The great white shark is one of the most recognized marine creatures on Earth, generating widespread public fascination and media attention, and spawning one of the most successful movies in Hollywood history (“Jaws”). This shark possesses notable characteristics, including its massive size (up to 20 feet and 7,000 pounds) and diving to nearly 4,000-foot depths. Great whites are also a significant conservation concern given their relatively low numbers in the world's oceans. In a major scientific step to understand the biology of this iconic apex predator and sharks in general, the entire genome of the great white shark has now been decoded in detail. A team led by scientists from (NSU) Nova Southeastern University's Save Our Seas Foundation Shark Research Center (Miami, Florida) and Guy Harvey Research Institute (GHRI) (Miami, Florida), Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine (Ithaca, New York), and Monterey Bay Aquarium (Monterey, California), completed the white shark genome and compared it to genomes from a variety of other vertebrates, including the giant whale shark and humans. The findings were reported online on February 19, 2019 in PNAS. The PNAS article is titled “White Shark Genome Reveals Ancient Elasmobranch Adaptations Associated with Wound Healing and the Maintenance of Genome Stability.” Decoding the white shark's genome revealed not only its huge size - one-and-a-half times the size of the human genome - but also an abundance of genetic changes that could be behind the evolutionary success of large-bodied and long-lived sharks.
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