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Scientists fix bugs in our understanding of evolution
Date:6/19/2008

hods, that fail to do that, lead to a flawed understanding of the course of evolution.

"Our new method gets around these errors by taking into account what we already know about evolutionary relationships," says Ari Lytynoja, who developed the tool in Goldman's lab. "Say we are comparing the DNA of human and chimp and can't tell if a deletion or an insertion happened. To solve this our tool automatically invokes information about the corresponding sequences in closely related species, such as gorilla or macaque. If they show the same gap as the chimp, this suggests an insertion in humans."

Findings achieved with the new technique suggest that insertions are much more common than assumed, while the frequency of deletions has been overestimated by existing methods. A likely reason for these systematic errors of other techniques is that they were originally developed for structural matching of protein sequences. The focus of molecular biology is shifting, however, and understanding functional changes in genomes requires specifically designed methods that consider sequences' histories. Such approaches will likely reveal further bugs in our understanding of evolution in future and might challenge the conventional picture of sequence evolution.


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Contact: Anna-Lynn Wegener
wegener@embl.de
49-622-138-7452
European Molecular Biology Laboratory
Source:Eurekalert  

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