The Ciona intestinalis genome: when the constraints are off

Holland, LZ, Gibson-Brown JJ.  2003.  The Ciona intestinalis genome: when the constraints are off. Bioessays. 25:529-532.

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18s rdna, amphioxus, caenorhabditis-elegans, chordate, evolutionary history, mitochondrial genome, oikopleura-dioica, sequence, transposable elements, vertebrates


The recent genome sequencing of a non-vertebrate deuterostome, the ascidian tunicate Ciona intestinalis, makes a substantial contribution to the fields of evolutionary and developmental biology.((1)) Tunicates have some of the smallest bilaterian genomes, embryos with relatively few cells, fixed lineages and early determination of cell fates. Initial analyses of the C. intestinalis genome indicate that it has been evolving rapidly. Comparisons with other bilaterians show that C. intestinalis has lost a number of genes, and that many genes linked together in most other bilaterians have become uncoupled. In addition, a number of independent, lineage-specific gene duplications have been detected. These new results, although interesting in themselves, will take on a deeper significance once the genomes of additional invertebrate deuterostomes (e.g. echinoderms, hemichordates and amphioxus) have been sequenced. With such a broadened database, comparative genomics can begin to ask pointed questions about the relationship between the evolution of genomes and the evolution of bodyplans. BioEssays25:529-532,2003. (C) 2003 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.