New comparative study on DNA modifications across the fungal tree of life

Date:

Share post:

DNA activity can change without changing the sequence of the DNA segment itself. Gene activation and inactivation can be the basis for how species produce unique individuals. Some processes that change gene activity are well understood in the context of model species. However, scientists are still grappling with how some processes, like DNA methylation, change gene activity in many diverse organisms. Broader theories applicable to all species have proven elusive, given the amount of natural variability on Earth.

New comparative study on DNA modifications across the fungal tree of life
Credit: University of Georgia

Now, a group of scientists have published a study in Nature Ecology and Evolution comparing and relating DNA methylation across 40 diverse fungal species. The paper, part of a larger effort to develop a unified theory of DNA methylation, begins to fill a taxonomic gap for the “rules” associated with DNA methylation that are conserved across species, as well as where and why they have diverged.

“Undoubtedly, differences in DNA determine the observable characteristics of individuals,” said Adam Bewick, postdoctoral research associate in the University of Georgia Franklin College of Arts and Sciences Department of Genetics and first author on the new paper. “However, an increasing amount of evidence suggests that heritable alterations to how DNA is expressed, without changes to the DNA sequence can contribute to or determine these characteristics. One way that expression differences are achieved is through modifications, like a methyl group that attaches to DNA.”




In collaboration with colleagues at UGA, University of California, Riverside, University of Michigan, and the Joint Genome Institute, the research team compared DNA and other modifications to characteristics across a wide and diverse sampling of species.

“DNA methylation and other modifications have significant implications for our understanding of natural variation and how it changes over time,” Bewick said.

One of the key findings is that gene expression isn’t likely affected directly by DNA methylation in fungi but may serve a role in genome integrity.

“Through this and other large comparative studies we are gaining a better understanding of how modifications to DNA contribute to variation between and within species and how can we leverage this variation for medical and agricultural advancements.”

Author: Alan Flurry | Source: University of Georgia [February 25, 2019]

ADVERTISEMENT

spot_img

Related articles

Could life have survived a fall to Earth?

It sounds like science fiction, but the theory of panspermia, in which life can naturally transfer between planets,...

Discovery of new fossil from half billion years ago sheds light on life on Earth

Dr Tom Harvey from the Department of Geology, University of Leicester, together with Professor Nicholas Butterfield, University of...

How does a crustacean become a crab?

Crabs are living the meme life on social media lately. The memes joke that everything will eventually look...

Why the ‘wimpy’ Y chromosome hasn’t evolved out of existence

Much smaller than its counterpart, the X chromosome, the Y chromosome has shrunken drastically over 200 million years...

Study reconsiders early evolution of sea urchins

New insight on the origins and early evolution of echinoids, a group that includes the sea urchins, the...

Gene mutation that makes dogs small existed in ancient wolves

Popular belief has been that small dogs, such as Pomeranians and Chihuahuas, exist because once dogs were domesticated,...

Researchers study how wolf predation shapes elk antler evolution

What happens when you mix a biologist who studies beetle horns with scientists who spend their time exploring...

Stick insects: Egg-laying techniques reveal new evolutionary map

Known for exceptional mimicry, stick insects have evolved a range of egg-laying techniques to maximize egg survival while...