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Project to collect species' genetic codes

SANTA CRUZ, Calif., Nov. 5 (UPI) -- A biomolecular engineer at the University of California-Santa Cruz is proposing the collection of genetic codes for 10,000 vertebrate species.

UCSC biomolecular engineer David Haussler said if it receives funding, the "Genome 10K Project" would lead to a genetic code collection that could offer valuable insights into biological mysteries, The Oakland (Calif.) Tribune reported Wednesday.

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"We can now contemplate reading the genetic heritage of all species, beginning with vertebrates," Haussler said of the proposed global database.

More than 65 scientists have joined Haussler for the scientific project, whose details are outlined in Wednesday's issue of the Journal of Heredity.

The cost of sequencing genetic codes is a major roadblock as it currently costs as much as $100,000 to sequence a single genome.

Haussler said with the cost of sequencing steadily declining, the project could get under way once the cost per genome hits $3,000.

Nobel Laureate Sydney Brenner of the Salk Institute said once the project begins, it could represent a major scientific milestone.

"The most challenging intellectual problem in biology for this century will be the reconstruction of our biological past," Brenner said. "Genomes are molecular fossils."

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