Sharks are fascinating for many reasons. One of them is their incredible ability to heal. Recently researchers took a closer look at their genome in order to get more answers. The results appear in a study named Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
“Not only were there a surprisingly high number of genome stability genes that contained these adaptive changes, but there was also an enrichment of several of these genes, highlighting the importance of this genetic fine-tuning in the white shark,” said Dr. Mahmood Shivji, director of NSU’s Save Our Seas Foundation Shark Research Center and GHRI.
What does the study reveal?
It appears that the great whites are truly impressive creatures. They are able to repair their DNA and they have been around for almost 16 million years. By looking closer at the genome, scientists discovered that it has 41 pairs of chromosomes. Meanwhile, the human genome has only 23 chromosomes.
The great white shark also has specific DNA sequence changes. With their help, sharks are able to keep the genome stable and its integrity won’t be targeted. This is also the reason why there is a low risk of cancer when it comes to sharks. Cancer, as well as other age related diseases, are in fact caused by instability in genomes.
“These LINEs are known to cause genome instability by creating double stranded breaks in DNA,” declared Dr. Michael Stanhope, co-leader of the study. “It’s plausible that this proliferation of LINEs in the white shark genome could represent a strong selective agent for the evolution of efficient DNA repair mechanisms, and is reflected in the positive selection and enrichment of so many genome stability genes.”