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Updated: Jun 12, 2019

We are happy to announce that this week, on the 4th of June, we have launched the Australian DNA Zoo initiative!

Thank you so much to the members of the research and conservation community who made it to the first roadmap event in Australia. Huge shout out to folks from University of Western Australia, Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions, Western Australian Museum, Australian Museum, University of Melbourne, Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research, Monash University, University of Sydney, Auckland University of Technology, University of Pretoria, Nelson Artificial Intelligence Institute, members of the zoo community, Pawsey Supercomputing Centre and industry partners from Illumina, Millennium Science and Microsoft who made it to the meeting! Thank you to the UWA Institute of Advanced Studies and the Forrest Research Foundation for hosting!

We hope that our effort, based in the University of Western Australia, Perth, will help build genomic resources for the unique Australian biota, with 87% of mammals endemic to the continent!

If you are interested to collaborate please don’t hesitate to reach out, through the DNA Zoo website or email me directly at

DNA Zoo Australia roadmap meeting, UWA, June 4th, 2019

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Harbor seals are one of the most common marine mammals. The global population of harbor seals is 350,000–500,000, but subspecies in certain habitats are threatened [1]. Once a common practice, sealing is now illegal in many nations within the animal's range, and in the US harbor seals, like all marine mammals, are protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act.

To contribute to the work done on harbor seal conservation and management we share the chromosome-length assembly, here. This work is based on the draft genome assembly generated by the Canada's Genome Enterprise (CGEN). We thank SeaWorld for the sample used for Hi-C library preparation!

See below how the chromosomes of the new genome assembly compare to another pinniped recently assembled by the DNA Zoo, the Northern elephant seal (Mirounga angustirostris). The karyotypes appear to be practically identical up to a chromosome fusion event: chromosomes #9 and #2 in the Northern elephant seal = chromosome #2 in the harbor seal assembly.

Whole genome alignment plot between the genome assemblies of the harbor seal (GSC_HSeal_1.0_HiC) and the Northern elephant seal (Mirounga_angustirostris_HiC).

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The sable antelope (Hippotragus niger), native to the savannah woodlands of sub-Saharan Africa, is a species that is being actively managed in ranches and zoos all over the United States. To help characterize the genetic status of the managed population as compared to the wild, our colleagues from the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute Klaus-Peter Koepfli and Budhan Pukazhhenthhi with coauthors have recently created a draft genome assembly for the sable antelope, now available through G3: Early Online web page.

Today we share a chromosome-length assembly based on this draft, with a sample for the Hi-C library preparation provided to us by SeaWorld.

Check out below how the 30 chromosomes of the new assembly relate to the 30 chromosomes of the cow Bos taurus (genome assembly Bos_taurus_UMD_3.1.1, from Zimin et al., Genome Biology, 2009). The results suggest extensive homology!

Whole-genome alignment plot between the chromosomes in the new sable antelope genome assembly (Sable_antelope_Masurca.scf_HiC) and those of the domestic cow (Bos_taurus_UMD_3.1.1, from Zimin et al., 2009).

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