Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Long Necks: The Answer is in The Giraffe's Genome

             In the article “Genome Reveals Clues to Giraffes 'Blatantly Strange’ Body Shape” scientists recently engaged in studying the genes of which are specific to a giraffe's height and other natural habits. Giraffes are part of a group of species called ruminant, among these species are cattle, sheep antelope etc., giraffes are unique animals among this group because of their enormous size. Prior to recent studies not much has been known about the giraffe. It wasn’t till 2016 when a composite of the giraffes genome project was put into place, called the Ruminant Genome Project. What researchers found was that there were a number of genes that not only regulate the rate at which giraffe bones grow but the circulatory function to which the blood travels 6 up into the animals brain. Giraffes genes show that their growth rate  is significantly faster than any other animal on the planet.

            The gene known as FGFRL1 was a very important gene because unlike other ruminants this gene was different in giraffes. This gene regulated bone growth and the ability for the giraffe to deal with hypertension. To test that the FGFRL1 did in fact regulate the blood pressure, growth and development, and multiple systems scientists used CRISPR to manipulate a group of mice's DNA with the gene. Results indicated mice whose DNA had been altered when injected with the  drug called angiotensin-II, did not suffer high blood pressure. A group of mice whose DNA was not manipulated when injected with the drug did suffer high blood pressure. This breakthrough had led to a possible hypothesis in which the gene FGFRL1 could lead to finding answers as well as new treatments for cardiac diseases in humans. Until further research is done I think that it is best to continue exploring the ruminants genome to find out other facts that have led to the evolution of giraffes. 

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