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Crocodilian Genomics

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The International Crocodilian Genomes Working Group (ICGWG) originally lead a large-scale effort to examine crocodilian biology by targeting the American alligator (Alligator mississippiensis), saltwater crocodile (Crocodylus porosus), and gharial (Gavialis gangeticus) for genome sequencing.

Those efforts also involved the collection of related data that can be used to enrich our knowledge of crocodilian genomes. These data included transcriptome data for various tissues and BAC-end sequences for all three taxa (and some complete BAC sequences)

Initial efforts concluded in late 2014 with the publication of all three genomes in Science. Multiple satellite publications have also resulted from this work.

Current efforts focus on generating reference-based and de novo assemblies for many of the remaining 20+ species of extant crocodilians. 

Why crocodilian genomes?

Crocodilians have long been a part of the human experience, making appearences in pop culture and providing sources of prized commodities such as leather and meat.  In fact,crocodilians are a source of trade worth over $US 500 million worldwide.  Some crocodilians, like the gharial, are critically endangered and their genome sequence may provide tools for genetic monitoring. Crocodilians are also important for human health; their immune systems may provide antimicrobial agents and they have been used to monitor the environment for contaminants, such as endocrine disruptiors. 

Although crocodilians  represent important model organisms for fields as diverse as developmental biology, osmoregulation, cardiophysiology, sex determination, and functional morphology. The ICGWG plans to provide the genomic resources needed to expand our knowledge of these fascinating organisms. Since cocodilians are a pivotal lineage in the vertebrate tree of life this effort will also provide fascinating information for comparative genomics