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Posted on 11 October 2010

Two ICHEC users have published a breakthrough study (Cotton and McInerney 2010) in showing how an ancient union of two unicellular prokaryotes contributed to the birth of the eukaryotic genome, an event that paved the way to multicellular organisms such as plants and animals of today.

Dr. James Cotton (now at Queen Mary University of London) and Dr. James McInerney (NUI Maynooth) made use of both local facilities at NUI Maynooth and ICHEC resources to carry out the computational analyses.

Using yeast as a model eukaryotic genome, they discovered genes of archaebacterial and eubacterial origin and found that the former group represent genes which are often more central/essential for the organism. The indications are that the two ancestral prokaryotes played different and complementary roles in shaping the very first eukaryotic genome.

Reference:

James A. Cotton and James O. McInerney (2010). Eukaryotic genes of archaebacterial origin are more important than the more numerous eubacterial genes, irrespective of function. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 107(40): 17252-17255 [link to paper]

Media coverage:

Irish Times article

Irish Independent article

Science Foundation Ireland press release

RTÉ Morning Ireland interview with Dr. James McInerney

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