Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Simple Water Fleas More Unique Than One Would Think

Simple Water Fleas More Unique Than One Would Think

Most would agree that humans are the most genetically diverse species out there and that a measely water flea definitly falls short on the list of diverse species. However, a study in Discovery News reported that it actually is true that the water flea (Daphnia pulex), is the most genetically diverse species known. The tiny crustacean possesses approxiametly 31,000 genes. This beats out the amount humans have by 8,000. Not only do these water fleas have the highest amount of genes of all species, but they also have a large number of genes never before discovered by scientists.

The high count and the uniqueness of the fleas' genes came as a suprise to me as I am sure it did to many others because the species seems like such a simple organism. This type of water flea is asexual and dwells in ponds and lakes in North America, Europe, and Australia. So what made it so the fleas' genome is so large? Scientists discovered that the high amount of genes possessed by the water flea is actually due to their genes copying and multiplying at an extremely fast rate, much faster than other species genes replicate. Even though however, their ambundant number of genes isn't soley because their genome is extremely diverse, the water flea still contains more than a third of genes that have not been discovered in other organisms. Scientists believe that the fleas' genome is so large due to homeostasis with their environment. The fleas live in wetland areas and apparently these conditions called for unique genes to help the little critters cope with their surroundings.

This study shows how something seemigly so small and miniscule may actually have a lot more to it. It is a good thing scientists did experiments on this species of water fleas and sequenced their genes which led to the discovery of such a huge genome. This study is now expected to help scientists study effects of environmental pollutants on humans. It is amazing to think that a pesky little flea could benefit the human race.

Posted by: Teryn McCook (2)

1 comment:

  1. This article reminds me about how little we know scientifically. It also amazes me that something so small can be super complex and not resemble complexity from the human eye. I wonder what some of the 8000 genes that a water fleas have that humans don't comprise of. Also, do other organisms living in similar environments as the water fleas possess equally as impressive genomes? Evolution is truly an extraordinary concept.

    Posted by Reed Allen