echidna
Original Published Date: 
Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Full article issued by The University of Sydney.

The first ever echidna genome and a greatly improved, high-quality platypus genome have been sequenced by an international team of researchers, including ARC grant recipient Professor Katherine Belov, from The University of Sydney.

Professor Belov said that through this research, she and the team have discovered new peptides in both the platypus and echidna genomes. These peptides, the building blocks of proteins, have the potential to be developed into novel drugs for humans and other animals due to their potent antimicrobial activities. 'Their potential for biomedical applications is so exciting,' Professor Belov said. 

The researchers also hope to use the results of their study to inform genetics-based breeding programs, which may help reverse the decline of platypus and echidna populations in Australian. 'Not only can animals be bred based on their genetic compatibility; individuals with greater capacity to adapt to a changing environment can be selected for such breeding,' Professor Belov said.

These findings build on Professor Belov’s prior, genomic research on the platypus, which pinpointed the genes responsible for the animal’s venom. Future work will involve measuring the antimicrobial activities of each platypus and echidna peptide against a broad panel of bacteria and viruses, to identify the best targets for future development.

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