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Hubbard Center Researchers Publish in Science

By Beth Potier, Media Relations
December 16, 2009

Daphnia pulex (water flea)

Researchers from UNH’s Hubbard Center for Genome Studies co-authored a study published in a recent issue of the prestigious journal Science that sheds new light on what co-author Kelley Thomas, director of the Hubbard Center, calls “one of the great puzzles in biology.” The study found that introns – sequences of non-coding DNA that interrupt genes – could be far more important to the evolution of genomes than previously thought.

Working with colleagues at Indiana University Bloomington, the researchers studied the model organism Daphnia pulex (water flea) to find that introns are inserted into the genome far more frequently than current models predict.

“Most of what we know about introns comes from seeing how they change over time, by comparing organisms that are very different,” says Thomas. “In this paper, for the first time on any large scale, we’re looking at the variation of these interrupting sequences in one species.”

Lead author Abraham Tucker, now at Indiana University Bloomington, and paper co-author Way Sung were both graduate students of Thomas’s at the Hubbard Center for Genome Studies when they did the bioinformatic analysis of the Daphnia genome that led to the findings of this paper. Drawing on longtime collaborations between the laboratory of IU evolutionary biologist Mike Lynch and the Hubbard Center on the Daphnia genome project, the two were able to access all Daphnia genome sequences.

“It was a very intense analysis, but it was obvious within a few days that there was some very interesting data,” says Thomas, who is Hubbard Professor in Genomics. “This was a wonderful collaborative project.”

This research was funded with grants from the National Science Foundation.

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