Winging It

Science Signaling  28 Feb 2012:
Vol. 5, Issue 213, pp. ec69
DOI: 10.1126/scisignal.2002992

Genes that explain phenotypic variation between species have only been identified within a handful of model organisms, which limits the scope and understanding of the genetics of phenotypic diversification. On investigating the phenotypic diversity in wing size among wasps of the genus Nasonia, Loehlin and Werren have identified the genetic basis of a morphological difference between two closely related species and showed how changes in regulatory elements have evolved to change expression of a single gene, unpaired-like (upd-like), a functionally conserved signaling gene. Overall, it appeared that significant morphological change was achieved through a series of relatively rapid but small-scale changes.

D. W. Loehlin, J. H. Werren, Evolution of shape by multiple regulatory changes to a growth gene. Science 335, 943–947 (2012). [Abstract] [Full Text]