Understanding how genomes change as organisms become more complex is a central question in evolution. Molecular evolutionary studies typically correlate the appearance of genes and gene families with the emergence of biological pathways and morphological features. While such approaches are of great importance to understand how organisms evolve, they are also limited, as functionally related genes work together in contexts of dynamic gene networks. Since functionally related genes are often transcriptionally coregulated, gene coexpression networks present a resource to study the evolution of biological pathways. In this opinion article, we discuss recent developments in this field and how coexpression analyses can be merged with existing genomic approaches to transfer functional knowledge between species to study the appearance or extension of pathways.
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