According to a brand-new research study, the cognitive and neural complexity of the octopus could stem from a molecular example with the human brain.
New research has determined an important molecular example that might discuss the exceptional intelligence of these fascinating invertebrates.
An exceptional organism with an extremely intricate brain and cognitive abilities makes the octopus really special amongst invertebrates. Much so that it resembles vertebrates more than invertebrates in a number of aspects. The neural and cognitive intricacy of these animals might stem from a molecular example with the human brain, as found by a term paper that was recently released in BMC Biology and collaborated by Remo Sanges from Scuola Internazionale Superiore di Studi Avanzati (SISSA) of Trieste and by Graziano Fiorito from Stazione Zoologica Anton Dohrn of Naples.
This research shows that the very same leaping genes are active both in the human brain and in the brain of two types, Octopus vulgaris, the common octopus, and Octopus bimaculoides, the Californian octopus. A discovery that could assist us comprehend the trick of the intelligence of these amazing organisms.
An extraordinary organism with an incredibly complex brain and cognitive abilities makes the octopus extremely distinct amongst invertebrates. The octopus genome, like ours, is rich in jumping genes, most of which are inactive. Focusing on the transposons still capable of copy-and-paste, the scientists determined an element of the LINE household in parts of the brain essential for the cognitive capabilities of these animals. The discovery, the result of the collaboration between Scuola Internazionale Superiore di Studi Avanzati, Stazione Zoologica Anton Dohrn and Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia, was made possible thanks to next-generation sequencing strategies, which were used to analyze the molecular composition of the genes active in the worried system of the octopus.
Sequencing the human genome exposed as early as 2001 that over 45% of it is composed of series called transposons, so-called leaping genes that, through molecular copy-and-paste or cut-and-paste mechanisms, can move from one indicate another of a persons genome, shuffling or duplicating.
For the most part, these mobile components remain quiet: they have no noticeable impacts and have lost their ability to move. Some are inactive because they have, over generations, accumulated anomalies; others are intact, but obstructed by cellular defense reaction. From an evolutionary viewpoint even these fragments and damaged copies of transposons can still be helpful, as raw matter that advancement can sculpt.
Drawing of an octopus. Credit: Gloria Ros
Among these mobile aspects, the most pertinent are those belonging to the so-called LINE (Long Interspersed Nuclear Elements) household, found in a hundred copies in the human genome and still possibly active. It has been traditionally though that LINEs activity was simply a vestige of the past, a remnant of the evolutionary procedures that included these mobile elements, however in the last few years brand-new evidence emerged revealing that their activity is finely managed in the brain. There are numerous researchers who think that LINE transposons are related to cognitive abilities such as discovering and memory: they are especially active in the hippocampus, the most essential structure of our brain for the neural control of finding out procedures.
The octopus genome, like ours, is abundant in jumping genes, the majority of which are non-active. Focusing on the transposons still capable of copy-and-paste, the scientists identified an aspect of the LINE family in parts of the brain vital for the cognitive abilities of these animals. The discovery, the outcome of the cooperation in between Scuola Internazionale Superiore di Studi Avanzati, Stazione Zoologica Anton Dohrn and Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia, was made possible thanks to next-generation sequencing methods, which were used to evaluate the molecular structure of the genes active in the nerve system of the octopus.
” The discovery of a component of the LINE family, active in the brain of the 2 octopuses species, is very substantial since it includes support to the idea that these components have a particular function that exceeds copy-and-paste,” discusses Remo Sanges, director of the Computational Genomics laboratory at SISSA, who started operating at this task when he was a scientist at Stazione Zoologica Anton Dohrn of Naples. The research study, published in BMC Biology, was carried out by an international group with more than twenty scientists from all over the world.
” I actually got on the chair when, under the microscopic lense, I saw a really strong signal of activity of this aspect in the vertical lobe, the structure of the brain which in the octopus is the seat of learning and cognitive capabilities, similar to the hippocampus in people,” tells Giovanna Ponte from Stazione Zoologica Anton Dohrn.
According to Giuseppe Petrosino from Stazione Zoologica Anton Dohrn and Stefano Gustincich from Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia “This similarity between guy and octopus that reveals the activity of a LINE component in the seat of cognitive abilities might be described as a fascinating example of convergent advancement, a phenomenon for which, in 2 genetically far-off types, the exact same molecular process establishes separately, in reaction to similar requirements.”
” The brain of the octopus is functionally comparable in much of its characteristics to that of mammals,” states Graziano Fiorito, director of the Department of Biology and Evolution of Marine Organisms of the Stazione Zoologica Anton Dohrn. “For this reason, also, the identified LINE element represents a really intriguing candidate to study to enhance our understanding on the evolution of intelligence.”
Reference: “Identification of LINE retrotransposons and long non-coding RNAs revealed in the octopus brain” by Giuseppe Petrosino, Giovanna Ponte, Massimiliano Volpe, Ilaria Zarrella, Federico Ansaloni, Concetta Langella, Giulia Di Cristina, Sara Finaurini, Monia T. Russo, Swaraj Basu, Francesco Musacchia, Filomena Ristoratore, Dinko Pavlinic, Vladimir Benes, Maria I. Ferrante, Caroline Albertin, Oleg Simakov, Stefano Gustincich, Graziano Fiorito and Remo Sanges, 18 May 2022, BMC Biology.DOI: 10.1186/ s12915-022-01303-5.