Projects per year
Next-generation sequencing provides a powerful new approach for developing functional genomic tools for nonmodel species, helping to narrow the gap between studies of model organisms and those of natural populations. Consequently, massively parallel 454 sequencing was used to characterize a normalized cDNA library derived from skin biopsy samples of twelve Antarctic fur seal (Arctocephalus gazella) individuals. Over 412 Mb of sequence data were generated, comprising 1.4 million reads of average length 286 bp. De novo assembly using Newbler 2.3 yielded 156 contigs plus 22 869 isotigs, which in turn clustered into 18,576 isogroups. Almost half of the assembled transcript sequences showed significant similarity to the nr database, revealing a functionally diverse array of genes. Moreover, 97.9% of these mapped to the dog (Canis lupis familiaris) genome, with a strong positive relationship between the number of sequences locating to a given chromosome and the length of that chromosome in the dog indicating a broad genomic distribution. Average depth of coverage was also almost 20-fold, sufficient to detect several thousand putative microsatellite loci and single nucleotide polymorphisms. This study constitutes an important step towards developing genomic resources with which to address consequential questions in pinniped ecology and evolution. It also supports an earlier but smaller study showing that skin tissue can be a rich source of expressed genes, with important implications for studying the genomics not only of marine mammals, but also more generally of species that cannot be destructively sampled.