Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

New genomic study provides a glimpse of how whales could adapt to ocean

Date:
November 24, 2013
Source:
BGI Shenzhen
Summary:
Researchers have completed the first in-depth minke whale genome sequence and their new findings shed light on how whales successfully adapted to ocean environment. The data yielded in this study will contribute to future studies of marine mammal diseases, conservation and evolution.

Minke whale.
Credit: mojo_jojo / Fotolia

In a paper published in Nature Genetics, researchers from Korea Institute of Ocean Science and Technology, Korea Genome Research Foundation, BGI, and other institutes presented the first in-depth minke whale genome and their new findings on how whales successfully adapted to ocean environment. The data yielded in this study will contribute to future studies of marine mammal diseases, conservation and evolution.

Related Articles


Whales roam throughout all of the world's oceans, living in the water but breathing air like humans. At the top of the food chain, whales are vital to the health of the marine environment, whereas 7 out of the 13 great whale species are endangered or vulnerable. The minke whale is the most abundant baleen whale. Its wide distribution makes it an ideal candidate for whole reference genome sequencing.

In this study, researchers conducted de novo sequencing on a minke whale with 128x average depth of coverage, and re-sequenced three minke whales, a fin whale (Balaenoptera physalus), a bottlenose dolphin, and a finless porpoise (Neophocaena phocaenoides). The yielded data may help to improve scientists' understanding of the evolutionary changes adapted to ocean environment from whole genome level.

The adaptation of whale to ocean life was notably marked by resistance to physiological stresses caused by a lack of oxygen, increased reactive oxygen species, and high salt level. In this study, researchers investigated a number of whale-specific genes that were strongly associated with stress resistance, such as the peroxiredoxin (PRDX) family, O-linked N-acetylglucosaminylation (O-GlcNAcylation). The results revealed that the gene families associated with stress-responsive proteins and anaerobic metabolism were expanded.

Perhaps the most dramatic environmental adaptation for a whale is deep diving, which can induce hypoxia. Under the hypoxic conditions, the body might produce more reactive oxygen species (ROS), harmful compounds that can damage DNA. Glutathione is a well-known antioxidant that prevents damage to important cellular components by ROS. In this study, researchers provided evidence to support that there is an increased ratio of reduced glutathione/glutathione disulfide when suffering hypoxic or oxidative stress.

Minke whales and other Mysticeti whale species grow baleen instead of teeth. It's previously reported that the genes ENAM, MMP, and AMEL might play a role in tooth enamel formation and biomineralization. This study showed that these genes may be pseudogenes with early stop codons in the baleen whales. In addition, researchers found that the gene families related to whale's body hair and sensory receptors were contracted, such as Keratin-related gene families associated with hair formation, several Hox genes that play an important role in the body plan and embryonic development.

Xuanmin Guang, project manager from BGI, said, "Minke whale is the first marine mammal that has been sequenced with such high-depth genome coverage. The genome data not only can help us know much more about the adaption mechanisms underlying minke whale, but also provides invaluable resource for marine mammal's future studies such as diseases control and prevention, species conservation,and protection."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by BGI Shenzhen. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Hyung-Soon Yim, Yun Sung Cho, Xuanmin Guang, Sung Gyun Kang, Jae-Yeon Jeong, Sun-Shin Cha, Hyun-Myung Oh, Jae-Hak Lee, Eun Chan Yang, Kae Kyoung Kwon, Yun Jae Kim, Tae Wan Kim, Wonduck Kim, Jeong Ho Jeon, Sang-Jin Kim, Dong Han Choi, Sungwoong Jho, Hak-Min Kim, Junsu Ko, Hyunmin Kim, Young-Ah Shin, Hyun-Ju Jung, Yuan Zheng, Zhuo Wang, Yan Chen, Ming Chen, Awei Jiang, Erli Li, Shu Zhang, Haolong Hou, Tae Hyung Kim, Lili Yu, Sha Liu, Kung Ahn, Jesse Cooper, Sin-Gi Park, Chang Pyo Hong, Wook Jin, Heui-Soo Kim, Chankyu Park, Kyooyeol Lee, Sung Chun, Phillip A Morin, Stephen J O'Brien, Hang Lee, Jumpei Kimura, Dae Yeon Moon, Andrea Manica, Jeremy Edwards, Byung Chul Kim, Sangsoo Kim, Jun Wang, Jong Bhak, Hyun Sook Lee, Jung-Hyun Lee. Minke whale genome and aquatic adaptation in cetaceans. Nature Genetics, 2013; DOI: 10.1038/ng.2835

Cite This Page:

BGI Shenzhen. "New genomic study provides a glimpse of how whales could adapt to ocean." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 24 November 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/11/131124200510.htm>.
BGI Shenzhen. (2013, November 24). New genomic study provides a glimpse of how whales could adapt to ocean. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 18, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/11/131124200510.htm
BGI Shenzhen. "New genomic study provides a glimpse of how whales could adapt to ocean." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/11/131124200510.htm (accessed December 18, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

When You Lose Weight, This Is Where The Fat Goes

When You Lose Weight, This Is Where The Fat Goes

Newsy (Dec. 17, 2014) Can fat disappear into thin air? New research finds that during weight loss, over 80 percent of a person's fat molecules escape through the lungs. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Hottest Food Trends for 2015

The Hottest Food Trends for 2015

Buzz60 (Dec. 17, 2014) Urbanspoon predicts whicg food trends will dominate the culinary scene in 2015. Mara Montalbano (@maramontalbano) has the story. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Rover Finds More Clues About Possible Life On Mars

Rover Finds More Clues About Possible Life On Mars

Newsy (Dec. 17, 2014) NASA's Curiosity rover detected methane on Mars and organic compounds on the surface, but it doesn't quite prove there was life ... yet. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ivory Trade Boom Swamps Law Efforts

Ivory Trade Boom Swamps Law Efforts

Reuters - Business Video Online (Dec. 17, 2014) Demand for ivory has claimed the lives of tens of thousands of African elephants and now a conservation report says the illegal trade is overwhelming efforts to enforce the law. Amy Pollock reports. Video provided by Reuters
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