Penguin Conservation with Applied Genomics
Eleven of the 18 species of penguins are currently listed as endangered, and almost all of them face conservation challenges. Very little is understood about the mechanisms of these birds, specifically their ability to live in the extreme habitat of the Antarctic continent, making it difficult to design adequate conservation strategies. The sequencing of two penguin species, the Adélie and emperor penguins, has shed light on some aspects of their physiology and revealed some surprising facts. For example, the two species independently evolved different lipid metabolism adaptations for living in frigid weather. A deeper understanding of penguin biology will provide the seven countries signatories of the Antarctic Treaty System with rational and coherent guidelines, to define effective conservation policies and preserve these extraordinary birds.
- Keystone Species
In both cold and warm climates in which penguins reside, they are a main source of nutrients to a large variety of animals, making them essential to the food chain. Considered a keystone species, penguins help gauge the health of entire ecosystems.
- Natural Fertilizers
An average sized penguin can eat up to about two pounds of food during summer months. Since penguins typically live in large colonies, this adds up to hefty amount of prey consumed. The large amounts of excrement from the colonies help to fertilize the landscape with important nutrients for plant-life.
- DNA Metabarcoding
DNA metabarcoding, a technique that pools genomic DNA extracted from environmental samples and amplifies evolutionarily conserved genes using universal primers followed by NGS sequencing, is an important tool for marine conservation and management enabling researchers to identify species which are included in penguin’s diets.
Walk-away NGS library prep
The Sciclone® G3 NGSx iQ™ workstation provides unattended automation of even the most complex NGS library construction workflows. Integrated tip storage, on-deck thermal accessories, and highly reproducible liquid transfer technology guarantees the construction of high-quality NGS libraries from DNA or RNA.