Project to sequence giant panda genome

Posted by Laura Grant on March 9, 2008
Posted in Conservation

The giant panda is one of the mascots of the 2008 Beijing OlympicsThe endangered giant panda – of which there only about 1,600 left in the wild – is to have its genome sequenced. “This is the first genome project to be undertaken specifically to gather information that will contribute to conservation efforts for an endangered species,” said Oliver Ryder of the San Diego Zoo’s Centre for Conservation and Research for Endangered Species in a media release.

The goal is to finish the sequencing and assembling of the draft sequence within six months, said Dr Hongmei Zhu, of the Beijing Genomics Institute at Shenzhen, which announced the launch of the International Giant Panda Genome Project last week.

The giant panda is a symbol of China, the only country in the world in which it lives in the wild. It is one of the mascots for the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. It is also the logo and flagship species of the WWF.

The data from International Giant Panda Genome Project will help to protect and monitor the pandas as well as provide information on the impact of captive breeding and the control of diseases that could devastate the fragile populations, said the release.

The study will also help scientists understand the genetic basis for the giant pandas adaptation to its special diet and behavioural style. Pandas staple food is bamboo, and they can eat up to 38kg of it a day to meet their energy requirements, says the WWF.

The panda to be sequenced for the Giant Panda Genome Project will be chosen from the Chengdu and Wolong breeding centres, the release said.

Via:: Science Daily and Eurekalert

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