Stock image, Michigan News.

Whether you're baking bread or building an organism, the key to success is consistently adding ingredients in the correct order and in the right amounts, according to a new genetic study by University of Michigan researchers.

Using the baker's yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae, Professor Patricia Wittkopp and her colleagues developed a novel way to disentangle the effects of random genetic mutations and natural selection on the evolution of gene expression. Their findings were published online in the journal Nature on March 16, 2015.

"These results tell us that the effects of mutations available for natural selection to act on can play a large role in how an organism evolves. The approach we developed allows us to test what those influences are and to better understand how evolution works," said Wittkopp, an associate professor in the U-M Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and in the Department of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology.

The first authors of the Nature paper are EEB graduate student Brian Metzger and former MCDB graduate student David Yuan, currently a postdoc at Stanford University. Coauthors are Jonathan Gruber, a former EEB postdoctoral fellow who is now a bioinformatics analyst at Monsanto and Fabien Duveau, postdoctoral fellow, of the U-M Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology.

Read the full Michigan News press release

Previously on the U-M Gateway