Thursday, 2 February 2012

If you see a crocodile don't forget to...sequence it!

Recently a team led by David Ray, from Mississipi state Univeristy, has published in Genome Biology their plan to sequence the genome of 3 crocodile species: the American alligator (Alligator mississippiensis), saltwater crocodile (Crocodylus porosus) and Indian gharial (Gavialis gangeticus). The work relies both on Illumina and 454 technologies to assemble mid-coverage genomes. Data will be likely available in June.

This will add valuable informations to the reptilian genomics and shed light on the evolution of archosaurs and amniotes. Beyond their charm as mythological creatures, crocodiles are one of the most ancient species living on earth and they show a lot of peculiar biological and behavioral features. Citing the authors: "In addition to their ecological, sociological and economic significance, crocodilians have genomes that will be useful sources of data for biological and biomedical research. Alligator serum has been shown to contain broad spectrum antibiotic peptides. The American alligator has been used extensively as a model for examining the environmental impact of various contaminants, including endocrine disrupting xenobiotics. Crocodilians represent important research organisms for diverse fields that include evolution and phylogenetics, functional morphology, osmoregulation, sex determination, hybridizationand population genetics. To provide the genomic resources necessary to expand our understanding of these fascinating organisms, the ICGWG is obtaining and assembling genome sequences for the American alligator, saltwater crocodile, and gharial, one representative from each of the extant crocodilian families."

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