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.

Shark Poaching Exposed by the Science Exchange Network

June 8, 2017 | Posted by Team in Research, Stories |

by Kaitlin Ziemer and JR Clark, Science Exchange | www.scienceexchange.com

Today, we celebrate World Oceans Day with a Science Exchange success story. This is a story about connecting ocean conservation advocates with the scientists whose expertise is helping to guide conservation strategy.  

World Oceans Day -- Sharks

Robust shark populations are a sign of healthy oceans. [photo credit: JR Clark]

The Project Earth team from Fusion TV approached Science Exchange with a unique sequencing project. They were working on a documentary film about the illegal poaching of sharks for use in shark cartilage capsules.

Studies have shown that shark cartilage is ineffective or even pro-inflammatory. Despite this and the importance of conserving sharks, who are the ocean’s apex predators, the cartilage capsule industry has managed to persuade retailers and consumers that shark cartilage could promote joint and bone health.

The Fusion TV Project Earth team wanted to find out if cartilage pills contained illegally obtained shark tissue. They needed a service provider who could perform DNA sequencing on 30 different supplements to see if they contained protected or endangered sharks.

Through the Science Exchange network, the Fusion TV Project Earth team obtained sequencing services from Laragen, Inc., a California-based service provider. Together, they were able to detect DNA from the endangered scalloped hammerhead sharks, whose trade is highly regulated, in the capsules sold at nationwide health food stores and pharmacies.

The Fusion TV Project Earth team urged both the cartilage pill manufacturers and retailers to share more precise information about the origins of the shark material found in the pills. In response, two major retailers removed shark cartilage pills from their stores and website.

These results showed that scientific evidence can influence positive change and help to protect our natural environment. And by providing the Fusion TV Project Earth team with easy access to the world’s best scientific service providers, Science Exchange helped put the data directly into the hands of the agents of change.

About the authors:

 

Kaitlin Ziemer, B.S., is a Senior Sourcing Manager and Account Lead at Science Exchange. With her extensive prior experience in managing toxicology and regulated studies for large biopharma and contract research organizations, Kaitlin now specializes in human and animal tissue procurement.

JR Clark, M.S., is Science Exchange’s expert in shark biology, given his extensive research experience in evolutionary development and reproductive behavior of vertebrates. As a Sourcing Manager, he manages a wide variety of projects from basic research through drug discovery.

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