Bauhinia Genome Update
While we’ve been quiet on the blog things are still progressing in the world of Bauhinia Genome. Data has been continued to be analysed by students at CUHK and their transcriptome assemblies have been made public from the GigaScience GigaDB platform. Prof Stephen Tsui presented this work at the International Botanical Conference last summer, and you can download the poster here. We’ve continued to carry out outreach and education work, and last month presented it at NerdNite Hong Kong. We’ve also been writing articles about it for a biohacking publication as well as a book chapter, so watch this space for when they are published. As a citizens science project based in Hong Kong, Bauhinia Genome has been working with the new CitizenScience.Asia network, presenting a poster at the Citizen Science Faire at MakerBay. Also working with the new CitizenScience.Asia network, that has been helping connecting and promoting similar projects in the region, even taking the message as far as the UN Environment Assembly in Kenya.
The Plant Genome Big Bang
The Outside the world of Bauhinia genomes lots of interesting things have been happening. Another species discovered by Bauhinia discoverer Jean-Marie Delavey has had its genome recently published, that of the Rhododendron delavayi Franch. var. delavayi. Famous as an ornamental plant, this Rhododendron is endemic in his collecting heartland of South West China, and it is nice to see a high quality genome of one of his species assembled and published. On top of this species and Bauhinia blakeana he is estimated to have described over 1,500 species so we look forward to seeing many more of his taxomomic legacy further described at a genome scale in this manner. These efforts have been boosted by a new project announced by our supporters as BGI to use genomics to address fundamental questions in plant evolution and diversity, the 10KP (10,000 Plants) Genome Sequencing Project. This has the aim to sequence and characterize representative genomes from every major clade of plants including embryophytes, green algae, and (plant) protists within the next five years. Releasing the data in an open manner similar to this project, there maybe a Bauhinia species or two in this list so watch this space to see how this progresses.
Crowdfunded Genomes Get Some Mussel
While the crowdfunding of genome projects has been happening for a while (see the trailblazing “Peoples Parrot” and the coverage GigaScience has given this topic), a new high quality example has just been published. The golden mussel, Limnoperna fortunei, has aggressively invaded South American freshwaters, having travelling thousands of kilometres up the Amazon and other rivers across five countries. Along the way, the golden mussel has outcompeted native species and economically harmed aquaculture, hydroelectric powers, and ship transit. Having the genome sequence to hand could help better tackle this pest, and Marcela Uliano-Silva and colleagues at the Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro in Brazil kickstarted their genomics research appealing for funds on the Brazilian crowdfunding platform Catarse. In a similar manner to our aims at trying to demystify and demonstrate the benefits of genomics, saving the Amazon became the central theme of their crowdfunding campaign. Relating the genome sequencing to the high stakes of saving the crucial Amazon ecosystem. While this initial crowdfunding initially kickstarted a low quality short-read genomic survey, the work has continued and integrated into a high quality long-read assembly that has now been published in GigaScience. Demonstrating where we would like to take the Bauhinia genome project, you can read the research and see the crowdfunding video here.
We and the Peoples Parrot are not the only crowdfunded genome project to do a TEDx talk (see our previous post covering this), As a TED fellow you can see Marcela’s talk at the TED global fellows summit on her work, and also check out her useful post on how to crowdfund your PhD research.
Zhang L et al.: The draft genome assembly of Rhododendron delavayi Franch. var. delavayi. Gigascience. 2017 6(10):1-11. doi: 10.1093/gigascience/gix076.
Cheng S et al.: 10KP: A Phylodiverse Genome Sequencing Plan. GigaScience. 2018. doi: 10.1093/gigascience/giy013
Uliano-Silva M et al. A hybrid-hierarchical genome assembly strategy to sequence the invasive golden mussel Limnoperna fortunei. Gigascience. 2017 doi: 10.1093/gigascience/gix128.
The PhD crowdfunder is a really interesting idea but their crowdfunding video would cost between £10K and £20K to make in the UK – they were lucky to have a designer friend that made theirs on the ultra cheap.