Gene Ontology (GO) is a database comprised of terms describing biological information that can be associated to gene products, categorized in “biological process”, “molecular function” and “cellular component”. These GO terms have been attributed to genes of diverse organisms from unicellular to plants and animals. Many terms have been annotated to several different species and can be looked upon through a comparative biology view. This allows us to inspect their taxonomic distribution, from which we can infer the clade of origin of the processes and functions described by these Gene Ontology terms. We studied the taxonomic distribution and inferred a putative ancestral clade for GO terms related to development, focusing on children of the term “developmental process” GO:0032502. We observed that while some biological processes are ancient, there are processes which have originated more recently in evolutionary history, some being restricted to placental mammals, or plants with flowers. Our approach was able to reveal the approximate period in evolution when the processes have risen.
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