World-first science helps beloved quokka

  • DNA Zoo project scientists map the quokka genome
  • World-first discovery helps scientists learn more about the species
  • Discovery coincides during quokka’s second birthday  
  • The McGowan Government has applauded the world-first genome mapping of Western Australia’s iconic quokkas by scientists from The University of Western Australia.

    Researchers have mapped a chromosome-length genome from the species which will help scientists learn more about the species and protect them for future generations.

    This discovery coincides with the celebration of the quokka’s second birthday, an annual event which will see the Rottnest Island Authority host a range of events during September.

    The genome mapping was completed through the DNA Zoo project, a global initiative that analyses DNA from different species to help researchers, leaders and policy-makers better understand species through their DNA as well as threats to their survival.

    Quokkas are classified as a vulnerable species, with between 7,500 and 15,000 mature adults estimated in the wild. The majority of this species is found on Rottnest Island, with a protected population also found off the coast of Albany and scattered colonies on the mainland between Perth and Albany.

    The project was supported by the Pawsey Supercomputing Centre with funding from the Australian Government and the Government of Western Australia. Additional computational resources and support was received by a Microsoft AI for Earth grant.

    For more information, access the DNA Zoo website here.

    As stated by Environment Minister Stephen Dawson:

    “This innovative science will help us understand and conserve quokkas and ensure that visitors from all over the world can appreciate this much-loved species for years to come.

    “Congratulations to the team of scientists and operational staff from multiple organisations who collected data, provided samples, and worked tirelessly to ensure this project was possible.”

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