I wrote an article back in July, 2013 about the inevitable end of fossil fuels and what the repercussions are. I only touched on it lightly, and to recap I discussed how – when our oil reserves are completely exhausted – it won’t just be petrol that becomes a commodity, it will be plastic. Could it be that we have to revert to the beginning of the industrial revolution in our materials that we use to build things?
Now, scientists are aiming their sights on Octopuses (arguably the most recognised steampunk mascot). A small band of scientists have realised that they don’t have a full genome sequence from an Octopus. Given that they’re highly intelligent creatures and have abilities that range from smart camouflage techniques to limb regeneration, it seems only natural that we would want to build a complete genome sequence.
With that, the Cephalopod Sequencing Consortium has been created with the aim to get full sequences from not just one, but ten different species. Currently, the group are working on the California Two-Spot Octopus and once that is complete, they will look at the highly toxic Blue Ring Octopus as well as other cephalopod species such as Squid, Cuttlefish and Nautilus. This is by no means a fast or easy feat though. Despite being small, Octopus genomes can be larger than a Human genome. The Two-Spot Octopus has roughly the same 3.2 billion base pairs as a Human, while the Blue Ring Octopus has 4.5 billion base pairs. It makes the sequencing highly complex and can take time.
The results of the work will cover such scientific development areas as cellular neurobiology, learning and memory and neuroethology. It will help Marine Biologists study the Octopuses to see how they react to Humans fishing in their waters and it will help us understand why they look so different to their cousins, the Clam.
But let’s be honest, the only thing we want is the ability to grow a tentacle if our arm gets severed.