The chicken genome provides several firsts: it is the first bird, the first agricultural animal, and the first descendant of the dinosaurs to have its genome sequenced. The consortium confirmed that humans and chickens share more than half of their genes, but their DNA sequences diverge in ways that may explain some of the important differences between birds and mammals.
UCSD professors participating in the consortium focused on evolutionary implications. They analyzed changes in gene orders on chromosomes--so-called genome rearrangements--and, using sophisticated computational biology techniques, they compared rearrangements in the chicken genome to those in the previously-sequenced human, mouse and rat genomes. "The chicken provides a reference point and allows us to split the evolutionary tree and look for what features are in common in the DNA sequence," said Department of Mathematics professor Glenn Tesler, who led the work on genome rearrangements with scientists from Germany and Singapore, as well as UCSD computer scientist Pavel Pevzner. "We might infer that those that were most in common were probably there at some ancestral point."
"The surprising discovery was that chickens are much closer to humans than previously thought when it comes to genomic architecture," said Pevzner, a professor in UCSD's Jacobs School of Engineering who is also an academic participant in Cal-(IT)2's Digitally Enabled Genomic Medicine research layer. "This may reflect some still-unknown evolutionary constraints on genomic makeup of diverse species that lead to apparent conservation of genomic architectures ov
Contact: Doug Ramsey
University of California - San Diego