National Academy of Sciences’ Nei to present Oct. 26

Dr. Masatoshi Nei
Dr. Masatoshi Nei

“Phenotypic evolution by gene duplication and changes of gene regulatory systems,” will be presented by National Academy of Sciences’ Masatoshi Nei, Pennsylvania State University. It is part of the Center for Biotechnology Big Ten National Academy of Sciences seminar series.

Gene duplication is one of the most important mutational mechanisms that generate new genetic variation in the evolutionary process, Nei said. Recent genomic studies have shown that genome duplication and segmental duplication are crucial in generating new species and new phenotypic characters such as the adaptive immune system in vertebrates and flower formation in angiosperms.

"Our studies have shown that the evolution of these complex characters are often caused by birth-and-death evolution of many related gene families and their molecular interaction," he said.

In 2008 Sean Carroll has suggested that phenotypic evolution is primarily caused by changes in gene regulatory systems and that this factor is more important than gene duplication.

"Our study indicates that this is an overstatement and the molecular changes of coding regions of genes are at least as important as the changes in gene regulation systems," said Nei, a member of the National Academy of Sciences. "I also would like to indicate that the mutational change of genomic structures is the primary source of evolution and natural selection is of secondary importance."

A reception will be held at 3:30 p.m. The seminar in Beadle E103 is free and open to the public.

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