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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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Vets confirm further five cases of Alabama rot

News Story 1
 Anderson Moores Veterinary Specialists has confirmed a further five cases of Cutaneous Renal Glomerular Vasculopathy, also known as Alabama rot.

The cases have been confirmed in Wallingford (Oxfordshire), Horsham (West Sussex), Hungerford (Berkshire - two dogs) and Malmesbury (Wiltshire). It brings the total number of confirmed cases to 198 since 2012. There have been 23 cases so far this year.

Signs that a dog has been affected by the disease include skin lesions on the lower limbs or mouth/tongue, leading to kidney failure. While investigations into the cause of the condition are ongoing, owners are being urged to wash their dog after wet or muddy walks.  

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WSAVA launches certificate programme focusing on companion animals in One Health

The first certificate programme focusing specifically on the role of companion animals in One Health has been launched by the One Health Committee (OHC) of the World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA).

The online programme, which is free of charge for WSAVA members, has been developed in recognition of the growing impact of companion animals in human society. Pet ownership is becoming more popular globally, and this has increased the implications for One Health, regarding the human-companion animal bond. The WSAVA OHC hopes that this course will bridge the knowledge gap between veterinary surgeons and human physicians. New modules are being added weekly, with a total of 20 modules expected to be available by early 2020.