Sunday, November 12, 2006

Yo' Momma's Ancestor was a Sea Urchin!

Having just come out over the weekend, i've lucked out in getting to post about the recent sequencing of the sea urchin genome. The genome of the male California purple sea urchin (Strongylocentrotus purpuratus) has been sequenced and the depth of analysis to be discussed in the next few months (look for 40 articles in the December issue of Developmental Biology) seems incredible. A team of 240 scientists, including groups from Toronto and BC, have collaborated to determine the GENETIC CODE AND TRANSCRIPTOME (using NASA computers to do microarrays-how cool is that?!) of this highly studied model organism. The sea urchin has been used for over a century as a model for many biological processes and is best known for advances made in developmental biology due to their clear embryos which facilate the study of evolutionarily conserved developmental processes common to deuterostomes. The sea urchin genome which codes for 23 300 genes displays a surprising level of sophistication and suggests a global view of the genes necessary for human evolution-further touting the strength of this species as a model organism. Some of the most interesting findings include the identification of genes coding for human analogues involved in vision and chemosensation (sea urchins were not thought to possess organs to sense light and odour), a very complex innate immune system(including a rhobust defensome), and orthologs of many human disease-associated genes.


Anonymous said...

congratulations on 'coming out over the weekend.'
I think that's just great.

Anonymous Coward said...

Great post Allana. hmmm sea urchins.

kamel said...

If you can't or don't want to read the article, there's a bit about it over at Nature News. Apparantly the researchers don't eat the urchins afterwards.