With an estimated 32,000 species, ray-finned fishes represent over 50% of the global vertebrate biodiversity and encompass enormous variation in morphology, physiology, and ecology. Also, as the most abundant vertebrates and a primary source of protein for people worldwide, these fishes are an economically and ecologically significant group of animals.
Evolutionary mechanisms responsible for the extraordinary diversity of ray-finned fishes ("fishes") remain poorly understood. Despite their importance, fishes are relatively underrepresented in the total number of sequenced vertebrate genomes (www.genomesonline.org), with only about 13 fish genomes published so far. Transcriptome data are available for only 127 species of fishes (SRA of NCBI, as on March 2014), despite widespread use of RNA-seq next-generation Sequencing Technology. The majority of these species belong to just three orders, the Perciformes, Cypriniformes and Cyprinodontiformes. Lack of transcriptomic information underlying the vast diversity of fishes motivates the generation of new RNA-seq data to build a large-scale database of fish transcriptomes. This resource will enable better understanding of fish diversity, their special adaptations, phylogenetic relationships, and evolution.
Fish-T1K (Transcriptomes of 1,000 fishes) project was officially launched by BGI-Shenzhen in November 2013, with the aim of generating genome-wide transcriptome sequences (that is, the majority of expressed genes) for 1,000 diverse species of fishes using next-generation RNA sequencing technology (RNA-seq). This resource will greatly advance the study of fish biology, eventually contributing towards global fish biodiversity conservation efforts and sustainable utilization of natural resources. In addition, the project will promote development of new technologies and software for transcriptome sequencing, data analysis, annotation, and storage.
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