Chinese Researchers Sequence World's First Giant Panda Genome
News Jan 15, 2009
Illumina has announced that researchers at the Beijing Genomics Institute (BGI), Shenzhen are the first to complete de novo sequencing of the giant panda genome.
Exclusively using Illumina's Genome Analyzer, a small team of scientists - in one month - produced 150 gigabases of sequence that was used to assemble the three gigabase genome belonging to Jingiing, the Giant Panda that was the 2008 Olympic mascot.
These data will help researchers better understand the genetic underpinnings of disease, molecular mechanisms of evolution, and impact of captive breeding in giant pandas. Additional information on the giant panda genome will be presented next week at the Plant and Animal XVII Genome (PAG) Conference in San Diego, California.
Ruiqiang Li, Ph.D., Director of Bioinformatics Division of BGI, Shenzhen commented about the project. "The giant panda has a unique, evolutionary status in China and is considered a national treasure. Using solely Illumina's next-generation sequencing technology, we completed de novo sequencing of the giant panda genome, dramatically accelerating the process of decoding genetic information for this endangered species. Now, researchers around the globe can access new data that will help protect and monitor the giant panda."
The research team sequenced 80% of the giant panda genome, obtaining greater than 95% coverage in gene regions, and N50 contig size of approximately 300kb. Using paired reads averaging 75 base pairs each per run, 50x coverage of the genome was generated.
"The combination of long-paired reads and high data quality enabled us to complete de novo sequencing of a complex organism. This achievement marks a significant milestone: it demonstrates that mammalian-sized genomes can be assembled using de novo sequencing on the Illumina Genome Analyzer at a fraction of the cost and time it would have previously taken to complete a project of this magnitude," continued Ruiqiang Li. "Compiling the genome was also very easy. Using our Short Oligonucleotide Alignment Program (SOAP), we finished the assembly in only two days."
According to Oliver Ryder of San Diego Zoo's Conservation Research, the existence of a giant panda genome sequence will enable more detailed studies of giant panda populations in the wild.