Tracking gene flow in marine plant evolution

Dec 10, 2012

A new method that could give a deeper insight into evolutional biology by tracing directionality in gene migration has just appeared in EPJ Data Science. Paolo Masucci from the Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis, at University College of London, UK, and colleagues identified the segregation of genes that a marine plant underwent during its evolution. They found that the exchange of genes, or gene flow, between populations of a marine plant went westward from the Mediterranean to the Atlantic. This methodology could also be used to estimate the information flow in complex networks, including other biological or social networks.

The authors focused on a plant called Cymodocea nodosa, found in a marine area ranging from the East Mediterranean to the Iberian-African Atlantic coast. They relied on molecular markers to retrace the plant's , among distinct that are distant geographically. The idea was to infer the evolutionary pathways from datasets obtained by sequencing the plant, made of portions of non-coding DNA, called microsatellites.

Previous methods did not allow us to infer the direction of migration with such molecular data. Their statistical analyses require complex computing power, limiting the ability to explore simple evolutionary scenarios.

The authors restricted their analysis of a microsatellite genetic-markers dataset to those found in restricted island areas, among samples collected from the Mediterranean to the Atlantic. The team then inferred the past history of the gene flow based on the geographical distribution of genetic variations.

Masucci and colleagues found that gene flow most likely occurred westward from the Mediterranean to the Atlantic. Dominant Mediterranean genetic variations penetrate into the nearest Atlantic sites, but the opposite is not true. Natural evidence and an independent cross analysis confirmed these findings.

Explore further: Elucidating extremophilic 'microbial dark matter'

More information: A. P. Masucci, S. Arnaud-Haond, V. M. Eguíluz, E. Hernández-García and E. A. Serrão, Genetic flow directionality and geographical segregation in a Cymodocea nodosa genetic diversity network, EPJ Data Science, 2012, 1:11, DOI10.1140/epjds11

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Skeletons in cave reveal Mediterranean secrets

Nov 28, 2012

Skeletal remains in an island cave in Favignana, Italy, reveal that modern humans first settled in Sicily around the time of the last ice age and despite living on Mediterranean islands, ate little seafood. The research is ...

Mediterranean Sea dried up five million years ago

Feb 16, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- Upward movement of the Earth's crust transformed the Straits of Gibraltar into a dam. Approximately five million years ago, the Mediterranean Sea dried up after it was sealed off from the Atlantic Ocean. ...

Recommended for you

Battling superbugs with gene-editing system

15 hours ago

In recent years, new strains of bacteria have emerged that resist even the most powerful antibiotics. Each year, these superbugs, including drug-resistant forms of tuberculosis and staphylococcus, infect ...

For legume plants, a new route from shoot to root

Sep 19, 2014

A new study shows that legume plants regulate their symbiotic relationship with soil bacteria by using cytokinins—signaling molecules— that are transmitted through the plant structure from leaves into ...

Controlling the transition between generations

Sep 18, 2014

Rafal Ciosk and his group at the FMI have identified an important regulator of the transition from germ cell to embryonic cell. LIN-41 prevents the premature onset of embryonic transcription in oocytes poised ...

User comments : 0