Kakapo Genome Sequencing a Whole Lot of Help

A group of kakapo will have their genomes sequenced in the hope it will improve the birds’ genetic diversity. There are only 125 kakapo left and every one of them will have their genetic make-up studied as part of the project.

This is the first time that genome sequencing of a whole population of one animal has taken place.

Scientists say analysing the data will help them to save the flightless kakapo from extinction by providing information on fertility and susceptibility to disease. It will also show which birds are closely related, so that inbreeding can be prevented.

One kakapo genome has already been sequenced at an American university, and now the other 124 will be analysed by a team at the University of Otago. “The questions we can answer will be limited only by our imagination,” associate professor Bruce Robertson, a molecular ecologist, said.

“As with the human genome project, we’ll be mining this for many years to come, and new and novel things will come out of it.” Researchers are hoping to raise US$45,000 (NZ$67,000) towards the cost of the study through crowdfunding, and are currently more than halfway to their goal.

Original article by BBC, February 3, 2016.

Tags: BBC  Bruce Robertson  genome sequencing  Kakapo  

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