It is thus that Yang began his 10 years of diversion in the world of ruminant biology. I've traveled to California to take wood tissue samples to study how these complex structures of bone, living cells and nerve endings can reach more than 50 centimeters in a season. Finally, he and his colleagues tracked down some genes responsible for this remarkable feat of regeneration. But it was a difficult and lengthy job; at the time, none had ever been sequenced on the deer genome. An international team of workers had just decoded the first bovine genomeChinese scientists have discovered the DNA of goats and sheep. In the days of still expensive sequencing, more exotic ruminants were not a top priority.
But this week, the multi-hat mammals are finally paying their dues. Thursday, a consortium of scientists led by China reported their efforts to map the genomes of 44 ruminant species, from Serengeti gazelles and buffaloes to the tiny vampiric muntjacs inhabiting the Asian jungle, to the thick fur reindeer that roam the snowy plains of the Arctic. The 44 (and some others) can be viewed and downloaded. right here, if this interests you. Along with two other papers which appear in the last issue of Scienceit represents the first results of the ruminant genome project, a data set of more than 40 trillion base pairs illustrating China's growing role as a world leader in genomics research.
The major scientific breakthrough benefits both evolutionary biologists seeking to better understand how ruminants have successfully colonized six continents with extremely different environments and breeders who wish to introduce such adaptive benefits in domesticated herds. The genetic resource may also prove useful for biomedical researchers like Yang, providing clues that may one day help humans heal faster, to keep cancerand even live healthier in space.
"The significance will be huge," said Yang, who was not involved in the RGP, but reviewed one of the group 's papers and wrote an accompanying text. article in perspective. "It is not only about solving the unresolved problem of how these species have evolved and integrating them into a family tree, but it also generates significant potential for future impact. Remember that a large number of existing genes in cows and goats as well as deer and sheep also exist in humans. "
While Yang is trying to understand why people develop osteoporosis, other researchers will likely be interested in the fact that such rapid growth does not occur. flee to become malignant tumors. Ruminants are about five times less likely to get cancer than other mammals, according to records kept by Philadelphia and San Diego zoos. This has led the RGP researchers to hypothesize that whatever genetic adaptations developed by ruminants to control their regeneration of their antlers, this also provides: a protective effect against the development of cancer.
By combining DNA sequence data with gene expression profiles of deer, goats and sheep, the consortium scientists identified a handful of genes that work together to keep these species free from cancer, even when they develop pounds of new tissue each year. It will still work to understand exactly how they work. However, a version of a tumor suppressor gene in deer is already promising enough that five of the scientists who identified it have already applied for a Chinese patent for its use as a cancer treatment.
Among these scientists are Wen Wang, a geneticist at Northwestern Polytechnical University in Xi'an, China. Wang was one of the pioneers of the first efforts to sequence goats and sheep ten years ago, when I approached BGI-Shenzhen, the largest sequencing facility in the world, on the assembly in consortium to fight against the ruminants. At the time, resources and technology limited them to finishing species important for agriculture. But Wang always hoped to grow.
By the end of 2015, he finally had the opportunity, when the NPU granted him funds to launch the project and a supercomputer to help him in the intense process of assembling trillions of genetic code strings. . I partnered with one of the world's leading ruminant experts, Rasmus Heller from the University of Copenhagen, and in early 2016 they were operational. Wang recruited former doctoral students who could have contributed to the genomes of the goat and ewe and who now operated their own laboratories. In the end, more than 20 institutions, mainly located in China, contributed to the project.
One of the biggest challenges was to get enough genetic material from all the species that they wanted to include in the study. Heller's relations in Denmark enabled the group to access a vast collection of tissues, including dozens of wild cattle, but some of them proved to be impossible to extract enough from. DNA for the sequence. They have therefore joined a more global sequencing effort called the Earth BioGenome Project to obtain additional species. For others, they sent researchers to reindeer farms in Mongolia, asked zoos to collect skin samples of rare striped antelope and asked for conservation grounds to get hold of them. small pieces of a critically endangered gazelle. They have not listed the species they have listed – muskox and a small semi-aquatic antelope called lechwe are too difficult. But, says Heller, the data set is already in high demand, which has helped launch new projects in the field of ecology and population conservation. "I hope this will trigger a golden age in genomics research on these species."
For some species, such as the polar reindeerthese sparks have already begun to fly. In one of the Science Published documents today, Heller and Wang and their colleagues have revealed how to cope with such low light levels for large parts of the year. In addition to developing supercharged genes metabolizing vitamin D to help them capture more calcium, they have also acquired many unique mutations the genes that control their circadian clocks. Learn more about these adaptations could help scientists better understand and possibly deal with seasonal affective disorder, or even design drugs to help astronauts in Mars adjust their circadian rhythms to a longer night.
Harris Lewin is an evolutionary geneticist from the University of California at Davis, who coordinates the Earth BioGenome Project, which aims to collect sequences of all living organisms from the pale blue dot. Part of the work of this US-based project is to integrate dozens of smaller, more focused sequencing efforts around the world. The trend is to see that the bulk of the money and leadership on these sequencing projects (not to mention the discoveries that they generate) are now coming from China and Europe. "All the others are saving on these efforts to produce high quality footage and we are starting to fall behind," said Lewin. "The ruminant genome project is a very good example of the Chinese, who have always been good people and are now taking the lead."
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(tagsToTranslate) genetics (t) agriculture (t) cancer (t) circadian rhythm</pre></pre>