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University of Arizona biology researchers have made a discovery that helps resolve a conundrum that has puzzled scientists for more than a century.
The UA team, headed by Michael S. Barker, assistant professor and director of bioinformatics in the UA Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, has found that polyploidy, the duplication of whole genomes, has occurred many times during the evolution of insects, the most diverse group of animals.
Biologists - Duplication - Part - Evolution - Plants
Evolutionary biologists long have known that genome duplication was a common part of the evolution of plants, and Barker specializes in methods to detect the history of polyploidy in their genomes.
"We know that plants like kale, broccoli, cabbage, turnips, cauliflower, sunflower, soybeans, rice, corn, wheat—all those things that we eat and more—have all experienced polyploidy in their ancestry. We know these plants have done this a lot and we can see this in their genomes," Barker says.
Evidence - Mechanism - Evolution - Insects - Scientists
Until now, there had been no evidence for this mechanism of genome evolution in insects, and scientists have been mystified as to why plants and animals have evolved so differently.
Scientists already were studying genetic mutations and chromosomes in the late 1800s. By the 1930s, it was clear that many plants had doubled sets of chromosomes, but this appeared to be very rare in animals.
Biologist - Theodosius - Dobzhansky - Difference - Evolution
The famous evolutionary biologist Theodosius Dobzhansky observed in 1937 that the biggest difference between the evolution of plants and animals may be polyploidy. The reasons for this difference have eluded biologists over the last century, but new analyses of genomes are revealing ancient duplications in places that Dobzhanksy and his contemporaries could not see.
Barker and his team created their own bioinformatics program to measure and characterize gene duplications in the insects,...
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