Society for Molecular Biology & Evolution

In June of 1982, a symposium entitled “Evolution of Genes and Proteins“ was held at the State University of New York at Stony Brook in conjunction with the joint meeting of the Society for the Study of Evolution and the American Society of Naturalists. At that symposium, Masatoshi Nei invited a group of molecular evolutionists for a meeting to start a new journal called Molecular Biology and Evolution. This proposal was approved by the majority of the attendants, and the journal was started in December 1983, with Walter Fitch as Editor-in-Chief and Masatoshi Nei as Managing Editor. The purpose of this journal was (1) to generate better communication between molecular biologists and evolutionary biologists, (2) to rapidly publish high-quality papers, (3) to make the journal available to a large international readership at an affordable price, and (4) to put forward a journal that is owned and controlled by the scientific community. To ensure the latter point, the Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution was formed. The Society has since held sole ownership of Molecular Biology and Evolution. Initially, the Society consisted of the Editor-in-Chief, the Managing Editor, the Associate Editors, and the Editorial Board Members.

The University of Chicago Press agreed to publish Molecular Biology and Evolution, and Volume 1 of the journal consisting of 6 issues was published in 1983-1984. By 1985 Molecular Biology and Evolution was ranked third among evolutionary journals on the basis of its Impact Factor, exceeded only by Genetics and Evolution. By 1991 it had become the leading journal in Evolutionary Biology.

In 1992, an International Symposium on Molecular Evolution at Pennsylvania State University was organized. At that meeting Masatoshi Nei and Walter Fitch proposed that the Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution become an active society with all individual subscribers becoming members. That proposal was enthusiastically endorsed by those present at the meeting. Walter Fitch was elected as the first President of the Society, Masatoshi Nei was chosen as President-Elect, Linda Maxson was elected as Secretary-Treasurer, Caro-Beth Stewart was elected as interim Councilor, and Barry Hall was elected as Editor of Molecular Biology and Evolution starting with Volume 11 in 1994. These five individuals were charged with the organization of a functional society and the writing of its bylaws. The Society officially activated on January 1, 1993.

The Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution is governed by a Council, which originally consisted of the President, Past-President, President-Elect, Secretary-Treasurer, and Editor-in-Chief of Molecular Biology and Evolution. Effective January 1994, the office of Treasurer was added to the Council, with Richard Hudson being elected as the first Treasurer. Effective January 1996, the Council was expanded to include three Councilors, each serving overlapping three-year terms. In 2008, the bylaws were amended, and the council currently consists of the immediate Past-President, President, President-Elect, Secretary, Treasurer, and three elected Councilors. In 2011, the number of Councilors was increased to six.

In 1994, the Council decided to assume publication of Molecular Biology and Evolution, thus ending its association with University of Chicago Press with the completion of Volume 12 in 1995. This decision gave the Society full financial control of the journal, and Allen Press was chosen to publish Molecular Biology and Evolution on behalf of the Society. By the end of 1995 Molecular Biology and Evolution had increased more than threefold in size, and the number of issues per volume was increased to ten. Molecular Biology and Evolution became a monthly journal in 1997 (Volume 14). In 2003, Oxford University Press became the publisher of Molecular Biology and Evolution on behalf of the Society. Since 2005, MBE has been publishing 250-300 papers per year and remained at the forefront of its field.

In 2008, the Council voted to create a second Society journal, Genome Biology and Evolution, with Takashi Gojobori as Founding Editor and William Martin as Editor-in-Chief. The Society owns Genome Biology and Evolution and contracted with Oxford University Press for publication. The motivation for establishing the new journal came from the growth of genomics and, as a consequence, the growth of genome-oriented evolutionary research. The first volume of GBE appeared in 2009. The annual meetings of SMBE have grown in scope and significance. They regularly draw over 800 participants and have witnessed a dramatic increase in SMBE-sponsored awards and prizes for young scientists.

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MBE | Most Read

Molecular Biology and Evolution

2017-06-02

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2017-06-02

From Chimps to Humans to Cold Sore Cousin Mixing Before Worldwide Spread

2017-05-11

Honing in on Culprit behind Fleece Variation in Domesticated Sheep

2017-05-08

2017-05-08

An Expanded History of Life on Earth at Your Fingertips

2017-05-08

Speciation and Genome Evolution in the Symbionts of Hominid Lice

2017-04-14

2017-04-13

2017-04-06

A Resource for Timelines, Timetrees, and Divergence Times

2017-04-06

2017-04-05

A Markov Clustering Approach to Study Population Genetic Structure

2017-04-05

2017-04-04

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2017-03-29

2017-03-28

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2017-03-27

2017-03-23

2017-03-21

2017-03-20

Eight Fast-Evolving Megacircles

2017-03-16

2017-03-15

New Insights from the Evolution of Human Chromosome 2 Ancestral Centromeric Region

2017-03-15

2017-03-13

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2017-03-01

the polycystine radiolarian Lithomelissa setosa (Nassellaria) and Sticholonche zanclea (Taxopodida). A phylogenomic approach using 255 genes finds Radiolaria and Foraminifera as separate monophyletic groups (together as Retaria), while Cercozoa is shown to be paraphyletic where Endomyxa is sister to Retaria. Analysis of the genetic components of the cytoskeleton and mapping of the evolution of these on the revised phylogeny of Rhizaria reveal lineage-specific gene duplications and neofunctionalization of α and β tubulin in Retaria, actin in Retaria and Endomyxa, and Arp2/3 complex genes in Chlorarachniophyta. We show how genetic innovations have shaped cytoskeletal structures in Rhizaria, and how single cell transcriptomics can be applied for resolving deep phylogenies and studying gene evolution in uncultured protist species.

GBE | Most Read

Genome Biology & Evolution

Extreme Mitogenomic Variation in Natural Populations of Chaetognaths

2017-06-14

Abstract
The extent of within-species genetic variation across the diversity of animal life is an underexplored problem in ecology and evolution. Although neutral genetic variation should scale positively with population size, mitochondrial diversity levels are believed to show little variation across animal species. Here, we report an unprecedented case of extreme mitochondrial diversity within natural populations of two morphospecies of chaetognaths (arrow worms). We determine that this diversity is composed of deep sympatric mitochondrial lineages, which are in some cases as divergent as human and platypus. Additionally, based on 54 complete mitogenomes, we observed mitochondrial gene order differences between several of these lineages. We examined nuclear divergence patterns (18S, 28S, and an intron) to determine the possible origin of these lineages, but did not find congruent patterns between mitochondrial and nuclear markers. We also show that extreme mitochondrial divergence in chaetognaths is not driven by positive selection. Hence, we propose that the extreme levels of mitochondrial variation could be the result of either a complex scenario of reproductive isolation, or a combination of large population size and accelerated mitochondrial mutation rate. These findings emphasize the importance of characterizing genome-wide levels of nuclear variation in these species and promote chaetognaths as a remarkable model to study mitochondrial evolution.

Unraveling the Population History of Indian Siddis

2017-06-14

Abstract
The Siddis are a unique Indian tribe of African, South Asian, and European ancestry. While previous investigations have traced their ancestral origins to the Bantu populations from subSaharan Africa, the geographic localization of their ancestry has remained elusive. Here, we performed biogeographical analysis to delineate the ancestral origin of the Siddis employing an admixture based algorithm, Geographical Population Structure (GPS). We evaluated the Siddi genomes in reference to five African populations from the 1000 Genomes project, two Bantu groups from the Human Genome Diversity Panel (HGDP) and five South Indian populations. The Geographic Population Structure analysis localized the ancestral Siddis to Botsawana and its present-day northeastern border with Zimbabwe, overlapping with one of the principal areas of secondary Bantu settlement in southeast Africa. Our results further indicated that while the Siddi genomes are significantly diverged from that of the Bantus, they manifested the highest genomic proximity to the North-East Bantus and the Luhyas from Kenya. Our findings resonate with evidences supporting secondary Bantu dispersal routes that progressed southward from the east African Bantu center, in the interlacustrine region and likely brought the ancestral Siddis to settlement sites in south and southeastern Africa from where they were disseminated to India, by the Portuguese. We evaluated our results in the light of existing historical, linguistic and genetic evidences, to glean an improved resolution into the reconstruction of the distinctive population history of the Siddis, and advance our knowledge of the demographic factors that likely contributed to the contemporary Siddi genomes.

The Genomic Impact of Gene Retrocopies: What Have We Learned from Comparative Genomics, Population Genomics, and Transcriptomic Analyses?

2017-06-14

Abstract
Gene duplication is a major driver of organismal evolution. Gene retroposition is a mechanism of gene duplication whereby a gene’s transcript is used as a template to generate retroposed gene copies, or retrocopies. Intriguingly, the formation of retrocopies depends upon the enzymatic machinery encoded by retrotransposable elements, genomic parasites occurring in the majority of eukaryotes. Most retrocopies are depleted of the regulatory regions found upstream of their parental genes; therefore, they were initially considered transcriptionally incompetent gene copies, or retropseudogenes. However, examples of functional retrocopies, or retrogenes, have accumulated since the 1980s. Here, we review what we have learned about retrocopies in animals, plants and other eukaryotic organisms, with a particular emphasis on comparative and population genomic analyses complemented with transcriptomic datasets. In addition, these data have provided information about the dynamics of the different “life cycle” stages of retrocopies (i.e., polymorphic retrocopy number variants, fixed retropseudogenes and retrogenes) and have provided key insights into the retroduplication mechanisms, the patterns and evolutionary forces at work during the fixation process and the biological function of retrogenes. Functional genomic and transcriptomic data have also revealed that many retropseudogenes are transcriptionally active and a biological role has been experimentally determined for many. Finally, we have learned that not only non-long terminal repeat retroelements but also long terminal repeat retroelements play a role in the emergence of retrocopies across eukaryotes. This body of work has shown that mRNA-mediated duplication represents a widespread phenomenon that produces an array of new genes that contribute to organismal diversity and adaptation.