Chemistry Related
University of Houston genome composition specialists recently participated in sequencing genomes of the honeybee and sea urchin — projects that found the two species, particularly the sea urchin, share a number of genetic characteristics with humans.

Dan Graur, John and Rebecca Moores Professor of Biology and Biochemistry, along with graduate student Eran Elhaik, took part in the compositional analyses of the genomes — chemical instructions for life contained in every cell of an organism.

The two scientists joined a large international group of researchers looking for clues into human development, in the case of the purple sea urchin, and sociality, in the case of the honeybee.

Their findings, titled “Insights into social insects from the genome of the honeybee Apis mellifera” and “The genome of the sea urchin Strongylocentrotus purpuratus,” were published separately in the October 26, 2006, issue of Nature magazine and the November 3, 2006, issue of Science magazine, respectively.

“In general, the first report of a genomic sequence is only an appetizer that provides raw data for many other scientists to work on that sequence,” Graur explained. “We got involved in these studies because we are interested in the evolution of compositional features of genomes, which are used to identify genes, predict levels of gene expression, and find areas of the genome that are prone to mutations or insertions of foreign material.”

© University of Houston 2007