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Genome sequencing of the living coelacanth sheds light on the evolution of land vertebrate
Date:4/17/2013

he complete DNA sequence of an organism's genome. Deciphering the genetic makeup of the coelacanth provides valuable clues for biologists studying the evolution of vertebrates. It was an international sensation when a living specimen of the coelacanth was first discovered in l938 as this lineage of fish was thought to have gone extinct 70 million years ago. The living coelacanth has many anatomical similarities with its fossil relatives and seems to have undergone seemingly little morphological change since the Devonian period approximately 360 million years ago. It still possesses what many would consider to be a prehistoric appearance, and, as for many similar species that do not show much change over long evolutionary periods, is often dubbed a "living fossil." The relationship of the slow rate of evolution of its genes and its morphological appearance remains unknown and largely speculative. Today, coelacanths are on the endangered species list and biological tissues can only be obtained from expired animals that have been caught accidentally by fishermen.

In addition to this landmark genome paper in Nature, several companion papers are being edited by Drs. Amemiya and Axel Meyer for publication in a special open access coelacanth genome issue of the Journal of Experimental Zoology (Molecular and Developmental Evolution).


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Contact: Kay Branz
kbranz@benaroyaresearch.org
206-342-6903
Immune Tolerance Network
Source:Eurekalert

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