Oz Mammals Genomics
Australia is famous for its unique terrestrial mammal fauna with most species found no-where else. In the last 200 years, approximately 30 species have become extinct including the thylacine, pig-footed bandicoot, eastern hare-wallaby and long-tailed hopping mouse. Many others are now threatened and extinctions are continuing.
The Oz Mammals Genomics Framework Data Initiative aims to build genomic resources, collected from species around Australia as well as from historical specimens, to understand and protect Australia’s mammals.
Australian marsupials are genetically distinct and developmentally unique. Their genomes contain a vast array of information including novel antimicrobials, information on sex chromosome evolution and are an especially important comparative resource for understanding mammalian diversity worldwide. From the few marsupials and monotremes for which genomes have been studied in detail, including the Koala Genome, we have made some spectacular, globally significant discoveries about evolution. Given the unique history and biology of Australian mammals, these discoveries are just the tip of the iceberg.
This collaborative project created a framework dataset that is a foundation for developing a comprehensive understanding of the relationships of our mammal species – including recently extinct species – that underpins both studies of their evolution, as well as improve understanding of extinction risk. Genomic data was collected from species around Australia as well as from historical specimens from the Australian and International museum collections.
The national consortium of over 30 partners is led by the Australian Museum and Australian National University and includes the South Australian Museum, Museum Victoria, Western Australian Museum, Queensland Museum, CSIRO through the National Research Collections of Australia, the Threatened Species Recovery Hub, the Atlas of Living Australia, Government and state agencies including Western Australian Department of Parks and Wildlife, several universities and NGOs. Internationally, the project is also involved with Genome 10K, EDGE and IUCN Conservation Genetics.
The consortium objectives are to:
- Build a foundation of genomic data to advance our understanding and conservation of Australia’s unique mammals;
- Establish genomics as a key capacity across Australian museums and government agencies, build the community to sustain this;
- Increase awareness of the public and conservation managers of the diversity of Australian mammals and how genomics can aid in their protection.