Biologists from the University of Columbia, Irvine have played a major role in sequencing Hydra genome - a research that found the freshwater polyp shares many genes with humans. The study has appeared in the March 14 online version of Nature.
In the report UCI biologists Robert Steele and Hans Bode, along with nine other UCI scientists and an international team of researchers, describe the genome sequence of an organism that continues to advance research on regeneration, stem cells and patterning.
The scientists discovered Hydra to have about the same number of genes as humans, sharing many of the same ones. They also found genes linked with Huntington's disease and with the beta-amyloid plaque formation seen in Alzheimer's disease - two areas in which UCI has traditionally strong research programs - suggesting the possible use of Hydra as a research model for these two diseases.
Steele, associate professor and interim chair in biological chemistry, said: "Having the Hydra genome sequenced also enhances our ability to use it to learn more about the basic biology of tem cells, which are showing great promise for new treatments for a host of injuries and diseases."