Panda Genome Project
The giant panda is a much loved animal all over the world and is considered a symbol of China, as illustrated by its being one of the mascots for the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. However, it is also one of the world's most endangered species, previous research shows that the estimated number of wild pandas is only from 1,600 to 3,000, and only distributed in a restricted mountainous region in China. The pandas have developed many unique adaptations, especially for its dietary dependence on bamboos, and kindly behavioral style.
The giant panda is often referred to as a "living fossil" as there is evidence that its ancestors existed in China more than 8m years ago. Taxonomy and genetic studies indicate that the giant panda is most closely related to bears, not to raccoons as was once considered. So far, the giant panda has been the focal point of many research projects, however, little research has been done on a genomic scale. It has a genome size of about 3 Gb, which is approximately the same size as the human genome, and is thought to have 20,000--30,000 genes.
Meaning of the project
The Giant Panda Genome Project was launched at Mar. 2008, with the aim of producing a high quality genome sequence by Solexa sequencing technology and new assembling method. The panda to be sequenced was female, chosen from the Chengdu and Wolong breeding centers. The whole genome sequence, will provide an unparalleled amount of information to aid in understanding the genetic and biological underpinnings of this unique species, contribute much to the disease control and conservation efforts for an endangered species. This de novo Solexa sequencing project will also have far-reaching implications for promoting advances in sequencing tools and techniques.
Research in bioinformatics department
There are mainly 5 works for the genome analysis: (1)Assembly the genome sequence based on WGS (Whole Genome Shoutgun) Solexa pair-end reads, and estimate the accuracy by comparison to the Sanger sequenced BACs. (2) Annotating the structure and function of genes, ncRNA, repeats, and regulatory elements. (3)Performing genome structural analysis and gene family evolution analysis. (4) Designing special analysis for those genes that make the giant panda different from other animals. (5) Developing database and website to store all these valuable information, which is very helpful for further analysis in future.
Participants in bioinformatics department
The members in panda project mainly include the assembly group, annotate group, evolution group, and database group, as well as other people who are interested in this project and often give kindly help.