Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Several different species of killer whales likely

Date:
April 22, 2010
Source:
NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service
Summary:
Scientists report finding strong genetic evidence supporting the theory there are several species of killer whales (Orcinus orca, also known as orcas) throughout the world's oceans.

Killer whale. Scientists report finding strong genetic evidence supporting the theory there are several species of killer whales (Orcinus orca, also known as orcas) throughout the world's oceans.
Credit: iStockphoto/Evgeniya Lazareva

In a report published April 22 in the journal Genome Research, scientists report finding strong genetic evidence supporting the theory there are several species of killer whales (Orcinus orca, also known as orcas) throughout the world's oceans.

Related Articles


Scientists have suspected for some time that there was more than one species of killer whales because of differences in behavior, feeding preferences and subtle physical features. But until now DNA analysis has been inconclusive because of the inability to map the entire genetic picture, or genome, of the whales' mitochondria, an organelle within the cell inherited from the mother.

"The genetic makeup of mitochondria in killer whales, like other cetaceans, changes very little over time, which makes it difficult to detect any differentiation in recently evolved species without looking at the entire genome," said Phillip Morin, lead author and geneticist at NOAA's Southwest Fisheries Science Center in La Jolla, Calif. "But by using a relatively new method called, 'highly parallel sequencing' to map the entire genome of the cell's mitochondria from a worldwide sample of killer whales, we were able to see clear differences among the species."

In all, tissue samples from 139 killer whales were analyzed. Samples came from killer whales found in the North Pacific, the North Atlantic and oceans surrounding Antarctica. As a result of the study, two types of killer whales in the Antarctic that eat fish and seals, respectively, are suggested as separate species, along with mammal-eating "transient" killer whales in the North Pacific. Several other types of killer whales may also be separate species or subspecies, but additional analysis is required.

Highly parallel sequencing of DNA is far faster and less costly than historical methods of analysis. For instance, the examination of mitochondrial DNA genome in one sample could have taken as long as several months. But with the use of high throughput sequencing, researchers can complete the same analysis for 50 or more samples in just a few weeks, and technology to sequence larger parts of the genome and more individuals continues to improve rapidly.

Determining how many species of killer whales there are is critically important for resource managers to establish conservation priorities and to better understand the ecological role of this large and widespread predator in the world's oceans.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Morin PA, Archer FI, Foote AD, Vilstrup J, Allen EE, Wade P, Durban J, Parsons K, Pitman R, Li L, Bouffard P, Abel Nielsen SC, Rasmussen M, Willerslev E, Gilbert MTP, Harkins T. Complete mitochondrial genome phylogeographic analysis of killer whales (Orcinus orca) indicates multiple species. Genome Res, DOI: 10.1101/gr.102954.109

Cite This Page:

NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service. "Several different species of killer whales likely." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 22 April 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/04/100422121704.htm>.
NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service. (2010, April 22). Several different species of killer whales likely. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 27, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/04/100422121704.htm
NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service. "Several different species of killer whales likely." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/04/100422121704.htm (accessed January 27, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Aquaponics Turn Suburban Industrial Park Into Farmland: Hume

Aquaponics Turn Suburban Industrial Park Into Farmland: Hume

The Toronto Star (Jan. 27, 2015) Ancient techniques of growing greens with fish and water are well ahead of Toronto bylaws. Video provided by The Toronto Star
Powered by NewsLook.com
How To: Mixed Green Salad Topped With Camembert Cheese

How To: Mixed Green Salad Topped With Camembert Cheese

Rumble (Jan. 26, 2015) Learn how to make a mixed green salad topped with a pan-seared camembert cheese in only a minute! Music: Courtesy of Audio Network. Video provided by Rumble
Powered by NewsLook.com
Water Fleas Prepare for Space Voyage

Water Fleas Prepare for Space Voyage

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Jan. 26, 2015) Scientists are preparing a group of water fleas for a unique voyage into space. The aquatic crustaceans, known as Daphnia, can be used as a miniature model for biomedical research, and their reproductive and swimming behaviour will be tested for signs of stress while on board the International Space Station. Jim Drury went to meet the team. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Husky Puppy Plays With Ferret

Husky Puppy Plays With Ferret

Rumble (Jan. 26, 2015) It looks like this 2-month-old Husky puppy and the family ferret are going to be the best of friends. Look at how much fun they&apos;re having together! Credit to &apos;Vira&apos;. Video provided by Rumble
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins