CASE STUDY IN MOLECULAR EVOLUTION NO. 3
Written by Harold B. White, Sept 1993, revised 1995, 1997, 2000
C-647 BIOCHEMICAL EVOLUTION, FALL 2002
Allan C. Wilson
|Allan C. Wilson (1934-1991), perhaps the foremost molecular evolutionist in recent time (1-3), never shied from controversy. His lifelong interest in natural history and biological evolution gave him the uncanny ability to identify the unresolved, controversial issues of phylogeny and evolutionary theory that he and his associates could address with modern biochemical techniques (4-18). Repeatedly he confronted biologists and anthropologists with data that challenged their cherished models. For his work he received a MacArthur Foundation fellowship, dubbed the "Genius Award" because the recipients are often outstanding but unconventional thinkers from diverse fields (19). He was a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the Royal Society of London.|
In the subsequent years Wilson and his coworkers continued
to collect data to test the "Eve Hypothesis." They sequenced particular segments
of mitochondrial DNA from over 200 individuals (23,24),
and their conclusions remained consistent. In addition, another group using
restriction mapping of mitochondrial DNA from 3065 humans also concluded that
humans had a recent origin in Africa although they refused to set a date
Thus, in 1991 when Allan Wilson died while being treated for leukemia, there
seemed to be consistency in the results and growing support for his conclusions
Focus Questions for Initial Group Discussion (Wednesday, 9 October)
What are the characteristics of mitochondrial DNA? (Size, structure, proteins and RNA's encoded, mode of inheritance (47), unusual properties, etc.)
Make a reasonable estimate (based on a rationale that you can explain to other groups) how long it has been since all the people in your group had a common ancestor. We will share the estimates and their basis before the end of class.
What would you want to know (learning issues) in order to evaluate the claims of Wilson and his challengers? Make a list of at least ten specific questions.
1. Jukes, T. & Zuckerkandl, E. (1991) "Remembering Allan Wilson," J. Mol. Evol. 33, ii.
2. Felsenstein, J. (1991) "Allan Charles Wilson (1934-1991)" Nature 353, 19.
3. Gibbons, A. (1991) "Systematics goes molecular" Science 251, 872-874.
4. Wilson, A. C., Cahn, R. D. & Kaplan, N. O. (1963) "Functions of the two forms of lactate dehydrogenase in the breast muscle of birds" Nature 197, 331-334.
5. Kitto, G. B. & Wilson, A. C. (1966) "Evolution of malate dehydrogenase in birds" Science 153, 1408-1410.
6. Sarich, V. M. & Wilson, A. C. (1967) "Immunological time scale for hominid evolution" Science 158, 1200-1203.
7. Wallace D. G., Maxson, L. R. & Wilson, A. C. (1971) "Albumen evolution in frogs: A test of the evolutionary clock hypothesis" Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 68, 3127-3129.
8. Wilson, A. C., Mason, L. R. & Sarich, V. M. (1974) "Two types of molecular evolution. Evidence from studies of interspecific hybridization" Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. 71, 2843-2847.
9. King, M-C. & Wilson, A. C. (1975) "Evolution at two levels in humans and chimpanzees" Science 188, 107-116 (see also commentary Science 189, 446-447).
10. Wilson, A. C., Carlson, S. S. & White, T. J. (1977) "Biochemical evolution" Ann. Rev. Biochem. 46, 573-639.
11. Cherry. L. M., Case, S. M. & Wilson, A. C. (1978) "Frog perspective on the morphological difference between humans and chimpanzees" Science 200, 209-211.
12. Ferris, S. D., Brown, W. M., Davidson, W. S. & Wilson, A. C. (1981) "Extensive polymorphism in the mitochondrial DNA of apes" Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 78, 6319-6323.
13. Brown, W. M., Prager, E. M., Wang, A. & Wilson, A. C. (1982) "Mitochondrial DNA sequences of primates: Tempo and mode of evolution" J. Mol. Evol. 18, 225-239.
14. Beverley, S. M. & Wilson, A. C. (1985) "Ancient origin for Hawaiian Drosophilinae inferred from protein comparisons" Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 82, 4753-4757.
15. Stewart, C-B., Shilling, J. W. & Wilson, A. C. (1987) "Adaptive evolution in the stomach lysozymes of foregut fermenters" Nature 330, 401-404 (commentary Nature330, 315).
16. Pääbo, S., Gifford, J. A. & Wilson, A. C. (1988) "Mitochondrial DNA sequences from a 7000-year-old brain" Nuc. Acid Res. 16, 9775-9787.
17. Prager, E. & Wilson, A. C. (1988) "Ancient origin of lactalbumin from lysozyme: Analysis of DNA and amino acid sequences" J. Mol. Evol. 27, 326-335.
18. Pääbo, S., Higuchi, R. G. & Wilson, A. C. (1989) "Ancient DNA and the polymerase chain reaction" J. Biol. Chem. 264, 9709-9712.
19. Brown, M. H. (1990) The Search for Eve, 357 pp, Harper & Row, Publishers, New York.
20. Cann, R. L., Stoneking, M. & Wilson, A. C. (1987) "Mitochondrial DNA and human evolution" Nature 325, 31-36.
21. Johnson, M. J., Wallace, D. C., Ferris, S. D., Rattazzi, M. C. & Cavalli-Sforza, L. L. (1983) "Radiation of human mitochondrial DNA types analyzed by restriction endonuclease cleavage patterns"J. Mol. Evol. 19. 255-271.
22. Cavalli-Sforza, L. L., Manozzi, P., & Piazza, A. (1993) Demic expansions and human evolution. Science 259, 639- 646.
23. DiRienzo, A. & Wilson, A. C. (1991) "Branching pattern in the evolutionary tree for human mitochondrial DNA" Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 88, 1597-1601.
24. Vigilant, L., Stoneking, M., Harpending, H., Hawkes, K. & Wilson, A. C. (1991) "African populations in the evolution of human mitochondrial DNA" Science 253, 1503-1507.
25. Merriwether, D., Clark, A. G., Ballinger, S. W., Schurr, T. G., Soodyall, H., Jenkins, T., Sherry, S. T. & Wallace, D. C. (1991) "The structure of human mitochondrial DNA variation" J. Mol. Evol. 33, 543-555.
26. Angier, N. (1991) "New debate over humankind's ancestors" The New York Times, October 1, p. C1,6.
47. Awadalla, P., Eyre-Walker, A., and Smith, J. M. (1999) Linkage Disequilibrium and recombination in hominid mitochondrial DNA. Science 286, 2524 - 2525. (commentary)
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