In work that may lead to better understanding of genetic diseases, researchers at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard show that bakers yeast was created hundreds of millions of years ago when its ancestor temporarily became a kind of super-organism with twice the usual number of chromosomes and an increased potential to evolve.
The study is by postdoctoral fellow and lead author Manolis Kellis of the Broad (rhymes with "code") Institute; Eric S. Lander, Broad director; and Bruce W. Birren, co-director of the Broads sequencing and analysis program. It will be published online by Nature on March 7.
Scientists have postulated that in a handful of instances in evolutionary history, cells may have replicated their entire genomes in events called whole genome duplication, but no definitive proof existed. The Broad Institute work shows conclusively for the first time that the well-studied organism bakers yeast originated through this little-understood phenomenon, resolving a long-standing controversy on the ancestry of the yeast genome.
Scott Turner | EurekAlert!
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