China National Genebank initiates collaboration to sequence transcriptomes of 1,000 fish species

November 19th, 2013
The China National Genebank (CNGB) announces the official launch of the 1,000 Fish Transcriptome Project (Fish T1K), a groundbreaking transcriptome study designed to unveil the mysteries of the origin, evolution, and diversification of the largest group of vertebrates. Such findings could enable scientists to pursue innovative approaches and strategies to address challenges in fish breeding, disease control and prevention, seafood safety, and biodiversity conservation.

Fish T1K is unique relative to other fish transcriptome projects given its large scale and multi-disciplinary, integrative perspective. All data generated from Fish T1K will be made available publicly through CNGB, ensuring that scientists may better grasp the new developments and trends in fish research and the use of RNA-seq technology.

With over 32,000 species, fishes are the largest and most diverse group of living vertebrates. They are also an economically important group of animals. Remarkably, there are only about 10 fish genomes sequenced to date. "The lack of transcriptome data for the majority of fish species motivates us to establish a large-scale transcriptome database for fish." said Dr. Yong Zhang, Director of CNGB-Shenzhen.

"Fish T1K will be the first global network of fish Omics research across the world. The results yielded by this project will greatly help to improve our understanding of the comparative physiology, biogeography of fish, and to further explore their incalculable medical values, economic and ecological importance, and contributions to food security and biodiversity conservation. "said Ying Sun, the director of Marine Biobank of CNGB, who takes the lead in the Fish T1K.

Fish T1K has assembled a world-class team of researchers from CNGB, BGI, George Washington University, Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology (Singapore), Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, University of Guelph, Yellow Sea Fisheries Research Institute (YSFRI) of Chinese Academy of Fishery Sciences (CAFS), Sun Yat-Sen University, Kunming Institute of Zoology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, South China Sea Institute of Oceanology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, among others. In this project, researchers plan to complete sequencing and assembling transcriptomes of 1,000 fish species in the coming 3 to 5 years, and to establish a high-quality transcriptomic database for fishes.

The development of sequencing and bioinformatics tools to generate high throughput gene expression data and analysis has enabled such a large-scale fish transcriptome study. The project is extending an invitation to researchers worldwide to submit proposals and contribute fish specimens for sequencing. Scientists addressing questions about fishes with unique adaptations, economic, and medical value are particularly welcome to join the project.

Dr. Byrappa Venkatesh (Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology, Singapore), a member of the steering committee, said, "This project aims to generate unprecedented resources that would be valuable for improving our understanding of the evolution, adaptation and physiology of fishes, and designing strategies for the conservation and improvement of fish stock."

These resources will facilitate phylogenetic analysis of gene expression across a vast diversity of forms, "a powerful tool to identify genes that experienced evolutionary shifts in expression that are correlated with changes resulting in adaptive traits," said George Washington University Professor Guillermo Ortí (another T1K steering committee member), "revealing genetic mechanisms underlying the origin of particular phenotypes."

Provided by BGI Shenzhen

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