Kākāpō 125 project launched

  • Steven Joyce
Science and Innovation

Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce today launched Kākāpō 125 – a joint New Zealand Genomics Limited (NZGL) and Genetics Otago project that will sequence all the genomes of the kākāpō species.

“This is the first time genomes will be sequenced for an entire species population. This sequencing will allow scientists to refine their breeding programme so that each kākāpō chick has the best chance of growing into a healthy adult,” Mr Joyce says.

“This is a great opportunity to support the exceptional work of the Kākāpō Recovery Team, which from its beginning in 1990, when there were only 49 known living kākāpō, has helped to grow the population to 125.

“Genome sequencing is a laboratory process that determines the complete DNA sequence of an organism's genome at a single time. The government investment in genomics across the science and innovation system means New Zealand is well placed to participate in globally connected research programmes.”

Internationally large scale international genomic projects with a focus on human health outcomes are now focussed on the potential for real scientific advances to be made, especially in the area of precision medicine.

“The Kākāpō 125 project is highly innovative – the sequencing funding is crowd sourced, the science is being delivered through collaborative international and domestic capability, with support from the government through its commitment to genome research and to the Kākāpō Recovery programme,” Mr Joyce says.

“This project presents a world-leading approach to explore how greater genomics understanding across a whole population of an iconic species can contribute to its protection and the potential of this research is huge. I look forward to other opportunities in New Zealand and internationally for us to be involved in this innovative area.”