We can’t do this alone! Lots of people have helped with this project, most notably our local collaborators – both in the United States and Mexico at Hubbs Sea World Research Institute, San Diego, California, USA, Universidad Autónoma de Baja California, Ensenada, Baja California, Mexico and Centro de Investigación Científica y de Educación Superior de Ensenada, Ensenada, Baja California, Mexico. Sequencing is being supported by Roche 454 Life Sciences


Sea Lion Cancer Consortium

The data generated by the students is of publication quality and can be used to investigate sea lion genome and health issues.

For example, an international group of researchers is interested in using the DNA sequences to explore the sea lion’s high incidence of genitourinary (GU) carcinoma. About 17-20 % of known adult sea lion deaths are linked with these carcinomas.

Their research has found that aberrant genomic features are recurrent across several animals, for example dogs and humans, suggesting there is a conserved pathogenesis. To explore the conserved nature of the genomic aberrations a comparison has recently been conducted against the genomic data from the Tasmanian devil. Since California sea lions are a carnivores (as are dogs) with high levels of carcinomas they are a good model to explore the phylogenetic relationship of the cancers.  Thus the group is teaming up with the SDSU students and is using the California Sea lion genome as another piece in the puzzle of understanding the development and evolution of these carcinomas.
Members of the group
Matthew Breen, NCSU CVM and UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center
Frances Gulland, Marine Mammal Center, USA
Denise Greig, Marine Mammal Center
Elizabeth Murchinson, Sanger Center, UK

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