The Oz Mammals Genomics initiative is developing genomic resources for Australia’s mammals, tackling wildlife genomics at a continental scale. The availability of such resources for marsupials, rodents, and bats will underpin new studies of mammal evolution and guide conservation of the Australian mammal fauna.

A photograph of a large male red kangaroo in the Australian outback.
Red kangaroo in outback Australia. Image credit: Anna MacDonald.

Australia is famous for its unique terrestrial mammals, with most species found nowhere else. In the last 200 years approximately 30 Australian mammals have become extinct, including the thylacine, pig-footed bandicoot, eastern hare-wallaby and long-tailed hopping mouse. Many others are now threatened and there is an urgent need for effective conservation management. Genomics can contribute to this, for example by helping us to understand breeding systems and dispersal patterns of threatened species, and by improving our understanding of extinction risks.

Australian marsupials are genetically distinct and developmentally unique. This makes marsupial genomes important comparative resources for understanding mammal diversity worldwide. At this stage, very few marsupial genomes have been studied in detail (the koala genome is one example), but these have led to some spectacular, globally significant discoveries about evolution. Given the unique history and biology of Australian mammals, these discoveries are just the tip of the iceberg. Future insights from marsupial DNA may enable the development of novel antimicrobials, or improve understanding of sex chromosome evolution.

Museum collections will be vital to the success of the Oz Mammals Genomics Initiative. DNA analysis of museum specimens will allow us to compare recent and historic levels of genetic diversity, and will improve our understanding of recently extinct species.

The mission of the Oz Mammals Genomics (OMG) initiative is to build genomic resources to understand and protect Australia’s mammals

The consortium objectives are to:

  • Build a foundation of genomic data to advance our understanding and conservation of Australia’s unique mammals
  • Establish genomics as a key capacity across Australian museums and government agencies, build the community to sustain this
  • Increase awareness of the public and conservation managers of the diversity of Australian mammals and how genomics can aid in their protection

Oz Mammals Genomics was initiated by Bioplatforms Australia in partnership with Australian State museums, CSIRO, the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions, and several Australian universities.

For more information

Find the list of the Oz Mammals Genomics Initiative main contacts here

If you have any questions or are interesting in joining the OMG collaboration, please contact the Project Manager