Animalia · Eco/Adaptable · Photographics · Projects

Balsa de los Sapos by Peter Lipton

“According to UNESCO, Ecuador has the world’s highest level of biodiversity based on it’s geographical size. In the Amazonian rainforest of this small South American country, more species of trees grow within one hectare (2,5 acres) than in the entire North American continent. Ecuador also boasts 460 species of amphibians, almost 9 percent of the world’s total.”

“One third of Ecuador’s amphibian species are endangered. This prompted the creation of a research and conservation program at the Catholic University of Quito in 2005. The program, named ‘Balsa de los sapos’, spanish for ‘Life raft of the frogs’, aims to collect, reproduce, and return endangered amphibians to their natural habitat.” — Peter Lipton

Animalia · Bio · Science · Technology

Conserved Gene Expression Reveals Our ‘Inner Fish’ – Human DNA Traced Back to Marine Origins

A study of gene expression in chickens, frogs, pufferfish, mice and people has revealed surprising similarities in several key tissues. Researchers have shown that expression in tissues with a limited number of specialized cell types is strongly conserved, even between the mammalian and non-mammalian vertebrates.

Timothy Hughes from the University of Toronto, Canada, worked with a team of researchers to investigate evolutionary alterations in gene regulation in the five different vertebrates. They found that although the specialized DNA sequences that regulate the expression of the genes seem to have changed beyond recognition over the hundreds of millions of years since the clades parted evolutionary company, the actual patterns of gene expression remain closely conserved.

According to Hughes, “There are clearly strong evolutionary constraints on tissue-specific gene expression. Many genes show conserved human/fish expression despite having almost no nonexonic conserved primary sequence.”

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