BGI-Shenzhen is pleased to announce the launch of the International Giant Panda Genome Project. This announcement follows on the heels of the Panda Genome workshop held on January 2122, 2008, in Shenzhen, China. Dr. Hongmei Zhu, a scientist from BGI-Shenzhen, stated that, "The goal of this project is to finish the sequencing and assembling of the draft sequence within six months."
The giant panda is a much loved animal all over the world and is considered a symbol of China, as illustrated by its being one of the mascots for the upcoming Olympics in Beijing. The excitement surrounding the launch of this ambitious project, however, has been built around how this new genomic information will have extensive impact in numerous scientific areas from ecology to evolution to sequencing technology. Such data will aid in understanding the genetic and biological underpinnings of this unique species, especially with regard to its very specific niche in the environment and the molecular mechanisms of its evolution. Of special interest is that these data will be extremely useful for protecting and monitoring this endangered species and will provide information on the impact of captive breeding. In addition, it will have considerable use in controlling diseases that could devastate these fragile populations. Because scientists will be utilizing the latest Now-Gen sequencing technology to carry out this research, this project will also have far-reaching implications for promoting advances in sequencing tools and techniques.
The most noteworthy aspect of the project, said Oliver Ryder of the San Diego Zoos Center for Conservation and Research for Endangered Species (CRES) and a participant at the January workshop, is that it is the first genome project to be undertaken specifically to gather information that will contribute to conservation efforts for an endangered species. The giant panda is a global conservation symbol and deserving of such an effort.
|Contact: Jia Ye|
Beijing Genomics Institute at Shenzhen