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New organization brings together top researchers to sequence genomes of invertebrates
Date:12/13/2013

FORT LAUDERDALE-DAVIE, Fla. Pop Quiz: what creatures make up more than 70% of the approximately 1.9 million described species on earth and have long served as model organisms in many areas of biology? If you guessed invertebrates, you're right!

To begin exploring this question, a new cooperative consortium called the Global Invertebrate Genomics Alliance (GIGA) was formed and held its inaugural workshop at Nova Southeastern University's (NSU) Oceanographic Center in March 2013.

Jose Lopez, Ph.D., a professor at NSU's Oceanographic Center, organized this workshop of expert invertebrate scientists to discuss the plausibility of and long-term strategies for sequencing the whole genomes of multiple, targeted (non-insect, non-nematode) invertebrate organisms.

"There's so much more we can learn from these animals if we come together to focus and coordinate our research efforts," said Lopez. "GIGA allows us to work collaboratively, as we discover new and exciting details of invertebrate genomics."

For years, these creatures have been a staple in research; they include sea urchins for developmental/cancer cell biology; the mollusks Aplysia and Loligo for neurobiology research; Drosophila fruit flies for genetics, and the nematode worm C. elegans for cell line maturation, development and genetics. (Studies using all of these have received Nobel Prizes.)

Invertebrates display many unique and outlandish traits among animals, such as:

  • Some invertebrates are the longest-living animals on the planet, including Lamellibrachia tube worms (~250 years), Quahog clams Arctica islandica (maximum reported age 507 years), black corals (estimated 2,000 years) and the immortal Hydra;
  • Tartigrades ("water bears") can survive extreme temperatures (-150C to 150C), ionizing solar and galactic radiation, and even interplanetary vacuum;
  • Octopuses not only have 8 arm
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Contact: Joe Donzelli
jdonzelli@nova.edu
954-262-2159
Nova Southeastern University
Source:Eurekalert  

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