The vertebrate evolutionary tree

The Genome 10K project aims to assemble a genomic zoo—a collection of DNA sequences representing the genomes of 10,000 vertebrate species, approximately one for every vertebrate genus. The trajectory of cost reduction in DNA sequencing suggests that this project will be feasible within a few years. Capturing the genetic diversity of vertebrate species would create an unprecedented resource for the life sciences and for worldwide conservation efforts.

The growing Genome 10K Community of Scientists (G10KCOS), made up of leading scientists representing major zoos, museums, research centers, and universities around the world, is dedicated to coordinating efforts in tissue specimen collection that will lay the groundwork for a large-scale sequencing and analysis project.

The Computational Genomics Lab is invested in creating the algorithms and software to compare these vertebrates, allowing us to pinpoint the origin of the many diverse traits observed in our closest “siblings” in the history of life. The algorithms we are developing allow us to trace the history of evolution from the highest karyotype scale, dictating the structures of chromosomes, all the way down to tracing the ancestry of each individual base of DNA. This is an enormously complex and ambitious task, requiring an understanding of all the evolutionary processes that change genomes over time. It uses techniques from diverse areas of computer science and is deeply informed by the biology of genome evolution.