Curious Nature is a new, family-friendly exhibition which explores the Wellcome Sanger Institute’s 25th anniversary project to sequence the genomes of 25 UK species for the first time. The species chosen have been organised in five categories: flourishing, floundering, iconic, dangerous and cryptic.
For centuries, humans have classified and interpreted the natural world, to understand how things are related to each other. Our ability to analyse the genetic information of all living things, encoded in their DNA, is enabling us to explore these similarities and differences in greater detail than ever before. Creating a reference genome is not an easy task, but once the 25 genomes are complete, they will unlock nature’s secrets in a way that was not possible before.
They include well known favourites from the animal world such as the golden eagle and red squirrel, as well as lesser known species like the ringlet butterfly and fen raft spider. By understanding more about their genomes, researchers hope to better understand why some species are thriving in the UK, whilst others have seen their populations decimated by disease or environmental changes.
Curious Nature is free to visit during one of the Wellcome Genome Campus Open Saturdays, which take place each month. Visit the Public Engagement website for details for all the available dates and to book your visit!
Illustration credits: Alex Cagan, Genome Research Limited