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:
|Contact: Joe Donzelli|
Nova Southeastern University