News & Events

Scientists explore mysteries behind diversity of DNA composition among species

January 2, 2018

To make the iconic, twisted double helix that accounts for the diversity of life, DNA rules specify that G always pairs with C, and A with T. But, when it’s all added up, the amount of G+C vs A+T content among species is not a simple fixed percentage or, standard one-to-one ratio. For example, within single-celled organisms, the amount of G+C content can vary from 72 percent in a bacteria like Streptomyces coelicolor while the protozoan parasite that causes malaria, Plasmondium falciparum,...

Exploring the Origin of Multicellularity Through Experimental Evolution

November 29, 2017

Presented by Will Ratcliff, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Biological Sciences, Georgia Institute of Technology. The origin of multicellularity was one of the most significant innovations in the history of life. Our understanding of the evolutionary processes underlying this transition remains limited, however, mainly because extant multicellular lineages are ancient and most transitional forms have been lost to...

Genome fidelity and its consequences for cellular health

November 16, 2017

Non-inherited, chance mutations may also provide a new window into understanding human disease  It’s biology’s version of the whisper game.  Inside a cell, every DNA phrase or sentence that makes a protein, known as a gene, first must be precisely copied, to ensure its instructions can properly build the foundation of life. But much like children tasked in the game with faithfully whispering a phrase to one another, each time, there is the possibility of introducing errors...

Genome Evolution and Adaptation in Hybrids

November 15, 2017

Presented by Caiti Heil, Ph.D., Senior Fellow University of Washington, Genome Sciences Department Caiti Heil explores the evolutionary processes that create and maintain genetic variation, most recently, investigating how hybridization between different populations or species represents a potential evolutionary pathway for rapid adaptation to selective pressures. When two divergent genomes merge, new combinations of alleles are introduced simultaneously, acting as an instantaneous and...

How Evolutionary and Mechanistic Insights From Budding Yeast Inform Genotype to Phenotype Maps

November 15, 2017

Presented by Kerry Geiler-Samerotte, Ph.D., Postdoctoral Fellow, Stanford University Identical genetic changes do not always have identical effects on phenotype. Because organisms are composed of interacting parts, the effect of perturbing any one part can offset or magnify perturbations to others, resulting in mutations with context-dependent effects on function. A major goal of the genomic age is to make predictions from genetic data about important and diverse topics, such as whether a...

International Study Identifies Genes Responsible for Diversity of Human Skin Colors

October 18, 2017

Human populations feature a broad palette of skin tones. But until now, few genes have been shown to contribute to normal variation in skin color, and these had primarily been discovered through studies of European populations. Now, a study of diverse African groups led by University of Pennsylvania geneticists Sarah Tishkoff and Nicholas Crawford, with key contributions from new Arizona State University School of Life Sciences faculty Susanne Pfeifer and Jeff Jensen, has identified new...

ASU appoints world-renowned evolutionary biologist to lead new Biodesign Center

September 6, 2017

Cross-disciplinary center studies key forces behind evolution to empower life sciences The Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University has announced today the appointment of world-renowned evolutionary biologist Michael Lynch, Ph.D., as the director of an ambitious new effort to advance the u­nderstanding of evolution across all scales of life, from whole populations to the key forces at work deep within a cell. The overarching mission of Lynch’s new Biodesign Center for Mechanisms...