February marks the launch of a crisp new look and improved navigation at the G3 website. Go check it out; we’re very proud of the design! We are also unveiling a new cover layout that allows the art submitted by our authors to shine. This month’s cover celebrates the first published genome assembly of the Canadian beaverThe study is by an all-Canadian team from The Centre for Applied Genomics at the Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids), The University of Toronto, The Ontario Institute for Cancer Research, The Royal Ontario Museum, and The Toronto Zoo — just in time for Canada’s 150th birthday!

The cover shows the “3 pence Beaver,” Canada’s first postage stamp. Issued in 1851, the stamp did not feature the Queen (customary at the time) but instead honored the beaver, an iconic national symbol and the first animal ever to appear on a stamp. This unusual choice was made in recognition of the beaver trade as the economic engine that drove colonial expansion, leading to the founding of Canada. It also depicts a beaver dam, symbolizing the young country building its new towns, cities, and communities. The stamp was designed by Sir Sandford Fleming, a proponent of the worldwide standard time zone, Canada’s foremost railway engineer of the 19th century, and a distinguished scientist. The photo used for this cover was suggested by the study authors, and provided at the courtesy of an avid collector of early Canadian postal history.

The project to sequence the Canadian beaver was conceived not only as an anniversary present for Canada, but as a test of a new method that could help diagnose genetic diseases. The goal was to assemble complex mammalian genomes directly from uncorrected and moderate-coverage long reads generated by single-molecule sequencing, an approach that could help to identify mutations in clinical samples that would otherwise escape detection. The achievement was extensively covered in the Canadian media (including the Globe and Mail and the CBC). You can read a great interview with study leaders Si Lok and Stephen Scherer here. You can also watch a video interview that includes footage of the beaver sequenced for the study, a 10-year-old resident of the Toronto Zoo named Ward. Happy birthday, Canada!



De Novo Genome and Transcriptome Assembly of the Canadian Beaver (Castor canadensis)

Si Lok, Tara A. Paton, Zhuozhi Wang, Gaganjot Kaur, Susan Walker, Ryan K. C. Yuen, Wilson W. L. Sung, Joseph Whitney, Janet A. Buchanan, Brett Trost, Naina Singh, Beverly Apresto, Nan Chen, Matthew Coole, Travis J. Dawson, Karen Ho, Zhizhou Hu, Sanjeev Pullenayegum, Kozue Samler, Arun Shipstone, Fiona Tsoi, Ting Wang, Sergio L. Pereira, Pirooz Rostami, Carol Ann Ryan, Amy Hin Yan Tong, Karen Ng, Yogi Sundaravadanam, Jared T. Simpson, Burton K. Lim, Mark D. Engstrom, Christopher J. Dutton, Kevin C. R. Kerr, Maria Franke, William Rapley, Richard F. Wintle, and Stephen W. Scherer

G3: Genes|Genomes|Genetics February 2017 7:755-773; doi:10.1534/g3.116.038208


Cristy Gelling is a science writer, lapsed yeast geneticist, and former Communications Director at the GSA.

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