People in the Philippines have the most Denisovan DNA

Researchers have known from several lines of evidence that the ancient hominins known as the Denisovans interbred with modern humans in the distant past. Now researchers reporting in the journal Current Biology have discovered that the Philippine Negrito ethnic group known as the Ayta Magbukon have the highest level of Denisovan ancestry in the world. …

History of migration to the Philippines

A landmark study has revealed the complex shared origins, inter-relatedness, and genetic diversity of the Filipino people Taking advantage of the latest advances in genomics and computational biology, a team of researchers investigated 2.3 million DNA markers from 1000 individuals representing 115 Philippine cultural communities. The team included MEEP Lab member Professor Simon Ho and …

Journey to the East

The spread of a plant pathogen along the former trade routes of the Silk Road For nearly two thousand years, the Silk Road was an important network of trade routes connecting Europe to East Asia via the Middle East. The Silk Road allowed the exchange of culture, religion, livestock, and crops. It also provided a …

Fairy wrasses and fairy tales!

The fairy wrasses are a captivating and diverse group of fishes found throughout the Pacific and Indian Oceans. A study led by MEEP Lab PhD student Yi-Kai Tea has resolved the evolutionary relationships among fairy wrasses. By analysing a data set comprising nearly 1000 genetic markers, Kai reconstructed the evolutionary history and patterns of diversification …

“The Molecular Evolutionary Clock”

The Molecular Evolutionary Clock: Theory and Practice, edited by Simon Ho, has been published by Springer. This book contains 13 chapters on various aspects of molecular clocks, evolutionary rates, and phylogenomic dating. The book, as described on the publisher site, “presents coverage of the principles and practice of molecular clocks, which have provided fascinating and …

Angels in disguise

Angelfishes hybridise more frequently than any other coral reef species Why do some fish species form hybrids while others don’t? In attempting to answer this question, new research has uncovered that angelfish are the chief hybridisers of coral reef fish. Renowned journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B has a new front cover fish: the …

The effects of inbreeding on Thoroughbred racehorses

A scientific study conducted by researchers at the University of Sydney has uncovered breeding strategies to improve the athletic success of Thoroughbred racehorses. The researchers found that horses with higher levels of inbreeding tended to have reduced athletic ability. Thoroughbred horses are often mated with related individuals in order to select for desirable traits, ultimately …

How cathedral termites arrived to build their ‘skyscrapers’

They build among the tallest non-human structures (proportionately speaking) in the world and now it’s been discovered the termites that live in Australia’s remote Top End originated from overseas – rafting vast distances and migrating from tree-tops to the ground, as humans later did. Referred to as “cathedral” termites, theĀ Nasutitermes triodiaeĀ build huge mounds up to …

Oceans apart: Sampling the hawksbill turtle’s genetic diversity

Eight genetically distinct populations of hawksbill turtles have been identified in the Indo-Pacific Ocean. The study by researchers from the School of Life and Environmental Sciences has revealed connections between populations in different oceans and identified management units for conservation. Marine turtles travel around the world to feed and mate, but as the saying goes, …

Rapid bird evolution after the age of dinosaurs

The most ambitious genetic study ever undertaken on bird evolution has found that almost all modern birds diversified after the dinosaurs became extinct 66 million years ago. “The popular view until now has been that the extraordinary diversity of birds began during the dinosaur age but we found little support for this,” said Associate Professor …