of speciation.

The discipline of phylogenetic systematics combines taxonomy, or the description and naming of living species as well as fossilized life forms found in natural history museums, with modern phylogenetic studies. Systematic biologists combine a variety of sources of information, analyses and hypotheses to organize related groups of species, such as vertebrates, into clades and clades within clades. For example, the vertebrate clade is further subdivided into clades of amphibians, primates, rodents, and other groups of related species.

"Studies by systematic and evolutionary biologists have historically been limited by the number of available DNA sequences in public databases like GenBank," said Miller. However, he added that modern DNA sequencing technologies generate data so quickly that analyzing all relevant data on conventional laptops can take weeks.

"There is a huge need in the community for easy access to computing resources," said Miller. To meet that enthusiastic demand, Miller's team at SDSC and their collaborators around the country continue to combine emerging techniques in computational biology with computer science.


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Contact: Jan Zverina
jzverina@sdsc.edu
858-534-5111
University of California - San Diego
Source:Eurekalert

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