Genetic Secrets Of Seahorse Revealed

Posted: Dec 15 2016, 12:48am CST | by , Updated: Dec 15 2016, 12:56am CST, in News | Latest Science News

 

Genetic Secrets of Seahorse Revealed
Photo Credit: Getty Images
 

The analysis of seahorse gemome provides some clues to the genetic basis of their unique traits.

Seahorses are one of the weirdest animals found in the ocean. These creatures have heads and necks of horse but their tail is similar to that of snake. They swim upward and have no teeth. Above all, it’s the male seahorse that gives birth to the offspring.

To investigate the genetic basis of their evolutionary oddities, researchers for the first time sequence the genome of seahorse and the results could explain why seahorses are so different from other bony fish species.

“They are such iconic animals, one of the examples of the exuberance of evolution.” Evolutionary biologist and genome researcher Axel Meyer from Germany's University of Konstanz, one of the six researchers involved in the study said

Researchers selected male tiger tail seahorse for genome sequencing and found that the duplication of genes contributed to the rapid evolution of the creature. Also, seahorse is missing some regulatory elements in its genome, which might help explain why it has unusual body shape. For instance, the absence of tbx4, an important gene associated with limb development, may have contributed to the loss of pelvic fins. Seahorses no longer need teeth due to their special way of consuming food. Instead of chewing their prey, they simply swallow them with their long snout. Seahorses also have relatively fewer genes that contribute to the sense of smell because they depend more on their eyes to navigate through the ocean. 

Seahorses do have an abundance of one gene called Pastrisacin, which is associated with male pregnancy. 

“The seahorse species, the team reports today in Nature, evolved at a faster rate than its ancestors, leading to key genetic changes.” Study authors said in a statement.

Seahorses, which range from less than an inch to a foot in length, have at least 46 known species and all of those belong to genus Hippocampus.

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Hira Bashir covers daily affairs around the world.

 

 

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