Genetics Holds Power on Threatened Species


MELBOURNE AUSTRALIA, 14 July 2023 – Illumina, Inc. (NASDAQ: ILMN)

Organizers hope a major science conference in Melbourne next week will put the spotlight on the power of genetic mapping and lead to a change of fortunes for Australia's threatened species.

The week-long 23rd International Congress of Genetics is being held next week at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre, bringing together world-leading researchers.

There are high hopes the event will reignite the emphasis on biodiversity genomics.

Organizers say the same technology that helped map the human genome – at considerable time and expense – is now much faster and more cost-effective.

Genomic databases help researchers, conservationists, and policymakers understand the presence of threatened species in an environment and make informed decisions around their protection.

These efficiencies have led many to dream big and consider its potential, including International Genetics Federation secretary and event organizer Professor Philip Batterham.

“We have such a vast need when it comes to understanding biodiversity,” Professor Batterham said.

“Biodiversity may be the single biggest threat to humanity if you think it through. This is the time. We've got the technology, and we've got the people who can produce and analyze the data. What we don't have is sufficient investment in projects.”

Director of the National eDNA Reference Centre, Professor Dianne Gleeson, said genomics can provide the level of information researchers and conservationists need to protect threatened species.

“We've reached a biodiversity crisis now, and genomic information is going to be crucial for policymakers and environmental managers into the future,” Professor Gleeson said.

“Next week's conference will provide an opportunity to look at what is currently being delivered in this space and where gaps need to be filled in order for genomics to fulfill its potential in conservation.”

Technological innovation on show

Illumina is a gold sponsor of the conference and a major supplier of technology to laboratories around the globe.

Illumina's commercial lead in Australia, Simon Giuliano, said further improvements in the speed and affordability of genomic sequencing technologies would continue to unlock new applications for the technology.

“The Human Genome Project took more than a decade and billions of dollars to complete,” Mr Giuliano said.

“But today, we're talking about a matter of days and less than $1000 to sequence a human genome.

“We've already seen great interest in applying the relative affordability of genomic technologies to ensure the best chance of survival in Australia's koala populations.

“And now, With Illumina's sequencing technology deployed in a laboratory onboard Minderoo's research vessel to study the oceans, the future of genomics in environmental monitoring is incredibly bright.”


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