Genetic Noah’s Ark intends to sequence DNA of 66,000 species

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Image credit: California Accent Lighting

An international consortium involving over 50 institutions has announced an ambitious project to assemble high-quality genome sequences of all 66,000 vertebrate species on Earth, including all mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and fish. With an estimated total cost of $600 million dollars, it’s a project of biblical proportions. It’s called the Vertebrate Genomes Project (VGP).

Indeed, there’s more to VGP than just sequencing animal genomes. Like the Human Genome Project, this endeavor will undoubtedly produce breakthroughs in high-resolution sequencing and genome-assembly methods, while resulting in lower costs and fewer errors. The project will also address important questions in biology and disease, and make immediate impacts on the fields of evolution, genomics, and conservation biology. On that last point, a complete catalogue of Earth’s vertebrate species could serve as a safeguard against extinction—both in terms of preventing extinction, and possibly reviving extinct species in the future.

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Indeed, it wasn’t too long ago that it cost millions of dollars and years of effort to complete the genome of a single animal. New sequencing technologies could soon make it possible to create an entire genome in a single week.

The new sequences will be stored and made publically available at the Genome Ark database, a digital open-access library of genomes.

Once complete, we’ll have a remarkable repository at our disposal, one even Noah would be proud of.

Read full, original post: Plan to Build a Genetic Noah’s Ark Includes a Staggering 66,000 Species

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