The mystery of evolution has long been subject to close attention in the scientific community. Recent technological advances allow to unravel novel genome sequences, contributing to the study of anatomy and evolution of diversified animal species. I would like to bring to light recent findings of the Copenhagen Marine Biological Laboratory on a monstrous giant squid, a size of a school bus.
Giant squids have never been caught in the history of humankind which makes the process of scientific discovery especially complicated. Therefore, as explained by Albertin, the leader of the Marine Biological Laboratory, modeling the genome sequence of this animal is groundbreaking (Marine Biological Laboratory, 2020). The researchers concluded that giant squid has approximately 2.7 billion DNA base pairs which constitutes 90% of the human genome (MBL, 2020).
Yet, further comparison of the giant squid with the four other cephalopod species showed that Hox and Wnt, the two genes present in almost all animals, are found only in the giant squid genome. Such finding challenges the widely accepted idea of whole-genome duplication, probing scientists to search further.
Analyzing the genome of the giant squid more precisely will provide novel insights into the biology of these unique marine animals. Planning the next steps of the study, researchers hope to discover the reasons why giant squid has the biggest brain among all invertebrates and find scientific explanation behind the animal’s agility and highly skilled camouflage (Da Fonseca et al., 2020).
According to Linder (2020), cephalopods are believed to evolve independently from the vertebrates. However, the shared copies of genes in the genome suggest a groundbreaking hypothesis that cephalopods and vertebrates are, in fact, built the same way. One reason for such hypothesis is that the giant squid genome has more than 100 genes in the protocadherin family which is typically absent in invertebrates (MBL, 2020).
Da Fonseca et al. (2020) emphasized that protocadherins help to coordinate a complicated brain, usually operating in vertebrates only. Another reason for the correlation between the giant squid and vertebrates is reflectins. As researchers are concerned about the instantaneous camouflage skills of the animal, close attention is paid to reflectin, a gene which encodes protein involved in goniochromism (MBL, 2020). Finding answers to all the aforementioned questions will improve the modern understanding of cephalopod, raising awareness of the novel genes in evolution.
Da Fonseca, R., Couto, A., Machado, A. M., Brejova, B., Albertin, C. B., Silva, F., … Gilbert, T.P. (2020). A draft genome sequence of the elusive giant squid (Architeuthis dux). GigaScience, 9(1), 1-12. Web.
Linder, C. (2020). Team uncovers major new truths about the legendary giant squid. Popular Mechanics. Web.
Marine Biological Laboratory. (2020). The mysterious, legendary giant squid’s genome is revealed. ScienceDaily. Web.