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Animal with the most genes? A tiny crustacean
Date:2/3/2011

ocesses can be resolved and linked to similar processes in humans."

The scientists learned that of all sequenced invertebrate genomes so far, Daphnia shares the most genes with humans.

The idea behind environmental genomics for risk assessment is fairly simple. Daphnia's gene expression patterns change depending on its environment, and the patterns indicate what state its cells are in. A water flea bobbing in water containing a chemical pollutant will express by tuning-up or tuning-down a suite of genes differently than its clonal sisters accustomed to water without the pollutant. Importantly, the health effects of most industrially produced compounds at relevant concentrations and mixtures in the environment are unknown, because current testing procedures are too slow, too costly, and unable to indicate the causes for their effects on animals, including human. The new findings suggest that Daphnia's research tools (like microarrays) and genome information can provide a higher-throughput and information-rich method of measuring the condition of our water supply.

"Until now, Daphnia has primarily been used as sentinel species for monitoring the integrity of aquatic ecosystems," said Joseph Shaw, coauthor and IU School of Public and Environmental Affairs biologist. "But with many shared genes between Daphnia and humans, we will now also apply Daphnia as a surrogate model to address issues directly related to human health. This puts us in a position to begin integrating studies of environmental quality with research of human diseases."

A requisite for reaching model system status is a large research community that contributes to its growing body of knowledge and resources. Over the course of the project, the Daphnia Genomics Consortium has grown from a handful of founding members to more than 450 investigators distributed around the globe. Nearly 200 scientists have contributed published
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Contact: David Bricker
brickerd@indiana.edu
812-856-9035
Indiana University
Source:Eurekalert  

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