Stream of Surprises from Atlantic Cod Genome

Researchers at the University of Oslo (UiO) in Norway keep discovering surprises in the Atlantic cod genome. The most recent study has revealed an unusual amount of short and identical DNA sequences, which might give cod an evolutionary advantage. The report was published online on January 18, 2017 in BMC Genomics in an open-access article titled “An Improved Genome Assembly Uncovers Prolific Tandem Repeats in Atlantic Cod.” Close to ten years ago, researchers from the Norwegian Institute for Water Research (NIVA) caught "Calvin the Cod" and hauled him out of the cold Arctic waters during an oceanographic expedition to the Barents Sea and the northern coast of Norway and the Lofoten archipelago. From Lofoten, Calvin’s journey took him to NIVA’s research station close to Norway’s capital Oslo. The story could have ended there, but Calvin’s destiny took a sudden twist when researchers from the University of Oslo found him swimming in a tank, killed him with a blow to the head, and took samples from his body home to their big freezer at the Department of Biosciences. An ordinary cod would have been eaten after being placed in the freezer, but Calvin the Cod instead started a new career. Calvin was in fact a healthy and characteristic representative of the population of skrei, which is the Norwegian term for cod that migrate between feeding grounds in the Barents Sea and spawning areas along the Norwegian coast. Thus, Calvin was chosen for the honorable task of donating his body parts and genes to science. In 2008, researchers at the University of Oslo initiated a unique project: they wanted to map the genome of a fish of great economic importance, namely Atlantic cod. This project has later become a huge success, and the cod genome researchers have delivered a stream of surprises, based on their studies of Calvin’s genome.
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