The first marsupial genome to be sequenced, that of the grey short-tailed opossum (Monodelphis domestica), is providing insights into the X chromosome and the genetics of the immune system, report an international team of scientists (Mikkelsen TS et al. Nature. 2007;447:167-177).
Monodelphis domestica is widely used in laboratory research as an experimental model for studying fetal development and genetic factors related to diseases that affect humans. It has properties that make it especially useful in biomedical research, such as the ability of newborn opossums to regenerate a severed spinal cord, offering clues to potential therapies. The animal is also the only nonhuman mammal known to develop melanoma solely from ultraviolet light exposure.
Stephenson J. Scientists Bag Marsupial Genome. JAMA. 2007;297(23):2578. doi:10.1001/jama.297.23.2578-b