What is the Koala Genome Consortium and who is involved?

What led to the establishment of the Koala Genome Consortium and, after five years of research, how many collaborators have joined?

Kathy Belov and Rebecca Johnson with a koala at Featherdale

Kathy Belov and Rebecca Johnson with a koala at Featherdale
Photographer: Richard North © University of Sydney

Led by Dr Rebecca Johnson of the Australian Museum, a small group of Australian scientists with a passion for koalas gathered together in 2013 to share current knowledge and ideas about koala populations, genetics and diseases. Their collective aim was to steer their research towards ensuring the long-term survival of this important marsupial. They also recognised the importance of increasing Australia’s genome sequencing capability, since no de novo mammal genome had ever been sequenced and assembled by a solely Australian led group. It was from this small group that the Koala Genome Consortium was born.

In 2018 Consortium now comprises of 54 scientists from 29 different research institutions across seven countries. The group have strong links with international and domestic partners and end-users, including wildlife hospitals and governments responsible for managing koala conservation.

Dr Rebecca Johnson , Director, Australian Museum Research Institute
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