International Vertebrate Genomes Project releases first 15 high-quality reference genomes (13 Sept 2018)
Publicly available data will impact studies on life, disease, and conservation efforts
As proof of principle, the release of the first 15 genomes representing 14 species demonstrates the new sequencing technology’s dependability and scalability to sequence all vertebrate genomes. These 15 genomes are currently the most complete versions of their species to date:
Mammals (4 species):
o Two bat species (Greater horseshoe bat and Pale spear-nose bat) representing lineages that diverged and survived from a common ancestor during the last 5th mass extinction and that are also used as models for age longevity and vocal learning, the latter a rare trait needed for spoken language, supported by leaders at the Bat 1000 (Bat1K) genome project (Gene Myers, lead at the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics and Center for Systems Biology, Dresden, Germany; Bat1K; G10K Council member; Sonja Vernes, lead for Bat 1K, Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics in the Netherlands; and Emma Teeling, lead for Bat 1K, University College Dublin in Ireland);
o The Canada lynx, an iconic wild cat Canadian species, once nearly extinct in the United States and now recovering, supported by scientists studying conservation (Tanya Lama at Massachusetts Cooperative Fish & Wildlife Research Unit, Amherst and Warren Johnson at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo & Conservation Biology Institute in Washington DC);
o The Platypus, an egg-laying mammal that has traits resembling both mammals (such as fur) and reptiles (such as laying eggs), supported by leaders within BGI in China (Guojie Zhang, University of Copenhagen, Denmark).
Birds (3 species, 4 genomes):
o In addition to the Kakapo, the VGP re-sequenced the reference zebra finch male songbird, a new genome of a female zebra finch, and the Anna’s hummingbird; with parrots, these species belong to the only three vocal learning bird orders among over 40 orders. These genomes are supported by leadership within the songbird neurobiology community (Erich Jarvis, Claudio Mello, David Clayton, Wes Warren, Christopher Balakrishnan, Julia George, Dave Burt, and Sarah London) and the Bird 10,000 (B10K) consortium (Guojie Zhang; Tom Gilbert at University of Copenhagen, Denmark; and Erich Jarvis).
Reptiles (1 species)
o A newly discovered turtle species, Goode's Thornscrub Tortoise, from Mexico, supported by University of Arizona geneticist Taylor Edwards and Royal Ontario Museum and University of Torontoconservation biologist Robert Murphy.
Amphibians (1 species):
o Two-lined caecilian, which belongs to a group of amphibian species that independently lost their limbs, making them look like worms or snakes, supported by Mark Wilkinson of the Natural History Museum in London and Richard Durbin, lead at the Wellcome Sanger Institute, UK; fishes; G10K Council member.
Fish (5 species):
o Five fish species - Flier Cichlid, Climbing perch, Eastern happy, Blunt-snouted clingfish and Tire track eel - that represent a large diversity of traits among fishes, are used to study species evolution, adaptation and for some as aquarium pets, supported by leaders of the Fish VGP group (Richard Durbin; Byrappa Venkatesh of the Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology in Singapore; Axel Meyer of the University of Konstanz in Germany; and Gene Myers).
Press related to the launch of the VGP and its first data release
13 September 2018:
Genome Web, Julia Karow, Vertebrate Genomes Project release first assemblies; describes challenges, plans
Science, Elizabeth Pennisi, Researchers reboot ambitions effort to sequence all vertebrate genomes, but challenges loom
Gizmodo, George Dvorksy, Plan to build a genetic Noah’s Ark includes a staggering 66,000 species
Mass Live, George Graham, UMass scientists oversee first-ever sequencing of Canada lynx genome
First came fugu. Then he took a bite out of sharks. Now a pioneer in genome research helps lead the effort to sequence every lineage of vertebrates.
9 May 2018, Knowable Magazine, Bob Holmes
Members of the international Vertebrate Genomes Project (VGP) team this week provided details on the technology and assembly strategies being used for the first phase of an ambitious effort to establish reference genomes.
17 January 2018, Genome Web, Andrea Anderson
It’s an endearing, giant, flightless, New Zealand parrot, and it’s a poster child for the quantified-self movement.
13 September 2017, The Atlantic, Ed Kong