Navigation Links
Platypus genome decoded
Date:5/7/2008

The curious discovery of the duck-billed, egg-laying, otter-footed, beaver-tailed, venomous platypus in Australia in 1798 convinced British scientists that it must be a hoax. Sketches of its appearance were thought to be impossible.

But new research proves that the oddness of the platypus' looks isn't just skin-deep. Platypus DNA is an equally cobbled-together array of avian, reptilian and mammalian lineages that may hold clues for human disease prevention.

Mark Batzer and Andrew C. Pereboom of Louisiana State University, along with an international group of scientists led by Wes Warren at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, recently completed the first draft sequence and analysis of the platypus genome.

It was the first genome sequencing project of a mammal that lays eggs, confirming that platypus DNA also looks like something of a patchwork.

"Their genomic organization was strange and a little unexpected," says Batzer. "It appeared much more bird- and reptile-like than mammalian, even though it is indeed classified as a mammal."

Having the genome in hand is a huge step for scientists seeking new details about evolution and human disease. The fact that the platypus is an ancient animal that is relatively primitive and unchanged may be a scientific boon for researchers.

At least that's the hope of researchers at the National Science Foundation (NSF), who partially funded the study. "Looking at the platypus genome may yield clues about the functions of certain components of DNA and contribute to our understanding of evolution," says Mark Weiss, division director for NSF's behavioral and cognitive sciences.

The platypus occupies the first branch of the mammalian tree of life after the split from "saurepsoids" about 315 million years ago. It maintains some long dated features and, as a result, should provide information on how mammals evolved.

"DNA contains small 'mobile elements' that make copies of themselves and then are inserted elsewhere into the genome. These elements can influence important evolutionary processes, and we want to know more about them," says Weiss.

"These mobile elements were once thought to be so small that they had no function," says Batzer. "But, in reality, they cause insertions and deletions which can lead to genetic diseases in humans and they are also involved in the creation of new genes and gene families."

Grants from the National Institutes of Health focused on aspects of genetic disease.

"This is a huge genetic step. We're learning a lot about mammalian gene regulation and immune systems, which has huge implications for disease susceptibility research," says Batzer. "We hope to, in time, identify the underlying causes and methods of disease prevention in humans."

Better insight into monotreme biology, or the biology of mammals that lay eggs, provides a "baseline" for understanding immunity, reproduction and chemoreception, which can further the study of the evolution of human biology.

"In other words, it provides the big picture' as compared to the genomes of other animals more similar to humans that have a more focused window," says Batzer.

In addition, the platypus was chosen as the subject of this study in large part due to its strange appearance, but other selection factors include the species' endangered status in its only indigenous habitat, Australia.

One interesting finding for the researchers is that several of the populations seem to have been geographically separated for a long time. Based on an analysis using mobile elements, the population on the island of Tasmania seemed genetically far distanced compared to other platypus populations from the mainland of Australia.

This was one of the largest platypus population genetics studies ever conducted.

Platypuses are extremely shy by nature and only a few places like Healesville Sanctuary in Victoria, Australia, have had success breeding them in captivity. Researchers hope that some of the clues unearthed in the platypus genome might lead to a better understanding of the history of the species and new conservation efforts.


'/>"/>

Contact: Bobbie Mixon
bmixon@nsf.gov
703-292-8485
National Science Foundation
Source:Eurekalert  

Related biology news :

1. First draft of transgenic papaya genome yields many fruits
2. Charting the epigenome
3. Tomato pathogen genome may offer clues about bacterial evolution
4. Scientists find a fingerprint of evolution across the human genome
5. Cold Spring Harbor Protocols features methods to screen genomes and analyze evolution
6. Software developed by Boston College lab delivers speed and accuracy to genome research
7. The beetles genome sequenced for the first time
8. K-State contributions to red flour beetle genome sequencing featured in March 27 issue of Nature
9. All eyes and ears on the corn genome
10. Giant panda genome to be sequenced
11. Mechanisms of plant-fungi symbiosis characterized by DOE Joint Genome Institute
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
Platypus genome decoded
(Date:3/9/2017)... , March 9, 2017 4Dx has ... World Lung Imaging Workshop at the University of Pennsylvania. ... invited to deliver the latest data to world leaders ... event brings together leaders at the forefront of the ... lung imaging. "The quality of the ...
(Date:3/2/2017)... 2017 Summary This report provides all ... partnering interests and activities since 2010. ... Read the full report: ... 2010 report provides an in-depth insight into the partnering activity ... On demand company reports are prepared upon purchase to ...
(Date:2/28/2017)... 28, 2017   Acuant , a leading provider ... significant enhancements to new and core technologies building upon ... include mobile and desktop Acuant FRM TM facial ... a real time manual review of identity documents by ... the fastest and most accurate capture software to streamline ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:3/23/2017)... ... 2017 , ... AxioMed president, Jake Lubinski, describes the AxioMed ... deformed, which is identical to how the human discs work to distribute force. ... to its natural state along a hysteresis curve, exactly like a healthy human ...
(Date:3/23/2017)... 2017 Research and Markets has announced ... report to their offering. ... The Global Market for Bioproducts Should ... at a CAGR of 8.9%, This research ... into seven major product segments: bio-derived chemicals, biofuels, pharmaceuticals (biodrugs ...
(Date:3/23/2017)... , March 23, 2017  SeraCare ... to global in vitro diagnostics manufacturers and ... the industry,s first multiplexed Inherited Cancer ... testing by next-generation sequencing (NGS). The Seraseqâ„¢ ... developed with input from industry experts to ...
(Date:3/23/2017)...  BioPharmX Corporation (NYSE MKT: BPMX), a specialty ... today reported financial results for the quarter and ... an update on the company,s clinical development efforts ... are pleased to report that last year was ... Anja Krammer. "We achieved key clinical milestones and ...
Breaking Biology Technology: