(Yicai Global) Jan. 8 -- Chinese scientists have kicked off a world-first program to map the genetic data of 10,000 representative protist species amid plans to develop a vast database of genetic resources in Wuhan, the capital of China's central province of Hubei.
The Institute of Hydrobiology under the Chinese Academy of scientists initiated the program in tandem with several Chinese universities and other official research institutes, Science and Technology Daily reported today.
Protists are single-celled organisms of the Protista kingdom, one of the five categories of living things alongside animals, plants, fungi and monerans. There are over 60,000 known species of the eukaryotic organisms, which provide nutrition for aquatic animals and humans and shoulder nearly half of the planet's photosynthesis, according to the researchers, but toxic species are major pathogenic parasites for humans, livestock and aquatic animals.
The scientists hope that the project can shed better light on biodiversity, the origin and evolution of multi-cell organisms, and sexual reproduction, while advancing research on environmental protection, disease prevention and control, and nutrition. Other interested teams from China or overseas are welcome to join the research, the report added.
The genome program is the first large-scale project of its kind targeting the Protista kingdom, said Yin Zhan, deputy director of the Institute of Hydrobiology. It will use 3,000 species of eukaryotic algae and protozoa already held by the institutes involved and collect more samples in hopes of having 10,000 genomes sequenced and cataloged within three years.
Editor: James Boynton