Scientists have always known that there is something special about octopuses: the way they can unscrew themselves out of a jar that is sealed and their ability to use coconut shells in order to build homes. But this was proved now by researchers at the University of Chicago who have managed to sequence the octopus genome for the first time in the history of science. The paper was published in the journal Nature.
The research team was led by Caroline Albertin, who is a graduate student at the University of Chicago, having studied the evolution of animal development. The scientists sequenced the genome of the octopus species Octopus bimaculoides who is also known as California two-spot octopus. This species is big but yet small enough to be kept in an indoor aquarium.
According to Albertin the genome can be seen as a tool kit which octopuses employ when they do remarkable things with their bodies. The findings of the study indicate that octopus genome look similar to the one of other mollusks such as snails or clams. It was a surprising fact for scientists. However they also identified some significant differences in comparison with the genome of other invertebrates. It seems that octopuses have a larger number of genes that are involved in the development of the brain. This group of genes was actually considered to be unique to vertebrates.
Co-author of the study professor of genomics and genetics Daniel Rokhsar from the University of California declared that they have found a lot of new things for which there are no counterparts in other animals. He also added:
The octopus nervous system is organized in a totally different way from ours: The central brain surrounds the esophagus, which is typical of invertebrates, but it also has groups of neurons in the arms that can work relatively autonomously, plus huge optic lobes involved in vision.”
Further research of the genome could reveal even more unknown information about octopuses. The scientists involved in the study are hopeful that one day they will be able to discover the secret regarding the way in which octopuses manage to regenerate their limbs. They also believe they could find the genes involved in their propulsion system which enables octopuses to jet around underwater.
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