10,000 Vertebrate Genomes

genome10kvia The Long Now and the projects new publication in the Journal of Heredity,  the Genome 10K project aims:

to assemble a genomic zoo—a collection of DNA sequences representing the genomes of 10,000 vertebrate species, approximately one for every vertebrate genus. The trajectory of cost reduction in DNA sequencing suggests that this project will be feasible within a few years. Capturing the genetic diversity of vertebrate species would create an unprecedented resource for the life sciences and for worldwide conservation efforts.

10,000 vertebrate genomes. That’s a lot. In fact, that’s 50 fold greater number than is currently in progress (that list is chordata, at 208, including multiple genomes form one species, humans), and nearly 500 fold the number of complete vertebrate genomes available. An ambitious goal to say the least. The participants are multitude including the coordinators David Haussler (Howard Hughs Medical Institute, UCSC), Stephen O’Brien (Laboratory of Genomic Diversity, National Cancer Institute) and Oliver Ryder (Institute of Conservation Research, San Diego Zoo).

The three coordinators’ institutes suggest some of particular benefits that they hope to get out of this project: medical data, evolutionary data, conservation efforts. I do believe such a project will indeed bring many of those benefits. I remember 20 years ago the arguments about the Human Genome Project (too expensive, too ambitious, benefits won’t be commiserate, big science pushing out basic research). I think it’s arguable that the worst fears were not realized and that there have been a number of benefits already and soon to come. 10k vertebrate genomes now seems feasible and beneficial.

Of course, one could hope there’d be a plant project and an invertebrate project down the pike?

And, it goes without saying, if you thought there were database funding, accessibility, usability, etc issues now…