What did the Koala Genome Project discover?

What were the results from this ground-breaking research?

A wild koala from French Island posing for a photo

A wild koala from French Island posing for a photo
Photographer: Greta Frankham © Australian Museum

This is the first Australian-led big genome project. The Consortium sequenced the genomes of three animals, one using state of the art long-read sequencing technology from Pacific Biosciences (also known as ‘PacBio sequencing’). This technique delivers very long and uninterrupted sequences, and has produced the best quality marsupial genome to date, of comparable quality to the human genome (the human genome project took 13 years and cost US$3billion to complete).

The koala genome is slightly larger than the human genome (3.5Gb v 3.2Gb) and has a similar number of genes. We report 26,558 koala genes, an update on our original discovery of 15,500 Koala genes (Hobbs et al 2014). The long-read genome allowed the consortium to discover many genes that contribute towards the koala’s unique biology.


Dr Rebecca Johnson , Director, Australian Museum Research Institute
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