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NSF Grants $671K for Genomic Biodiversity Research Led by UT Arlington

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – The National Science Foundation has awarded a three-year, $671,000 grant to researchers studying biodiversity in West and Central Africa.

The award will fund genomic approaches to discover the mechanisms that contribute to the high biodiversity of the area, specifically in reptiles and amphibians.

"By using genomic approaches, including high-throughput DNA sequencing, we will be able to rapidly assess the genetic diversity in several frog and lizard species, an endeavor with immediate conservation implications," Matthew Fujita, an assistant professor of biology at the University of Texas at Arlington and principal investigator of the grant, said in a statement.

Advanced data collection and analysis allow for precise quantification of evolutionary histories, according to the grant abstract. First, the researchers will use genomic techniques to discover new species of reptiles and amphibians, and then look into phylogeny, gene flow, and historical population sizes to get insight into the idiosyncrasies of biodiversity. The researchers said they would also develop new computational tools for comparative biology.

Fujita was part of the Avian Phylogenomics Consortium, a collaboration which published landmark papers about the genomes of bird and crocodilian species in December in Science.