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Keeping positive: protein evolution and the tree of life

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Dr James Kirkbride.

In the study of evolution, useful features are often identified because of their constraint, or evolutionary persistence through time. For example: once animals evolved eyes (a very useful organ), they were retained in all subsequent generations.

Similarly, biological molecules such as proteins also show signals of constraint: the more important parts of proteins, such as the catalytic core, are generally better conserved.

However, there has been much interest in identifying what is known as positive Darwinian selection, whereby change is favoured over constraint. I will discuss my recent work on pinpointing positive selection in vertebrate genomes and how these issues relate to larger questions in biology.

This talk is part of the Darwin College Sciences Group series.

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