Unraveling the mystery of orphan genes to understand the origins of genetic novelty

December 5th, 2019 - 11AM

Nikos Vakirlis, Benaki Phytopathological Institute Athens (Greece)

Abstract: What explains the presence of a gene only in the genome of one species and not in any other? Species-specific protein-coding genes, also known as orphans, can arise "from scratch" from previously non-genic loci, through a process known as de novo gene emergence. How exactly the evolutionary transition from non-gene to functional gene unfolds is unclear. Can such de novo emerging genes increase an organism's fitness, and if so how? Orphan genes can also result from extensive sequence divergence of ancestral genes, which can eventually erase all similarity of a gene to its homologues in other species, a process even less well understood than de novo emergence. I will present novel findings which advance our understanding of both these evolutionary mechanisms and bring us a small step closer to a complete picture of the origins of genetic novelty.

Location: LCQB Kitchen, building C, 4th floor, Pierre et Marie Curie Campus

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Seminar organised by the Laboratory of Computational and Quantitative Biology