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High quality genomes

Genome sequencing, or determining the complete DNA sequence of an organism, has become hugely important for understanding the biology of entire populations of a species in relation to key aspects such as its ability to adapt to its environment or its economic value.


Photo: Kaki by Stephanie Galla

High quality genomes of New Zealand species will support conservation and selective breeding within our primary industries – the higher quality the genomes, the greater the potential impact for research in conservation and our primary industries.  The barrier is that many are large, very complex, repetitive, or highly variable which make these genomes ‘difficult’ to sequence and assemble.

New sequencing technologies will be used to develop informatics methods and capability, developing high quality genomes from our key primary production and conservation species, and then use these technologies on key target species. These complex target genomes are of high importance to stakeholders and Māori entities.

This project brings together researchers from five Universities, four Crown Research Institutes, and will work alongside numerous New Zealand research projects and build stronger ties with iwi. Three postdocs, across three institutions linked by this project, will be employed to build capability.


Photo: Epichloë by Murray Cox


  • Generate high quality genomes of strategic importance to Aotearoa NZ
  • Enhanced NZ capability in genome assembly and analysis
  • Effective cooperation between GA partners and stakeholders
  • Distribution of methods and tools for generating information rich high quality genomes

Our team

  • Associate Professor Thomas Buckley (Manaaki Whenua - Landcare Research) – Co-lead researcher
  • Dr David Chagné (Plant & Food Research) – Co-lead researcher
  • Dr Jeanne Jacobs (AgResearch)
  • Professor Murray Cox (Massey University)
  • Associate Professor Patrick Biggs (Massey University)
  • Professor Neil Gemmell (University of Otago)
  • Professor Peter Dearden (University of Otago)
  • Dr Anna Santure (University of Auckland)
  • Associate Professor Maren Wellenreuther (University of Auckland and Plant & Food Research)
  • Dr Chen Wu (Plant & Food Research)
  • Dr Ross Crowhurst (Plant & Food Research)
  • Ms Cecilia Deng (Plant & Food Research)
  • Dr Susan Thomson (Plant & Food Research)
  • Dr Elena Hilario (Plant & Food Research)
  • Mr Roy Storey (Plant & Food Research)
  • Professor Richard Newcomb (University of Auckland and Plant & Food Research)
  • Dr Gary Houliston (Manaaki Whenua - Landcare Research)
  • Dr Ann McCartney (Manaaki Whenua - Landcare Research)
  • Associate Professor Tammy Steeves (University of Canterbury)
  • Duckchul Park (Manaaki Whenua - Landcare Research)
  • Dr Jessie Prebble (Manaaki Whenua - Landcare Research)
  • Dr Florian Pichlmueller (University of Otago)
  • Dr Joseph Guhlin (University of Otago)
  • Roger Moraga (Tea Break Bioinformatics Ltd)
  • Talia Brav-Cubitt (Manaaki Whenua - Landcare Research)


Science at the intersection of cultures – Māori, Pākehā and mānuka
ER Morgan, NB Perry, D Chagné
NZ Journal of Crop & Horticultural Science, 47:4, 2019,

Phylogenetic determinants of toxin gene distribution in genomes of Brevibacillus laterosporus
TR Glare, A Durrant, C Berry, L Palma, MM Ormskirk, MP Cox
Genomics, 112(1):1042-1053, January 2020,

Molecular evolutionary trends and feeding ecology diversification in the Hemiptera, anchored by the milkweed bug genome
KA Panfilio et al.
Genome Biology, 20(1):64, April 2019

Evolution of the Torso activation cassette, a pathway required for terminal patterning and moulting
J Skelly, C Pushparajan, EJ Duncan, PK Dearden
Insect Molecular Biology, December 2018,