Comparative Genomics and New Evolutionary Biology

  • Eugene V. Koonin
  • Michael Y. Galperin


In Chapter 2, we primarily focused on the foundations of comparative genomics that come from evolutionary theory and only briefly summarized the evolutionary implications of genome comparisons. In this chapter, we address the connection between comparative genomics and evolution from a different angle. The question we ask is: how does comparative genomics affect our understanding of major aspects of the evolution of life? We believe that the effect is (or at least has the potential to be) truly profound. Perhaps most importantly, comparative genomics has already led to the reappraisal of the central trends of genome evolution. Instead of the classic concept of relatively stable genomes, which evolve through gradual changes spread through vertical inheritance, we now have the new notion of “genomes in flux” [787] . According to this concept, evolution involves gene loss and horizontal gene transfer as major forces shaping the genome, rather than isolated incidents of little consequence.


Horizontal Gene Transfer Comparative Genomic Gene Loss Horizontal Gene Transfer Event Archaeal Genome 
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Further Reading

  1. 1.
    Crick FH. 1968. The origin of the genetic code. Journal of Molecular Biology 38: 367–379PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
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    Jacob F. 1977. Evolution and tinkering. Science 196: 1161–1166PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
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    Woese C. 1998. The universal ancestor. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 95: 6854–6859PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
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    Woese CR. 2000. Interpreting the universal phylogenetic tree. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 97: 8392–8396PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
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    Woese CR. 2002. On the evolution of cells. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 99: 8742–8747PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Leipe DD, Aravind L, Koonin EV. 1999. Did DNA replication evolve twice independently? Nucleic Acids Research 27: 3389–3401PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Anantharaman V, Koonin EV, Aravind L. 2002. Comparative genomics and evolution of proteins involved in RNA metabolism. Nucleic Acids Research 30: 1427–1464.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Snel B, Bork P, Huynen MA. 2002. Genomes in flux: the evolution of archaeal and proteobacterial gene content. Genome Research 12: 17–25.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Eugene V. Koonin
    • 1
  • Michael Y. Galperin
    • 1
  1. 1.National Center for Biotechnology Information, National Library of MedicineNational Institutes of HealthUSA

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