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Genomics of large marine animals showcased in the biological bulletin
Date:6/24/2008

"As genomes become less and less expensive to sequence, then it is easier to justify sequencing more genomes to open new areas of study."

By plugging DNA sequences from a marine organism like the sea urchin into a genetic database, researchers can find similarities between sea urchin genes of an unknown function with, for example, human proteins used for sensing light. Further experiments can then test if the sea urchin genes are coding for a sensory protein. Comparing the human and the sea urchin genes can also help illuminate how the sensory protein evolved.

"The benefit of having new model systems is that we can ask questions with organisms in which peculiar characteristics of the genome are very important," Cameron says. For example, some of the marine animals featured in this virtual symposium have unexpectedly complicated sensory systems or immune systems that differ greatly from those of the fruit fly or the nematode worm, standard models in genetic studies. "I think there is good justification for these marine metazoan studies in that we will eventually apply this knowledge to the organism we're most interested in ourselves," he says.

Prominent investigators who have established genome projects on marine metazoans are participating in The Biological Bulletin virtual symposium. Their papers include:

  • Marine invertebrate genome sequences and our evolving understanding of animal immunity by Jonathan P. Rast and Cynthia Messier-Solek
  • Cell-cell adhesion in the Cnidaria: Insights into the evolution of tissue morphogenesis, by Craig R. Magie and Mark Q. Martindale
  • Coupling metabolite flux to transcriptomics: Insights into the molecular mechanisms underlying primary productivity by the hydrothermal vent tubeworm Ridgeia piscesae, by Spencer V. Nyholm, Julie Robindart and Peter R. Girguis
  • Does the high gene density in the sponge NK homeobox gene cluster reflect limit
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Contact: Carol Schachinger
cschachi@mbl.edu
508-289-7149
Marine Biological Laboratory
Source:Eurekalert  

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Genomics of large marine animals showcased in the biological bulletin
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