Out of the 60,000 vertebrate species still in existence an international group of scientists wants to sequence 10,000 of them.
Scientists have an ambitious new strategy for untangling the evolutionary history of humans and their biological relatives: a genetic menagerie made of the DNA of more than 10,000 vertebrate species. The plan, proposed by an international consortium of scientists, is to obtain, preserve, and sequence the DNA of approximately one species for each genus of living mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and fish.
A bigger effort is needed to collect samples from many individual animals of each species so that their genetic diversity can be preserved in the face of declining numbers. Habitat loss is cutting into the numbers of many species. For some only the DNA samples will exist as the living species go extinct.
They think they can do this for about $5000 per species.
Known as the Genome 10K Project, the approximately $50 million initiative is “tremendously exciting science that will have great benefits for human and animal health,” Haussler said. “Within our lifetimes, we could get a glimpse of the genetic changes that have given rise to some of the most diverse life forms on the planet.”
The idea is to compare DNA sequences across the many vertebrate species to get idea of which genes can be traced back to common ancestors hundreds of millions of years ago. This effort will likely change the way that trees get drawn to show the relationships between species.
The orders of magnitude decline in DNA sequencing costs make this project possible.
The primary impetus behind the proposal is the rapidly expanding capability of DNA sequencers and the associated decline in sequencing costs. “We’ll soon be in a situation where it will cost only a few thousand dollars to sequence a genome,” Haussler said. “At that point, most of the cost will be getting samples, managing the project, and handling data.”
|Share |||Randall Parker, 2009 November 15 09:48 PM Biotech Advance Rates|