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S. Korean scientists decode gene sequence of Korean abalone

All Headlines 12:47 April 04, 2016

BUSAN, April 4 (Yonhap) -- A team of South Korean scientists has sequenced the genome of a Korean breed of the abalone, one of the country's stamina-enhancing sea foods, for the first time in the world, a maritime science think tank said Monday.

The National Institute of Fisheries Science said the discovery was made by researchers from the institute and the two bioinformatics firms, Insilicogen Inc. and C&K Genomics. It said the genome of the Pacific abalone has 1.8 billion bases and contains 29,449 genes.

The results also revealed that the shell's genome is the largest among the gastropods, an indication that the abalone has expanded and reproduced some gene groups needed to withstand and adopt itself to the severe surroundings of the sea.

Such gene groups include one related to tiny hair-like cilia with which the Pacific abalone grips an irregular surface. Others pertain to the breathing pores in the outer edge of the shell.

Genome sequence data from the shell, also known as the northern abalone, showed that they are believed to have originated around 100 million years ago and have a genetic difference dating back some 500 million years compared to abalone with umbrella shells.

Lead researcher Nam Bo-hye at the center said he and others plan to register the results in major international academic journals and introduce a database of the abalone's genome so that it can be utilized to promote further research of the maritime creatures.

Around the world there are about 70 different species of abalone, with the northern abalone and its subspecies, the disk abalone, mainly farmed in South Korea.

Northern abalones are harvested the most off Wan Island on South Korea's southwest coasts. The region harvested 7,479 tons of the abalone in 2013. South Korea as a whole is the second-largest producer of abalones after China.

namsh@yna.co.kr
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