my poodle, my self

Have you ever noticed how some people look eerily like their dogs and vice versa? Now there’s genetic evidence to account for some of those similarities. Researchers from the Institute for Genomic Research, working with J. Craig Venter and others from the Center for Advancement of Genomics, report in the Sept. 26 Science that they have assembled a draft of the dog genome – the genetic coding that makes a dog a dog, or in this case, a poodle a poodle. (Just as Venter had his own genome sequenced a few years back, cells from Venter’s male standard poodle, Shadow, were used to decode the dog genome.)

Even though the draft is very rough with many gaps, the researchers still were able to discover that there are dog-gene equivalents for three-quarters of known human genes. Not surprisingly, it was also found that dogs have many more smell-receptor genes than people do. And, just in case you weren’t sure, dogs were also found to be much more similar to humans, at least on a genetic level, than mice. As for you rabid antipoodle fanciers, take heart: Researchers at the Whitehead Institute-MIT Center for Genome Research in Cambridge are working on a more detailed decoding of the dog genome using a decidedly un-frou-frou boxer named Tasha.

This news brief appeared in the Random Data column of the Boston Globe’s Health/Science section on 9/30/2003.
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