Saturday, July 9, 2016

Speciation and divergence at the level of the transcriptome, genetic editing and microRNA

Eviatar Nevo has studied speciation in the "Evolution Canyon" to understand the process of evolution at different scales. In a recent paper from his group, sympatric speciation as a model for the origin of species is investigated using Spalax galili as a model system. Their hypothesis is that the phenotypic differences between the Chalk and Basalt dwelling populations have their respective phenotypes due to changes in DNA mutations (SNP's) or differences in DNA/RNA editing.

".. comprehensively screened the basalt and chalk genomes and transcriptomes for DNA and RNA editing and identified both differential DNA and RNA editing." They identify a few candidate genes that differ in the level of editing. While this does not establish a causal link, it is extremely interesting to think of non-SNP traits as potential markers. They also focus on microRNA and differences in codon usage preferences.

This picture shows the face of a spalax species. The entire clade consists of numerous species and has been the focus of intense study over the years. Blind mole rats have been the focus of numerous studies that have looked at how eye and eye proteins function.