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UPI - Genome's involvement in adaptation seen

Published: 3 Apr 2012

An organism's adaptation to new environments involves many genes, Canadian researchers say, a finding that may settle a long-standing evolutionary argument.

An organism's adaptation to new environments involves many genes, Canadian researchers say, a finding that may settle a long-standing evolutionary argument. A current debate in the field of evolutionary biology is whether adaptation to new environments is the result of changes in many genes, each having a relatively small effect, or large changes in just a few genes.

Canadian researchers, along with evolutionary geneticists in Switzerland, studied how threespine stickleback fish adapted differently to lake and stream environments in British Columbia, using high-resolution genomic methods to test for genetic differences at thousands of positions scattered across the fishes' genome, McGill University in Montreal reported Tuesday.

"I suspect that as more and more studies use [high-resolution] methods, the tide of opinion will swerve strongly to the view that adaptation is a complex process that involves many genes spread across diverse places in the genome," McGill researcher Andrew Hendry said.

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