The roundworm genome is important because its sequence will aid in comparative annotation of the genomes of other roundworms that have been sequenced, including that of Caenorhabditis elegans, one of the most important model systems for understanding animal development. In addition, Heterorhabditis bacteriophora is widely used as a biological control agent because it kills agricultural insect pests. Understanding its genome will increase insights into biological control, as well as into basic mechanisms of parasitism that may be applicable to parasites of humans.
The zebra finch was chosen because it is a major model system for understanding brain development, learning and memory. Because it is related to the chicken, whose genome has already been sequenced, it will be possible to leverage the chicken genome to get more insight from the zebra finch map.
It has been shown that most segments of the human genome originated long before humans themselves. Consequently, scientists will use the genome sequences of the non-mammalian animals to learn more about how, when and why the genomes of humans and other mammals came to be composed of certain DNA sequences, as well as to gain new insights into the organization of genomes.
Sequencing efforts will be carried out by the NHGRI-supported Large-Scale Sequencing Research Network, which consists of five centers: Agencourt Bioscience Corp., Beverly, Mass.; Baylor College of Medicine, Houston; the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, Cambridge, Mass.; The J. Craig Venter Science Institute, Rockville, Md.; a