Genome of the lowly oyster is likely to tell us a lot
WASHINGTON -- September 19, 2012 -- What’s it like to be half-asphyxiated twice a day, suffer through 90-degree swings in temperature and be forced to eat everything that happens to come by your mouth?
Welcome to life as an oyster.
Starting today, biologists have a clearer window into what it takes for complex organisms to survive — and flourish — under such difficult circumstances.
An international team of 75 researchers on Wednesday published the full genome — the entire DNA message — of the Pacific oyster. The toothsome Crassostrea gigas is the first mollusk whose genome has been fully sequenced.
The information will shed light on the biology and evolution of one of the planet’s largest animal phyla, with more than 100,000 species. Mollusks comprise the largest category of animals in the world’s oceans.
More than 180 species have fully sequenced genomes. The best-known is the human genome, completed in 2003.
Most of the sequenced organisms are microscopic — bacteria, fungi, protozoans. But larger organisms of commercial, cultural or medical interest have also been done. The latter include the dog, the cat, the cow, the rat, the mouse, the mosquito and the honeybee, as well as lab workhorses such as the fruit fly and the transparent roundworm.
Comparing genomes helps scientists understand the levers and gears driving activities special to certain types of organisms as well as the essential tasks shared by most (or all) of them.
Read the full story at the Washington Post