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. 2003 Nov 21;302(5649):1401-4.
doi: 10.1126/science.1089370.

The Origins of Genome Complexity

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The Origins of Genome Complexity

Michael Lynch et al. Science. .
Free article


Complete genomic sequences from diverse phylogenetic lineages reveal notable increases in genome complexity from prokaryotes to multicellular eukaryotes. The changes include gradual increases in gene number, resulting from the retention of duplicate genes, and more abrupt increases in the abundance of spliceosomal introns and mobile genetic elements. We argue that many of these modifications emerged passively in response to the long-term population-size reductions that accompanied increases in organism size. According to this model, much of the restructuring of eukaryotic genomes was initiated by nonadaptive processes, and this in turn provided novel substrates for the secondary evolution of phenotypic complexity by natural selection. The enormous long-term effective population sizes of prokaryotes may impose a substantial barrier to the evolution of complex genomes and morphologies.

Comment in

  • Testing genome complexity.
    Vinogradov AE. Vinogradov AE. Science. 2004 Apr 16;304(5669):389-90; author reply 389-90. doi: 10.1126/science.304.5669.389b. Science. 2004. PMID: 15087529 No abstract available.
  • Comment on "The origins of genome complexity".
    Daubin V, Moran NA. Daubin V, et al. Science. 2004 Nov 5;306(5698):978; author reply 978. doi: 10.1126/science.1098469. Science. 2004. PMID: 15528429 No abstract available.

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