Scientists crack genetic code of cane toad

phys.org | 9/19/2018 | Staff
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A group of scientists from UNSW Sydney, the University of Sydney, Deakin University, Portugal and Brazil have unlocked the DNA of the cane toad, a poisonous amphibian that is a threat to many native Australian species. The findings were published in academic journal GigaScience today.

"Despite its iconic status, there are major gaps in our understanding of cane toad genetics, and up until now, no one had put the genome together," says Peter White, project leader and Professor in Microbiology and Molecular Biology at UNSW.

Decade - Researchers - WA - Cane - Toad

A decade ago, researchers in WA had already tried to sequence the cane toad genome, but they encountered obstacles when it came to assembling it, and didn't complete the project.

For this project, the UNSW-University of Sydney team worked at the Ramaciotti Centre for Genomics at UNSW, which has played a role in decoding the genomes of other iconic Australian species, including the koala.

Sequencing - Genome - Process - Cutting-edge - Technology

"Sequencing and assembling a genome is a complicated process. By using the cutting-edge sequencing technology and expertise available at UNSW, we sequenced 360-odd billion base pairs and assembled one of the best quality amphibian genomes to date," says Senior Lecturer Dr. Rich Edwards, lead author of the study.

"We managed to decipher more than 90% of the cane toad genes using technology that can sequence very long pieces of DNA, which makes the task of putting together the genome jigsaw much easier."

Draft - Cane - Toad - Genome - Knowledge

Having a draft cane toad genome will help to close key knowledge gaps and accelerate cane toad research. More toads can now be sequenced at a fraction of the cost, and the genome is freely available—anyone can access it now and conduct further research.

"Future analysis of the genome will provide insights into cane toad evolution and enrich our understanding of their interplay with the ecosystem at large—it will help us understand how the toad spreads,...
(Excerpt) Read more at: phys.org
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