Surprises in sea anemone genome

The genome of one of Earth's oldest animal species shares genes, features with vertebrate genomes

Melissa Lee Phillips
Jul 4, 2007
The genome of the sea anemone, one of the oldest living animal species on Earth, shares a surprising degree of similarity with the genome of vertebrates, researchers report in this week's Science. The study also found that these similarities were absent from fruit fly and nematode genomes, contradicting the widely held belief that organisms become more complex through evolution. The findings suggest that the ancestral animal genome was quite complex, and fly and worm genomes lost some of that intricacy as they evolved. "What's exciting about this paper is that you're seeing the footprints of that ancient organization, reaching back perhaps 700 million years, which is an enormous expanse of evolution," said David Haussler of the University of California, Santa Cruz, who was not involved in the work.Led by Nicholas H. Putnam of the Department of Energy Joint Genome Institute (JGI) in Walnut Creek, Calif., the authors sequenced the...