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Turtle genome analysis sheds light on the development and evolution of turtle-specific body plan
Date:4/28/2013

erior olfaction ability against a wide variety of hydrophilic substances. In addition, many genes involved in taste perception, hunger-stimulating, and energy homeostasis regulating hormone ghrelin have been uniquely lost in turtles. Researchers suggested that the loss of these genes may be related to their low-metabolic rate.

The consortium also investigated the association of embryonic gene expression profiles (GXP) and their morphological evolution pattern, based on ENSEMBL soft-shell turtle gene-set. By integrating RNA-seq technology, comparative genomics method, and mathematical statistical approaches, researchers confirmed GXP divergence during embryogenesis of soft-shell turtle and chicken indeed follows the developmental hourglass model. They also revealed that the maximal conservation stage occurred at around the vertebrate phylotypic period, rather than at later stage that show the amniote-common pattern.

To clarify the morphological specifications of turtle embryogenesis in late development, especially the formation of the carapacial ridge (CR), researchers investigated into CR-specific miRNA expression, found existence of tissue-specific miRNAs and involvement of Wnt signaling. Also they revealed the Wnt expression involved in the carapacial ridge (CR) formation of the turtle shell, researchers annotated all the Wnt genes in the two turtle genomes, identifying a total of 20 Wnt genes. Intriguingly, they discovered Wnt5a is the only Wnt gene expressed in the turtle CR region, supporting the possible co-option of limb-associated Wnt signaling in the acquisition of this turtle-specific novelty.

Zhuo Wang, Project Manager from BGI, said, "The genome-wide phylogenetic analysis of two turtles in our project, along with two crocodile genomic data additionally, makes clear the evolutionary history of turtles in diverging from other species and settles the disputes about the phylogenetic position of reptiles. The genomic analyses and em
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Contact: Jia Liu
liujia@genomics.cn
BGI Shenzhen
Source:Eurekalert

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