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Big reveals for genome of tiny animal

Tunicates’ scrambled gene order suggests arrangement may not matter for vertebrate body plan and hints at origins of mysterious bits of DNA

12:41pm, November 23, 2010

As any devotee of Antiques Roadshow can tell you, just because something has been saved doesn’t mean it’s valuable.

Now, a study of plankton shows that a well-preserved genome isn’t necessarily responsible for how vertebrate animals, including humans, are put together. Researchers in Norway and France have deciphered the genetic blueprints of a tunicate called Oikopleura dioica, a tiny member of one of the most abundant plankton types in the oceans. The animal’s compact genome contains roughly 18,000 genes — near

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