i-63e80894b8fdc0bd0f93db0a82bf857a-Tammar_walaby_2-thumb-300x526-68502.jpgUntil I was sent this paper, I had no idea that Kangaroo DNA had not been sequenced before. How did we even know they had DNA?!?!

This is the fourth Marsupial genome, after the Tasmanian Devil and and some other non-Australian marsupial, to be sequenced. According to Professor Marilyn Renfree of the University of Melborune, “The tammar wallaby sequencing project has provided us with many possibilities for understanding how marsupials are so different to us.”

Macropus eugenii is the tammar wallaby. This aninal has the longest period of embryonic diapause of any known mammal, highly synchronized seasonal breeding and an unusual system of lactation, making it very interesting, and wallabys were already pretty interesting. The research coming out today in the journal Genome Biology provides a hitherto lacking understanding of marsupial gene evolution and hopes to have identified marsupial-specific genetic elements. There appear to be interesting results in the areas of reproduction (as mentioned), development, and the immune system.

ResearchBlogging.orgOne interesting finding is the identification of genes that code for immune products (antibiotics) that the mother wallaby producers and inserts into the offspring’s milk. I’m not sure, but I don’t think Placental mammals do that in any major way, but one can see how marsupials would benefit a great deal from this as offspring are highly altricial and thus vulnerable to infections for longer periods of time. Wallaby babies, in other words, spend the latter part of when placental animals are in utero outside the uterus in a pouch.

Here’s the reference to the paper:

Genome sequence of an Australian kangaroo, Macropus eugenii, provides insight into the evolution of mammalian reproduction and development
Marilyn B Renfree, Anthony T Papenfuss, Janine E Deakin, James Lindsay, Thomas Heider, Katherine Belov, Willem Rens, Paul D Waters, Elizabeth A Pharo, Geoff Shaw, Emily SW Wong, Christophe M Lefèvre, Kevin R Nicholas, Yoko Kuroki, Matthew J Wakefield, Kyall R Zenger, Chenwei Wang, Malcolm Ferguson-Smith, Frank W Nicholas, Danielle Hickford, Hongshi Yu, Kirsty R Short, Hannah V Siddle, Stephen R Frankenberg, Keng Yih Chew, Brandon R Menzies, Jessica M Stringer, Shunsuke Suzuki, Timothy A Hore, Margaret L Delbridge, Amir Mohammadi, Nanette Y Schneider, Yanqiu Hu, William O’Hara, Shafagh Al Nadaf, Chen Wu, Zhi-Ping Feng, Benjamin G Cocks, Jianghui Wang, Paul Flicek, Stephen MJ Searle, Susan Fairley, Kathryn Beal, Javier Herrero, Dawn M Carone, Yutaka Suzuki, Sumio Sagano, Atushi Toyoda, Yoshiyuki Sakaki, Shinji Kondo, Yuichiro Nishida, Shoji Tatsumoto, Ion Mandiou, Arthur Hsu, Kaighin A McColl, Benjamin Landsell, George Weinstock, Elizabeth Kuczek, Annette McGrath, Peter Wilson, Artem Men, Mehlika Hazar-Rethinam, Allison Hall, John Davies, David Wood, Sarah Williams, Yogi Sundaravadanam, Donna M Muzny, Shalini N Jhangiani, Lora R Lewis, Margaret B Morgan, Geoffrey O Okwuonu, San Juana Ruiz, Jireh Santibanez, Lynne Nazareth, Andrew Cree, Gerald Fowler, Christie L Kovar, Huyen H Dinh, Vandita Joshi, Chyn Jing, Fremiet Lara, Rebecca Thornton, Lei Chen, Jixin Deng, Yue Liu, Joshua Y Shen, Xing-Zhi Song, Janette Edson, Carmen Troon, Daniel Thomas, Amber Stephens, Laneksha Yapa, Tanya Levchenko, Richard A Gibbs, Desmond W Cooper, Terence P Speed, Asao Fujiyama, Jennifer AM Graves, Rachel J O’Neill, Andrew J Pask, Susan M Forrest and Kim C Worley
Genome Biology (in press)

It will be available at the journal’s web site when it officially comes out, any second now. I’ll add the link ASAP. Hat tip, Biomed Central

Renfree, MB Et Al (2011). Genome sequence of an Australian kangaroo, Macropus eugenii, provides insight into the evolution of mammalian reproduction and development Genome Biology, In Press

Comments

  1. #1 hannah's dad
    August 19, 2011

    On my property in the semi arid zone of South Australia we have 3 kangaroo species.
    -Macropus rufus aka reds that use embryonic diapause, which is logical cos they are an arid living species and diapause is well adapted to such.
    -M. robustus aka wallaroo/euro which uses embryonic diapause which is logical cos ….
    -M. fulingosus aka western grey pkangaroo which lives more in the arid regions than does its eastern cousin M. giganteus…. but doesn’t utilise embryonic diapause. Yet the eastern does [well ‘delayed implantation’ is the phrase used in my field guide to Aussie mammals.
    Furthermore they [eastern and westerns] can interbreed [in captivity] but only produce infertile offspring unless its the male of one [I forget which] and the female of the other, but not vice versa and then the offspring can be fertile and have delayed implantation/embryonic diapause whatever.
    Or something like that.
    Weird critters.

  2. #2 gwen
    August 19, 2011

    They would have been some of the first to be sequenced if I had anything to do with it…right after the koalas and platypuses!

  3. #3 Geoff
    August 19, 2011

    In your title, I think you mean “been”.

  4. #4 kwik
    August 19, 2011

    “One interesting finding is the identification of genes that code for immune products (antibiotics)…” – I think you mean “antipodes”.

  5. #5 StevoR
    August 20, 2011

    The one that interests me most here is thylacine (Tassie Tiger) DNA – and could we bring them back? ;-)

  6. #6 kwik
    August 21, 2011

    Not antibiotics, not antibodies but antimicrobial peptides: “The sequencing of the genome uncovered a family of cathelicidin genes, which are expressed in the mammary gland during lactation and encode powerful antimicrobial peptides.”

  7. #7 skippy
    August 22, 2011

    thank god! now i can sleep at nights!

    j/k, luv ur blog greg!

  8. #8 Chris Winter
    August 25, 2011

    Was there ever a creature that did pugnacious better? Looking at this picture, I get the clear impression that the beast is saying, “I’ll teach you to sequence my DNA!”

    This, of course, is why kangaroo DNA has only just been sequenced — and why it took 103 people to accomplish the task.

    ;-)

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