The kangaroo genome – marsupials filling the gap

Analysing the genomes of Australia’s iconic marsupials will provide insight into how they turn off and on the development of the early embryo; give birth to very underdeveloped young, and why marsupial milk changes radically over the months of lactation.

This knowledge could lead scientists to new treatments for premature births, better milk production in cows, as well as novel antibiotics. Marsupials fill an evolutionary gap between the distantly related birds/reptiles and the more closely related placental mammals (such as humans and cows).

The Tammar wallaby (a member of the kangaroo family) has been the subject of many classic genetic, physiological, developmental and ecological studies by marsupial researchers in Australia.

Now the Australian Genome Research Facility (AGRF) has partnered with the National Institutes of Health (USA) to sequence the genome of Tammar wallaby.

Comparing the wallaby genome with other organisms enables scientists to identify regions of similarity and difference, which can provide clues about the structure and functions of genes invaluable to health and agricultural research.

For more information: Australian Genome Research Facility (AGRF), Elizabeth Kuczek,

Tel: +61 7 3365 4392