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Biology Professor Alberto Civetta

e-dition - December 5, 2007

Alberto Civetta Leads UW Genomics Research Featured in Nature

By Ilana Simon

University of Winnipeg Biology professor Dr. Alberto Civetta is part of an international genomics research team featured in the Nov. 8, 2007 issue of the journal Nature. The cover of last month's Nature magazine highlights an article by the Drosophila 12 Genomes Consortium, of which Civetta's lab at UWinnipeg is a part.

This important article, and another main paper, together with more than 40 companion papers that are being published over the next few months in several journals, represents the results of the whole analysis of entire genomes from 12 different species.

Landmark Event in Genomics
"This is a landmark event in genomics, and marks a new phase in comparative genomics studies," said Dr. Civetta, who has taught at UWinnipeg since 2000. "The University of Winnipeg is part of such an effort and I am proud of our participation in the consortium and our contribution."

"The work on genomics in flies is central to further experiments that bear on essential and difficult problems in development and evolution in many organisms, including Homo sapiens," said Ed Byard, Chair of the University's Department of Biology. "A paper in Nature, probably the most prestigious journal in the world, is certainly a landmark in your research program, and a notable accomplishment for The University of Winnipeg."

Access to the full paper in Nature is available here

Synopsis of the Nature article
Comparative analysis of multiple genomes in a phylogenetic framework dramatically improves the precision and sensitivity of evolutionary inference, producing more robust results than single-genome analyses can provide. The genomes of 12 Drosophila species, 10 of which are presented here for the first time (sechellia, simulans, yakuba, erecta, ananassae, persimilis, willistoni, mojavensis, virilis and grimshawi), illustrate how rates and patterns of sequence divergence across taxa can illuminate evolutionary processes on a genomic scale. These genome sequences augment the formidable genetic tools that have made Drosophila melanogaster a pre-eminent model for animal genetics, and will further catalyse fundamental research on mechanisms of development, cell biology, genetics, disease, neurobiology, behaviour, physiology and evolution. Despite remarkable similarities among these Drosophila species, we identified many putatively non-neutral changes in protein-coding genes, non-coding RNA genes, and cis-regulatory regions. These may prove to underlie differences in the ecology and behaviour of these diverse species.

Click here more information on Dr. Civetta's research.

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