Monday, November 23, 2015

Sharing Genes With Acorn Worms

Researchers from Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University in Okinawa, Japan, have found that there are 8,716 gene families between acorn worms and a wide range of diverse mammals. Even though us humans do not look anything like a worm besides having something shaped like a head, we share a common ancestor from over 500 million years ago. Many other species including cephalopods still have genes from that common ancestor along with us. The research team, led by Oleg Simakov, sequenced and analyzed genes from gathering two acorn worm species. One species was Ptychodera flava collected in Hawaii, and the other species Saccoglossus kowalevskii collected from the Atlantic Ocean.

Juvenile Ptychodera flava

Acorn worms are part of a lineage called deuterostomes, where they have been around the longest. The research team also found that some deuterostomes have become more complex than them where it becomes harder to see any gene linkage between them and mammals. Some of the genes found in the other deuterostomes that deal with gill development can be connected to the genes that develop the pharynx. In the end, the research team found that we share about 70% of our human genome with the acorn worm, which is about 14,000 genes.

This article was very interesting to read and important for the future research regarding gene linkage with other living things on Earth. You would not think you share as much as 70% of your genes with something as little and different looking as a worm. This research is important to see where we are going and where we came from on Earth. I would love to read future research regarding this topic that deals with other organisms.

Original article

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