Where do new genes come from? Traditionally, scientists assumed that new genes came from old genes, in a process of duplication and divergence. But this creates a chicken and egg problem, going back to some ancient big bang of gene origination. New evidence suggests that new genes may instead be continuously appearing out of non-coding 'junk' DNA. The goals of this project are to document the processes behind this de novo gene emergence, and to explain why the expression of non-coding DNA sequences may be less deleterious than once thought. This will be achieved both with mathematical models of the processes involved, and with bioinformatic studies of whole genomes in which new genes are appearing.
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