There's a kind of a convoluted sentence in this text and it interested me. I became curious why the Present Perfect is used here.
Deriving a parsimonious evolutionary scenario is based on the premise that over time, genetic change is relentless, such that distant relatives are expected to have fewer features in common than close relatives (Koonin et al., 2001). Therefore, the presence of some distinguishing genetic signal in a distant relative but absent from more closely related organisms contradicts this expectation. The most common causes of these anomalies are loss of the genetic signal in close relatives or gene acquisition in a distant relative.
In practice, genomes provide a wealth of data that can be used as a source of distinctive features that have revealed unexpected relationships indicative of HGT. Some of these features include biochemical/biological properties (Pierce et al., 2003; Wenzl et al., 2005), recombination signals in closely related organisms (EscobarPáramo et al., 2004; Hakenbeck et al., 2001), presence of mobile genetic elements (MGEs) or viral sequences (Burrus and Waldor, 2004; Paulsen et al., 2003; Welch et al., 2002), gene content pattern (Hall et al., 2005; Hao and Golding, 2004; Homma et al., 2007; Hong et al., 2004; Korbel et al., 2002), presence/absence of genomic features (Gupta and Griffiths, 2002; Kroll et al., 1998; Snyder et al., 2007), database searches for nearest relatives (Aravind et al., 1998; Parkinson and Blaxter, 2003; Ragan and Charlebois, 2002) and unequal rates of genetic divergence (Bromham and Penny, 2003; Novichkov et al., 2004).
(From "Risks from GMOs due to Horizontal Gene Transfer", by Paul Keese)
Does the sentence with the bolded part mean
Genomes provide a wealth of data. This data has been sifted through by scientists looking for some new genomic features allowing to detect horisontal gene transfer (HGT) events. You can also sift this data through, and maybe you'll find a previously undescribed distinctive feature associated with HGT. Such a feature will reveal some new unexpected relationship, which you as a phylogenetics expert will know cannot be there if not for a past HGT event.
I mean, does the author use the Present Perfect in order to stress that this array of known distinctive features is not yet complete, and that genomes serve as a source for mining for new "distinctive features"?
Otherwhise, I would see no reason for not simplifying the sentence to
In practice, genomes provide a wealth of data that can be used as a source of distinctive features that speak of unexpected relationships indicative of HGT.
If the meaning would remain largely the same, then why make a convoluted sentence convolutier by introducing Present Perfect?
Or maybe the meaning is not "you can look for new distinctive features" but "you can look for features that have already been described"..