CRG: New chemical language of neural systems is revealed

CRG: New chemical language of neural systems is revealed

News from CRG

Researchers from the Whitney Laboratory for Marine Biosciences of the University of Florida decode the genomic blueprints for 10 ctenophore – or comb jelly – species. Their analysis suggests these beautiful sea creatures form the first branch on the animal kingdom’s Tree of Life.

In a remarkable evolutionary twist, ctenophores independently developed complex organs, neurons, muscles and behaviors that are far more sophisticated than sponges, which previously were viewed as the earliest lineage and do not have neuro-muscular systems. The findings would reclassify comb jellies, reshaping two centuries of zoological thought, and imply that there are many ways to “make an animal” with neural and muscular systems, said Leonid Moroz, head of the team and first author of the study.

Fyodor Kondrashov, head of the Evolutionary Genomics lab at the CRG, and Inna Povolotskaya from the same lab, collaborated with Moroz team by assembling the genome of Pleurobrachia bachei from raw data. "One of the major challenges in sequencing projects is to reconstruct the complete genome from very short error-prone fragments generated by the machine" says Kondrashov. "This can be overcome by using different technologies available today. In order to reconstruct the genome we combined in total 8 different datasets produced by two technologies, Illumina and 454 Roche. The next-generation sequencing technologies open up new exciting possibilities to study genetics of non-model organisms" he adds.

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Moroz LL, ; The ctenophore genome and the evolutionary origins of neural systems. Nature. 2014 May 21;