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March of the multiple penguin genomes


The Penguin Genome Consortium sequences all living penguin species genomes to understand the evolution of life on the ice.

Published today in GigaScience is an article that presents the first effort to capture the entirety of the genomic landscape of all living penguin species. The Penguin Genome Consortium —bringing together researchers from China, Denmark, New Zealand, Australia, Argentina, South Africa, the UK, the US, France and Germany— has produced 19 high-coverage penguin genome sequences that, together with two genomes previously published in GigaScience, encompass all surviving penguin species. This extensive study provides an unparalleled amount of information that covers an entire biological order. Completing a useful chunk of the B10K Avian Genomes, and which will promote research in a wide variety of areas from evolution to the impact of human activities and environmental changes.

Penguins (Sphenisciformes) are a diverse order of species that span the Southern hemisphere, ranging from the Galápagos Islands on the equator, to the oceanic temperate forests of New Zealand, to the rocky coastlines of the sub-Antarctic islands, finally reaching the sea-ice around Antarctica. This iconic bird group have transitioned from flying seabirds to powerful, flightless marine divers. With their specialised skin and feathers and an enhanced thermoregulation system they are able to inhabit environments from the extreme cold Antarctic sea ice to the tropical Galápagos Islands. MORE

Header image: Gentoo Penguins in Antarctica form a line as they march down a ‘penguin highway’ to collect rocks for their nests. Credit: Laurie Goodman.

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