Barcelona, 9 June 2022.- Tomàs Marques-Bonet, head of the Comparative Genomics group with double affiliation at the Institut de Biologia Evolutiva (CSIC-UPF) and the Centro Nacional de Análisis Genómico (CNAG-CRG) and Magdalena Bermejo, head and principal investigator of the Sabine Plattner African Charities World-Class Field Station (SPAC WCFS-Network), are partnering with the Illumina iConserve program to map the genetic variability of gorilla populations across their habitat range. The entire sequencing operation is being performed at the CNAG-CRG, under the supervision of Ivo Gut, using the most powerful Illumina sequencer, the NovaSeq 6000.


Currently, there is no reliable molecular test to genotype confiscated gorillas, and there is no method to identify a gorilla’s population of origin. The mission is to create the first genomic atlas of gorillas in all countries and national parks so that future gorillas taken from the wild can be sequenced and matched to their population of origin. This tool will facilitate their relocation to a sanctuary close to their provenance, increasing the chances of successful reintroduction into their native groups.


Hundreds of samples from Tomas’ collaborators at Uppsala University in Sweden, New York University, Czech Academy of Sciences, and SPAC are currently being sequenced at the CNAG-CRG. “Illumina iConserve is a very forward-looking initiative,” says Ivo Gut, Director of CNAG-CRG. In the initial phase of the project, he is providing expertise in sequencing difficult samples and in developing protocols. The second phase will be facilitating the continuation of the project locally in the Congo. “We have the capabilities to do foundational work and with this, put tools into the hands of local people to use downstream technologies to protect and defend their local heritage.”


Full story in the Illumina website


* Photo courtesy of  Sabine Plattner African Charities (SPAC) World-Class Field Station Network (WCFS-Network)