Sequencing the genome of the extinct moa

June 21, 2015 | Posted by Team in Scientist Profile |

The moa were the tallest birds ever to walk the face of the earth. The two largest species, Dinornis robustus and Dinornis novaezelandiae, reached about 3.6 m (12 ft) in height with neck outstretched, and weighed about 230 kg (510 lb).
Moa

Ka ngaro i te ngaro a te Moa – Lost, like the Moa is lost.

Science Exchange software engineer David Iorns has been fascinated by New Zealand megafauna since childhood. In collaboration with Science Exchange, Experiment.com and the Beijing Genomics Institute he’s undertaking an attempt to sequence the moa genome.

Sequencing the moa genome is a challenging endeavor due the degraded nature of ancient DNA and the large genetic divergence of the moa. Large genetic divergence means the reference genomes required to assemble the target genome are substantially less useful than species with very similar living relatives.

Despite these technical challenges David is optimistic the sequencing attempt will result in the creation of an imperfect yet very useful moa genome. This genome will help to clarify ratite evolution and may even form the foundation of a future attempt at species revival as the science of genetic rescue and de-extinction continues to progress.

The sequencing attempt is being primarily funded via an Experiment.com crowd-sourcing campaign. Please help us to make a meaningful scientific contribution by donating to the project.

All contributions made between Monday 22nd of June 8am PST and Tuesday 23rd of June 8am PST will be matched dollar for dollar by Experiment.com!

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