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Health

Neutral evolution & numts

Gene ExpressionBy Razib KhanJuly 10, 2007 12:20 PM

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Apropos of the recent drift vs. selection debates in regards to the driving forces of evolution, I thought I'd pass on this press release about the pervasiveness of neutral genetic elements. You can read the full provisional paper in PLOS Genetics:

Using sequence analysis and fossil dating, we also show a probable burst of integration of numts in the primate lineage that centers on the prosimian-anthropoid split, mimics closely the temporal distribution of Alu and processed pseudogene acquisition, and coincides with the major climatic change at the Paleocene-Eocene boundary. We therefore propose a model according to which the gross architecture and repeat distribution of the human genome can be largely accounted for by a population bottleneck early in the anthropoid lineage and subsequent effectively neutral fixation of repetitive DNA, rather than positive selection or unusual insertion pressures.

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