Comparative genomics of yeast species: new insights into their biology
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The genomes of two hemiascomycetous yeasts (Saccharomyces cerevisiae and Candida albicans) and one archiascomycete (Schizosaccharomyces pombe) have been completely sequenced and the genes have been annotated. In addition, the genomes of 13 more Hemiascomycetes have been partially sequenced. The amount of data thus obtained provides information on the evolutionary relationships between yeast species. In addition, the differential genetic characteristics of the microorganisms explain a number of distinctive biological traits. Gene order conservation is observed between phylogenetically close species and is lost in distantly related species, probably due to rearrangements of short regions of DNA. However, gene function is much more conserved along evolution. Compared to S. cerevisiae and S. pombe, C. albicans has a larger number of specific genes, i.e., genes not found in other organisms, a fact that can account for the biological characteristics of this pathogenic dimorphic yeast which is able to colonize a large variety of environments.