REPUBLIC OF KOREA - The Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries announced that Korean researchers have completed sequencing the genome of Japanese Spiky Sea Cucumber (Apostichopus japonicas) - a world first.
The pioneering study conducted by Professor Joong-ki Park of Eawha Women’s University and Professor Chun-goo Park of South Jeolla University as part of a state-funded project, was published in the January edition of the open-access journal GigaScience .
Stichopus Japonicus, the spiky sea cucumber,belongs to a group of marine invertebrates, the echinoderms, one of the most economically important species of sea cucumbers found in the Korean waters, giving added meaning to this discovery. The resulting draft genome assembly contains a total of 21,771 predicted protein-coding genes, laying a firm foundation for further identification and utilization of functional genes.
Sea cucumber, often referred to as “ginseng of the sea”, has long been used as a traditional medicine since it is thought to have medicinal values. Studies indicate that nutrients in sea cucumber enhance the immune system and boost blood circulation while strengthening the functions of the kidney and liver. Such therapeutic properties and medicinal benefits of sea cucumbers can be linked to the presence of a wide array of bio-active , especially saponins and minerals.
The genome of the spiky sea cucumber is likely to accelerate sea cucumber breeding and aquaculture technology development. The genetic information is also expected to help the development of high added-value health supplements.
Mr. Kang Yongseok, Director-General for Marine Environment Bureau in the Ministry said the Ministry would spare no efforts to support the production and breeding of spiky sea cucumbers and explore their use.