09/10/2014 02:35 PM
BATON ROUGE – LSU’s Mark Batzer, LSU Boyd Professor and Dr. Mary Lou Applewhite Distinguished
Professor, along with Research Assistant Professor Miriam Konkel and Research Associate
Jerilyn Walker in Department of Biological Sciences in the College of Science, contributed
to an article featured on the cover of the scientific journal Nature, titled “Gibbon
Genome and the Fast Karyotype Evolution of Small Apes.”
An abstract of the article can be found at http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v513/n7517/full/nature13679.html?WT.ec_id=NATURE-20140911. The issue of Nature will be published on Sept. 11.
Batzer, Konkel and Walker contributed to the analysis of the mobile elements in the
gibbon genome. This included the characterization of the mobile genetic element called
LAVA is made up of pieces of known jumping genes and named after its main components:
L1, Alu, and the VA section of SVA mobile elements. The gibbon-specific LAVA element
represents only the second type of composite mobile element discovered in primates,
since the discovery of the mobile element SVA in humans.
The sequencing, assembly and analysis of the gibbon genome provide new insights into
the biology and evolutionary history of this family of apes. Factors that might have
contributed to gibbon diversity and that might have helped gibbons to adapt to their
jungle habitat are reported
As part of the gibbon genome project, Batzer analyzed the evolution of gibbon-specific
mobile elements, including their subfamily structure and distribution among the various
gibbon species. The discovery of LAVA further highlights the dynamic evolution of
mobile elements and their dynamic impact on primate genomes.
Gibbons are small, tree-living apes from Southeast Asia, many species of which are
endangered. They are part of the same superfamily as humans and great apes, but sit
on the divide between Old-World monkeys and the great apes. These creatures have several
distinctive traits, such as an unusually large number of chromosomal rearrangements,
and different numbers of chromosomes are seen in individual species.
Batzer runs the Batzer Laboratory of Comparative Genomics in the LSU College of Science,
which specializes in the study of mobile DNA elements, often called “jumping genes”
or even “junk DNA.” These mobile elements have been found to cause insertions and
deletions, which can lead to genetic diseases in humans as well as the creation of
new genes and gene families in the genome. Because of this, understanding the impact
of mobile elements on genome structure is paramount to understanding the function
of the genome.
More information on the Batzer Lab is available at https://biosci-batzerlab.biology.lsu.edu/.
The LSU College of Science is the place where science, research and innovation intersect to create an enriching academic experience that prepares students for rewarding careers in education, medicine, research, business or public service. The college houses a variety of scientific disciplines supported by a community of accomplished and well-funded faculty and staff that are committed to providing a meaningful educational experience. For more information on the LSU College of Science, visit http://science.lsu.edu/.
Posted on Wednesday, September 10, 2014