Comparative Genome Biology
Led by Professor Frank Grutzner (School of Biological Sciences)
The comparison of genes, genomes and epigenetic mechanisms in different species has provided many fundamental insights into how genes function in humans, how they evolved, and how they contribute to diseases. Studying genes in species distantly related to humans has also helped the development of novel drugs including treatment for type 2 diabetes.
The Comparative Genome Biology Group studies gene evolution in mammalian species distantly related to humans - monotremes in particular. Monotremes (platypus and echidna) have an extraordinary sex chromosome system that can reveal novel genes and pathways involved in sex determination and differentiation in all mammals, including humans. Monotremes have undergone radical changes to their stomach anatomy and physiology, accompanied by massive loss or change of genes involved in digestion. Studying monotremes provides the opportunity to identify the role of key genes involved in stomach function and metabolism in humans, and may lead to the identification of new therapeutic targets for metabolic diseases such as diabetes.