TIGR determined the genome sequence of T. parva and shared in the annotation of the genome ?the identification of genes and the assignment of gene functions ?with scientists at ILRI. Much of the annotation of the T. parva genome was performed by two bioinformatics specialists at ILRI.
"ILRI's involvement in the genome project supported the establishment of its bioinformatics unit," says Richard Bishop, the lead ILRI scientist on the genome project. The ILRI bioinformatics unit will in turn support the wider application of bioinformatics through the Biosciences east and central Africa (BecA) initiative, which is part of the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) continental science and technology network. These skills will be crucial to help African institutions understand and exploit genomic data for product development.
The T. parva project was funded by the TIGR Board of Trustees; ILRI; prize money donated by TIGR's chairman, J. Craig Venter; and the United Kingdom's Department for International Development. Additional contributions came from the Rockefeller Foundation and the U.S. Agency for International Development.
The TIGR/ILRI study was published in Science along with a parallel report on the genome of the related cattle parasite T. annulata, which causes tropical theileriosis in cattle and transforms macrophages, monocytes and B-lymphocytes. That study was led by scientists at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute in Hinxton, UK.
The lead author of Sanger's T. annulata genome manuscript, Arnab Pain, says that "a major focus of our analysis was to identify the key weapons in the parasite's genetic armory that it could use to trigger and maintain the cancerous state of the infected host cell."