A long quadrucal number--what chromosomes teach us about animal evolution: the legacy of George Gamow

Speaker Name/Affiliation
Daniel Rokhsar / Dept. of Molecular and Cellular Biology, University of California, Berkeley
Seminar Type
Seminar Type Other
Joint Physics & Biochemistry Colloquium
Location (Room)
JSCBB Butcher Auditorium
Event Details & Abstracts

PLEASE NOTE SPECIAL LOCATION: Butcher Auditorium, A115, JSCBB, 3415 Colorado Ave, Boulder, CO 80303

Please note, you can easily catch the free Stampede which picks up very close to the Duane Building to get there. https://seec.colorado.edu/getting-here/bus-service  There will be a special reception after the colloquium!


Abstract: Soon after the discovery of the double helix, George Gamow speculated about how what he called "the number of the beast" — the long information-rich DNA sequence present in chromosomes — might encode the properties of different forms of life. His playful formulation of this central problem in biology, and the "RNATIE Club" that he founded to explore this question, stimulated early thinking about the genetic code long before DNA sequencing was possible. Fast-forwarding seventy years, we can now compare the "long quadrucal numbers" from a wide diversity of species. This talk will explain how such comparisons illuminate key steps in the early evolution of animals that occured over five hundred million years ago. We show that, with a few notable exceptions, animal chromosomes are remarkably stable and evolve slowly over hundreds of millions of years, and that some gene linkages extend even further back in time. We then use these deeply conserved aspects of genome organization to (1) show that ctenophores rather than sponges are the earliest branching lineage of living animals, which has implications for the evolution of nervous systems, and (2) decipher the history of Paleozoic polyploidy and promiscuity in our vertebrate lineage.


For a full list of recordings from the Fall 2023 Colloquium schedule, please visit: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLaWHFWu_46_yjAJiHDQYwR2i26885CYQu