Here you can see Zane Libke at a research station in the Ecuadorian Andes, Sumak Kawsay. Zane is preparing to take a non-invasive scale sample of the snake he is holding for downstream sequencing on MinION. Read on to find out more... Biodiversity hotspots cover just 2.3% of the earth's surface, yet are home to 44% of the world’s plants and 35% of land vertebrates (National Geographic Society). Genetic sequencing is vital to study and conserve this richness, but until now, access to sequencing technology has been extremely limited in these areas. Zane Libke is working to solve this issue at a research station in the Ecuadorian Andes, Sumak Kawsay In Situ. Using nanopore sequencing, on Flongle Flow Cells, he is working to produce DNA barcodes for all 139 reptiles and amphibians native to the area. Using Flongle 'drastically reduces per-sample sequencing cost (always a concern in conservation biodiversity research) without sacrificing sequence accuracy.' He has already begun to reveal cryptic species, helping us to better understand the connectivity of amphibian populations between protected areas, inform conservation strategies based on phylogenetic data, and accelerate new species descriptions. All of this data is incredibly important to local conservation efforts. Through field-based genetic sequencing courses, Zane and his collaborators at the University of IKIAM are also working to train Ecuadorian researchers and students in field genomics, made possible by #MinION. They hope creating field laboratories will teach us more about the threatened, delicate biodiversity of this unrivalled cloud-forest ecosystem, all while empowering local researchers.
📷: Jaime Culebras