Fly Genomes Show Natural Selection

Fly Genomes Show Natural Selection

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When ancestral humans walked out of Africa tens of thousands of years ago, Drosophila melanogaster fruit flies came along with them. Now the fruit flies, widely used for genetics research, are returning to Africa and establishing new populations alongside flies that never left — offering new insights into the forces that shape genetic variation. That’s one of the findings from two new papers published by researchers at the University of California, Davis, and their colleagues that describe the genomes of almost 200 strains of the tiny flies.

The work reveals strong evidence of pervasive natural selection throughout the D. melanogaster genome, said Charles Langley, professor of genetics in the Department of Evolution and Ecology at UC Davis and an author on both papers. That is in striking contrast with what is known of the human genome, which shows comparatively little evidence of adaptation over the last 100,000 years. The overall aim of the research is to better understand the forces that shape genetic variation.

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