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Title: Genome-wide analysis of selection in mammals, insects and fungi
Author: Ridout, Kate E.
ISNI:       0000 0004 2725 5070
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2012
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Characterising and understanding factors that affect the rate of molecular evolution in proteins has played a major part in the development of evolutionary theory. The early analyses of amino acid substitutions stimulated the development of the neutral theory of molecular evolution, which later evolved into the nearly neutral theory. More recent work has lead to a better understanding of the role selection plays at the molecular level, but there is still limited understanding of how higher levels of protein organisation affect the way natural selection acts. The investigation of this question is the central aim of this thesis, which is addressed via the analysis of selective pressures in secondary protein structures in insects, mammals and fungi. The analyses for the first two groups were conducted using publically available datasets. To conduct the analyses in fungi, genome sequence data from the fungal genus Microbotryum (sequenced in our laboratory) was assembled and annotated, resulting in the development of a number of bioinformatics tools which are described here. The fungal, insect and mammalian datasets were interrogated with regard to a number of structural features, such as protein secondary structure, position of a site with regard to adaptively evolving sites, hydropathy and solvent-accessibility. These features were correlated with the signals of positive and purifying selection detected using phylogenetic maximum likelihood and Bayesian approaches. I conclude that all of the factors examined can have an effect on the rate of molecular evolution. In particular, disordered and hydrophilic regions of the protein are found to experience fewer physiochemical constraints and contain a higher proportion of adaptively evolving sites. It is also revealed that positively selected residues are ‘clustered’ together spatially, and these trends persist in the three taxa. Finally, I show that this variation in adaptive evolution is a result of both selective events and physiochemical constraint.
Supervisor: Filatov, Dmitry A. Sponsor: Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Bioinformatics (life sciences) ; Biology ; Genetics (life sciences) ; Evolution,ecology and systematics ; Evolution (zoology) ; Bioinformatics ; genetics ; genomics ; evolution ; selection ; protein structure ; next generation sequencing ; NGS assembly ; Microbotryum