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Louse-y genome surprise

Blood-sucking body lice store mitochondrial DNA in 18 mini-chromosomes

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4:57pm, March 30, 2009

Although generally despised, the blood-sucking human body louse, Pediculus humanus, has gained newfound popularity among scientists for a surprising genetic feature. Instead of carrying mitochondrial DNA in a single chromosome loop, the vermin splits this DNA among many chromosomes, making the louse an anomaly in the animal world, scientists report online March 31 in Genome Research.

Animal cells stash DNA in the nucleus, where the bulk of genetic material is packed, and in the mitochondria, specialized energy factories in the cell. The mitochondrial DNA of more tha

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