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Bioinformatic approaches for detecting homologous genes in the genomes of non-model organisms: A case study of wing development genes in insect genomes
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Science and Technology, Biology, Department of Ecology and Genetics, Evolutionary Biology. (Husby Lab)
2019 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (professional degree), 20 credits / 30 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

Identifying homologous genes, that is genes from a common ancestor, is important in comparative genomic studies for understanding gene annotation and the predicted function of a gene. Several pieces of software, of which the most well-known is BLAST, have been developed for identifying homologues, but this can be challenging in non-model organisms where sometimes poor quality of genome assemblies and lack of annotation make it difficult to robustly identify homologues. The aim of this project was to build a bioinformatic framework for homology detection using genomes from non-model organisms. The approach developed used genome annotations, annotated polypeptide sequences and genome assembly sequences to detect homologous genes.The framework was applied to identify Drosophila melanogaster homologous wing development genes in the genomes of nine other insect species with the aim to understand the evolution of loss of wings. To identify changes related to wing loss, the homologous protein sequences obtained were aligned and phylogenetic trees were built from them. The aim of creating the multiple protein alignments and phylogenetic trees was to shed light on whether changes in gene sequences can be related to presence or absence of wings. From the set of 21 candidate wing development genes identified with literature and subsequent database searches, I tested eight and was successful in identifying homologues for all of them in eight of the 10 in sectgenomes. This was done using a combination of text searches in genome annotations, searches with Exonerate v. 2.4.0 alignment program in annotated polypeptide sequences and in genome assemblies. The eight genes chosen for testing the framework were based on initial finding of putative homologues in the eight insect genomes when using the first two steps of the framework. For the set of homologous wing development genes examined I was not able to identify any conclusive pattern of potential protein coding changes that correlated with loss of wings in these species. Improvement to the current pipeline could include using query sequences from closer relatives of the 8 test species than D. melanogaster and, of course, testing of the remaining wing development genes as well as further literature study of wing development genes. Together these could improve future studies on the evolution of wing loss in insects.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2019. , p. 31
Series
UPTEC X ; 19045
Keywords [en]
bioinformatics, homology detection, exonerate, BLAST, non-model organisms, homologous genes, wing development genes
National Category
Bioinformatics and Systems Biology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-398072OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-398072DiVA, id: diva2:1374470
Educational program
Molecular Biotechnology Engineering Programme
Supervisors
Examiners
Available from: 2019-12-03 Created: 2019-12-02 Last updated: 2019-12-03Bibliographically approved

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