From Science Insider today comes an announcement of a newly minted effort to sequence 10,000 vertebrate genomes. The Genome 10K Project aims to create a 'genomic zoo' of DNA samples from nearly every vertebrate genus. But they don't plan to sequence the samples just yet. The scientists will wait until the cost of sequencing approaches $2500 for a complete genome, which is about 100 times less than current methods allow. When technology catches up, the samples will be waiting.
Why bother sequencing so many, likely very similar, genomes? Well, comparing many genomes across species is a vital way to identify the molecular foundation of what makes us human. Along the way we can learn important lessons about evolution. I wrote about the importance of comparative genomic sequencing last year in an article for our alumni magazine, Stanford Medicine.
I was particularly interested to see that University of California, Santa Cruz genomics expert and Stanford consulting professor David Haussler, PhD, is a key player in the new project. I interviewed him for my article, in which he emphasized the importance of getting as many sequences as possible.
“The story of the flexibility and strength and beauty of life is written in DNA,” said Haussler to me at the time. “I’m certain that one day we’ll have a genome to go along with each of the species that we study. It will become absolutely indispensable to the future of the life sciences."
It's nice to see that he's working to make this happen.
The Genome 10K Project is described in greater detail online in the Nov. 5 issue of the Journal of Heredity.