Hydra genome sequenced at UC Irvine

Posted By Ian Randall on 14 March 2010

Biologists have described the genome sequence of the ancient cnidarian, Hydra, in today’s online issue of the journal Nature. Hydra, a freshwater polyp, has been used for research for many centuries, and continues to this day to shed light on regeneration, stem cells and the origins of animal vision.

This photo of Hydra was taken in a Newport Beach stream. Photo credit - Peter Bryant/UC Irvine

A team based at UC Irvine discovered that Hydra has a similar number of genes as humans do – in fact, we share a number of them in common. Futhermore, genes were found that are known to be linked to both Huntington’s and Alzheimer’s disease, opening up the possibility of using Hydra as a basis for further research in these fields.

“Having the Hydra genome sequenced also enhances our ability to use it to learn more about the basic biology of stem cells, which are showing great promise for new treatments for a host of injuries and diseases,” said Robert Steele, UC Irvine professor and interim chair in biological chemistry.

Started in 2004, the genome sequencing, which represents UCI’s first major study of this kind, was carried out at the J. Craig Venter Institute. The program, which also involved an international team of scientists, was funded by the National Human Genome Research Institute.


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