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Exploring and exploiting the potential of extinct genome sequencing

Objective

Palaeogenomics is the nascent discipline concerned with sequencing and analysis of genome-scale information from historic, ancient, and even extinct samples. While once inconceivable due to the challenges of DNA damage, contamination, and the technical limitations of PCR-based Sanger sequencing, following the dawn of the second-generation sequencing revolution, it has rapidly become a reality. Indeed, so much so, that popular perception has moved away from if extinct species’ genomes can be sequenced, to when it will happen - and even, when will the first extinct animals be regenerated. Unfortunately this view is naïve, and does not account for the financial and technical challenges that face such attempts. I propose an exploration of exactly what the limits on genome reconstruction from extinct or otherwise historic/ancient material are. This will be achieved through new laboratory and bioinformatic developments aimed at decreasing the cost, while concomitantly increasing the quality of genome reconstruction from poor quality materials. In doing so I aim to build a scientifically-grounded framework against which the possibilities and limitations of extinct genome reconstruction can be assessed. Subsequently genomic information will be generated from a range of extinct and near-extinct avian and mammalian species, in order to showcase the potential of reconstructed genomes across research questions spanning at least three different streams of research: De-extinction, Evolutionary Genomics, and Conservation Genomics. Ultimately, achievement of these goals requires formation of a dedicated, closely knit team, focusing on both the methodological challenges as well as their bigger picture application to high-risk high-gain ventures. With ERC funding this can become a reality, and enable palaeogenomics to be pushed to the limits possible under modern technology.
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Host institution

KOBENHAVNS UNIVERSITET

Address

Norregade 10
1165 Kobenhavn

Denmark

Activity type

Higher or Secondary Education Establishments

EU Contribution

€ 2 000 000

Beneficiaries (1)

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KOBENHAVNS UNIVERSITET

Denmark

EU Contribution

€ 2 000 000

Project information

Grant agreement ID: 681396

Status

Ongoing project

  • Start date

    1 April 2016

  • End date

    31 March 2021

Funded under:

H2020-EU.1.1.

  • Overall budget:

    € 2 000 000

  • EU contribution

    € 2 000 000

Hosted by:

KOBENHAVNS UNIVERSITET

Denmark