Important new studies of the evolution of birds and mammals relied on Progressive Cactus, a genome alignment tool developed at the UC Santa Cruz Genomics Institute
By Tim Stephens |November 11, 2020
Three papers published November 11 in Nature present major advances in understanding the evolution of birds and mammals, made possible by new methods for comparing the genomes of hundreds of species.
Comparative genomics uses genomic data to study the evolutionary relationships among species and to identify DNA sequences with essential functions conserved across many species. This approach requires an alignment of the genome sequences so that corresponding positions in different genomes can be compared, but that becomes increasingly difficult as the number of genomes grows.
Researchers at the UC Santa Cruz Genomics Institute developed a powerful new genome alignment method that has made the new studies possible, including the largest genome alignment ever achieved of more than 600 vertebrate genomes. The results provide a detailed view of how species are related to each other at the genetic level.