MSU scientists using DNA to track evolution
While sea lampreys often have been seen as a nuisance invading Michigan lakes and rivers, a team of scientists have discovered some secrets hidden in their DNA.
According to a press release, fisheries and wildlife professor Weiming Li, a scientist who organized the team and worked on the study that shows how lampreys have acclimated to a new environment and gives insight into the evolution of all vertebrates.
“Sea lampreys are amazing survivors,” Li said in the press release. “Even though they diverged from our lineage 500 million years ago, they give us a template of how vertebrates, including humans, evolved into the modern species that we have today.”
In the release, he said scientists can use lamprey DNA to track “extinct lineages.”
During the Cambrian period, life was evolving from single-celled organisms to multi-cellular ones, developing jaws and skeletons that protected their brains, spine and nervous system, the release reported. Some species’ brains had the same functions and structures as human brains, the release said.
In future studies, this information may allow scientist to better understand when and how humans evolved, in terms of developing jaws, arms, legs and immune systems, the release reported.
According to the release, this study could also lead scientists to find better ways to curb sea lamprey’s destruction.