Poster Annual Conference of the Genetics Society of Australasia with the NZ Society for Biochemistry & Molecular Biology

Sequencing the genomes of every kākāpō (788)

Andrew Digby 1 , Bruce Robertson 2 , Jason Howard 3 , David Iorns 4
  1. Department of Conservation, Invercargill, SOUTHLAND, New Zealand
  2. University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand
  3. Duke University, Durham, USA
  4. Genetic Rescue Foundation, California, USA

The critically endangered kakapo is at risk of extinction due to threats such as infertility and disease which are believed to be results of inbreeding depression. Genetic management of the species is a central part of conservation action, but relatively low-resolution genetic tools are used. To address this, a project is under way to sequence the genomes of every living kākāpō - the first time this had been attempted for any species. The data will be made publicly available, and the resulting analyses will have many direct benefits for kākāpō conservation, including: a full pedigree for genetic management, identification of functional genes associated with low fertility and disease, and greater understanding of kākāpō population genetics. The data will also yield rich information of kākāpō evolutionary history, and will provide a test case for sharing and managing bioinformatic data from population genome datasets. An international collaboration that is funded by crowd-funding and private donations, the project is halfway towards its goal, with 82 genomes sequenced.