Thursday, September 29, 2016

Great White Sharks and Tuna Share Common Genes That Allow Them To Be Top Predators

Great White Sharks and Tuna have evolved independently from one another for 400 million years. Despite this, scientists from the Imperial College London looking at these two species have found evidence that suggests that these two fish have similarities in many of their genes that allow them to be dominant predators. Genes linked to traits such as quick swimming behavior, metabolism and the animals ability to produce energy were passed down in both groups and expressed in both. These common genes amongst species that evolved independently of each other could help researchers determine the relationship between genetics and physical traits.

Physical traits are difficult to link directly to specific genes as gene expression can be different in every individual. Tuna and Great White Sharks live completely separate lives but both are top predators with similarly expressed genes. Examining two different species with comparable gene expression is extremely valuable for scientists to find the link between the genes a physical traits on display. In order to do this, the team members on this project collected muscle tissue from sharks as well as tuna to see all the genes that were expressed. In doing this, it was able to be determined that genes could be seen in both species that were associated with different functions such as a higher metabolism being selected for in these sharks. This could spark more questions to be asked on genetic expression and its link to physical traits.

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