A battle is raging between two of the world’s oldest fish (or at least we thought), causing our ancestors to blame us for falling to the ground, which our rent, work, and alarm clocks were once thought to be “living fossils.” ‘L fish and tetrapods – quadrupeds are terrestrial animals – but recent research has shown that the lungs are a relative of our closest true fish. So where does our old sail quail leave? It first thought to be extinct until 1938, when the first living specimens caught off the coast of South Africa. This has somewhat taken away from our assumption of their extinction, but what about 65 million years among friends? Since then we have been trying to find out more about the “living fossils” whose alcohol morphology looks almost identical to the fossil record, but new research published in the Journal of Molecular Biology and Evolution has found several modern upgrades hidden in their genomes.
Led by a team of scientists from Toronto, the study sequenced the genome of the African Coelacanth, Latimeria chalumnae, and discovered 62 new genes that encountered other species about 10 million years ago. These genes are unusual in themselves, as they seem to come from transposons (aka selfish genes), a parasitic proliferation of genetic material whose sole purpose is to replicate them. These strange DNA components can also pass through species through a process known as horizontal gene transfer. This can happen several times in the evolutionary history of a species, so it is not easy to find out exactly when and through which animal it happened. The emergence of this DNA in coelacanths does not seem to have much effect on their physiology, yet it can reveal the dramatic effects of the genes of the confused species of transposed DNA.
“Our findings provide striking examples, rather than this phenomenon of transposons contributing to the host genome,” said Tim Hughes, senior study author and professor of molecular genetics at the Donnelly Center for Cellular and Biomolecular Research at the University of Toronto. “We don’t know what these 62 genes are doing, but many of them encode DNA binding proteins and probably play a role in gene control, even subtle changes in evolution are important.”
In an insightful study, the study leaves many unanswered questions and can be difficult to find answers when working with animals that are so rare and hard to find. Yet, giving even a glimpse of the genome of one of the world’s longest-lived inhabitants is uncommon, and the way we talk about this fish certainly becomes clear. Isaac Yellan, a graduate student who led the study, said in a statement, “The coelacanth was really surprised to find so many transposon-generated genes in the spine because they have an indomitable reputation for being a living fossil” Led. “Quelkanth may develop somewhat slowly but it is certainly not a fossil”