Genome Spotlight: Nile Rat (and Argonaut) | The Scientist

Argonauta argo, or paper nautilus. Illustration from "I Cefalopodi viventi nel Golfo di Napoli," 1896. Credit: Wikimedia

MBL scientist Carrie Albertin provides expert comment on the recently sequenced Argonauta argo (paper nautilus).

It’s no wonder that rodents top the list of model organisms. They’re small and easy to care for, and yet share enough in common with humans that they can provide valuable insights into myriad life science fields, including physiology, neuroscience, and medicine. But the most popular rodent models—house mice (Mus musculus) and Norway rats (Rattus norvegicus)—aren’t ideal choices for studying all human traits. Both species are nocturnal and relatively resistant to diet-induced disorders. And that, researchers say, is where Nile rats (Avicanthis niloticus) come in.

Nile rats follow a much more human-like diurnal schedule, waking at dawn and sleeping through the night, which means they can serve as better models for studies on the health effects of circadian rhythm disruption. And the species is a great model for metabolic disorders too: Unlike its kin, it develops diet-induced diabetes when fed conventional rodent chow. But such work has been hindered by a lack of genomic resources for the species—until now, that is, as a November 8 paper in BMC Biology reports a chromosome-level reference genome for the species.

The 2.5 Gb assembly is part of the Vertebrate Genomes Project, a coalition of scientists who share the goal of generating nearly error-free genome sequences for all 66,000 extant vertebrate species. Read rest of the story here.

Source: Genome Spotlight: Nile Rat (Avicanthis niloticus) | The Scientist