03 February 2011

The first crustacean genome

I’ve argued before about the need for a crayfish genome. That’s still apparently a long way off, but today, a major new paper discusses the findings from the first crustacean genome, for Daphnia pulex. It all looks very interesting.

A nice summary is found here. A press release from the team is here. And a Q&A with Jerry LeBlanc, not a co-author but a member of a consortium who works with Daphnia, can be found here.

Additional: I particularly like Holly Bik’s answer to why this project is different from other genomes:

Daphnia represents the only ‘model’ organism where we even have a vague idea of the ecology and life-history.

More additional: Ryan Gregory comments about the size of the genome, which is often described as very large:

But Daphnia pulex does NOT have a big genome. It’s about 200Mb, slightly larger than Drosophila melanogaster, and about 1/15 the size of the human genome.

Ryan is saying that the number of rungs in the DNA ladder determines the size of the genome, not the number of genes. It’s like saying you have a large hard drive: you measure the capacity, not the number of files actually stored on it.

But even then, Daphnia only has a large number of genes for an animal: Ryan notes that rice has about a third more than the water flea.

Still more additional: Mike Bok looks at the implications for vision. Why does an animal with this small an eye need so many visual pigments?

11 February 2011 additional: There’s a comment about this with the wonderful title, “Not just another genome” in BMC Biology.


Kyle said...

Thanks for posting that, I hadn't seen it!

Michael Bok said...

I agree that we are in dire need of a decapod genome. There have been rumblings about Callinectes for a while in our area, but I don't think its really being attacked yet.

I don't think the world is ready for a stomatopod genome yet... or at least I'm not ready to deal with the six thousand opsins they probably have.