Genomic Zoo Aims to Sequence DNA of 10,000 Vertebrate Species

dna sculpture photo

Photo via ynse via Flickr CC

Talk about a high tech zoo! A new project called the Genome 10K Project wants to collect and sequence the DNA of 10,000 vertebrate species in an effort to shine a light on recent, rapid adaptive changes among the species. By understanding the adaptive and evolutionary changes, scientists believe they'll have a better insight on how species are responding to climate change, higher levels of pollution, and new diseases. The sequencing will not only reveal current changes, but also how the animals have adapted in the past. Popular Science reports that genomic research has recently boomed, with researchers reporting they've decoded 98% of a pig's genome - the results of which could mean anything from raising healthier pigs to creating better swine flue vaccines.

The current project to sequence 10,000 species' genomes is massive, and could be an incredibly helpful "zoo" for scientists to pull research from, not only for understanding the past, but also for understanding what the future might look like for biodiversity.

"Differences in the DNA that makes up the genomes of the animals we find today hold the key to the great biological events of the past, such as the development of the four-chambered heart and the magnificent architecture of wings, fins and arms, each adapted to its special purpose," said David Haussler, a biomolecular engineer at the University of California in Santa Cruz.

Understanding what adaptive changes animals have made or might make in response to climate change and heightened levels of pollution will be important in planning conservation efforts. Already, species are changing migration patterns or territories as a response to warming temperatures, which means changes in food sources, impacts on species living in those new migration routes or north-shifting territories, and likely physical changes as well.

More on Impacts of Climate Change on Species
9 Ways Climate Change Has Animals Running (Flying and Swimming) for Their Lives
Moving Up: Climate Change Forces Species to Higher Elevations
Climate Change Could Extinguish Two-Thirds of California's Plant Species
Looking to Leeches for Clues on Climate Change

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