In DepthGenetics

‘Supergenes’ drive evolution

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Science  15 Sep 2017:
Vol. 357, Issue 6356, pp. 1083
DOI: 10.1126/science.357.6356.1083

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Male ruffs, mountain honey bees, zebra finches, and several other organisms have a secret weapon to help them be successful—a flipped piece of DNA known as a "supergene" that has enabled them to quickly evolve a winning set of qualities. Biologists are beginning to recognize the power of these DNA hiccups to drive evolution by freeing whole segments of the genome, containing multiple genes, from certain evolutionary constraints. As researchers discussed last month at the 16th Congress of the European Society of Evolutionary Biology in Groningen, the Netherlands, these evolutionary drivers have diverse and far-reaching roles in adaptation and evolution across many groups of organisms.