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Genomes of British wildlife life to be mapped
The project will see teams collect and barcode around 8,000 key British species
Unprecedented insight facilitated by Wellcome funding to Darwin Tree of Life project

The £9.4m funding from the Wellcome Sanger Institute will support 10 institutions to launch the first phase of sequencing all the species on the British Isles. This will see teams collect and barcode around 8,000 key British species, and deliver high-quality genomes of 2,000 species.
 
This work will act as a launch pad for a larger ambition to sequence all species on Earth. Exploring the genomes of these organisms will give an unprecedented insight into how life on Earth evolved and uncover new genes, proteins and metabolic pathways – as well as new medicines for infectious and inherited diseases.
 
And at a time when many species are under threat from climate change and human development, these data will also help characterise, catalogue and support conservation of global biodiversity for future generations.
 
From the small fraction of the Earth’s species that have been sequenced, enormous advances have been made in knowledge and biomedicine. From plants, a number of life-saving active agents have been discovered, which are now being created in the laboratory – artemisinin for malaria and taxol for cancer, for example.
 
The consortium of 10 research institutes, museums and associated organisations ultimately aims to sequence the genetic code of 60,000 species that live in the British Isles. They are:
  • University of Cambridge
  • Earlham Institute (EI)
  • University of Edinburgh
  • EMBL’s European Bioinformatics Institute (EMB-EBI)
  • The Marine Biological Association (Plymouth)
  • Natural History Museum
  • Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
  • Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh
  • University of Oxford
  • Wellcome Sanger Institute
Working together, the centres will identify and collect specimens, set up new pipelines and workflows to process large numbers of species through DNA preparation, sequencing, assembly, gene finding and annotation. New methods will be developed for high-throughput and high-quality assembly of genomes and their annotation, and data will be shared openly through existing data sharing archives and project specific portals.
 
These data will be of enormous value to the international scientific community, including those working in life sciences, medicine, alternative energy and climate research. The data will also act as a global resource for public engagement experts, naturalists, citizen scientists, university students and schools.
 
Professor Mark Blaxter, Lead of the Tree of Life Programme at the Wellcome Sanger Institute, said: “The Darwin Tree of Life Project will change biology forever, delivering new insights into the numerous animals, plants, fungi and protists that call the British Isles home. The impact of this work will be equivalent to the effect the Human Genome Project has had on human health over the last 25 years.”

 

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Kennel Club appoints new chief executive

News Story 1
 The Kennel Club has announced the appointment of Mark Beazley, who was previously Cats Protection's director of operations, as chief executive. Mark replaces Rosemary Smart, who stepped down from the role in April after 18 years.

Mark has held several senior strategic and executive roles, including executive director at Dogs Trust Ireland and chair of the Companion Animal Working Group at Eurogroup for Animals. He was also heavily involved in the establishment of the Eu Cat and Dog Alliance.

Mark will take up his new role in October. 

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News Shorts
International Cat Care appoints new head of veterinary division

International Cat Care (ICC) has announced the appointment of Nathalie Dowgray as head of the charity's veterinary division.

Nathalie, who is an RCVS advanced practitioner in feline medicine, will lead the International Society of Feline Medicine (ISFM) and a play key role in advancing knowledge and research in feline medicine.

Claire Bessant, iCatCare's chief executive said: "We're absolutely delighted to be welcoming Nathalie to the charity. She brings a depth and breadth of feline expertise and understanding which fits perfectly with the charity's work and development, and her enthusiasm for cats is infectious."