Scientists compare 12 fruit fly genomes 2007-11-08 06:05:27   Print

    WASHINGTON, Nov. 7 (Xinhua) -- An international research consortium of scientists announced on Wednesday their publications comparing the genome sequences of 12 closely related fruit fly species, 10 of which were sequenced for the first time.

    The analyses identify thousands of new genes and other functional elements in the insects' genomes, and describe how evolution has shaped the genomes of these important models for genetic research.

    The work was carried out by hundreds of scientists from more than 100 institutions in 16 countries. In papers published in the journal Nature, the consortium compare the genome sequences of Drosophila melanogaster, which was published in 2000, and D. pseudoobscura, published in 2005, with the recently sequenced genomes of 10 fruit fly species.

    Researchers found that, at first glance, the genomes of the various types of fruit flies appear quite similar. However, a more detailed examination reveals that only 77 percent of the approximately 13,700 protein-coding genes in D. melanogaster are shared with all of the other 11 species.

    Scientists observed that different regions of the fruit fly genomes, including protein-coding genes and gene families, are evolving at different rates. For example, genes involved in taste and smell, detoxification and metabolism, sex and reproduction, and immunity and defense appear to be the most rapidly evolving in the fruit fly genomes.

    The findings suggest that these particular protein-coding genes likely evolve in the fruit fly genome as a result of adaptation to changing environments and sexual selection.

    "Scientists around the world now have a rich new source of genomic data that can be mined in many different ways and applied to other important model systems as well as humans," said Francis Collins, director of the U.S. National Human Genome Research Institute, which supported the project.

Editor: Yan Liang
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