UC Santa Cruz is world-renowned for its genomics research; namely, sequencing and publishing the human genome. We have spent an immense amount of time focusing on what makes us unique, now we are unraveling the mysteries of our slimy mascot. We are sequencing the genome of the banana slug.
UC Santa Cruz Genomics Institute's sequencing experts Nader Pourmand and Mark Akeson will use sophisticated technology to extract DNA from a sample, creating long chains of nucleic acids (A, C, T, and G). Assisting them in this endeavor will be UC Santa Cruz undergraduate students, lending a hand in sample preparation, sequencing, and developing DNA libraries during winter quarter. This will be an incredible opportunity for students to be involved in hands-on research.
During spring quarter 2015, UC Santa Cruz faculty members Ed Green and Kevin Karplus led a team of graduate students in assembling the genome sequence and annotating the data collected from the sample. This will make the information more accessible and allow researchers to analyze the extensive quantity of information. The students made considerable progress, and many are continuing through the summer.
There are stark differences between our banana slug, Ariolimax dolichophallus, and its close relatives. The results of this project will provide invaluable insight on species diversity, with implications for understanding the evolutionary differentiation in reproductive and sexual behavior. There is not an abundance of information on our unique mascot, but this investigation will provide profound knowledge on our slimy species. In addition, this information will contribute to conservation efforts of animals world-wide.
To make this feat a reality, the campus undertook a crowdfunding campaign in October and November 2014 that raised $21,443 from 139 donors.