News & AnalysisEvolution

Gene Duplication's Role in Evolution Gets Richer, More Complex

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Science  19 Oct 2012:
Vol. 338, Issue 6105, pp. 316-317
DOI: 10.1126/science.338.6105.316

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In 1970, geneticist Susumu Ohno proposed that new genes arise when a hiccup during cell division produces an extra copy of an existing gene, and that spare copy is free to mutate and take on new functions. An experimental evolution study in bacteria, presented on page 384 of this week's issue of Science, shows that at least some genes take another route to giving an organism new functions. And other recent work has established that partial copies of genes—rather than complete duplications of genes or genomes, the focus of Ohno's work—regularly become useful. All told, a growing body of research demonstrates that Ohno's ideas were a little too simple.