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Spiders and Scorpions, Oh My!

The ancestors of the Arizona bark scorpion and of other scorpions and spiders underwent a whole-genome duplication event, Phoenix-area KJZZ reports. It adds that while whole-genome duplication events aren't unprecedented, duplications on a smaller scale, such as of chromosomes or single genes, are more common.

A recent study in BMC Biology sequenced the genome of the common house spider (Parasteatoda tepidariorum) and compared it to the Arizona bark scorpion (Centruroides sculpturatus) as well as other members of an arthropod subphylum. From that, the international team of researchers found that the ancestor of spiders and scorpions likely underwent a whole-genome duplication event more than 450 million years ago.

Study co-author Kim Worley from Baylor College of Medicine tells KJZZ that such duplication events can fuel species divergence as the gene copies can take on new roles. "One copy can continue to provide the functions that it was used for originally, and the new copy is not constrained to provide those functions because the original copy's already providing it," she adds.

Over time, KJZZ adds, many of the extra gene copies are lost.