The koala is one of the world's most fascinating and iconic mammals. Not only is the koala synonymous with Australia, it is also a powerful international symbol for the preservation and conservation of our natural world. "The Koala Genome Consortium has been an ambitious journey affording us great insights into the genetic building blocks that make up a koala - one of Australia's, as well as the world's, most charismatic and iconic mammals," Professor Rebecca Johnson, Director of the Australian Museum Research Institute, said. "The expert contributions from the teams at the Earlham Institute (UK) were a critical component of this study. I'm so proud of the work this great collaboration has produced and thrilled it will be assisting future koala conservation efforts." The Australian-led consortium of scientists comprised 54 scientists from 29 different institutions across seven countries. The scientists have sequenced over 3.4 billion base pairs and more than 26,000 genes in the koala genome - which makes it slightly larger than the human genome. Unlocking the genomic sequence gives scientists unprecedented insights into the unique biology of the koala. Dr. Katherine Belov, co-lead author at the University of Sydney, Professor of Comparative Genomics, and member of Earlham Institute's Scientific Advisory Board, said: "The genome provides a springboard for the conservation of this biologically unique species." The kaola genome sequencing was reported online on July 2, 2018 in an open-access article in Nature Genetics.
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