Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Platypus genome sequence published

Platypus genetic blueprint reveals the early history of mammals

UK-based researchers at the Medical Research Council Functional Genomics Unit in Oxford and the European Molecular Biology Laboratory’s European Bioinformatics Institute in Cambridge have revealed the genetic makeup of the one of the world’s strangest mammals.

They have analysed the DNA blueprint of the platypus, one of only a few surviving monotremes which, of all mammals, are the most distantly-related to humans. The platypus, a female nicknamed Glennie, was sequenced by scientists at the Genome Sequencing Centre of Washington University School of Medicine, USA as part of an international research collaboration including scientists

from the UK and Australia. The analysis is published in the 8 May issue of Nature.

... more about:
»Genome »mammals »sequence »venom

The platypus is thought to have diverged from a common ancestor shared with humans approximately 170 million years ago. The species has many features that are unique to mammals; for example it has fur and rears its young on milk.

However, it also shows reptile-like characteristics; the females lay eggs and the males produce venom. Some features, such as a specialised system in the platypus bill that uses electricity to detect food under water (electro-reception), are unique to monotremes. The researchers found that these diverse characteristics are mirrored by a patchwork of genes resembling those from reptiles, birds and other mammals.

Lead researcher Chris Ponting from the MRC Functional Genomics Unit at the University of Oxford said “The platypus genome is extremely important because it is the missing link in our understanding of how we and other mammals first evolved.

This is our ticket back in time to when all mammals laid eggs while suckling their young on milk. It also provides an essential background to future advances in understanding mammalian biology and evolution.”

The researchers searched the genome for DNA sequences that are unique to the monotremes, as well as those known to be involved in venom production, electro-reception and milk production in other species. They discovered that platypus venom is a cocktail of proteins that originally had very different functions. Amazingly, the same proteins are found in reptile venom even though platypus and snake venom evolved independently. They also found that the platypus has many more sex chromosomes – the organised structures into which DNA is packed that determine sex – than do humans.

The platypus has ten sex chromosomes, compared with our two. Furthermore, the gene sequences responsible for determining sex are more similar to those in birds than in mammals. Ewan Birney, who led the genome analysis performed at the European Bioinformatics Institute, commented “The platypus looks like such a strange blend of mammalian, bird-like and reptilian features and now we know that the genome is an equally bizarre mix of all of these. It’s much more of a mélange than anyone expected.”

Anna-Lynn Wegener | EMBL
Further information:

Further reports about: Genome mammals sequence venom

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Novel mechanisms of action discovered for the skin cancer medication Imiquimod
21.10.2016 | Technische Universität München

nachricht Second research flight into zero gravity
21.10.2016 | Universität Zürich

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

Im Focus: Ultra-thin ferroelectric material for next-generation electronics

'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.

Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Resolving the mystery of preeclampsia

21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine

Stanford researchers create new special-purpose computer that may someday save us billions

21.10.2016 | Information Technology

From ancient fossils to future cars

21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>