Explore nature's genetic secrets in new exhibition

Curious Nature exhibition explores the Wellcome Sanger Institute’s 25th anniversary project to sequence the genomes of 25 UK species for the first time.

Explore nature's genetic secrets in new exhibition

Red Squirrel - one of the endangered species being sequenced as part of the 25 Genomes Project. Image credit: Alex Cagan, Genome Research Limited
Red Squirrel - one of the endangered species being sequenced as part of the 25 Genomes Project - and part of the Curious Nature exhibition. Image credit: Alex Cagan, Genome Research Limited

Why do some brown trout migrate to the open ocean, whilst others don’t? How do robins “see” the magnetic fields of the Earth? Why are red squirrels vulnerable to the squirrel pox virus, when grey squirrels are not? The answers are hiding in their genes.

Robin from Curious Nature exhibition at the Wellcome Genome Campus. Image by Alex Cagan, Genome Research Limited
Robin from Curious Nature exhibition at the Wellcome Genome Campus. Image by Alex Cagan, Genome Research Limited

Discover how genome sequencing is helping us uncover much more about the world around us in Wellcome Genome Campus’ new family-friendly exhibition, Curious Nature.

The exhibition can be visited during monthly Open Saturdays at the Wellcome Genome Campus. It is free to attend but booking is required. Open Saturday dates in 2018 include 18th August, 15th September, 20th October, 17th November, 15th December, as well as 19th January 2019.

Curious Nature explores the Wellcome Sanger Institute’s 25th anniversary project to sequence the genomes of 25 UK species* for the first time. The newly-sequenced genomes will act as powerful tools for a global community of researchers and conservationists. They will lead to future studies into the biodiversity of the UK and aid the conservation and understanding of these species.

The 25 species are divided into five categories depending on the qualities they share:

  • Flourishing, species on the up in the UK
  • Floundering, endangered and declining species
  • Dangerous, invasive and harmful species
  • Iconic, quintessentially British species that we all recognise
  • Cryptic, species that are out of sight or indistinguishable from others based on looks alone.

The species were nominated by a wide-ranging community of researchers, and five of them were chosen by thousands of school children and members of the public around the globe. The species chosen build a picture of biodiversity in the UK, and all of the results will be made publicly available.

“For centuries, humans have classified and interpreted the natural world, to understand how things are related to each other. Our ability to analyse the genetic information of all living things, encoded in their DNA, is enabling us to explore these similarities and differences in greater detail than ever before. Creating a reference genome is not an easy task, but once the 25 genomes are complete, they will unlock nature’s secrets in a way that was not possible before.”

Rebecca Gilmore, Exhibitions and Interpretation Co-ordinator from the Wellcome Genome Campus Public Engagement team

Notes to Editors

The exhibition is available to visit as part of the Wellcome Genome Campus’ Open Saturdays programme, where everyone is welcome to visit the Campus. Dates to visit in 2018 include:

18th August, 15th September, 20th October, 17th November, 15th December
And 19th January, 2019

Open Saturdays are free for all but booking is required. Curious Nature is also open by arrangements for group visits. For further details, and to book your free tickets, visit: www.wgc.org.uk/engage

*For more information on the 25 Genomes Project, visit https://www.sanger.ac.uk/science/collaboration/25-genomes-25-years

Selected Websites
What is a genome?FactsWhat is a genome?
A genome is an organism’s complete set of genetic instructions. Each genome contains all of the information needed to build that organism and allow it to grow and develop.

Zoom in on your genomeVideoZoom in on your genome
This animation shows where and how the human genome is stored within our cells.

How do you put a genome back together after sequencing?FactsHow do you put a genome back together after sequencing?
After DNA sequencing is complete, the fragments of DNA that come out of the machine are all jumbled up. Like a jigsaw puzzle we need to take the pieces of the genome and put them back together.

Contact the Press Office

Dr Samantha Wynne, Media Officer

Tel +44 (0)1223 492 368

Emily Mobley, Media Officer

Tel +44 (0)1223 496 851

Wellcome Sanger Institute,
Hinxton,
Cambridgeshire,
CB10 1SA,
UK

Mobile +44 (0) 7900 607793

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Explore nature's genetic secrets in new exhibition

Curious Nature exhibition explores the Wellcome Sanger Institute’s 25th anniversary project to sequence the genomes of 25 UK species for the first time.