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New organization brings together top researchers to sequence the genomes of invertebrates
Date:1/6/2014

bility of, and long-term strategies for, sequencing the whole genomes of multiple, targeted invertebrate organisms.

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

Invertebrates display many unique and outlandish traits among animals:

  • 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 (-150 C to 150 C), ionizing solar and galactic radiation, and even interplanetary vacuum
  • Octopi not only have 8 arms, but also 3 hearts, as well as highly developed brains and visual systems
  • Sponges represent one of the most ancient lineages of animals and, together with corals, produce the largest number of chemical "lead" molecular structures for discovery of novel pharmaceuticals
  • Ctenophores, another ancient lineage of animals, possess a range of unique cell types and are the largest animals that use only cilia for locomotion

GIGA was partially inspired by the Genome 10K project, initiated by NSU's affiliate professor Stephen J. O'Brien, Ph.D. and colleagues, to sequence genomes from 10,000 vertebrate animals. The organization held its inaugural workshop at Nova Southeastern University's (NSU) Oceanographic Center in March, 2013.

Workshop participants came from the U.S., China, and Europe and included more than 40 experts in invertebrate biology, genomics and systematics from several universities and institutions, such as the Smithsonian Institution, Scripps Oceanographic Institute, Harvard and Brown, as well as biotech industries (Life Technologies, PacBio and BioNanoGe
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Contact: Annette Gallagher
a.gallagher1@umiami.edu
305-284-1121
University of Miami
Source:Eurekalert  

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