Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Mutations Account for the smarts of Octopuses and Squids

Coleoid cephalopods are known for their smarts, such as being able to open jars, communicate with each other, and identify prey as embryos. The intelligence of these organisms may be attributed to how their use of RNA editing, which may slow down the evolution of their DNA. Scientists have found that cephalopods have tens of thousands of sites where the RNA editing leads to a different protein being made than the DNA codes for. When compared to less intelligent mollusks, it was evident that they do not have as many instances of this editing. The RNA recoding sites of squids and octopuses, who are not very close in terms of evolution, showed that they shared many of the same recoding sites. Compared to humans and mice that only share 40 recoding sites and are closer in terms of evolution, this pointed to an evolutionary advantage for these organisms to have the RNA editing. This comes with the trade-off of having a slower evolving genome because DNA cannot mutate as easily. Scientists have found that RNA editing is enriched in the cephalopod's nervous tissue, which may contribute to their complex behavior and ability to adapt to temperature changes. I think that this is a very interesting study and will ultimately lead to a better understanding of these organisms. Further research into this topic may uncover evolutionary information on why some organisms have intelligence while others do not. By understanding the minds of squids and octopuses, it may lead to new developments that can be used in humans to increase intelligence in the future.

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