CORAL GABLES, FL (January 6, 2014) Of the 1.9 million species of creatures that have been described on earth, more than 1.3 million are invertebrates. They have served as model organisms in many areas of biology.
There are many examples of the important role of invertebrates in science including sea urchins for developmental/cancer cell biology, the mollusks Aplysia and Loligo for neurobiology research, the fruit fly Drosophila for genetics, and the nematode worm C. elegans for cell line maturation, development and genetics. Studies using all of these have received Nobel Prizes.
Now, to learn more about these remarkable organisms, a cooperative consortium called the Global Invertebrate Genomics Alliance (GIGA) has been formed. The group will provide a network of diverse scientists to promote comparative genomics and bioinformatics research, on non-insect/non-nematode invertebrates.
William Browne, a biologist in the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Miami, who works on the comb jelly Mnemiopsis leidyi, hopes his participation in GIGA will offer opportunities for interactions with a broader community of researchers delving into invertebrate genomics.
"The GIGA consortium lays the groundwork, for example, to take work on the genome of Mnemiopsis in our lab, and facilitate comparison of the results to work from other labs that are pursuing these same kinds of questions in different organisms," Browne said. "The hope is that syntheses of large scale genomic studies across many groups will improve, not only our understanding of the metazoan tree of life, but also illuminate repertoires of genetic diversity responsible for the present day diversity of animals."
Earlier this year, Jose Lopez, a professor of biology at Nova Southeastern University's Oceanographic Center, organized the inaugural workshop of expert invertebrate scientists to discuss the plausi
|Contact: Annette Gallagher|
University of Miami