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Genomics

Genome shows gecko evolution

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The first genome of a gecko species hints at the basis of its ability to regrow tails and climb walls.

Credit: Nature Production/Naturepl.com

More than 1,400 species of gecko inhabit temperate areas across the world. A team led by Huanming Yang at BGI in Shenzhen and Xiaosong Gu at Nantong University, both in China, sequenced the genome of Schlegel's Japanese gecko (Gekko japonicus; pictured) and identified more than 22,000 genes. Comparisons with other reptile and vertebrate genomes show that geckos diverged from other lizards around 200 million years ago, after the split of two supercontinents.

The gecko genome harbours dozens of copies of β-keratin genes — expressed in hair-like growths called setae that help the animal to cling to vertical surfaces. Expression of two genes that make the hormone prostaglandin increased in geckos after their tails had been amputated, suggesting a role for this hormone in regeneration.

Nature Commun. 6, 10033 (2015)

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Genome shows gecko evolution. Nature 528, 11 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1038/528011a

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