Comparative genomics

Whereas this book focuses on problems of ecology we have discussed evolutionary issues only marginally. In the last few years the field of comparative genomics has expanded its scope tremendously and is responsible for many exciting discoveries. Using techniques such as phylogenetic footprinting and phylogenetic shadowing information is obtained about the content of a genome in such a way that maximal use is made of homologies elsewhere in the tree of life. Using comparative genomics, organismal groups with unclear phylogenetic affiliation will soon be positioned solidly. Interestingly, new species are being sequenced not for the sake of these species but for the sake of a more or less distant model (usually humans). This development can actually benefit ecology. An example is the availability of a full genome sequence for the sea squirt, Ci. intestinalis, which was sequenced for comparative reasons, but is an equally good model for ecological studies in the coastal marine environment. We expect that the science of molecular evolution, supported by comparative genomics, is facing a glorious future.

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