Platypus and echidna genomes reveal mammalian biology and evolution

Journal: Nature

Published: 2021-01-06

DOI: 10.1038/s41586-020-03039-0

Affiliations: 35

Authors: 42

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Research Highlight

Platypus genome reveals evolutionary divergence from other mammals

© Robin Smith/The Image Bank/Getty Images

© Robin Smith/The Image Bank/Getty Images

A comparison of the genomes of the platypus and echidna — Australia’s egg-laying mammals — has revealed new clues about how these monotremes diverged from other mammals.

A team that included researchers from the University of Adelaide in South Australia has studied the most complete genome of the platypus so far sequenced and compared it with the genomes of the echidna and other animals.

They found the monotremes shared some genes with mammals for milk production but had extra unknown genes related to the production of milk proteins that aren’t found in mammals.

Perhaps due to its semi-aquatic lifestyle, the platypus also had different genes relating to haemoglobin, which carries oxygen in red blood cells. It also had fewer genes relating to the sense of smell, as it detects its prey with electroreception.

The findings shed new light on how the unusual biology of the monotremes may have evolved.

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  1. Nature 592, 756–762 (2021). doi: 10.1038/s41586-020-03039-0
Institutions Share
The University of Adelaide (Adelaide Uni), Australia 0.17
BGI-Shenzhen, China 0.08
The University of Sydney (USYD), Australia 0.07
Wellcome Sanger Institute, United Kingdom (UK) 0.07
Vertebrate Genomes Laboratory (VGL), The Rockefeller University, United States of America (USA) 0.07
Zhejiang University (ZJU), China 0.06
University of California, Davis (UC Davis), United States of America (USA) 0.05
The University of Melbourne (UniMelb), Australia 0.05
NIH National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI), United States of America (USA) 0.05
The University of Queensland (UQ), Australia 0.02
San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance, United States of America (USA) 0.02
Pacific Biosciences of California, Inc., United States of America (USA) 0.02
digzyme Inc., Japan 0.02
Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech), Japan 0.02
Johns Hopkins University (JHU), United States of America (USA) 0.02
Oxford Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics, United Kingdom (UK) 0.02
DKFZ-ZMBH Alliance, Germany 0.02
The Rockefeller University, United States of America (USA) 0.02
University of Copenhagen (UCPH), Denmark 0.02
James D. Watson Institute of Genome Sciences (WIGS), China 0.02
Hokkaido University, Japan 0.01
Japan Monkey Centre (JMC), Japan 0.01
UCAS-BGI Education Center, China 0.01
Kunming Institute of Zoology (KIZ), CAS, China 0.01
Australian National University (ANU), Australia 0.01
University of Canberra, Australia 0.01
La Trobe University, Australia 0.01
University of Vienna, Austria 0.01
The Second Affiliated Hospital of Zhejiang University (SAHZU), ZJU, China 0.01
University of Chinese Academy of Sciences (UCAS), China 0.01
Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI), United States of America (USA) 0