• Question: What advantages would happen if your genome was found.

    Asked by 2plus2is4 to Barbastelle Bat, Eurasian Otter, European Flat Oyster, Glow Worm, Lundy Cabbage, Scaly Cricket, Scottish Wildcat, Spot Fly, Strapwort on 16 Nov 2017. This question was also asked by sammorfill.
    • Photo: Eurasian Otter

      Eurasian Otter answered on 16 Nov 2017:

      The water you drink, cook with, or that we use to grow crops mostly comes from reservoirs, which drain from the land via the same streams and rivers the otters live in. To protect otters, we have to protect the whole freshwater system – and in doing this we protect the water we ourselves rely on.
      We want to protect them – but to ensure effective conservation, we have to understand species needs and ecology. Otters are really hard to monitor as they live at low density, are quite secretive, and mostly come out at night.

      Otters lack individual distinguishing features – which makes it challenging to estimate population size, range size and dispersal. Finding out anything about them often relies on extracting their DNA from poo!

      Sequencing the otter genome will open the door for various genomic and physiological research on otters, their adaptations, parasites, scent communication and behaviour.

    • Photo: Scottish Wildcat

      Scottish Wildcat answered on 20 Nov 2017:

      The main advantage would be to allow us to more accurately determine how much the genome of the Scottish Wildcat has been diluted by interbreeding with feral domestic cats. At present, we have to compare the DNA from Wildcats with that of the related species of European Wildcat. However, the Scottish Wildcat has a different ancestry to the European Wildcat so we want to compare DNA from unknown cats with DNA from a true Scottish Wildcat to know accurately if they are hybrid Wildcat/feral cats. However, an equally important question we want to answer is what makes a Scottish Wildcat different to other Wildcats, like the European Wildcat, as well as what makes it different to feral domestic cats. Knowing this will help us to understand what makes the Scottish Wildcat so well-adapted to the environment it lives in.

    • Photo: Strapwort

      Strapwort answered on 20 Nov 2017:

      For strapwort, it would mean that we could find out if the population in the UK is low in genetic diversity, which is one of the hypotheses for explaining why strapwort is critically endangered here. If strapwort’s genetic diversity is indeed low, one of the options would be to introduce more diverse populations from elsewhere in Europe to make strapwort more resilient in the UK.

    • Photo: Glow Worm

      Glow Worm answered on 21 Nov 2017:

      Glow-worms are very bad at getting from one site to another because the females can’t fly, which means that they often live in very isolated populations. Sequencing would be the first step in finding out whether this has affected their genetic diversity, which could be a problem that we need to tackle. There may also be medical benefits in knowing more about the genes that make glow-worms glow. For example glowing molecules from other species are already being used to study cancer by lighting up in cells where particular genes are switched on.

    • Photo: Barbastelle Bat

      Barbastelle Bat answered on 29 Nov 2017:

      For the barbastelle bat, the advantage will be gaining important information that will help the conservation of this rare and threatened bat. The genome will also help us understand how these bats will respond to future threats, like climate change.
      Beyond the barbastelle bat, the genome will help us answer important questions about the evolution of bats, their echolocation system and flight behaviour.
      For humans, helping the conservation of the barbastelle bat will also help farmers and our food supply. These bats eat moths that are agricultural pests, so having more of these bats around can help reduce pests, reduce the need to use a lot of pesticides and improve our crops and the surrounding environment.

    • Photo: Scaly Cricket

      Scaly Cricket answered on 4 Dec 2017:

      We could learn a lot about how genomes evolve. The sample of insect species that have had their genomes sequenced is very biased towards those insects with a complete metamorphosis (that is, insects such a flies, with a maggot, or caterpillar like larval stage and a pupal stage). To understand the evolution of insect genomes, we need to include more “primitive” insects, such as scaly crickets (which hatch from the egg looking like miniature adults and don’t have a pupal stage).

      As with other species in the floundering zone, sequencing the genome of the scaly cricket will pave the way for further work to help us understand the conservation status of this “vulnerable” species. It will help us learn how inbred the small populations are and the extent of gene flow between them, for example. This further work will also allow us test the exciting idea that Scaly cricket eggs might be able to “raft” in drift wood- potentially linking French populations with our own.