Tiny water flea contains largest number of genes

February 9th, 2011 - 5:05 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, Feb 09 (ANI): Scientists have discovered that the near-microscopic freshwater crustacean Daphnia pulex, or water flea is the animal with the most genes, about 31,000.

By comparison, humans have about 23,000 genes. Daphnia is the first crustacean to have its genome sequenced.

“Daphnia’s high gene number is largely because its genes are multiplying, creating copies at a higher rate than other species,” said project leader and the Center for Genomics and Bioinformatics (CGB) genomics director John Colbourne.

“We estimate a rate that is three times greater than those of other invertebrates and 30 percent greater than that of humans.”

Colbourne says that the possibility Daphnia have so many genes compared to other animals, is that “since the majority of duplicated and unknown genes are sensitive to environmental conditions, their accumulation in the genome could account for Daphnia’s flexible responses to environmental change.”

The water flea’s genome has been published in the Science paper. (ANI)

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