Whale genome consortium(WGC) performs Minke Whale genome sequencing and bioinformatic analysis. This research is performed as part of the ‘Marine and Extreme Genome Research Center program’ supported by the Ministry of Land, Transport, and Maritime Affairs. The consortium is led by KIOST in collaboration with Genome Research Foundation.
Minke is the most abundant whale species on Earth and they are common around Korean peninsula. The whale is the largest mammal in 4.6 billion years of Earth's history and is known to have walked on land around 60 million years ago and has evolved from the ancestor of the order Artiodactyla (even-toed) including cows, pigs, and hippos. When deciphered completely, Minke whale genome can contribute significantly to understand the evolution of sea faring mammals on Earth.
Scientists estimate that the whale genome is approximately 3 billion base pairs (bp) long, which is similar in size to the human genome. It is expected that genome information obtained by Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) technology and bioinformatic analysis will provide valuable clues to explain whale's adaptation to marine life.
The research can also provide a valuable framework to compare the genotypes of all the whale species, and lead to the conservation of whale species.