Marine Mammal Genome Project & Archive
Marine mammals have captured the fascination and concern of mankind. They are charismatic, ecologically and economically important, and many are at extreme risk of global extinction. Despite the past thirty years of research and international protection, approximately 23% of marine mammal species are considered threatened or endangered. This statistic suggests that effective protection of marine mammals will not simply require more effort, but will also require a better understanding of marine mammal biology and better support for marine mammal research.
To address this problem, OGL has launched the Marine Mammal Genome Archive (MMGA), a comprehensive public collection of genomic resources (DNA and tissue samples), representing a broad cross section of the diversity of this important group. The MMGA is a special collection of the Ocean Genome Resource, the nation's first public DNA repository dedicated to marine organisms. This effort will not only help scientists obtain valuable research materials, but will also create a secure archive to safeguard the threatened genetic diversity of marine mammals against extinction. Most importantly, these genomic materials are obtained from samples collected in humane, ethical and legal ways, relying on existing collections rather than de novo sampling. This will ensure that no animals are harmed in any way for this project.
OGL has recently acquired permits From NOAA's National Marine Fisheries Service to accept and hold marine mammal tissues collected under any valid US Scientific Research/Enhancement permit, any permit for Public Display of marine mammals, and any materials collected under authorization of the six US regional Marine Mammal Stranding Networks. These permits allow us to provide archival storage for any marine mammal tissues collected with proper authorization, serving as both backup and specimen voucher for current researchers, and preserving these rare samples for future research. Those who wish to deposit marine mammal tissue or DNA with Ocean Genome Legacy can complete a Deposit Request online, or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The second goal of this project is to promote a large-scale marine mammal genome sequencing effort in collaboration with major genome sequencing centers and a coalition of marine mammal researchers. This open-access project will make high-quality marine mammal genome sequences openly available for research that can help scientists better understand the complex needs of these remarkable creatures and the numerous challenges mankind faces in protecting them from extinction.