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June 24 2013

Tiny Genomes May Offer Clues to First Plants and Animals

With just 121 protein-coding genes, the diminutive Tremblaya princeps, a symbiotic bacterium that lives inside specialized cells of the sap-eating mealybug, has the smallest known genome of any cellular organism on the planet. Tremblaya helps to supply the mealybug with essential amino acids and likely receives nutrients and other life-sustaining molecules in return. And even as it tests the lower limits of genome size, the Tremblaya genome may still be shedding genes.

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