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Animal Evolution Clues Drawn From Genome Sequencing, Phylogenetic Study

In Nature, researchers from the University of Vienna, the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, and elsewhere have investigated competing hypotheses in animal evolution: the notion that sponges belong to a sister group to all other animals or a scenario in which the ctenophore or comb jelly group diverged from the animal lineage first. After developing chromosome-level genomes for the Bolinopsis microptera lobate comb jelly, along with two marine sponges and three outgroup single-cell animals, the team turned to chromosome-scale gene linkage analyses to find ancestral syntenic sequence conservation in the unicellular and multicellular animals, identifying conserved features that distinguished the ctenophore and single-celled organisms from sponges and other animals. "The patterns of synteny shared by sponges, bilaterians, and cnidarians are the result of rare and irreversible chromosome fusion-and-mixing events that provide robust and unambiguous phylogenetic support for the ctenophore-sister hypothesis," the authors write. "These findings provide a new framework for resolving deep, recalcitrant phylogenetic problems and have implications for our understanding of animal evolution."

The Scan

ChatGPT Does As Well As Humans Answering Genetics Questions, Study Finds

Researchers in the European Journal of Human Genetics had ChatGPT answer genetics-related questions, finding it was about 68 percent accurate, but sometimes gave different answers to the same question.

Sequencing Analysis Examines Gene Regulatory Networks of Honeybee Soldier, Forager Brains

Researchers in Nature Ecology & Evolution find gene regulatory network differences between soldiers and foragers, suggesting bees can take on either role.

Analysis of Ashkenazi Jewish Cohort Uncovers New Genetic Loci Linked to Alzheimer's Disease

The study in Alzheimer's & Dementia highlighted known genes, but also novel ones with biological ties to Alzheimer's disease.

Tara Pacific Expedition Project Team Finds High Diversity Within Coral Reef Microbiome

In papers appearing in Nature Communications and elsewhere, the team reports on findings from the two-year excursion examining coral reefs.