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Many a mickle makes a muckle: How changes in animals' size and shape arise
Date:6/30/2011

examined the effects of each of the changes in isolation and together.

The results provide an elegant demonstration of evolution in action. At least five changes were found to contribute to the altered functional properties of the enhancer. Interestingly, none of the changes on its own has a particularly dramatic effect and the effect of all the changes together is far greater than the sums of all the individual effects. In other words, the effect of any particular change depends on what changes may already be present.

As McGregor notes, the experiments reported in the current issue of Nature represent "one of the first functional dissections of the contribution of individual nucleotide changes in an enhancer responsible for morphological evolution." The results provide a possible explanation for how individual mutations, each with relatively minor consequences, can be "fixed" in a population as a result of subsequent events, leading ultimately to the evolution of distinct morphologies.

McGregor has now left Vienna for Oxford Brookes University (UK), where he is continuing his study of the evolution of animal development and morphology.


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Contact: Dr. Alastair McGregor
amcgregor@brookes.ac.uk
44-784-037-2939
University of Veterinary Medicine -- Vienna
Source:Eurekalert

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