Genomics: sequencing of the giant genome of the Australian lungfish shed a new light on the land conquest by vertebrates

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Genomics: sequencing of the giant genome of the Australian lungfish shed a new l

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Publication of IGFL in the journal Nature on January 18, 2021.

This is a milestone in the field of genomics that has been achieved by a consortium of laboratories from Konstanz, Würzburg and Hamburg (Germany) and Vienna, in which the team of Jean-Nicolas Volff from the Institute of Functional Genomics (IGFL) has been involved: the deciphering of the genome of the Australian lungfish Neoceratodus forsteri, published on line . This giant genome of 43 billion base pairs , which is nearly 14 times larger than the human genome, has the largest genome of any animal sequenced so far and contains as much as 90% of repeated sequences in its DNA, mostly mobile sequences called transposable elements that are studied by the Volff team at the IGFL.

The analysis of the genome of the lungfish, which possesses a functional lung in addition to gills, show that this fish is the closest aquatic relative of terrestrial vertebrates including amphibians, birds, reptiles and mammals. It therefore probably still resembles the fish ancestor that left the water to colonize land about 420 million years ago. Genomic innovations that might have favored the conquest of land have been identified in the lungfish genome, in relationship with limb development from fins, the ability to breathe air (the same genes are expressed in lung in lungfish and terrestrial vertebrate), the detection of air-borne smells and reproduction.

Source:  Giant lungfish genome elucidates the conquest of land by vertebrates. Axel Meyer, Siegfried Schloissnig, Paolo Franchini, Kang Du, Joost Woltering, Iker Irisarri, Wai Yee Wong, Sergej Nowoshilow, Susanne Kneitz, Akane Kawaguchi, Andrej Fabrizius, Peiwen Xiong, Corentin Dechaud, Herman Spaink, Jean-Nicolas Volff, Oleg Simakov, Thorsten Burmester, Elly M. Tanaka & Manfred Schartl. 2021.

IGFL Researcher
Jean-Nicolas Volff
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