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Evolution at the molecular level. Edited by Robert K. Selander Andrew G. Clark and Thomas C. Whittam. Sunderland MA Sinauer Associates. 1991. xii + 350 pp. $28

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chance to explore the many facets of the
modern discipline of human osteology. The
text with its interesting case studies allows
the reader to experience discovery and process, as well as to learn descriptive osteology.
Department of Anthropology
California State University
Fullerton, California
DuBose and Hart1 discuss the population
genetics and evolutionary genetics of E. coli
using the alkaline phosphatase gene. Both
the gene (phoA)and gene product have been
well characterized. The authors take a structural approach in describing experimental
Enthusiasm and interest in the use of manipulation of amino acid sequences by
molecular techniques have risen in recent mechanically altering the amino acid sedecades and continue to grow in many fields quence in phoA.
Mammalian molecular genetics is the subincluding biological and molecular anthropology. This excitement is reflected in scien- ject of four papers. Yokoyama examines the
tific meetings where molecular evolution evolution of human HIV and related retroviand molecular techniques are increasingly ruses, including the epidemiology of AIDS
the focus of discussion. The 13 papers pre- and the relationship between HIV and other
sented in this book are the result of a sympo- viruses. Nei and Hughes examine polymorsium jointly by the Society for the Study of phism and the evolutionary relationships of
Evolution and the American Society of Nat- the MHC loci in mammals. The MHC loci are
uralists in June of 1989. The 26 contributors an extremely complex cluster of genes coding
provide a broad sampling of the field of the major histocompatibility molecules. The
molecular evolutionary studies.
authors use phylogenetic analysis to assess
Four papers on bacterial molecular evolu- nucleotide diversity and estimates of hettion are included in this volume. Woese pro- erozygosity to quantitate and support the
vides a useful review of his now classic work relationships they develop.
Hedrick, Klitz, Robinson, Kuhner, and
on bacterial phylogeny using ribosomal
RNA. In a well-written introduction to his Thompson take a similar approach to Nei
chapter Woese places his research in histor- and Hughes to examine the MHC system in
ical perspective by discussing the impact and humans (HLA). The genetics of the HLA
importance of examining organisms at the system is described with clarity and the
molecular level to understanding microbial complex association between HLA antigens
phylogeny. Crawford and Milkman examine and disease is reviewed. They examine such
genes involved in the tryptophan synthetic aspects of the molecular evolution as neupathway. This paper illustrates a number of trality, amino acid heterozygosity, linkage
the issues that contribute to the debate over disequilibrium, and segregation distortion.
the relationship between gene trees and phy- The interesting discussion of the frequency
logenies of organisms and discusses the in- of disease within racial groups is somewhat
teresting possibility of lateral gene transfer obscured by the authors confusing use of
between bacterial phyla. In this way the racial classification. Data are presented on
authors offer a unique system to study or- blacks, negroes, Africans, Asians, Orientals,
Japanese and Chinese, Caucasians, and Euthology and parology in molecules.
Selander, Beltran, and Smith review the ropeans with no explanation of these terms
evolutionary genetics of Salmonella, an im- or the distinction between them.
portant organism due to its relationship to
Hardison reviews the literature on the use
pathogenicity and epidemiology. Selander of globin genes in studies of molecular evoluet al. point out the importance of the growing tion. Hardison’s discussion of gene phylogfield of bacterial genetics, and they review eny revolves around the evolution of like
methods available for assaying genetic vari- gene clusters which has been studied extenation using distance analysis to reconstruct sively in mammals. Alternative hypotheses
relationships at the population level among regarding the history of these gene clusters
different strains of Salmonella.
in eutherians are presented and evaluated.
by Robert K. Selander, Andrew G. Clark,
and Thomas C. Whittam. Sunderland,
MA: Sinauer Associates. 1991. xii + 350
pp. $28.95 (paper).
Finally five papers are included that are
general reviews of molecular processes. Two
chapters review literature on the evolution
of organelle genomes. Birky reviews the theoretical literature on the evolution and population genetics of organelles and organellar
genes. Principles and theory of population
genetics are modified to apply to the evolution of organelle genes and these models are
presented and explained in a clear manner.
Birky’s discussion is complemented by the
chapter authored by Clegg, Learn, and Golenberg that concentrates on the evolution of
the chloroplast genome. Heterogeneity in
the rate of chloroplast DNA evolution in
plant lineages is explored. Clegg et al. also
provide an interesting discussion on the evolution of gene content and of introns in the
chloroplast genome.
The distribution and population genetics
of transposable elements and other kinds of
selfish DNA are the subjects of two chapters
included in this volume. The first of these is
by Charlesworth and Langley and reviews
the available experimental data and theoretical work on transposable elements in Drosophila. The authors present population
models for predicting the distribution of
transposable elements in diploid, randomly
mating populations. Wu and Hammer review information on meiotic drive genes, one
class of genes that has been described as
“ultraselfish.” Three examples of this phenomenon are described in detail: the SexRatio condition in Drosophila, Segregation
Distorter in Drosophila, and the t-complex in
mice. Models and mechanisms that may explain the maintenance of meioic drive genes
are explored.
Kreitman reviews the contribution of molecular sequence data to the resolution of
questions concerning the relative importance of selection and stochastic forces in
maintaining genetic variation in natural
populations. As an illustration of a case
where departure from selective neutrality
can be demonstrated, Kreitman summarizes
the results of his study of sequence polymorphism in Drosophila melanogaster for the
A d h locus.
The chapters in this book are paired or
grouped together to complement each other.
Beyond these obvious groupings I confess
that the logic behind the overall organization
(the order in which the chapters appear)
escaped me. Chapters varied a great deal in
terms of the clarity and usefulness of the
figures, tables, and illustrations, but in gen-
eral the text is complemented by clear figures.
Superficially the organisms represented
in these chapters might appear to limit the
utility of this book to biological anthropologists. Humans are the focus of two chapters
and these stand out as being of more general
interest. However, the discussion and theoretical background covered in many of the
chapters serve as useful references or points
of departure for the discussion of many of the
major debates that preoccupy the field of
molecular evolution and will be of interest to
any anthropologists interested in or using
molecular data. The bias of the editors toward the usefulness of distance measures
and methods for analyzing distance data for
evolutionary studies is evident.
Three chapters in this book stand out as
being especially useful each for very different reasons. Anthropologists wishing to fully
appreciate the complexity associated with
using mitochondria1 DNA for reconstructing
phylogeny will find Birky’s discussion of organelle gene evolution and the population
genetics of organelle genes useful. Yokoyama’s chapter on the molecular evolution of
HIV is so clearly and interestingly presented
that I imagine it would be of interest to any
anthropologist (both biological and social)
whose research touches on the AIDS epidemic. Finally, I would point to Kreitman’s
chapter on selection at the molecular evolution as being of broad interest to both molecular anthropologists and to any anthropologist interested in the neutralisthelectionist
debate. I might add that I believe that these
three chapters are among the best written
and most clearly presented contributions in
this volume.
I am hesitant to recommend strongly that
this collection be added to your library. I
would be hard pressed to envision the seminar that could be organized around this collection and frankly this is what I am most
often in the market for when I buy an edited
volume. Readings from this volume could be
usefully combined with selections from Molecular Systematics by Hillis and Moritz for
any student of anthropology required to
delve into the complexities of molecular data
or interested in molecular evolution or systematics.
Department of Biology
Hofs tra University
Hempstead, New York
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andrei, xii, associates, selander, level, molecular, sinauer, whittam, evolution, roberts, 350, 1991, clarke, thomas, edited, sunderland
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