The Koala Genome Consortium
The koala (Phascolarctos cinereus) is an iconic Australian animal. Koalas are both biologically unique and evolutionarily distinct as the only living representative of the marsupial family Phascolarctidae. Their unique and highly specific diet of eucalyptus leaves, combined with the increasing threats of predation and habitat loss through urbanisation, mean that koalas are particularly vulnerable to the deleterious effects of fragmented habitat and population bottlenecks. They are further threatened by disease such as Chlamydia and there is increasing interest in the varying strains of the Koala Retrovirus. We present preliminary transcriptome and genome data for the koala and introduce the Koala Genome Consortium (KGC), a group working towards the production of a high quality draft assembly of the koala genome. The KGC is currently comprised of several Australian research institutes and Universities although our intention is to recruit researchers from around the world to contribute to the genome assembly and annotation process and ultimately make use of the assembled genome. Once available as an annotated draft, we anticipate the genome sequence will add significant value to the extensive body of existing research for koalas.