Scientists working on a year-long project to sequence the genome of the poisonous puffer fish have discovered that the genetic make-up of the fish is surprisingly similar to that of humans. Dr Greg Elgar of the UK Medical Research Council's Human Genome Mapping Resource Centre said 'it's extraordinary how similar we are'.
Because of the similarity between the genomes, it is thought that the puffer fish, previously famed for its use in Japanese cuisine, may have medical applications in humans. It is thought that the discovery will aid scientists working on the human genome, especially those looking at genetic diseases and how to treat them.
The number of genes in the fish is roughly equal to that of humans, but the genes are a lot more compacted as there is much less 'junk' DNA. This makes the genes easier to identify, and therefore easier to compare with the human genome. A statement issued by the Medical Research Council said that 'when compared to the human sequence, important regions are quickly highlighted. This allows scientists to identify genes and will have direct application to understanding and treating human diseases'.