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Oyster genome mystery decoded

Last Updated: Friday, September 21, 2012 - 16:28

London: Scientists have unraveled a detailed map of the Pacific oyster genome, shedding light on how molluscs manage to survive the harsh environment of estuary and sea shore.

According to the study, molluscs have scores of genes that protect it from extremes of temperature and saltiness, where the land meets the sea.

The genome map gives an insight into how the oyster became adapted to marine life, and how it formed its complex shell, the `BBC News` reported.

The map also reveals secrets that may help scientists breed faster-growing oysters with a better survival rate.

Oyster farming is a multi-million dollar industry, centered around China, Japan, Korea and the US.

A team of international scientists, from China, the US, and Europe, carried out the genome sequencing work.

Peter Holland, professor of zoology at the University of Oxford, and a co-author of the research, says the oyster has more than 80 genes that protect the oyster from stress.

It gives a fascinating insight into the life of a creature adapted to the intertidal zone, he said.

"We can actually see in the genome a reflection of these adaptations," Holland said.

"There have clearly been adaptations over millions of years to allow these animals to cope with an incredibly harsh environment," he said.

The DNA sequence of the oyster will be compared with other mollusc genomes, including the California sea hare and the giant owl limpet.

The findings are published in the journal `Nature`.


First Published: Friday, September 21, 2012 - 16:28

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