Scientists successfully crowdfund black rhino genome sequencing project
A team of scientists, led by the University of Washinton's Dr Chuck Murray, has successfully crowdfunded a project to sequence the genome of the black rhinoceros – a species that's been poached to near extinction. The effort is an important step in the conservation of the species, of which there are barely more than five thousand remaining.
The black rhino is a criticallyendangered species. Three of the eight subspecies have already beenhunted to extinction, and just 5,055 of the animals are left in theworld today. We've seen numerous projects over the years that aim tohelp protect the species in one way or another, including usingdrones to keep an eye on animals living in conservation habitats and national parks. Just last week, we reported on a SanFrancisco-based startup that's working on abioengineered rhino horn which it hopes will help ease the relentlesshunting of the species.
The crowdfunding campaign aims toattack the issue from a slightly different angle, by gaining a betterunderstanding of the animal itself. The project, which was hosted onthe scientific crowdfunding platform Experiment, aims to sequence the genome ofone of the remaining black rhinos, named Ntombi. In doing so, theteam believes that it will be able to gain key insights into thespecies, answering questions pertaining to evolution andsusceptibility to disease.
Once the raw sequence has beenobtained, it will then by aligned with that of the southern whiterhino genome. The team will then produce a fully annotated, openaccess version of the black rhino genome, allowing biologists,conservationists, historians and anyone else who so desires, accessto the data.
The crowdfunding effort recentlyconcluded at a little over US$17,000, just tipping it over itstarget. For more on the important conservation effort, you can checkout the video below.