News: Genes plan sheds light on evolution.
- From: Ye Old One <usenet@xxxxxxxxx>
- Date: Thu, 05 Nov 2009 18:03:01 GMT
Genes plan sheds light on evolution
An ambitious project to create a "genome zoo" containing the complete
genetic codes of 10,000 vertebrate species has been outlined by
The scheme relies on DNA sequencing technology so new that it will
only become available in the next two years.
The "Genome 10K" project will involve gathering thousands of animal
specimens from zoos, museums and university collections around the
world and unravelling all their DNA blueprints, or genomes.
The idea was first suggested in April 2009 at a three-day meeting of
scientists at the University of California, Santa Cruz.
Nobel Prize-winning geneticist Professor Sydney Brenner, from the Salk
Institute in San Diego, California, one of the project's leaders,
said: "The most challenging intellectual problem in biology for this
century will be the reconstruction of our biological past so we can
understand how complex organisms such as ourselves evolved.
"Genomes contain information from the past - they are molecular
fossils - and having sequences from vertebrates will be an essential
source of rich information."
Details of the proposal are reported in the Journal of Heredity.
Advances in the technology of sequencing - working out the repeating
chemical patterns of DNA that form the genetic code - are needed
before work on such a large scale becomes feasible. But systems that
will allow the scientists to embark on the project are under
development and may be available within a year or two.
The researchers hope to be able to sequence an entire genome in under
a week at a cost of less than 1,000 US dollars (£600)
Dr Scott Baker, from Oregon State University in the US, who edits the
Journal of Heredity, is coordinating efforts to assemble DNA samples
from all known species of whales, dolphins and porpoises. He said: "We
are adding a new species every year or two, and there is some
disagreement about how many actual species of these marine mammals
there are. But to date, more than 90 species have been identified and
officially recognised that will require tissue or DNA samples."
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