Researchers find Nemo's genetic code

Queensland researchers have successfully mapped the genome of the orange clownfish.
Queensland researchers have successfully mapped the genome of the orange clownfish.

Finding Nemo just got a whole lot easier on the genetic level after an international study led by Queensland researchers.

The team has successfully mapped the genome of the orange clownfish - the star of the family movie Finding Nemo - and a common resident of the Great Barrier Reef.

It's hoped the genome will provide the research community with a resource to decode the response of fish to environmental change.

The study was led by researchers from James Cook University and the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology in Saudi Arabia.

Professor Philip Munday from JCU's Coral Reef Studies centre of excellence said the clownfish was an ideal subject for the genome mapping.

"This species has been central to ground-breaking research in the ecological, environmental and evolutionary aspects of reef fishes," said Professor Munday, a co-author of the study.

"The clownfish is a model for studying sex change in fishes. It has also helped us understand patterns of larval dispersal in reef fishes and it's the first fish species for which it was demonstrated that predator avoidance behaviour could be impaired by ocean acidification."

The genome contains 26,597 protein coding genes and has been described as being like the world's biggest jigsaw puzzle.

Researchers used high-tech sequencing tools to piece the puzzle together.

The data is now available online at http://nemogenome.org.

Australian Associated Press