Studying fish, like this ocean sulfish, scientists are revealing the link between evolution and a species’ genome. (Photo courtesy: Earthwindow.com/Mike Johnson)
Deciphering a paradox of evolution
Biologists at Georgia Tech have provided scientific support for a controversial hypothesis that has divided the fields of evolutionary genomics and evolutionary developmental biology, popularly known as evo devo, for two years. Appearing in the December 2005 issue of Trends in Genetics, researchers find that the size and complexity of a species’ genome is not an evolutionary adaptation per se, but can result as simply a consequence of a reduction in a species’ effective population size.
“As a general rule, more complex organisms, like humans, have larger genomes than less complex ones,” said J. Todd Streelman, assistant professor in the School of Biology at the Georgia Institute of Technology and co-author of the study. “You might think this means that animals with the largest genomes are the most complex – and for the most part that would be right. But it’s not always true. There are some species of frogs and some amoeba that have much larger genomes than humans.”
David Terraso | EurekAlert!
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