Genetic “Noah’s ark” will save 66 000

The international consortium of more than 50 institutions, recently announced an ambitious project to collect high-quality genome sequence 66 000 vertebrate species across the Earth, including mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish. The total project will cost $ 600 million, but the proportions he has, so to speak, of the Bible.

The draft genomes of vertebrates (Vertebrate Genomes Project, VGP) organize a consortium called Genome 10K, or G10K. As the name implies, this group had originally planned to sequence the genomes of at least 10,000 species of vertebrates, but now, thanks to the huge success and reduce the cost of technologies for sequencing genes, G10K, decided to raise the stakes and to sequence both males, and females of each of the approximately 66 000 species on Earth.

How much of the earth’s species can be saved, if you die 99%?

The creators project has announced a new order during the conference G10K 2018, which was held at the Rockefeller University in new York. The project will include more than 150 experts from 50 institutions and 12 countries.

Along with the announcement has introduced 14 new high-quality genomes of species representing all five classes of vertebrates, including the genomes of large horseshoe bat, canadian lynx, platypus, Anna’s Hummingbird, parrot, kakapo (of which there were only 150), turtle of the desert hood, tailed servage (strange amphibian that resembles a snake) and anabas. These 14 genomes, and others, collected in the framework of the project will be available to scientists for research purposes.

VGP — it is not just the sequencing of animal genomes. As the human genome project (Human Genome Project), this company definitely will realize breakthroughs in high-quality sequencing and Assembly of the genome, which will lead to lower cost and reduce errors. The project will also address important questions in biology and medicine that will be immediately useful for the study of evolution, genomics and conservation biology. A complete catalogue of the vertebrates of the Earth’s species could serve as protection from extinction how to prevent extinction and possible recovery of the species in the future.

Oliver Rayer, G10K co-founder and Director of the Institute for conservation research at the zoo San Diego, says that the VGP has the potential “to transform all areas of biology”. He believes that scientists will be able to understand the causes of extinction, and the emergence of harmful mutations, inbreeding and genetic bottlenecks. People will have the opportunity to preserve their biological heritage.

When G10K was launched 10 years ago, its members had no idea how much time it would take to sequence the genomes of sufficient quality to do science and it was available.

“I am incredibly excited because we now have all the levers to make things right,” says David Haussler, G10K co-founder and Director of the genomics Institute at the University of California in Santa Cruz. “Now we have no reason not to do it”.

To create high-quality Assembly of the genome, the team VGP prefers the “long records”, rather than short, that is, when sequencing technologies produce long fragments of genetic data. Of them it would be easier to collect DNA sequences in whole chromosomes. Instead of working with a puzzle from millions of separate pieces, a long recording will result in a puzzle of thousands of such.

In addition, the researchers will refrain from the unification of male and female chromosomes in one genome is a common practice, which is resulting in too many errors. Instead, the team will collect as paternal and maternal DNA of individuals in the process of phasing. Each species will be collected separately and so that the work need not be repeated in the future.

“The long-awaited advances in sequencing allow for the DNA sequencing is literally de novo (from scratch)”, the researchers say.

And indeed, not so long ago it cost millions of dollars and required many years to complete the genome of even a single animal. New sequencing technologies will soon allow you to create an entire genome in one week, says Adam Filippi, the representative of the Assembly G10K. Currently, the DNA sequencing of a new type costs about $ 30,000.

The new sequence of genomes will be stored in the database Genome Ark (“Ark”), an open digital library of genomes.

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