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BGI to Sequence and Assemble 100 Vertebrates within Two Years for Genome 10K Project


By Monica Heger

This story was originally published May 14

At the Biology of Genomes conference last week, Huanming Yang, the president of BGI, announced that the institute will be sequencing and assembling the genomes of 100 vertebrates within the next one to two years as part of the Genome 10K Project.

The Genome 10K Project is an international effort that aims to "assemble a genomic zoo" from 10,000 vertebrate species, or about one for each vertebrate genus (IS 11/10/2009).

The consortium is comprised of scientists from universities, museums, zoos, and research centers, and the goal is to create a catalogue of genomes that will be useful for biological study and conservation efforts. It is being funded by the American Genetics Association, the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, and the NIH Intramural Sequencing Center.

Whole-genome sequencing for the first 100 vertebrates will be done at BGI on the Illumina HiSeq 2000 to 30-fold coverage, said Stephen O'Brien, geneticist at the National Cancer Institute and part of the Genome 10K consortium.

O'Brien said that the consortium is now in the process of choosing which species to sequence first, and will announce the 100 vertebrates, which will include mammals, fish, reptiles, and birds, in June. The consortium is choosing them based on their usefulness for biology, diversity, specimen availability, and the existence of a scientific community with expertise in the species.

To assemble the genomes, the scientists will use a variety of assemblers, including the SOAPdenovo assembler developed by BGI that was used to assemble the panda genome. However, O'Brien said the consortium is still looking into other assembly methods.

Yang said that 50 vertebrates are already in the process of being sequenced, and added that while the sequencing itself would probably be done much sooner than the projected one to two years, the assembly of the genomes would be more time consuming.

While the initial sequencing of the 100 vertebrates is all being done at BGI, O'Brien said that other members of the consortium would also be contributing sequencing services, but declined to comment on specifics.

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