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Chinese, Saudi Arabian Team Sequences Camel Genome

By a GenomeWeb staff reporter

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Researchers from China's BGI and Saudi Arabia's King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology announced today that they have sequenced and analyzed the genome of the Arabian camel, Camelus dromedarius.

"We are proud to announce today that we have fully mapped the genome of the Arabian camel," Abdulaziz Al-Swailem, coordinator of KACST's life science and environment sector and the project's principal investigator, said in a statement. "It is the result of intensive collaborative research of more than 20 researchers over one year."

So far, the team's analyses of the roughly 2.2 billion base Arabian camel genome suggest the animal shares genetic similarities with cattle. The C. dromedarius genome also appears to house some 57 percent of genes found in the human genome.

With the camel genome in hand, the team hopes to gain clues about the animal's ability to survive the harsh desert environment as well as genetic insights that may help improve camel health and facilitate selective breeding programs to enhance desirable traits such as speed and strength and milk, meat, and wool production.

And, they say, the findings may also have implications for human health, especially since camel milk is thought to contain compounds that may combat a range of human disease.

"We look forward to further expand our understanding of the camel physiological and biochemical characteristics and to bring it to application for the benefit of mankind," BGI President Jian Wang said in a statement.

Last month, Al-Swailem and a team of researchers from KACST and elsewhere reported online in PLoS ONE that they had sequenced and annotated C. dromedarius expressed sequence tags.

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