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Bioessays. 2007 Nov;29(11):1073-6.

The genome of a Gondwanan mammal.

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ARC Centre of Excellence for Kangaroo Genomics, Department of Zoology, The University of Melbourne, Victoria 3010, Australia.


Australia is thought of as the home of marsupials, but South America has 60 or so species of these interesting mammals. The genome of one of these, the South American grey short-tailed opossum, Monodelphis domestica, has just been sequenced and published in June.1 The high quality 6x coverage is the first marsupial genome completed, pipping the 2x coverage of the Australian tammar wallaby at the post by half a year. The opossum genome has an unusual structure with fewer chromosomes than the human genome (9 pairs versus 23 pairs) but a longer total length (3.4 billion versus 3 billion bases). The opossum autosomes, like those of all marsupials, are extremely large but, in contrast, the X chromosome is only 76 Mb long. The opossum genome has turned up several surprises and provided critical new information on the evolution of mammalian genomes.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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