12 fly genomes published

November 07, 2007

The complete genomes of 12 related species of the fly Drosophila are published this week in the journal Nature. One of the 12, Drosophila melanogaster, is widely used in studies of genetics and development, and its genome was published in 2000. The new work refines understanding of fruit fly genomics, but it also has implications for understanding the human genome.

The ability to look at entire genomes -- 110 million base-pairs or "letters" of DNA in the fly, three billion in the human -- instead of specific features allows a less-biased view of how evolution is shaping the organism, said David Begun, a professor in the UC Davis Section of Evolution and Ecology, and Center for Population Biology.

Begun and Chuck Langley, also a professor of evolution and ecology, graduate student Carolyn McBride and postdoctoral scholar Sourav Chatterji are among about 100 coauthors on the Nature paper published Nov. 8.

The genetic differences between the 12 fruit fly species are similar in magnitude to the genetic differences between humans and chickens, although the time separating the different flies is much shorter than that separating people from birds, Begun said.
Two other papers from Begun's and Langley's group, published this month in the journals Public Library of Science (PLoS) Biology and PLoS Genetics, address related topics.

The work was principally supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation.

University of California - Davis

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