The target animal
The Saimaa ringed seal (Phoca hispida saimensis) inhabits Lake Saimaa in Southeastern Finland. This endemic ringed seal subspecies derives from marine seals that became trapped in Lake Saimaa c. 10,000 years ago, when Finnish inland lakes formed after the retreat of glaciers from the area. The population underwent a dramatic decline during the last 100 years; currently the lake harbors c. 360 individuals of this endemic and critically endangered seal subspecies.
During its long isolation, the population has lost a large portion of its original genetic diversity. The low variability of the population may pose a threat for its survival in a changing climate, but it also makes the Saimaa ringed seal an excellent model system for studying phenotypic evolution and the effects of population isolation.
The SRSGP aims at sequencing and publishing the full genome of the Saimaa ringed seal. The sequencing work has recently been completed and manual annotation of the genome is underway, so the genome will be published during the spring of 2017. The resultant information will be used to enhance conservation efforts and to conduct research on the genetic basis of phenotypic variation.
Next-generation sequencing was performed at the DNA sequencing and Genomics laboratory at the Institute of Biotechnology in Helsinki.
The genome will be made publicly available at the Ensembl database.