119-Million-Year-Old “Selfish” Genes Uncovered in Yeast

Stowers Institute for Medical Research,  Technology Networks,  2022.

Meiotic drivers, a type of selfish gene, are indeed selfish. Present in the genomes of nearly all species, including humans, they unfairly transfer their genetic material to more than half of their offspring, sometimes leading to infertility, and decreased organism health. Because of their parasitic potential, their longevity over evolutionary time is believed to be short-lived, until now. New research from the Stowers Institute for Medical Research, in collaboration with the National Institute for Biological Sciences in Beijing, China, has uncovered a selfish gene family that has survived for over 100 million years—10 times longer than any meiotic driver ever identified—casting new doubt on established beliefs on how natural selection and evolution tackle these threatening sequences.

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