A genomic analysis of comb jellies confirmed that the squishy marine predators are the new oldest animals, bumping the much simpler sea sponges from the base of the animal evolutionary tree (SN Online: 12/12/13; SN: 5/18/13, p. 20).
The oldest genome yet sequenced came from a horse’s foot bone dating to between 780,000 and 560,000 years ago that was excavated in Canada’s Yukon. The feat revealed that horse ancestors originated 2 million years earlier than previously thought (SN: 7/27/13, p. 5)
Genome sequencing of a Siberian tiger, Bengal tiger, African lion, white African lion and snow leopard identified genes behind the carnivores’ ferocious metabolism and powerful pouncing skills (SN: 10/19/13, p. 6).
The mallard duck genome gave researchers clues about how flu viruses that can infect humans develop in waterfowl.
With nearly seven times the DNA of the human genome, the Norway spruce tree has the largest genome yet decoded (SN Online: 5/22/13).
The prehistoric-looking, lobe-finned fish’s genome revealed that it is not the closest living relative to land-traversing tetrapods — lungfish take that title (SN: 5/18/13, p. 18).
The zebrafish (Danio rerio) is a widely used genetic, developmental, and disease model organism because of the near-effortlessness of imaging transparent zebrafish embryos and the variety of tools available to manipulate their genes. Plus, the small fish are relatively easy and inexpensive to keep in the lab (Nature, 496:498-503, 2013; Nature, 496:494-97, 2013).
The diamondback moth (Plutella xylostella) chows down on cruciferous vegetables—like cabbage and cauliflower—causing $4 billion to $5 billion dollars of damage a year and has been resistant to insecticides since the 1990s. Scientists sequenced the moth’s genome and published it in Nature Genetics in January. They found about 18,000 protein coding genes, including more than 1,400 unique to the diamondback moth. (Nature Genetics, 45:220-25, 2013).