Discovery of novel genes and other lineage-specific features through comparative genomics

Claudio V. Mello, Peter V. Lovell, Morgan Wirthlin

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

1 Scopus citations


We are broadly interested in how genomic features that are unique to a given species or lineage may be associated with behavioral phenotypes uniquely expressed by that species or lineage. We discuss how we utilize comparative genomics to identify novel genes or paralogs uniquely present in a given species or lineage of interest. Our strategy relies extensively on local and comparative genomic alignments of gene predictions using the BLAST-like alignment tool (BLAT), in conjunction with extensive and thorough examination of alignments and synteny to verify or disprove orthology. Follow-ups include examination of conserved domains and gene expression analysis in relevant brain circuits. We have successfully employed this strategy to identify novel genes that are uniquely present in songbirds, a vocal learning group, and expressed in their vocal control circuitry. We expect our strategy to be applicable to other models, and that its systematic application will significantly improve gene annotations in newly assembled genomes of interest.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationMolecular-Genetic and Statistical Techniques for Behavioral and Neural Research
Number of pages17
ISBN (Electronic)9780128040782
ISBN (Print)9780128041161
StatePublished - Jan 1 2018


  • Comparative genomics
  • De novo gene
  • Gene annotation
  • Novel gene
  • Paralog
  • Strategy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)
  • Neuroscience(all)


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