About this Research Topic
Current understanding of biological processes and evolutionary biology is mostly gained through study of a few chosen model organisms. To expand our knowledge of other biological phenomena that occur in nature, we need to study diverse organisms. While a wealth of knowledge has been amassed form the study of model organisms, in parallel, many laboratories have ventured to study other unconventional organisms. These studies have provided insights into several interesting biological processes.
Organisms were historically chosen based on the ease of their propagation and genetic manipulation and as a result, research questions emerged from the chosen organisms. Phages, Bacteria and Yeasts were traditionally the work horses for molecular biology whereas Drosophila, C. elegans, Zebra fish, Arabidopsis served as great models for studying development. However, there is tremendous biodiversity on this planet and the existing model organisms don’t represent the spectrum of diversity.
It is becoming increasingly clear that although there is a common theme of molecular processes across organisms, several interesting variations exist. To enable us to appreciate and understand the diversity of biological processes, studying a variety of model systems is important. Through these novel model systems, we may discover new principles, pathways and biological processes. Laboratories across the world are studying unconventional model organisms such as Hydra, Planaria, Dinoflagellates, unconventional yeasts, anaerobic bacteria, etc with novel genetic approaches. This Topic aims to highlight the use of unconventional model systems that have enabled us to ask a wider range of questions in genomic evolution and microbiology.
Model organisms have also been chosen for their tractability in experimental research and the multiple tools available to study them. However, the advent of low-cost DNA and RNA sequencing, the ability to identify proteins on a large scale, adaptation of gene editing tools and advanced microscopy, has vastly increased the scope of using these unconventional models. This has not only led to broadening and refining our understanding of biological processes but also enabled us to ask new questions and discover new phenomena. The special insights we have gained from studying these organisms have improved our understanding of fundamental processes and appreciate the evolutionary context of the development of these processes.
In this issue, we would like to highlight advances made in all fields of biology, such as cell division, epigenetics, cell signalling, body pattern, cytoskeleton, multicellularity or evolution, using these unconventional models in prokaryotes and simple eukaryotes like fungi, protists and lower metazoans, combined with genomic approaches.
The topic will consider full articles, short reports reviews and opinions. In addition, we also would consider new techniques/technologies/ methods developed that would be of wider relevance
Keywords: microbiology, prokaryotes, unconventional model systems, biological models, pathways, biology, bacteria, yeast, organisms, genomics
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