The project's primary goal is to sequence 25 novel genomes representing UK biodiversity, as part of the Wellcome Sanger Institute's wider 25th Anniversary celebrations. This project will be a pathfinder for future long-read sequencing projects to demonstrate the Institute’s capabilities and will provide reference genomes for the global scientific community.
About the Partnership
We hope that the provision by the Sanger Institute of reference genomes for 25 previously unsequenced UK species will lead to significant follow-on studies in population genetics, evolution studies, biodiversity management and conservation, and climate change effects.
The Sanger Institute will perform DNA extraction, sequence using PacBio and Illumina X to 50x depth, perform 10x Chromium analysis, assemble the genomes and perform basic annotation.
There is also a significant public engagement aspect to the project to highlight the value of genomics and genetics to the wider community and to inspire young people to pursue STEM careers. This includes an online vote via the ‘I’m a Scientist, Get Me Out Of Here’ platform to determine five of the 25 species to be sequenced.
Data generated will be released to the European Nucleotide Archive (ENA) in accordance with the Sanger Institute's standard data release policies.
The 25 genomes
The 25 genomes represent five key areas of biodiversity in Britain.
Species that are out of sight, or have identical forms that are different in behaviour.
Latin name: Salmo trutta
The brown trout has three isoforms that differ in their migratory patterns, for no apparent reason
Research partners: Mark Ives, Fisheries and Aquaculture Scientist at CEFAS (Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science), Professor Sigbjørn Lien, Research Director, Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU), and Professor Paulo Prodohl School of Biological Sciences - Professor of Ecology, Evolution, Behaviour and Environmental Economics, Institute for Global Food Security, Queen's University Belfast
Common Pipistrelle Bat
Latin name: Pipistrellus pipistrellus
Two species of this the common pipistrelle bat co-exist, the genetics of which have not been determined
Research partners: Emma Teeling, Associate Professor at UCD Dublin and Manuel Ruedi, Curator (mammals and ornithology) at the Natural History Museum of Geneva
Latin name: Plagiochila carringtonii
Male Carringon featherworts are exclusively found in Scotland, while the females are in the Himalayas
Research partner: Neil Bell, Bryology Research Scientist at the Royal Botanical Garden Edinburgh
Latin name: Tuber aestivum
Summer Truffles grow underground and are some of the most expensive of all edible fungi. Known as mycorrhizal, these fungi form a symbiotic association with a host plant on which they are dependent throughout their lifecycle.
Research partner: Dr Paul Thomas, MD and Scientific Manager, Mycorrhizal Systems Ltd
Invasive and harmful species.
Latin name: Heracleum mantegazzianum
Giant Hogweed has been called Britain's most dangerous plant by UK newspapers. Its sap is highly toxic and can cause blistering of the skin following exposure to sunlight. The plant originates from Southern Russia and Georgia and was widely planted in ornamental gardens in the 1890s. It can grow more than 3 metres tall with flower heads up to 60cm wide.
Research partner: Sakshi Sharda, Ecole Polytechnique federale de Lausanne, Switzerland
Latin name: Impatiens glandulifera
A difficult to control invasive plant species spreading across the UK
Research partner: Lisa Outhwaite, Senior Gardener, Grounds team at the Wellcome Genome Campus
King Scallop, Great Scallop, Coquilles Saint-Jacques
Latin name: Pecten maximus
Some king scalllops harbour a dangerous toxin secreting bacteria
Research partner: Suzanne Williams, Head of Invertebrate Division at the Natural History Museum
New Zealand Flatworm
Latin name: Arthurdendyus triangulatus
This invasive species is a predator of UK earthworms
Research partners: Roy Neilson, Researcher at the James Hutton Institute and Rene Van der Wal, Professor of Ecology at the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Aberdeen and OPAL (Open Air Laboratories) at Imperial College London
Endangered and declining species.
Latin name: Sciurus vulgaris
The 25 genomes for 25 years project may help reveal the genetic basis of the red squirrel's vulnerability to the squirrelpox virus
Research partners: Rachel Cripps, Red Squirrel Officer, The Wildlife Trust for Lancashire, Manchester and North Merseyside, and Kat Fingland, Academic Associate, School of Animal Rural & Environmental Sciences (Nottingham Trent University)
Latin name: Arvicola amphibius
Understanding the genome of the water vole may help with population conservation management efforts
Research partner: Angus Carpenter, Head of education, training, research and conservation at the Wildwood Trust
Latin name: Streptopelia turtur
Studying the genome of the turtle dove may help with efforts to preserve the genetic diversity of the dwindling population
Research partners: Jenny Dunn, Lecturer in Animal Health and Disease at University of Lincoln and John Mallord, Senior Conservation Scientist at the RSPB (Royal Society for the Protection of Birds)
Northern February Red Stonefly
Latin name: Brachyptera putata
The genome of the Northern February red stonefly may help identify the genetic determinants of its need to live in its niche habitat
Research partner: Craig Macadam, Conservation Director at Buglife
Species on the up in the UK.
Latin name: Sciurus carolinensis
This squirrel harbours the squirrelpox virus with apparently no ill effects
Research partner: Graham Smith, Head of Wildlife Epidemiology and Modelling at the Animal and Plant Health Agency
Latin name: Aphantopus hyperantus
The ringlet butterly can fly in overcast skies and has a dwarf variety at higher altitutes
Research partner: To be announced
Latin name: Metrioptera roeselii
This species is now spreading out of it's usual salty habitats, is there a genetic change that has allowed this?
Research partners: Peter Sutton, Science Teacher at Redbourne Upper School and Björn Beckmann, Outreach and Recording Officer at the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology
Latin name: Senecio squalidus
This plant has some intersting reproduction habits and unknown species origin
Research partner: Lisa Outhwaite, Senior Gardener, Grounds team at the Wellcome Genome Campus
Species that represent the British countryside.
Latin name: Aquila chrysaetos chrysaetos
There are only 440 breeding pairs of golden eagle left in the UK
Research partners: Rob Ogden, Head of Conservation Genetics, Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies (Edinburgh) and Anna Meredith, Personal Chair of Zoological and Conservation Medicine, Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies
Latin name: Rubus ulmifolius
The blackberry is ubiquitous in the UK, yet it is understudied
Research partners: PProfessor Mario Caccamo, Managing Director of NIAB EMR, Dr Felicidad Fernadez (NIAB EMR), Research Leader at NIAB EMR, Dr Hamid Ashrafi, Assistant Professor in Horticultural Science at NC State University, Dr Nahla Bassil, Plants Geneticist, National Clonal Germplasm Repository, Corvalllis, Oregon, USDA-ARS, Dr Michael Dosset, Research Scientist at BC Berry Cultivar Development Inc, Dr Margaret Worthington, Assistant Professor, Director Experiment Station, Horticulture, University of Arkansas, and Lisa Outhwaite, Senior Gardener, Grounds team at the Wellcome Genome Campus
Latin name: Erithacus rubecula
European robins have magneto-receptors in their eyes that may allow them to 'see' magnetic fields
Research partners: Derek Gruar, Senior Research Assistant, Conservation Science at the RSPB (Royal Society for the Protection of Birds) and Jenny Dunn, Lecturer in Animal Health and Disease at the University of Lincoln
Red Mason Bee
Latin name: Osmia bicornis
The Red Mason Bee is about the size of a honeybee, but unlike honey bees they are solitary, with the females making nests in empty holes or stems of plants. These bees also prefer slightly colder temperatures which may result in them struggling in future due to climate change.
Research partner: David Notton, Senior curator (Insects division) at the Natural History Museum
Asterias rubens is the most common starfish species around the coast of the UK. An understanding of the adhesives starfish use to pull apart the mussels they feed on could lead to the development of novel bioadhesives for medical surgery. Whereas, the remarkable ability of starfish to regenerate their arms could provide important new insights in regenerative medicine.
Fen Raft Spider
Latin name: Dolomedes plantarius
The fen raft spider is one of the UK’s rarest animals, but they’re coming back. After 6,000 spiders were released, monitoring shows that populations are on the up. Genomics could shed light on how they are coping, and reveal secrets of the spider’s venom that could be useful in medicine, and how its silk could help improve mechanical engineering.
Lesser Spotted Catshark
Latin name: Scyliorhinus canicula
The lesser spotted catshark’s egg-cases or ‘mermaid’s purses’ are frequently found along the UK coastline. Understanding the shark’s ability to regenerate teeth and skin could help us heal human wounds.
Yellow-Legged Asian Hornet
Latin name: Vespa velutina
The Asian Hornet is an invasive species native to South East Asia, which is invading Europe at a rate of 100km every year. It is a voracious predator of insects, especially honeybees, and poses a negative impact on the beekeeping industry. Sequencing its genome could help in the design of specific pesticides to control its invasion, and give insights into social living in bees.
Latin name: Lutra lutra
The Eurasian otter is a keystone species in the UK, but the population is listed as ‘Near Threatened’ on the IUCN Red List. Their position at the top of the freshwater food chain means otters serve as an environmental indicator species, and they can give clues about the pollution of their environment. Sequencing the otter genome will open the door for research into otters adaptations, parasites, scent communication and behaviour, and will ultimately help in protecting them.
Project lead - Dr Julia Wilson, Associate Director, Director's Office, Wellcome Sanger Institute
Project coordinator- Daniel Mead, Project Coordinator for 25 Genomes for 25 Years, Director's Office, Wellcome Sanger Institute
This group consists of manual annotators and software developers. The HAVANA team provides the manual annotation of human, mouse, zebrafish and other vertebrate genomes that appear in the Vega browser. Our software is written and developed by the Annosoft team.
The DNA Pipelines Research and Development group is the entry point for new technologies to the Institute, especially sequencing instruments. The team develops new methods and procedures to maximise the efficiency, quality and throughput of all incoming machinery for the benefit all Institute researchers.
The Genome Reference Informatics Team analyses genome assemblies to reveal and correct quality issues and to identify and add variation. It forms the Sanger division of the Genome Reference Consortium.
Some mosquitoes are better at transmitting malaria parasites than others. Likewise, some parasites are better at infecting mosquitoes than others. Our research group uses genomics to investigate these phenomena.
Julian Rayner's group investigates the molecular details of human-parasite interactions during the P. falciparum blood stages, with a particular focus on large-scale experimental approaches to understanding erythrocyte invasion.