The BABS Genome Project is a bit different from most genome sequencing efforts, which generally start with an organism of interest. Instead, we are crowd-sourcing what we should sequence, with a few constraints:

  • It should be an iconic Australian species.
  • It should not already have its genome sequenced.
  • We should be able to generate a reasonable draft genome within budget using available technology.
  • We need ready access to samples, from which high molecular weight DNA can be extracted.

And the winners were... two snake species!

And not just any snakes… the Tiger Snake (left) and Brown snake (right) are two of the most deadly snakes in the world. More information will follow in future posts.

Photo Credits

Tiger Snake: Teneche [CC BY-SA 3.0] | Brown Snake: Denis O'Meally.

The 2017 BABS Genome Competition

The organisms that were under consideration for the 2017 BABS Genome were:

Eastern brown snake

Despite its rather dull name and appearance, the Eastern Brown Snake is top of Australian Geographic’s “Australia’s 10 most dangerous snakes” and is the world’s second-most venomous terrestrial snake.

Tiger snake

One of the more visually striking species, the Tiger Snake another venomous snake and third on Australian Geographic’s “Australia’s 10 most dangerous snakes”.

Funnel web spider

The Funnel web spider is a common venomous spider that tops Australian Geographic’s “Australia’s 10 most dangerous spiders” list.

Peacock spider

The peacock spider is a small Australian spider famous for videos of its mating dance.


Made famous by Finding Nemo, the clownfish is an iconic tropical fish that lives in the Great Barrier Reef and forms a symbiotic relationship with sea anemones.

Irukandji jellyfish

Another one on the “Australia’s most deadly” list, the Irukandji jellyfish is a small venomous Box jellyfish with sufficient toxicity to kill a person.

Velvet Worm

Velvet worms are bizarre slime-squirting carnivorous animals with interesting reproductive methods.

Lord Howe Island Stick Insect

The Lord Howe Island Stick Insect is one of the rarest insects in the world and was thought extinct for over 80 years.

Black cockatoo

The Yellow-tailed black cockatoo is not as well know as its sulphur-crested cousin but is another iconic species of south-east Australia. Black cockatoos are under threat from habitat loss and illegal trading, making it a key conservation target.

To get involved, please complete the BABS Genome survey. (BABS students might win a prize!) To add to this list, complete the survey or get in touch.

Photo Credits

Brown snake - Peter Woodard | Tiger snake - Australian Geographic | Funnel web spider - | Peacock spider - Jurgen Otto [CC-BY-SA 2.0] | ClownfishRitiks [CC-BY-SA 3.0] | Irukandji jellyfish - | Velvet worm - © I.S. Oliveira, L. Hering & G. Mayer | Lord Howe Stick Insect - Wikipedia [CC-BY-SA 3.0] | Yellow-tailed black cockatooDavid Cook Wildlife Photography [CC-BY-SA 2.0]