In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Evolution of New Genes

  • Introduction
  • General Overviews
  • Journals
  • Defining New Genes
  • History

Evolutionary Biology Evolution of New Genes
Manyuan Long
  • LAST REVIEWED: 12 April 2023
  • LAST MODIFIED: 13 January 2014
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199941728-0012


Every gene has its first day in evolution. Thus it is no surprise that gene origination is viewed as a general evolutionary process. The outcomes of these origination events, in which new genes are created in a genome, add evolutionary novelties in genetics and functions to organisms. New genes have attracted increasing attention among evolutionary biologists and laymen, impacting studies in multiple fields of biology and public understanding of evolution. The studies of new genes have attempted to reveal the origination process, the underlying mechanisms, and the consequences on evolution of species. It has become obvious that with more known about the specifics in evolution and biological properties of new genes, more challenging and interesting scientific problems have been also raised, rendering the studies a more active field.

General Overviews

Many authors have contributed detailed reviews of new gene evolution since the first general overview appeared in Long, et al. 2003, which was updated in Long, et al. 2013. This article attempts to provide literature for an overarching framework for understanding the general concepts and mechanisms of new gene evolution. For detailed reviews of studies of new genes generated by specific mutational processes, see Kaessmann, et al. 2009 (cited under RNA-Based Gene Duplication) and Innan and Kondrashov 2010. For overviews of the consequences of multiple mutational mechanisms of new gene formation, see Kaessmann 2010 and Ding, et al. 2012. Losos, et al. 2013 and Long, et al. 2013 provide comprehensive overviews of new gene evolution and its related issues. Chen, et al. 2013 reviews progress in understanding the role of new genes in phenotypic evolution.

  • Chen, S. D., B. Krinsky, and M. Long. 2013. New genes as a driver of phenotypic evolution. Nature Reviews Genetics 14:645–660.

    DOI: 10.1038/nrg3584

    A comprehensive review and discussion of the role of new genes in phenotypic evolution. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

  • Ding, Y., Q. Zhou, and W. Wang. 2012. Origins of new genes and evolution of their novel functions. Annual Review of Ecology, Evolution, and Systematics 43:345–363.

    DOI: 10.1146/annurev-ecolsys-110411-160513

    In this review, the molecular functions of new genes that originated through various mechanisms were summarized. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

  • Innan, H., and F. Kondrashov. 2010. The evolution of gene duplications: Classifying and distinguishing between models. Nature Reviews Genetics 11:97–108.

    DOI: 10.1038/nrg2689

    Among many reviews on the topic of gene duplication, this review stood out as a model-classification analysis for various consequences of gene duplication including neofunctionalization. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

  • Kaessmann, H. 2010. Origins, evolution, and phenotypic impact of new genes. Genome Research 20:1313–1326.

    DOI: 10.1101/gr.101386.109

    This review called attention to the phenotypic effects of new genes that were created through several mechanisms.

  • Long, M., E. Betrán, K. Thornton, and W. Wang. 2003. The origin of new genes: Glimpses from the young and old. Nature Reviews Genetics 4.11: 865–875.

    DOI: 10.1038/nrg1204

    This early review provided the first complete picture of the active experimental research and evolutionary analysis of new genes. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

  • Long, M., N. Van Kuren, S. D. Chen, and M. Vibranovski. 2013. Origination and evolution of new genes. Annual Review of Genetics 47:1681–1686.

    An update of the Long, et al. 2003 review of the entire field of new gene evolution. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

  • Losos, J., D. Baum, D. Futuyma, et al. 2013. Princeton guide to evolution. Princeton, NJ: Princeton Univ. Press.

    This is a rich collection of chapters for educational purpose, including the topic of new gene evolution and related issues in molecular evolution.

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