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Genome projects launched for three extreme-environment animals
Date:4/27/2009

BGI-Shenzhen, in association with several other research institutes, announced today the launch of three new genome projects that focus on animals living in extreme environments. The three selected genomes are those of two polar animals: the polar bear and emperor penguin, and one altiplano animal: the Tibetan antelope.

These projects will be carried out using Next-generation sequencing technologies, which have already enabled rapid, accurate, and cost effective completion of several other large genome projects at BGI-Shenzhen, including the Panda and the first Asian individual genomes. This powerful technology will be used here to construct complete genome sequences for each of these animals and to carry out detailed genome-wide analyses, including the identification of gene function and determination of the genomic basis of their unique evolution and extreme environmental-adaptation.

The polar bear is the world's largest land carnivore and is native to the Arctic Ocean and its surrounding seas. Although many of its physical characteristics are specifically adapted for surviving in a harsh climate, it is extremely sensitive to air pollution and climate changes. Due to global warming, the number of polar bears living in the Arctic Ocean area has dramatically declined to a population size of 20,000󈞅,000. The data from this sequencing project will provide essential tools for understanding its unique environmental adaptations and for monitoring the genetic health of this endangered species and assessing the impact of global warming on its ultimate survival.

The penguin is a flightless bird of which many species are confined to the southern hemisphere. Evolutionary studies have indicated that periods of global cooling strongly influenced penguin diversification; thus, researchers believe that global warming may result in a rapid decline in the diversity of these populations and a rapid decline in species number. The availabilit
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Contact: Dr. Li Zhuo
lizhuo@genomics.org.cn
Beijing Genomics Institute at Shenzhen
Source:Eurekalert

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