Genomic Sequencing of Marine Sponge Reveals Early Genetic Complexity

Aug 4, 2010

Four scientists from UC Santa Barbara contributed to the sequencing of the genome of a Great Barrier Reef marine sponge, from a 650 million-year-old group of organisms -- a project that indicates there were astonishingly rich genetic resources available at the dawn of the animal kingdom. The sequencing also reveals some basic information about cancer. The findings were published in the August 5th issue of the scientific journal Nature.

"This is a milestone sequence," said Kenneth S. Kosik, co-director of UCSB's Neuroscience Research Institute (NRI) and Harriman Chair in Neuroscience Research. "This sponge is the most basal animal for which we have a genome. Curiously, the cells of a sponge bear little resemblance to cells found in the rest of the animal kingdom. For example, sponges lack neurons; however, the sponge genome reveals the presence of many genes found in neurons."

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