BioQuest Achieves Caribbean First with Grooved Brain Coral Genome Sequencing

The content originally appeared on: News Americas Now

News Americas, New York, NY, Fri. June 7, 2024: In celebration of World Oceans Day, BioQuest is proud to announce the completion of the draft reference genome of the Grooved Brain Coral. This milestone marks the first time whole genome sequencing of a coral reef has been accomplished in the Caribbean by Caribbean scientists. This groundbreaking work was conducted locally in Bermuda in collaboration with the Two Frontiers Project, ASU Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences, and Oxford Nanopore Technologies’ Org.One.

The project began in July 2023, with the BioQuest team learning how to sample and extract DNA from the coral reef with training from the Two Frontiers Project. In Phase 1, the team progressed from sampling to coral microbiome analysis within 72 hours, with all work conducted by Bermudians in Bermuda.

Phase 2 saw BioQuest successfully sequence the whole genome of the coral for the first time during Roche Science Week at Bermuda College in February. The assembly of the draft reference genome was completed by Professor Miten Jain, Principal Investigator of the Genome Technology Laboratory at Northeastern University in Boston.

This technological feat leveraged the advanced capabilities of Seq2Know, the sole Oxford Nanopore Technologies (ONT) certified sequencing laboratory in the LATAM & Caribbean region, run by CariGenetics.

The Grooved Brain Coral (Diploria labyrinthiformis), a large, reef-building coral found throughout the Caribbean Sea and its adjacent waters, is currently classified as critically endangered according to the IUCN Red List. BioQuest’s efforts are pivotal in the conservation of this species, creating a vital resource for future genetic work that will contribute to its preservation.

Jean-Pierre Rouja, Executive Director of BioQuest, remarked, “Completing the coral reference genome represents a monumental achievement in our efforts to conserve marine biodiversity. This project underscores our commitment to build local capacity and advance scientific research in the Caribbean.”

BioQuest is an innovative philanthropic NGO focused on biodiversity conservation using genomics, starting with the Caribbean’s signature species. It’s aim is to create local biodiversity genetic research capacity whilst preserving our unique environment for generations to come.

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