Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Chickens are evolving 15 TIMES faster than expected

Evolution is typically a slow and steady process, often occurring over the course of hundreds and thousands of years. So researchers were surprised to recently discover that the genetic makeup of chickens has mutated twice within just half a century. Such changes in the mitochondrial genomes were thought to only change about 2 per cent every million years, suggesting that the birds are evolving a staggering 15 times faster than expected. The discovery was made by researchers from the Universities of Oxford and York. They studied the genes of White Plymouth Rock chickens, a pedigree breed, and found that two mutations had occurred in the mitochondrial genomes of the birds in just 50 years. It was also discovered that in one case, mitochondrial DNA had been passed down from the father, showing that so-called 'parental leakage' is not as rare as previously believed. The research, published in Biology Letters, suggests there could be a disparity between long-term and short-term estimates of mitochondrial changes. It also shows that mitochondrial changes are not always inherited from the mother...more

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