February 5, 2014
Largest Evolutionary Study Of Sponges Sheds New Light On Animal Evolution
Sponges are an important animal for marine and freshwater ecology and represent a rich animal diversity found throughout the world, from tropical climates to the arctic poles. For evolutionary biologists, they also present an interesting animal for comparative study because they are simple filter feeders, and lack nervous, digestive or circulatory systems, suggesting that they diverged early from other animals.
To provide a wider framework for understanding the molecular complexity behind the evolution of sponges, authors Riesgo, Windsor, Farrar, Giribet, and Leys (from the University of Barcelona, University of Alberta and Harvard University), performed the largest sequencing study to date on the genes of representatives from eight sponge genera covering all four currently recognized sponge classes. They performed comparative analysis of animal genes important for signaling, neuronal and ionic conduction, epithelia, immunity and reproduction.
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