Science Interviews


Sat, 12th May 2012

Rebuilding evolutionary trees

Nell Barrie

Listen Now    Download as mp3 from the show Developmental genetics - from one cell to many

Kat -  Another interesting paper that I noticed in the American Journal of Human Genetics, talking about a Copernican revolution in how we view where we start comparing DNA sequences from, what do you think about this story?

Nell - Yeah, so this is very kind of revolutionary sounding in the way they talk about it which is nice and they're looking at mitochondrial DNA and how you should start comparing mitochondrial DNA from now, mitochondrial DNA from the past, should we just be using  mtDNA from white people or should we be looking wider, and figuring out what exactly is going on, and building up the data that we have I suppose.

Kat - I think this kind of stems from a lot of the genetics research that has been done over recent years has all been done using the samples that we can get which tend to be white European DNA. And a lot of the genetic trees and work that's been done has kind of almost assumed that this is the centre of the genetics universe and the argument here they're making that is mitochondrial DNA which comes from mother’s eggs and is passed on. Every time we compare it and maybe normal genes as well should really start by looking at ancestral DNA and comparing forwards from that. There’s a lot of rhetoric in the story about, you know, it’s a Copernican revolution and the world should not necessarily revolve around white male European DNA. But yeah, I thought it was interesting to propose that for researchers, just the way they think about how they build trees.

Nell - Yes, and definitely now that it’s so much easier and quicker to do all these kind of sequencing that's going to have a big effect and I suppose it just means you’re opening up a whole new area where you can do more research, and find out more and use more of that information.



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