Tuesday April 2, 2024


A study by a group of researchers at the University of Kentucky in collaboration with scientists in four other countries has been published in Nature. Their study is titled “The hagfish genome and the evolution of vertebrates.”

Jeramiah Smith, Ph.D., a professor in the Department of Biology in the College of Arts and Sciences, collaborated with an international research group to piece together the hagfish genome and better understand the early evolution of vertebrates.

Hagfish are a type of jawless fish that typically live in deep ocean waters far from the light of the sun. They are scavengers that play an important role in marine ecosystems. These weird creatures are perhaps best known for their ability to produce huge amounts of slime to protect themselves from predators. Hagfish and lampreys are the only surviving jawless fish.

What do these unusual fish contribute to science? Their genetic material helped researchers like Smith, along with postdoctoral scholars Nataliya Timoshevskaya, Ph.D., and Vladimir Timoshevskiy, Ph.D., piece together a comprehensive picture of vertebrate genome evolution and improve our understanding of how the large collection of genes with our own genomes came to be.

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