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$40 million AUD to be invested by the Minderoo Foundation and Illumina to use advanced genomics for marine conservation

Minderoo Foundation

Minderoo Foundation and Illumina to work on marine conservation

A partnership between the Minderoo Foundation and Illumina, Inc. (NASDAQ: ILMN), valued at 40 million Australian dollars (US $27.8 million), will use genetics to advance our understanding of marine systems and assist marine conservationists in making wise decisions. The three-year agreement reflects a shared commitment to protecting marine biodiversity and comprehending how people and national economies depend on changing marine environments. 
Minderoo Foundation’s director of OceanOmics, Dr. Steve Burnell, said that scaling environmental DNA (eDNA) technologies and applying new computational and artificial-intelligence-enabled approaches have the potential to revolutionize our understanding of life in the ocean and our ability to protect it. 
“By rapidly identifying species that may be endangered, invasive, or otherwise poorly understood, the research will contribute data and information to support timely and impactful marine biodiversity conservation,” Burnell said. “Minderoo Foundation is committed to returning our oceans to a flourishing state.”

Minderoo Foundation

Scientists’ ability to grasp biodiversity and track change can be improved with the use of eDNA-based marine ecosystem surveillance. Millions of cells and fragments of eDNA can be found in a cup of saltwater, giving us a glimpse of the different life forms that are there as well as possible data on their population size and health. However, more than 98% of the DNA sequences found in ordinary seawater samples belonged to marine bacteria. This relationship will enable the adaptation of technologies from the human health sector to help enrich these complicated marine samples for sequence data particular to marine vertebrates. 
In order to identify unidentified eDNA sequences from seawater, the partners will also work on research and development projects to generate high-throughput genome sequences from recognized marine vertebrates.  
Illumina The NextSeq 2000 was installed directly onto Minderoo’s research vessel, according to Gretchen Weightman, Head of Global Commercial Strategy and General Manager of Asia Pacific and Japan. This allowed the partners to demonstrate truly high-throughput sequencing at sea for the first time, producing marine genetic information in close to real-time from seawater samples to high-quality sequencing data in a matter of hours. 
Researchers will obtain vital information and develop a better understanding of the major ramifications for how the world’s seas are managed, taking into account commercial fishing and protection regulations, thanks to Illumina’s cutting-edge technology, according to Weightman.