For our students, it would be difficult to imagine how research could be done on rice without referring to its genome sequences. This is also the case for all the researchers in the field of genomics. I will give you two examples showing how significant the impact of the free sharing of the rice genome sequence can be.
We are now collaborating with various institutes and universities within and outside China to sequence 10,000 rice accessions or strains. We believe that is an important stimulus for rice genome research and breeding. We also have analyzed the genomes of other important crops, such as maize and potatoes. A paper about this research will be published in a prestigious journal very soon. We also have analyzed the cucumber, and sequenced the genes related to sex expression, disease resistance, and so on. As soybean curd is an important food for the Chinese, we have also completed the genome analysis on soybeans.
We have analyzed the genome for chickens. One of the most important scientific discoveries is that the genome diversity of chickens originated before their domestication.
Together with other institutions, we have analyzed the genome for silkworms. The most thorough genome sequence data so far for the silkworm was released by BGI and other Chinese researchers many years ago. Now the job is continued by analyzing about 50 genomes, with the aim to reveal the domestication events and genes for this important insect.
We have analyzed the panda genome. Technically it is the first successful de novo assembly of a mammal, without the help from a genetic or physical map of this animal. We have also analyzed, in collaboration with our colleagues in the United States, the genome of two ant species to reveal how they organize their social activities.
We are also concerned about global climate change, so we have finished the sequencing part of some animals living in extreme environments, like the polar bear, penguin, the Tibetan antelope, and the camel.
We have initiated, together with our colleagues all around the world, the International 10K Genomes Project. About 25 percent of all the vertebrates are listed in this project. We have already begun studying the first batch of more than 100 species.
Now I would like to turn back to the human genome research. As I have already indicated, the Human Genome Project has shaped the field of human genomics, which is characterized by international collaboration and international data sharing. Our contribution to the HGP has been small, probably 1 percent, but we made about a 10 percent contribution with the International HapMap Project. We completed the first Asian human genome by means of the new-generation sequencers and published the results in Nature. The publication of the Asian genome revealed that the methods or sequencing technology available now are extremely powerful, as stated in a review paper in Science.
Perhaps you have seen that my institute is committed to sequencing more than 10,000 individuals before the end of this year. We are also an essential part of the Human Variome Project, as well as the International Cancer Genome Project. For the International Cancer Genome Project, we are committed to gastric cancer now, and we will expand our contribution to other cancers related to digestive systems. We have initiated the 1,000 Monogenic Diseases Project, based on our own experiences working on the Mendelian disorders. One of the most important discoveries in 2009 was the “human pan-genome”. We have identified that 0.6 ~ 1.5 percent of human genome sequences actually are population-specific.
We also analyzed people living in two different environments to reveal how their genomes have adapted to the environment. The population study of Tibetans and Han Chinese uncovered that regulation of the hypoxia response is central to high-altitude adaptation. That paper was published in Science.