Ecology & Evolution team reconstruct ancient genes

Mo Siddiq and study author Kristi Montooth of Univ of Nebraska. Photo: University of Nebraska

Ecology and Evolution graduate student Mo Siddiq and professor Joe Thornton recently published research in Nature Ecology & Evolution that has big implications for the study of the genetic basis of adaptation and evolution. Their test case, which focused on the evolution of Drosophila melanogaster's ability to survive the high alcohol concentrations in rotting fruit, overturned a widely-accepted hypothesis about the fruit fly genetic adaptation.

“One of the major goals of modern evolutionary biology is to identify the genes that caused species to adapt to new environments, but it’s been hard to do that directly, because we’ve had no way to test the effects of ancient genes on animal biology,” said Siddiq.

Siddiq and Thornton, working with collaborators at the University of Wisconsin and the University of Nebraska, were able to reconstruct Drosophila melanogaster genes both before and after alterations to the alcohol dehydrogenase (Adh) gene that was thought to be linked to a higher tolerance for alcohol in that species. The team's research disproves this hypothesis.

Read the full story on the Science Life blog, and read the study at Nature Ecology & Evolution.

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