Domestic Goat Reference Genome Sequence Complete
December 24, 2012

Scientists Successfully Sequence Domestic Goat Reference Genome

redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports - Your Universe Online

An international team of researchers announced on Sunday they had completed the first high-quality reference genome of the domestic goat (Capra hircus), marking the first time the DNA of a ruminant animal has been sequenced.

"Goats are recognized as an important member of the world livestock industry, and with many unique biological features," officials from BGI Shenzen, one of the institutions responsible for the feat, explained in a statement.

"They are an important economic resource in many developing countries around the world, especially in China and India," they added. "However, despite their agricultural and biological importance, breeding and genetic studies of goats have been hampered by the lack of a high quality reference genome sequence."

To rectify that situation, researchers from the genome sequencing center joined forces with colleagues from the Kunming Institute of Zoology and OpGen Inc. Together, scientists from these organizations produced the ~2.66 Gb goat reference genome from a female Yunnan black goat by using a combination of whole-genome mapping (WGM) and next-generation sequencing (NGS) technologies.

Their findings, published online in the journal Nature Biotechnology, could be useful for facilitating single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) marker identifications during the breeding process, as well as improving the creature's usefulness as a bioreactor and a biomedical model, the researchers said. Furthermore, it could help scientists better understand the difference between the genetic features of ruminants and non-ruminants, and might help experts assemble more complex genomes from scratch in the future.

"With the availability of next-generation sequencing (NGS), draft assemblies are easy to generate nowadays. However, to finish a sequence to the chromosome level remains a hard nut to crack," they explained. "In this study, the results show that a single NGS platform, when combined with whole-genome mapping technology, could produce a finished assembly much faster and with high quality than other currently available mapping strategies."

Likewise, by using whole genome mapping along with next-generation sequencing, "we were able to overcome the limitations of NGS' short read scaffolds to produce long super-scaffolds and finish the assembly to the near chromosome level," Wen Wang, Deputy Director of the Kunming Institute, noted in a separate statement.