In a groundbreaking discovery, a group of Chinese institutes has achieved a significant milestone in the study of the genome of Antarctic krill. The study, published on Thursday in the esteemed research journal Cell, offers crucial insights into the population evolution and environmental adaptations of the marine animal.
The paper highlights the significance of the biomass of Antarctic krill in the Southern Ocean ecosystem. However, the complex and large size of the genome has been an obstacle to its assembly, hindering research on the genetic underpinnings of the animal’s adaptations.
Fortunately, the research group, led by the Yellow Sea Fisheries Research Institute of Chinese Academy of Fishery Sciences and BGI-Qingdao, adopted new sequencing technology, which has enabled the assembly of the 48 Gb chromosome-level Antarctic krill genome. The size of the genome is around 16 times that of the human genome.
The research found that the extensive size of the Antarctic krill genome can be attributed to repetitive sequence expansions. The study also offers critical insights into the species’ adaptations to the cold and the highly seasonal Antarctic environment.
Furthermore, the study shows that a significant decline in krill population size ten million years ago and a subsequent rebound 100,000 years ago coincided with climate change events.
The implications of the findings are enormous, providing new theoretical references for environmental adaptations and population insights of marine creatures. The research provides guidance for biodiversity protection and research on the population genetics of marine life. As Zhang Linlin, a researcher at the Institute of Oceanology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, notes, “the findings offer new theoretical references for environmental adaptations and population insights of marine creatures, and provide guidance for biodiversity protection and research on the population genetics of marine life.”