25 species revealed for 25 Genomes Project

To commemorate the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute turning 25 in 2018, the Institute and its collaborators* are sequencing 25 new genomes of species in the UK**. The final five species have now been chosen by thousands of school children and members of the public around the globe, who participated in the 25 Genomes Project online vote.

The project could reveal why some brown trout migrate to the open ocean, whilst others don't, or tell us more about the magneto receptors in robins' eyes that allow them to 'see' the magnetic fields of the Earth. It could also shed light on why Red Squirrels are vulnerable to the squirrel pox virus, yet Grey Squirrels can carry and spread the virus without becoming ill.

All of the results will be made publicly available and will lead to future studies to understand the biodiversity of the UK and aid the conservation and understanding of these species.

The Sanger Institute was founded in 1993 by Professor Sir John Sulston as part of the Human Genome Project. The Institute made the largest single contribution*** to the gold- standard sequence of the first human genome, which was published in 2003.

A genome is an organism's complete set of genetic instructions written in DNA. Each genome contains all of the information needed to build that organism and allow it to grow and develop.

Since the landmark completion of the human genome, the Sanger Institute has become a globally recognised leader in the field of genomics. Many more important reference genomes have already been sequenced – from the mouse and zebrafish genomes to the pig, gorilla, mosquito and many others. Beyond animal species, infectious diseases and bacteria also feature prominently on the list of reference genomes, from salmonella and MRSA to chlamydia and malaria. All of these have offered up important insights about these species in health and disease.

Now, the Sanger Institute and its partners are comprehensively sequencing 25 species from the UK. This project is a small contribution to a much larger undertaking, where scientists from around the world are coming together to form a plan to sequence all life on Earth.

This project has been made possible by PacBio® long-read sequencing technology, which generates high-quality genomes. The Institute is partnering with PacBio and other leaders in the technology sector, 10x Genomics and Illumina, to create the most comprehensive view of these genomes.

The high-quality genomes will open doors for scientists to use this information, and researchers could discover how UK species are responding to environmental pressures, and what secrets they hold in their genetics that enables them to flourish, or flounder.

The 25 species are divided into five categories depending on the qualities they share: Flourishing, species on the up in the UK; Floundering, endangered and declining species; Dangerous, invasive and harmful species; Iconic, quintessentially British species that we all recognise; Cryptic, species that are out of sight or indistinguishable from others based on looks alone.

The 25 species that will have their genomes sequenced are:

Flourishing species:

  • Grey Squirrel
  • Ringlet Butterfly
  • Roesel's Bush-Cricket
  • Oxford Ragwort

Floundering species:

  • Red Squirrel
  • Water Vole
  • Turtle Dove
  • Northern February Red Stonefly

Dangerous species:

  • Giant Hogweed
  • Indian Balsam
  • King Scallop, also known as Great Scallop, Coquilles Saint-Jacques
  • New Zealand Flatworm

Iconic species:

  • Golden Eagle
  • Blackberry
  • European Robin
  • Red Mason Bee

Cryptic species:

  • Brown trout
  • Common Pipistrelle Bat
  • Carrington's Featherwort
  • Summer truffle

Five species chosen by the public:

  • Common Starfish
  • Fen Raft Spider
  • Lesser Spotted Catshark
  • Asian Hornet
  • Eurasian Otter

Professor Sir Mike Stratton, Director of the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, said: "Twenty five years ago the field of genomics was a budding idea and its implications only dreamed of. Today the reality of genomics and biodata is that it is transforming our understanding, diagnosis, and treatment of diseases, ranging from cancer and heart disease to malaria and infections. The science and technology that is driving this era of discovery is accelerating our understanding of the human body, but also of the world around us.

This project has come after many thoughtful conversations around the world with regard to how many of the species on our planet could be sequenced in the coming decades – in principle, all of them. We are embarking on our contribution to sequencing all life on Earth."

Dr Julia Wilson, Associate Director of the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, said: "Through sequencing these 25 genomes, scientists will gain a better understanding of UK species, how they arrived here, their evolution, and how different species are adapting to a changing environment. The results could reveal hidden truths in these species, and will enable the scientific community to understand how our world is constantly changing and evolving around us. We want to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Sanger Institute in a special 'Sanger' way, and I am excited to see how the 25 Genomes Project unfolds."

Ken Skeldon, Head of Public Engagement at the Wellcome Genome Campus, said: "Giving the public the opportunity to choose which species have their genomes sequenced in the 25 Genomes Project has brought new perspectives to the project. We are delighted to see that so many people and school children across the UK and beyond have actively engaged in online chats with the scientists and voted for the final five species."

Tim Littlewood, Head of Life Sciences at the Natural History Museum said: "The Natural History Museum is proud to be collaborating with the Sanger Institute to celebrate their 25th birthday and also to celebrate the advances that molecular techniques such as genome sequencing can bring to the study of UK wildlife. The 80 million specimens we care for, from around the world, hold a wealth of genetic information that enables us to conduct innovative research, addressing global challenges. A focus on UK biodiversity with cutting edge technology is particularly welcome."

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Contact details:

Emily Mobley
Press Office
Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute
Cambridge, CB10 1SA
Phone: 01223 496851
Email: press.office@sanger.ac.uk

Notes to Editors:

Our partners

*This project is a collaborative effort involving many institutions. Our partners include:

  • Natural History Museum, London
  • EMBL-EBI
  • Pacific Biosciences (PacBio)
  • The National Trust
  • The Wildlife Trust
  • Nottingham Trent University
  • Edinburgh University
  • 10x Genomics
  • Illumina
  • Aberdeen Centre for Environmental Sustainability (ACES)
  • Animal and Plant Health Agency
  • Buglife
  • Centre for Ecology and Hydrology
  • Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (CEFAS)
  • James Hutton Institute
  • Mycorrhizal Systems Ltd
  • Natural History Museum of Geneva
  • Open Air Laboratories (OPAL)
  • Orthoptera & Allied Insects
  • Royal Botanical Garden Edinburgh
  • Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB)
  • University College Dublin
  • University of Lincoln
  • Wellcome Genome Campus Grounds Team
  • Wellcome Genome Campus Public Engagement
  • Wildwood Trust

**For more information on the 25 Genomes Project, visit http://www.sanger.ac.uk/science/collaboration/25-genomes-25-years

The Human Genome Project

***Of the 23 human pairs of chromosomes, eight were sequenced by researchers at the Sanger Institute and their collaborators.

To mark 25 years of the Sanger Institute, the institute will also construct a 25th anniversary garden, full of medicinal plants, and plant a very special apple tree that was grown from Isaac Newton's own apple seeds.

Funding:

This project is supported by Wellcome. The public engagement activity with 'I'm a Scientist, Get Me Out of Here' was co-ordinated by Wellcome Genome Campus Public Engagement.

Selected websites:

25 Genomes Project Public Vote

The public vote for 25 Genomes has taken place over five weeks on the 'I'm a Scientist, Get me out of here' website, produced by Mangorolla CIC. 42 different UK species were in the running, championed by scientists and wildlife experts across five Zones between the 6th November – 8th December. School students and the public have cast over 4,000 votes, after taking part in more than 100 online Live Chats and asking the Species Champions 500 questions all about the species and DNA sequencing. 25genomes.imascientist.org.uk

About Pacific Biosciences

Pacific Biosciences of California, Inc. (NASDAQ:PACB) offers sequencing systems to help scientists resolve genetically complex problems. Based on its novel Single Molecule, Real-Time (SMRT®) technology, Pacific Biosciences' products enable: de novo genome assembly to finish genomes in order to more fully identify, annotate and decipher genomic structures; full-length transcript analysis to improve annotations in reference genomes, characterize alternatively spliced isoforms in important gene families, and find novel genes; targeted sequencing to more comprehensively characterize genetic variations; and real-time kinetic information for epigenome characterization. Pacific Biosciences' technology provides high accuracy, ultra-long reads, uniform coverage, and the ability to simultaneously detect epigenetic changes. PacBio® sequencing systems, including consumables and software, provide a simple, fast, end-to-end workflow for SMRT Sequencing. More information is available at http://www.pacb.com.

Natural History Museum

The Natural History Museum exists to inspire a love of the natural world and unlock answers to the big issues facing humanity and the planet. More than five million people visit the sites in South Kensington and Tring every year, and the website receives over 500,000 unique visitors a month. It is a world-leading science research centre, and through its unique collection and unrivalled expertise it is tackling issues such as food security, eradicating diseases and managing resource scarcity. http://www.nhm.ac.uk

About 10x Genomics

10x Genomics is changing the definition of sequencing by providing an innovative genomics platform that dramatically upgrades the capabilities of existing sequencing technologies. This is achieved through a combination of new microfluidic science, chemistry and bioinformatics. By implementing GemCode™ Technology within the Chromium™ System, researchers can now, for the first time, find new structural variants, haplotypes and other valuable genomic information with comprehensive workflows for Single Cell, V(D)J, Genome, Exome and de novo Assembly applications that incorporate their pre-existing sequencing technologies. For more information, please visit http://www.10xgenomics.com.

Illumina

Illumina is improving human health by unlocking the power of the genome. Our focus on innovation has established us as the global leader in DNA sequencing and array-based technologies, serving customers in the research, clinical, and applied markets. Our products are used for applications in the life sciences, oncology, reproductive health, agriculture, and other emerging segments. To learn more, visit http://www.illumina.com and follow @illumina.

European Bioinformatics Institute (EMBL-EBI)

The European Bioinformatics Institute (EMBL-EBI) is a global leader in the storage, analysis and dissemination of large biological datasets. EMBL-EBI helps scientists realise the potential of 'big data' by enhancing their ability to exploit complex information to make discoveries that benefit humankind. EMBL-EBI is at the forefront of computational biology research, with work spanning sequence analysis methods, multi-dimensional statistical analysis and data-driven biological discovery, from plant biology to mammalian development and disease. We are part of the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL), an international, innovative and interdisciplinary research organisation funded by 22 member states and two associate member states, and are located on the Wellcome Genome Campus, one of the world's largest concentrations of scientific and technical expertise in genomics. http://www.ebi.ac.uk

About Wellcome Genome Campus Public Engagement

Through a wide range of projects, activities, visits and events Wellcome Genome Campus Public Engagement encourages exploration and discussion about genomics, from exciting research findings to the social and ethical questions it can raise. Working together with collaborators in scientific research, the arts and humanities, public engagement and education specialists, and cultural organisations, we aim to share knowledge, spark discussions, and foster a community of engaged researchers. Wellcome Genome Campus Public Engagement is part of Connecting Science. http://www.wellcomegenomecampus.org/publicengagement

The Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute

The Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute is one of the world's leading genome centres. Through its ability to conduct research at scale, it is able to engage in bold and long-term exploratory projects that are designed to influence and empower medical science globally. Institute research findings, generated through its own research programmes and through its leading role in international consortia, are being used to develop new diagnostics and treatments for human disease. To celebrate its 25th year in 2018, the Institute is sequencing 25 new genomes of species in the UK. Find out more at http://www.sanger.ac.uk or follow @sangerinstitute

Wellcome

Wellcome exists to improve health for everyone by helping great ideas to thrive. We're a global charitable foundation, both politically and financially independent. We support scientists and researchers, take on big problems, fuel imaginations and spark debate. http://www.wellcome.ac.uk

Media Contact

Emily Mobley
press.office@sanger.ac.uk
01-223-496-851
@sangerinstitute

http://www.sanger.ac.uk

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