Symposium examines using genome sequencing to save species

March 26, 2009

University Park, Pa. -- A free public symposium, titled "Learning from Extinctions and Saving Species Today: Applications of Genome Sequencing," will be held from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on April 3, in Foster Auditorium of Pattee Library on the Penn State University Park campus. The symposium will cover a variety of topics related to wildlife conservation and maintenance of species diversity, with emphasis on how cutting-edge technologies for analyzing genomes can help to prevent species extinctions. The symposium is organized by Stephan Schuster, Penn State professor of biochemistry and molecular biology, Webb Miller, Penn State professor of biology and of computer science and engineering, and Oliver Ryder, associate director of the San Diego Zoo's Conservation and Research for Endangered Species program.

The symposium is part of a workshop, funded by the National Science Foundation and private sponsors, to pair experts in wildlife conservation and high-throughput genomic technologies with officials from museums and funding agencies to discuss scientific questions about extinction including genomic methods, methods for species conservation, availability of museum specimen, and methods of preparing ancient DNA for sequencing.

The schedule for the free public symposium is as follows:

10 a.m. -- "Extinction, Conservation, and Next Generation Genome Sequencing," Oliver Ryder, San Diego Zoo

10:30 a.m. -- "How the 'Tree of Life' Informs Biodiversity Conservation Efforts," Bill Murphy, Texas A&M University

11 a.m. -- "Natural History of the Equidae: History, Evolution, and Conservation," Ray Bernor, National Science Foundation

11:30 a.m. -- "Galápagos Tortoises," Gisella Caccone, Yale University

Noon -- "Avian Ancient DNA Studies," Rob Fleischer, Smithsonian Institution

1:30 p.m. -- "Extinctions and Introduced Pathogens: What Might Rats and Mammoths Have in Common?" Alex Greenwood, Old Dominion University

2 p.m. -- "Conservation Genomics of Canids," Bob Wayne, University of California at Los Angeles

2:30 p.m. -- "Genomic Tools and Species Conservation: The Plight of the Tasmanian Devil," Vanessa Hayes, Children's Cancer Institute of Australia

3 p.m. -- "Applying NextGen Sequencing Technologies to Primate Genomics," Devin Locke, Washington University

3:30 p.m. -- "The Anthropocene Extinction Event: Magnitude, Taxonomy, Geography, Causes, and Responses," Tom Brooks, Conservation International

4 p.m. -- "Permafrost of Siberia and Alaska: The Freezer of the Genetic Material of the Ice Age," Alexei Tikhonov, Russian Academy of Sciences, and Bernard Buigues, St. Mandé, France

More information about the symposium is on the Web at:

  • Baby Tasmanian devil born in 2007 at the Australian Reptile Park in New South Wales, Australia. This baby devil is a critical member of a breeding program that aims to help free Tasmanian devils from the devastating facial cancer disease that threatens their extinction.

    IMAGE: Vanessa M. Hayes
Last Updated January 09, 2015