Tuesday, August 29, 2006
If you could peer microscopically into the closest freshwater pond, you'd hesitate before dipping a toe. Amid the murky water, you'd probably notice an oddly furry, pear-shaped organism gliding along - and gobbling up everything in its path.
This tiny predator has a big name - Tetrahymena thermophila - and a big fan club among scientists, as a star organism for research into how cells work.
Scientists have now sequenced, assembled, and analyzed T. thermophila's macronuclear genome. Their work, reported in today's issue of Public Library of Science (PLoS) Biology, explains the organism's impressive versatility. Rather than dividing labor into several types of cells, as humans and other multicellular organisms do, T. thermophila divides its activities, either into different places inside a cell or by changing the cell over time. It is a master multi-tasker.
The open access PLoS Biology paper referred to above is "Macronuclear Genome Sequence of the Ciliate Tetrahymena thermophila, a Model Eukaryote"
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