Science Exchange enables completion of the Kakapo 125 Project

July 5, 2017 | Posted by Team in New Innovations, Research, Science Exchange News |

Sequencing the genomes of every individual kākāpō in the entire species

Kakapo bird

The kākāpō is a species of large, flightless, nocturnal, ground-dwelling parrot of the super-family Strigopoidea endemic to New Zealand. With only 154 living individuals remaining, it’s one of the world’s rarest birds.

Genetic Rescue Foundation

Since early 2016, The Genetic Rescue Foundation, in partnership with The Department of Conservation (DOC), The University of Otago, Duke University, New Zealand Genomics Ltd (NZGL), Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu, and Science Exchange, has funded and managed the effort to sequence the genomes of every individual in this quirky, critically endangered species.

DNA Portraits

The Genetic Rescue Foundation’s fundraising has come in the form of generous private donations, kākāpō DNA portrait sales and a successful crowdfunding campaign on Experiment.com.

To date, the project has successfully sequenced 80 kākāpō. Part of the work was made possible by collaborating with DNA sequencing service providers on the Science Exchange network of 2,500+ service providers. Today we’re thrilled to announce that Science Exchange will be funding the remainder of the project in order to bring it to completion!

Kinghorn Centre and Garvan Institute Logos

The remaining sequencing will be performed by The Kinghorn Centre for Clinical Genomics at The Garvan Institute of Medical Research in Sydney, Australia. The Kinghorn Centre is a frequently used provider of DNA sequencing services on the Science Exchange network.

Detailed genetic data for every individual in an entire species is a world first and represents a genomics-focused paradigm shift in modern conservation efforts. The possible discoveries that will come from this rich dataset are limitless. Scientists’ immediate efforts will be focused on finding genetic links to dwarfism, infertility and other diseases and conditions hampering kākāpō population recovery.

The dataset will be controlled by the New Zealand government but will be made available for all non-profit researchers to use. All sequencing will be completed by the end of 2017, with the full dataset available for researchers in 2018.

“Science Exchange has made completing this project possible. They’ve achieved that by providing The Genetic Rescue Foundation with unrivaled access to the world’s best scientific service providers and by stepping in to fund the remainder of the project. This data will steer kākāpō conservation decisions for years and decades to come. It may prove to be the deciding factor in saving this species.”

David Iorns

David Iorns – Founder of The Genetic Rescue Foundation

Science Exchange is proud to be involved with this pioneering conservation initiative. Join Science Exchange today and work with us to accelerate your research.

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