March 16, 2017  |  General

Vote for the World’s Most Interesting Genome! Snakes, Slugs, Pigeons, Beetles & Dingoes Compete for SMRT Sequencing Treatment

Our team of scientist reviewers has considered hundreds of submissions for the latest SMRT Grant award and narrowed the selection to five finalists. Now it’s your turn! We welcome the community to vote for their favorite project now through April 5th. The winner will receive SMRT Sequencing and genome assembly or Iso-Seq analysis sponsored by PacBio and our partners, the Arizona Genomics Institute and Computomics.
Here’s a look at the entries from our five finalists:
Project: Temple Pitviper
Principal investigators: Mrinalini Mrinalini, National University of Singapore; Ryan McCleary, Utah State University; Manjunatha Kini, National University of Singapore
The highly venomous snake Tropidolaemus wagleri, common to southeast Asia, has a number of unique features that merit further study. Its venom contains toxic proteins not found in other species of snake, including a group of novel toxins that have not been well characterized. This reptile also has sex-specific phenotypes, which is unusual for snakes; interestingly, these differences are not seen until the snake reaches sexual maturity, but the biological trigger for this is not understood.
Project: Solar-powered Slug
Principal investigators: Carola Greve, Zoological Research Museum A. Koenig; Alexander Donath, Zoological Research Museum A. Koenig
Scientists propose sequencing the genome of Elysia timida, a Mediterranean sea slug that has the rare ability to consume algae and keep the ingested chloroplasts functioning. Inside the slug, these chloroplasts continue photosynthesis, building up a starch reservoir that can feed the slug for three months. The project aims to scour the genome for genes associated with this unique ability, to understand the mollusk’s eco-friendly biology, as well as the process of incorporating organelles.
Project: Pink Pigeon
Principal investigators: Matthew Clark, Earlham Institute; Cock Van Oosterhout, University of East Anglia
This effort would use the Iso-Seq method to generate the transcriptome of the pink pigeon, an endangered species native to Mauritius. The species suffers high levels of infertility and pathogen susceptibility, possibly related to a population bottleneck. Scientists would use SMRT Sequencing data to study the bird’s loss of genetic variation and to find variants associated with fitness and pathogen resistance.
Project: Explosive Beetle
Principal investigators: Tanya Renner, San Diego State University; Aman Gill, University of California, Berkeley; Wendy Moore, University of Arizona; Kipling Will, University of California, Berkeley; Athula Attygalle, Stevens Institute of Technology
The bombardier beetle (Brachinus elongatulus) is known for its ability to “explosively discharge a toxic mix of quinones, oxygen, and water vapor at over 100°C,” this proposal says. Scientists would sequence the insect’s 500 Mb genome to understand insect chemical biosynthesis and biodiversity. This would represent the first genome sequence for the beetle suborder Adephaga.
Project: Dancing with Dingoes
Principal investigators: Bill Ballard, University of New South Wales; Claire Wade, University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia
This team aims to sequence the 2.5 Gb genome of the Australian dingo and compare it to that of the wild wolf and domestic dog to understand the evolutionary process that led from wild animal to pet. According to the proposal, this project will also “inform aspects of indigenous Australian culture and advance our understanding of the Australian continent’s top-level predator.”
Congratulations to all five finalists for their excellent proposals – may the most interesting genome win! Help support your favorite project now until April 5th.

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