Having your genome sequenced is a big deal. Studying the genomes of different organisms can tell us so much about a species; how it has evolved, how it deals with changes in its environment and why it looks like it does.
Between the 6th November – 8th December, 40 UK species are competing to have their genome sequenced, and your votes decide which 5 species win. Each species will be championed by a wildlife enthusiast, displaying their passion for the species and trying to convince you they are deserving of your vote.
The full list will be announced soon, but here are some of the species that will be up for the vote…
Although they don’t look much like us, the common starfish is actually more closely related to humans than other invertebrates. The starfish is famous for its ability to regenerate its arms, and studying its genome could provide important new applications in regenerative medicine.
This is the UK’s only native bat species to carry European Bat Lyssavirus Type 2 – a virus which can cause rabies in humans. Understanding the full genome of this species would help us to understand the disease.
Strapwort is a critically endangered plant in the UK, and grows in just one place – Slapton Ley in South West England. Sequencing endangered species like this could help scientists understand more about extinction and the changing biodiversity on our planet.
Dragonflies are a wildly successful species that are highly visible to the public, and a flagship of the British Summer. Despite this visibility and evolutionary importance, their genomes are poorly studied. Sequencing the genome of a high profile species like the dragonfly would be great for public outreach and engagement in science.
Pipefish leave most of their parenting duties to the males, who connect to their offspring using something similar to the human placenta. Some pipefish have special brood pouches for this, but the snake pipefish does not, so to sequence this species would help us better understand the evolution of the male pregnancy in this fish family.