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.
from the UK and Australia. The analysis is published in the 8 May issue of Nature.
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
Climate Impact Research in Hannover: Small Plants against Large Waves
17.08.2018 | Leibniz Universität Hannover
First transcription atlas of all wheat genes expands prospects for research and cultivation
17.08.2018 | Leibniz-Institut für Pflanzengenetik und Kulturpflanzenforschung
New design tool automatically creates nanostructure 3D-print templates for user-given colors
Scientists present work at prestigious SIGGRAPH conference
Most of the objects we see are colored by pigments, but using pigments has disadvantages: such colors can fade, industrial pigments are often toxic, and...
Scientists at the University of California, Los Angeles present new research on a curious cosmic phenomenon known as "whistlers" -- very low frequency packets...
Scientists develop first tool to use machine learning methods to compute flow around interactively designable 3D objects. Tool will be presented at this year’s prestigious SIGGRAPH conference.
When engineers or designers want to test the aerodynamic properties of the newly designed shape of a car, airplane, or other object, they would normally model...
Researchers from TU Graz and their industry partners have unveiled a world first: the prototype of a robot-controlled, high-speed combined charging system (CCS) for electric vehicles that enables series charging of cars in various parking positions.
Global demand for electric vehicles is forecast to rise sharply: by 2025, the number of new vehicle registrations is expected to reach 25 million per year....
Proteins must be folded correctly to fulfill their molecular functions in cells. Molecular assistants called chaperones help proteins exploit their inbuilt folding potential and reach the correct three-dimensional structure. Researchers at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry (MPIB) have demonstrated that actin, the most abundant protein in higher developed cells, does not have the inbuilt potential to fold and instead requires special assistance to fold into its active state. The chaperone TRiC uses a previously undescribed mechanism to perform actin folding. The study was recently published in the journal Cell.
Actin is the most abundant protein in highly developed cells and has diverse functions in processes like cell stabilization, cell division and muscle...
17.08.2018 | Event News
08.08.2018 | Event News
27.07.2018 | Event News
17.08.2018 | Physics and Astronomy
17.08.2018 | Information Technology
17.08.2018 | Life Sciences