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Understanding gene symphonies

By 7th August 2019 August 14th, 2019 No Comments

One of the most exciting discoveries to come out of genome research is that the last common ancestor of all multicellular animals – which lived about 600 million years ago – already had an extremely complex genome. Many of the ancestral genes can still be found in modern day species (including humans). However, researchers were unsure whether the arrangement of these genes in the genome also had a certain function.

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Ancient animal genomes genes, which have been detected in the sea anemone Nematostella vectensis, live and play together (© Robert Aguilar, Smithsonian Environmental Research Center  CC BY 2.0)

A new study published in Nature Ecology and Evolution by biologists of the University of Vienna led by Oleg Simakov and Ulrich Technau and French researcher Nicolas Robert at the Laboratoire de Biologie du Développement de Villefranche sur Mer shows that both individual genes as well as these gene arrangements in the genome have played a key role in the course of animal evolution.

Read the research paper: Ancient animal genome architecture reflects cell type identities. Bob Zimmermann, Nicolas S. M. Robert, Ulrich Technau & Oleg Simakov. Nature Ecology and Evolution 10.1038/s41559-019-0946-7.

Read the news release from the University of Vienna.