Navigation Links
Massive Daphnia genome leads to understanding gene-environment interactions
Date:2/4/2011

DURHAM, N.H. From an environmental perspective, Daphnia pulex -- the waterflea is the best-studied organism on the planet. Scientists know how this species responds to pollution, predators, day and night, making it an important model for ecological and evolutionary research. Its genome, however, remained elusive, limiting understanding of how the environment and genes interact.

Until now. An international team of researchers comprising the Daphnia Genomics Consortium, including four from the University of New Hampshire's Hubbard Center for Genome Studies, has described the complete genome of Daphnia, opening the door to enhanced knowledge of this species and its response to its environment. And, despite the Daphnia's near-microscopic size, it contains more than 31,000 genes, more than any other animal with a complete gene sequence, including humans. The findings are detailed in an article in the journal Science this week.

"It's personally a major achievement," says W. Kelley Thomas, Hubbard Professor in Genomics and director of the HCGS, adding that the Daphnia sequence was among the center's original goals at its founding in 2001. "This genome gives biologists and ecologists the tools they need to do genomic analysis on this organism from an ecological perspective."

The end product is a better understanding of what genes matter for organisms to cope with environmental stresses like pollutants and global warming and of the technologies necessary to understand how these genes function within an animal that is easily studied in water reservoirs around the globe.

The study, "The Ecoresponsive Genome of Daphnia pulex," was led by researchers at Indiana University's Center for Genomics and Bioinformatics (CGB), Utah State University, the U.S. Department of Energy's Joint Genome Institute, and UNH's Hubbard Center. It found that the microscopic freshwater crustacean contains at least 30,907 genes, compared to approximately 25,000 in humans.

Scientists have studied Daphnia for centuries because of its importance in aquatic food webs and for its transformational responses to environmental stress. Predators signal some of the animals to produce exaggerated spines, neck-teeth or helmets in self-defense. And like the virgin nymph of Greek mythology that shares its name, Daphnia thrives in the absence of males -- by clonal reproduction, until harsh environmental conditions favor the benefits of sex.

Arguably, more is known about the ecology and stress biology of the water flea than any other animal. The genome project was conceived with an expectation that many new gene functions would be uncovered when studied in light of the animal's natural environment -- not necessarily expecting to discover many more genes.

Yet, Daphnia's genome is no ordinary genome.

"Daphnia's high gene number is largely because its genes are multiplying, by creating copies at a higher rate than other species," said project leader and CGB genomics director John Colbourne. "We estimate a rate that is three times greater than those of other invertebrates and 30 percent greater than that of human."

"One theory is that Daphnia is so good at adapting to so many environments because it has this huge catalog of genes to call upon," says Thomas. The researchers note that more than one-third of Daphnia's genes are undocumented in any other organism they are completely new to science.

At UNH, where the relatively new field of environmental genomics is at the core of the HCGS mission, the Daphnia project resulted in productive collaborations around the university. "It was a significant part of starting many science careers," says Thomas, noting that many undergraduate, graduate and visiting students participated.

Jim Haney, professor of freshwater biology, helped with cultures of Daphnia, which are common in New Hampshire lakes and ponds. In addition, as the science of genome sequencing evolved in the past decade to use "fewer pipettes and more computers," says Thomas, the Hubbard Center forged strong bonds with UNH's computer science department, in particular professors Dan Bergeron and Phil Hatcher.


'/>"/>

Contact: Beth Potier
beth.potier@unh.edu
603-862-1566
University of New Hampshire
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Massive endocytosis in cells
2. Massive gene loss linked to pathogens stealthy plant-dependent lifestyle
3. Volcano fuels massive phytoplankton bloom
4. Massive coral mortality following bleaching in Indonesia
5. GM crop produces massive gains for womens employment in India
6. DOE, ORNL officially join NSF on massive ecological study
7. Protein extremes gain relevance in massive proteomic studies
8. Massive resources now directed at sustainable animal waste technology
9. Massive Southern Ocean current discovered
10. Cool new tools let public contribute to massive interactive online biodiversity encyclopedia
11. Study highlights massive imbalances in global fertilizer use
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:2/2/2017)... -- Central to its deep commitment to honor the ... Prize Foundation today announced the laureates of the ... in their respective fields of Life Sciences and ... recognized with the 2017 Japan Prize for original ... the advancement of science and technology, but also ...
(Date:1/26/2017)... 2017  Acuity Market Intelligence today released the ... Identity".  Acuity characterizes 2017 as a "breakout" year ... reflects a new understanding of the potential benefits ... digital identity are often perceived as threats to ... Principal of Acuity Market intelligence. "However, taken together ...
(Date:1/21/2017)... Research and Markets has announced the addition of the "Global ... ... recognition biometrics market to grow at a CAGR of 19.36% during ... scenario and the growth prospects of the global voice recognition biometrics ... the revenue generated from the sales of voice recognition biometrics including ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:2/23/2017)... ... February 23, 2017 , ... ... Services portfolio to include an array of biochemical analyses critical for Lead ... to drive their hit-to-lead and SAR programs, including inhibitor potency and selectivity, mechanism ...
(Date:2/23/2017)... , Feb. 23, 2017  In Atlanta, it seems everyone ... and culture intertwine to create an expressive and dynamic community ... this energy and contribute to it. With ... Hair Fairies seeks to carry on that tradition with ... Atlanta salon is the newest of 13 ...
(Date:2/23/2017)... ... February 23, 2017 , ... Brain Sentinel, ... begin marketing the SPEAC® System, the Brain Sentinel® Seizure Monitoring and Alerting System. ... healthcare facilities during periods of rest. A lightweight, non-invasive monitor is placed on ...
(Date:2/23/2017)... ... February 23, 2017 , ... Today, researchers ... CRP, adiponectin, uric acid, and/or other biomarkers or SNPs of interest) using one, ... Salimetrics’ SalivaLab , the relationship between insulin and other relevant biomarkers can be ...
Breaking Biology Technology: