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From the Depths

Researchers have sequenced the genome of the elusive giant squid, which may eventually offer a peek into how they get so big.

The University of Copenhagen's Rute da Fonseca and her colleagues managed to obtain a fresh-frozen tissue sample from a giant squid that was caught by a fishing vessel off of New Zealand. As they report in GigaScience, they generated a 2.7-gigabase draft genome assembly of the giant squid based on 200 gigabases of Illumina reads, four gigabases of Moleculo synthetic long reads, and 108 gigabases of Chicago libraries. 

Within this genome, the researchers identified Hox and Wnt genes, as well as reflectins, a class of proteins specific to cephalopods that enable them to camouflage themselves. "[T]he giant squid genome will be able to help us to understand the biology of this family of proteins," author Caroline Albertin from the University of Chicago tells Gizmodo.

Additionally, the researchers note in a statement that having all this genomic data may enable studies into the size, growth rate, and age of the giant squid. "A genome is a first step for answering a lot of questions about the biology of these very weird animals," Albertin adds in a press release.