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Eight-legged evolution exploits editing

RNA tweaks adapt octopuses to water temperature

By
3:30pm, January 6, 2012

The frigid waters of the Southern Ocean don’t slow Antarctic octopuses down, even though their nervous systems are governed by the same genetic instructions as their tropical counterparts. Now scientists know why: Edits to the creatures’ genetic instructions tweak the octopuses’ nerve cells for smooth operating in the numbing polar waters.

The discovery is the first report of such editing actually helping an organism adjust to its environment, scientists report online January 5 in Science.

Because nerve cells can’t send signals as quickly in the cold, scientists decided to compare genes f

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