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Scientists have completed the sequencing of the Octopus bimaculoides genome, a species of octopus. The complete genome sequencing was done in collaboration between the scientists from the United States, Germany, and Japan, and the result has been published in the Nature journal.
The complete genome sequencing data of the octopus will surely help scientists to find the answer about how the beautiful octopuses and their astounding brains developed.
Caroline Albertin, a graduate student at the University of Chicago and author of this study said that the octopus has a large and complex genome. For the sequencing, researchers took the smallish “California two-spot octopus” that is easier to grow in the laboratory condition. This octopus produces hatchlings that act like adults.
It took several years to come up with the results and many hours to chat with international colleagues on the phone, Albertin said. According to the result data, the given species of the octopus has a large genome of about 2.7 billion base-pairs as compared to that of the humans while humans have only 3 billion of base-pairs in the whole genome.
However, this is not due to the duplication of the genes as predicted by some researchers, but due to the fact that the octopus species has managed to grow a larger set of genes as compared to many of its marine relatives.
The researchers have also concluded that the octopus species must have duplicated some specific parts of the genetic codon so as to develop a new gene during the period of evolution. As, for example, smoking gun a novel gene that has resulted due to the specific gene expansion may help explain why octopuses are so intelligent.
The species Octopus bimaculoides also has a large number of genes (about 168) called protocadherins that are known to regulate the development of neurons in other animals. The number of protocadherins in the octopus is about 10 times higher than that of the invertebrates and twice to that of the mammals.
Researchers have also found that the octopus contains a large number of transposons or jumping genes capable of rearranging their positions in the genome.
Albertin said that the genome of any organism represents the molecular toolbox for that animal and it will give you a catalog of all the genes present on that genome and information about their expression. She said we have this toolbox to start our study in different genes and their expression.
The researchers have their own questions to answer. For example, Albertin herself is interested in study the way octopuses developed from a single cell to a fully developed hatchling while her fellow author Yan Wang from the same place, university of Chicago is interested to know how the octopus brain controls the complex behavior in relation to the mating and reproduction.
Reference: Journal Nature (The octopus genome and the evolution of cephalopod neural and morphological novelties)
Article DOI: 10.1038/nature14668