The ninth mammal is the Northern white-cheeked gibbon (Nomascus leucogenys). This non-human primate species belongs to a major evolutionary branch that has not yet had the genome of any of its members sequenced. The gibbon genome is unique because it contains many chromosomal rearrangements, which makes it valuable for studying how such rearrangements have contributed to the evolution and speciation of humans and other non-human primates. To identify chromosomal rearrangements, researchers will need to sequence only small portions of the gibbon genome through a process known as Bacterial Artificial Chromosome (BAC)-end sequencing.
Also selected in the latest round were four non-mammalian organisms. Three of the organisms have been targeted for six-fold, or “high-quality draft,?sequencing. They are: M and S strains of a malaria-carrying mosquito (Anopheles gambiae) and a roundworm (Heterorhabditis bacteriophora). Researchers will also construct a physical map of the zebra finch (Taeniopygia guttata) genome, paving the way for later efforts to sequence selected regions of the songbird’s genome.
“Sequencing the genomes of a diverse set of organisms is a powerful tool to understand the biological processes at work in human health and illness,?said NHGRI Director Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D. “Comparative genomics has proven to be one of the most effective strategies for revealing the important structural and functional elements of the human genome sequence.?/p>
The mosquito, Anopheles gambiae, is medically significant because it can harbor the malaria parasite, Plasmodium falciparum, and is the primary transmitter of the disease in Africa. Approximately 30 of 500 Anopheles species are known vectors of human malaria. Malaria afflicts up to 300 million people and kills more than 1 million people a year. In 2002, Celera Genomics completed a draft genome sequence of a laboratory strain o