The wonder that is the fugu… genome

Posted on June 1, 2008


PZ Myers, the evolutionary biologist with the very successful Pharyngula blog has written a fascinating article for SEED magazine on the fugu genome:

Its genome is a tiny 365 million bases, one-eighth the size of the human genome, and the fugu genes take up a full third of that sequence (rather than 5 percent), while the repetitive DNA has been reduced to a sixth of the total (rather than 45 percent). Yet fugu aren’t missing anything, and are as sophisticated and complex on the cellular, tissue, and organismal level as other vertebrates. What’s the source of the difference?

Having just recently finished teaching a philosophy of biology course, I find that this serves as a very elegant example of a number of the issues we covered in the course. In particular, it is great as a way into the question of the multiple levels upon which evolution might be taking place. Finding out about this stuff fills me with wonder at how much more interesting the world is than people imagine it to be. And I can not help but feel a certain pity for people who do not desire finding out about it.