In the DNA of reptiles found genes associated with growth suppression of cancer cells and increased activity of the immune system.
An international team of geneticists from five countries under the leadership of Carlos Lopez-Tina of the Spanish University of Oviedo analyzed the genomes of giant tortoises. They have identified those genes that, in their opinion, allow these animals to live up to 200 years.
Lonesome George is a male abingdoni subspecies of giant tortoises (Head abingdonii), who lived on the Galapagos Islands before they were wiped out 150 years ago. In the nineteenth century, whalers and fur traders used these turtles as food, because they could go for long without food and water in the hold. Because of this treatment, the population of the subspecies has declined steadily, yet remained alive only Lonesome George. The researchers found it in 1972 on the island of Pinta. It was brought to the research station Charles Darwin on the Galapagos Islands and tried to obtain from him offspring, but to no avail. In 2012, Lonesome George died, leaving scientists with only the genetic material.
In addition abingdoni ivory turtles, there are other subtypes, such as the Seychelles giant tortoise (Aldabrachelys gigantea). Its representatives inhabit the Aldabra island in the Indian ocean, their number is estimated at 150 thousand individuals. The authors sequenced the genome of the two subspecies and compared them with the genetic material of reptiles, fish, mice and humans to determine the stretches of DNA that play a key role in the longevity of turtles.
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First, scientists have discovered that the common ancestor abingdoni ivory and Seychelles giant tortoises lived about 40 million years ago. Human communication of this kind is divided 312 million years ago. According to the researchers, these large intervals only help in finding the General patterns among genes of different subspecies.
All the authors found 43 genes that can influence longevity. Among them are those associated with the immune system and protection from viruses, parasites and infections. Also, the giant tortoises found extra copies of genes that are responsible for suppression of growth of malignant tumors. However, the most interesting finding was those genes that are involved in correcting chemical damage and breaks in DNA molecules. In particular, they’ve noticed a change in the XRCC6 gene, which is involved in the connection of double-stranded DNA breaks. The only animal with a similar mutation — naked mole rat, which is famous for being able to stop individual development in the newborn stage (neoteny).
The researchers plan to investigate why Lonesome George could not leave offspring when mating with members of other subspecies.
As reported by “Around the world. Ukraine”, most species of turtles have become extinct. The rest will soon disappear.