Oral Presentation Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution Conference 2016

The Koala Genome Consortium – the utilization of de novo genome and transcriptome sequencing for applied conservation genomics of an iconic Australian marsupial (#150)

Rebecca Johnson 1 2
  1. Australian Museum Research Institute, Australian Museum, Sydney, NSW, Australia
  2. Koala Genome Consortium, http://data.koalagenome.org ,

The koala, Phascolarctos cinereus, is a biologically unique and evolutionarily distinct Australian arboreal marsupial that is frequently regarded as an ‘iconic symbol of conservation’ due to a range of threatening processes such as disease and habitat loss. The Koala Genome Consortium is a multi-disciplinary collaboration utilizing both genomic and transcriptomic data to investigate conservation in this species via a genomics approach.

This presentation will report de novo koala genome and transcriptome assembly and annotation, including the unique molecular attributes we have discovered for this iconic, monotypic marsupial. Three geographically separate koalas (two female and one male), have been genome sequenced at 50x-100x coverage using a range of platforms (including illumina and PacBio) and RNAseq for >15 tissues will be included. We report evidence for copy number expansion of the alpha amylase gene, aldehyde reductase gene and an assessment of koala phylogeographic history, which despite recent dramatic population declines, shows surprisingly weak levels of genetic differentiation

Version 1 of the koalal genome release will not only allow comparison between the relative benefits of hybrid and single platform genomes but will also form the foundation of evolutionary genetic studies of marsupials in general, thorough analysis of koala immune genes and importantly the opportunity for genome level investigation of the koala retrovirus.