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Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Smallest yet toughest: The first whole genome sequence of Tardigrade's genome

Tardigrade on its back (Source: The Atlantic)

Tardigrades were long been known for being the toughest microbiome which can withstand extreme temparatures and adapt themselves to any environmental conditions. Their presence is everywhere, from deepest oceans to hot springs. They do not need any food and water. So how these water microscopic bears adapt them?

Researchers from University of North Carolina sequenced the first ever tardigrade genome to understand their evolution. There are almost 700 of such tardigrades and among them team of Thomas Boothby focused on Hypsibius dujardini as one of the tardigrade that can be easily grown and cultured under laboratory conditions.

The result made the researchers fall into confusion as most of the tardigrade’s genome seemed as they belong to bacteria, archea, fungi but not animals. Initially it was thought to be contaminants, but actually they are the bona fide parts of tardigrade’s genome. This remarkable horizontal gene transfer is much rare among animals where tardigrade has parts of sequences from bacteria, archea, fungi and even from plants.

The foreign genes make upto 17.5 percent of the tardigrade’s genome, which quite one sixth. The team re-analyzed the data by sequencing with PacBio, where the system decodes single broken strands of DNA without first breaking them into smaller fragments. The foreign genes found were actually linked to tardigrade’s genome which proves that these foreign sequences are not contaminants. Researchers believe that the genes they adapted might provide the extensive durability although more needs to be answered.

Source: The Atlantic


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