Experts who study animal pheromones have traced the evolutionary origins of genes that allow mice, rats and other rodents to communicate through smell. The discovery is a clear example of how new genes can evolve through the random chance of molecular tinkering and may make identifying new pheromones easier in future studies. The results, representing a genealogy for the exocrine-gland secreting peptide (ESP) gene family, were published by researchers at the University of Tokyo in the journal Molecular Biology and Evolution.
Researchers led by Professor Kazushige Touhara in the University of Tokyo Laboratory of Biological Chemistry previously studied ESP proteins that affect mice’s social or sexual behavior when secreted in one mouse’s tears or saliva and spread to other animals through social touch.
Recently, Project Associate Professor Yoshihito Niimura led a search for the evolutionary origin of ESP genes using the wide variety of fully sequenced animal genomes available
Millipedes, those many-legged denizens of the soil surface throughout the world, don’t always get the recognition they deserve. But a new study by Jerome Hui of Chinese University of Hong Kong and colleagues puts them in the spotlight, sequencing and analyzing complete genomes from two very different millipede species. The study, publishing on September 29th in the open-access journal PLOS Biology, provides important insights into arthropod evolution, and highlights the genetic underpinnings of unique features of millipede physiology.
Millipedes and centipedes together comprise the Myriapoda — arthropods with multi-segmented trunks and many legs. Centipedes sport one pair of legs per segment, while millipedes bear two. Despite the apparent numeric implications of their names, different centipede species bear between 30 and 354 legs, and millipedes between 22 and 750. There are about 16,000 species of myriapods, including over 12,000 species of millipedes, but only two myriapod genomes have so far