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This Pachycerianthus magnus tube anemone has a surprisingly complex mitochondrial genome, Ohio State researchers found. Credit: Sergio Stampar.
The tube-dwelling anemone is an ancient sea creature that resembles a prehistoric flower. The animals live slow, long and predictable lifestyles and look fairly similar from species to species.
Word - Relative
It'd be easy to use the word "simple" when considering this relative of coral and jellyfish. But wait—not so fast.
New research on tube anemones is challenging everything that evolutionary biologists thought they knew about sea animal genetics. The mitochondrial DNA of the tube anemone, or Ceriantharia, is a real head scratcher, from its unexpected arrangement to its previously unimagined magnitude.
Researchers - Team - Ohio - State - University
Researchers, including a team from The Ohio State University, have published new findings showing that the DNA of the tube anemone does what few other species' mitochondrial genomes have been shown to do. It defies the classic doughnut shape it "should" be in and is arranged in several fragmented pieces, the number of which vary depending on the species.
On top of that, the animal now holds the record for the largest mitochondrial genome reported to date. It contains almost 81,000 base pairs, or pieces of genetic information, according to the new study, published online in the journal Scientific Reports. Human mitochondrial DNA contains fewer than 17,000 base pairs.
Animals - Behavior - Anatomy - Creatures - Biology
"These ancient animals have simple behavior and simple anatomy, and so we've thought of them as fairly simple creatures until now. But their biology is quite complicated. The genomes of these tube anemones may be more dynamic than those of more-complex and more-recent animals like snails, insects and vertebrates," said Meg Daly, a professor of evolution, ecology and organismal biology at Ohio State.
About the mitochondrial DNA that is central to this study: This isn't the DNA most of us remember learning about in school—the instructions found within the nucleus...
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