Reconstruction of the ancestral metazoan genome reveals an increase in genomic novelty

Jordi Paps*, Peter W.H. Holland

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

30 Citations (Scopus)
147 Downloads (Pure)


Understanding the emergence of the Animal Kingdom is one of the major challenges of modern evolutionary biology. Many genomic changes took place along the evolutionary lineage that gave rise to the Metazoa. Recent research has revealed the role that co-option of old genes played during this transition, but the contribution of genomic novelty has not been fully assessed. Here, using extensive genome comparisons between metazoans and multiple outgroups, we infer the minimal protein-coding genome of the first animal, in addition to other eukaryotic ancestors, and estimate the proportion of novelties in these ancient genomes. Contrary to the prevailing view, this uncovers an unprecedented increase in the extent of genomic novelty during the origin of metazoans, and identifies 25 groups of metazoan-specific genes that are essential across the Animal Kingdom. We argue that internal genomic changes were as important as external factors in the emergence of animals.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1730
Number of pages8
JournalNature Communications
Publication statusPublished - 30 Apr 2018

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