A novel gene genesis mechanism suggests that the Drosophila genome is highly flexible and that even seemingly fixed genes are constantly evolving. This new research shows that genes are continuously created and altered by gene fission in a process of retroposed duplication followed by partial degeneration.

In the April 4 Nature Genetics, Wen Wang and colleagues in the Department of Ecology and Evolution at the University of Chicago looked for young genes—those that had originated within the last 1 or 2 million years—to observe the early stages of gene creation.

The team identified a group of genes with additional members and locations in members of the species Drosophilamelanogaster subgroup that diverged less than a million years ago. Each subspecies has a parental gene sequence on one chromosome and different numbers of new copies on different chromosomes. The new copies are very young genes in evolutionary terms and so...

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