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More Complete Dolphin Genome Could Improve Assessments

Published on: 03/15/2017

A new database of bottlenose dolphin DNA and associated proteins could possibly aid in contamination monitoring and environmental health assessments. Credit: NOAA

A new, more exhaustive Atlantic bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) genome, or complete set of the species' genetic material, was completed by NOAA partners at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI). Genetic data from T. truncatus blood and skin studies were made available by NOAA's NCCOS for the annotation and assembly processes. The improved technology used to compile the genome reduced the percent of partially-represented protein coding genes from 24% to 4%. The final product is a detailed, searchable index of all the proteins found in the bottlenose dolphin genome.

Better quality dolphin genome data could improve dolphin population assessments, inform on the presence of environmental contaminants and the safety and health of the world's oceanic food web, and even provide researchers with new information about how the human body works (since they are both mammals, and share a number of proteins and similar functions, despite dolphins living in marine environments). Those findings could eventually be used to develop new, more precise treatment methods for common medical problems.

For more information, contact Marion.Beal@noaa.gov.

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