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Now, in a collaborative study by the Koala Genome Consortium -- involving 54 scientists at 29 institutions, including Kyoto University -- researchers have successfully sequenced the entire koala genome, uncovering much that has been unknown about these mesmerizing marsupials.
Past studies have revealed many unique features of the koala's morphology, physiology and ecology. However, little was known about the animal's genome. With this study published in Nature Genetics, the koala is now the fourth marsupial species to have its genome sequenced, providing further understanding of the genetic background of its biology, and establishing a high-quality genomic reference for marsupial mammals.
Consortium - Base - Pairs - Genes - Koala
The consortium sequenced over 3.4 billion base pairs and 26,000 genes in the koala genome. With this new data, Takashi Hayakawa of Kyoto University's Primate Research Institute and Don Colgan of the Australian Museum analyzed the evolutionary background of the koala's taste receptor genes relating to its unique adaptation to feed on eucalyptus.
"Initial studies gave us insight into genes related to sensory receptors and detoxification enzymes, and I was curious about the koala's pallet," explains Hayakawa. "In all animals, including humans, 'bitterness'...
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