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Genetic structure of first animal to show evolutionary response to climate change determined
Date:8/24/2010

, encephalitis and malaria.

The mosquito in question lives within the water-filled leaves of the purple pitcher plant, Sarracenia purpurea, also known as the side-saddle flower, whose range includes the eastern seaboard of the U.S., the Great Lakes and southeastern Canada.

Sarracenia purpurea is the most common and widely distributed pitcher plant, and is the only member of the genus that inhabits cold temperate climates. Where the purple pitcher plant is found, so, too, is Wyeomyia smithii.

Before the time of Darwin, biologists sought links between apparently related groups of plants and animals with an eye toward understanding the world around us.

Relatedness was first described primarily as similarity in morphological characteristics: broad groupings of organisms were classified into orders, families and genera, much like one describes resemblance among one's extended family.

Early classification of organisms became more refined as developmental, physiological and behavioral observations were incorporated into these broad categories.

With the revelation of gene-based relationships, the search for an increasingly detailed understanding of genetic patterns became a driving force throughout all biological disciplines.

New technologies heralded new advances. "We have now arrived at an era in which genetically similar groups can be clustered quickly and at very low cost to effect a near-endless number of applications," says William Cresko, also a co-author of the PNAS paper.

Researchers can accurately describe genome-wide variation to shed light on evolution at the population level, to predict patterns of invasion of species during rapid climate change, and to correlate gene-based illnesses with susceptible human populations on a local or worldwide scale.

"The RAD-Tag protocol has increased the resolution of genetic relatedness among populations by 100-fold over previous mol
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Contact: Cheryl Dybas
cdybas@nsf.gov
703-292-7734
National Science Foundation
Source:Eurekalert  

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