A tiny flea has the record for most genes


08/02/2011

This tiny crustacean 31,000 genes - more than any other creature on Earth, including humans.

A small, clear water flea can reproduce without sex and lives in ponds and lakes. Scientists that its genome sequenced and found that it has the largest number of genes in the world.

Daphnia pulex, named after the nymph in Greek mythology who turned into a tree to escape from Apollo’s in love with her, has 31,000 genes, while humans only 23,000 genes. Research work has been published in the journal Science.

Almost microscopic freshwater Daphnia, which is a frequent subject of research scientists who wish to study the effect of pollution and environmental change on aquatic life, was the first crustacean whose genome has been sequenced.

The project manager, John Colbourne, explained that although it is the creation of more genes, it does not mean that they are all unique.

"A large number of genes Daphnia is mainly due to the fact that it allows you to copy genes at a higher rate than other types," - said Colbourne, head of the genomics and bioinformatics.

Daphnia has a large number of genes that scientists met for the first time. But there are those that coincide with human genes, insects and crustaceans, and are already known to scientists.

"Over a third of Daphnia genes are undocumented in any other organism - in other words, they are totally unknown to science," - said Don Gilbert, co-author and a scientist from the Department of Biology Bloomington.

These unique, previously unknown genes "have evolved in response to environmental conditions," - said the researchers.

James Klaunig, professor of environmental health, said that this genome will help scientists trace the effect of pollution on humans.

"Investigation of the response of animals to the stress of the genome is essential to assess the impact on the ecology of man" - said Klaunig. This water flea lives in North America, Europe and Australia.

Original: News


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