Fruit fly gene from 'out of nowhere' may change ideas about how new genes are formed, researchers report
Scientists thought that most new genes were formed from existing genes, but Cornell researchers have discovered a gene in some fruit flies that appears to be unrelated to other genes in any known genome.
The new gene, called hydra, exists in only a small number of species of Drosophila fruit flies, which suggests it was created about 13 million years ago, when these melanogaster subgroup species diverged from a common ancestor.
And early evidence indicates that the new gene is functional (as opposed to being nonfunctional "junk" DNA) and is likely to express a protein involved in late stages of sperm cell development (spermatogenesis). This finding is consistent with work of other scientists who are discovering that many of the most recently formed functional genes in any species also are expressed in male testes and appear related to spermatogenesis