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
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