Science Exchange is pleased to announce it will be collaborating in the Kakapo 125 Project. The objective of this project is to sequence the genomes of all 125 known living kākāpō.
The kākāpō is a species of large, flightless, nocturnal, ground-dwelling parrot of the super-family Strigopoidea endemic to New Zealand. It is critically endangered; as of February 2016, the total known population is only 125 living individuals.
The Kākāpō Recovery Team relies on genetic information to manage kākāpō matings in order to ensure maximum genetic diversity. Having the whole genome of all remaining individuals would allow the team to better understand the relatedness of individuals to optimize breeding.
Sequencing of the first 40 kākāpō genomes is already underway at Science Exchange’s newest New Zealand based service provider New Zealand Genomics Ltd (NZGL).
The Kakapo 125 Project is the latest project organized by The Genetic Rescue Foundation. The Genetic Rescue Foundation is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to advancing scientific techniques that enable us to preserve global biodiversity. It was founded by Science Exchange software engineer and citizen/wannabe scientist David Iorns.
The Genetic Rescue Foundation has successfully raised funding for the first 40 genomes but is actively fundraising to complete the remaining 85. A core component of this fundraising will be the Experiment.com crowdfunding campaign that will run from February 1st – April 30th 2016. If you would like to help save one of the world’s most unique and charismatic birds as well as playing a part in sequencing the genomes of every individual in an entire species please contribute to the project.
The Kakapo 125 Project is a collaboration between a number of government, nonprofit, iwi and commercial entities.
All of the collaborators have played an important role in the project to-date. The following individuals have been particularly critical to the projects progression.
- Andrew Digby, Science Advisor Kakapo/Takahe DOC – Andrew works for the Department of Conservation (DOC) in New Zealand. He is leading the Kakapo 125 Project and conceived the idea of sequencing the genomes of the entire kākāpō species.
- Bruce Robertson, Molecular Ecologist, Otago University – Bruce’s research focuses on conservation genetics and molecular ecology. He has been working on kākāpō genetics since 1996.
- Jason Howard, Neuroscientist, Duke University – Jason (in Erich Jarvis’s lab) and his team at Duke were the first to sequence the kākāpō genome.
Sequencing the genomes of all 125 known living kākāpō is an ambitious and exciting endeavor that will help save one of the world’s most endangered species. It will also create a rich, open access genetic dataset that will be the foundation of some compelling research in years to come. Science Exchange is proud to add the Kakapo 125 Project to its long list of impactful scientific projects facilitated and managed via its platform.
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