16 Aug 2015

Scientist proposes taonga genome project

1:15 pm on 16 August 2015

A New Zealand geneticist is planning to sequence the genetic blueprints of 100 of New Zealand's most treasured native species.

North Island brown kiwi

The genetic blueprint revealed the North Island brown kiwi's lack of colour vision but noted their excellent sense of smell, which helps them forage for food at night. Photo: Supplied: Scimex

Last month, European scientists mapped out the genome for the North Island brown kiwi, however no New Zealanders were involved in the discovery.

The director of genetics at Otago University, Peter Dearden, is proposing a taonga genome project to get New Zealand scientists discovering more about the county's native species, including animals, plants and insects.

He says it's galling to see natives species being mapped overseas without reference to New Zealanders and the country's environment.

Dr Dearden says sequencing 100 genomes could take as long as 10 years.

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