Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Scientists map genome of bowhead whales for the first time

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Bowhead whales, Baleana mysticetus, is the mammal with the greatest longevity and can reach the 210 years. The longevity of this whale has almost no comparison with most mammals and even inside of cetaceans, their average life expectancy stands out in several years by comparison with other species.

Now and for the first time, scientists were able to map the complete AND bowhead whales. Researchers from two different studies have joined efforts and identified the genome of this species by comparing it with the minke whale â€" a species which may have a lifespan between 30 and 50 years.

The comparison of the two genomes has enabled scientists to identify two gene mutations in the DNA of bowhead whales: the ERCC1 and PCNA, genes related to longevity and cancer resistance and DNA repair, writes the Dodo.

The study was conducted in the Liverpool Centre for Genomics Research, with collaboration of scientists from Alaska, Spain, South Korea, Denmark and Ireland.

According to João Pedro Magalhães, Portuguese researcher at the University of Liverpool who led the study, the conclusions drawn from the study of the DNA of this species of whale can contribute to the study of human genetics. For example, drugs that can activate human genes similar to those found on bowhead whales can be used to combat serious diseases.

Bowhead whales has a population relatively stable thanks to the introduction, in 1986, of a moratorium that regulates fishing subsistence purposes only. There are an estimated 24,900 these whales roam the Arctic and subarctic waters.

Foto: Ross Bishop/Creative Commons

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