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Nat Genet. 2013 Jun;45(6):701-706. doi: 10.1038/ng.2615. Epub 2013 Apr 28.

The draft genomes of soft-shell turtle and green sea turtle yield insights into the development and evolution of the turtle-specific body plan.

Author information

1
BGI-Shenzhen, Shenzhen, China.
2
RIKEN Center for Developmental Biology, Kobe, Japan.
3
Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, Wellcome Trust Genome Campus, Hinxton, Cambridge, UK.
4
BGI-Japan, Kobe, Japan.
5
Medical Research Institute, Tokyo Medical and Dental University, Tokyo, Japan.
6
European Bioinformatics Institute, Wellcome Trust Genome Campus, Hinxton, Cambridge, UK.
7
National Institute for Basic Biology (NIBB) Core Research Facilities, NIBB, Okazaki, Japan.
8
Department of Biology, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark.
9
King Abdulaziz University, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
10
China National GeneBank, BGI-Shenzhen, Shenzhen, China.
11
Center for Social Evolution, Department of Biology, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark.
#
Contributed equally

Erratum in

  • Nat Genet. 2014 Jun;46(6):657.

Abstract

The unique anatomical features of turtles have raised unanswered questions about the origin of their unique body plan. We generated and analyzed draft genomes of the soft-shell turtle (Pelodiscus sinensis) and the green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas); our results indicated the close relationship of the turtles to the bird-crocodilian lineage, from which they split ∼267.9-248.3 million years ago (Upper Permian to Triassic). We also found extensive expansion of olfactory receptor genes in these turtles. Embryonic gene expression analysis identified an hourglass-like divergence of turtle and chicken embryogenesis, with maximal conservation around the vertebrate phylotypic period, rather than at later stages that show the amniote-common pattern. Wnt5a expression was found in the growth zone of the dorsal shell, supporting the possible co-option of limb-associated Wnt signaling in the acquisition of this turtle-specific novelty. Our results suggest that turtle evolution was accompanied by an unexpectedly conservative vertebrate phylotypic period, followed by turtle-specific repatterning of development to yield the novel structure of the shell.

Comment in

PMID:
23624526
PMCID:
PMC4000948
DOI:
10.1038/ng.2615
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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