Hello wonderful folks. Thank you for taking a look at the ReptiGene project. The goal of this project is to find the genetic markers for snake color morphs (phenotypes). Using the Kenyan Sand Boa, we will develop an analysis protocol that will, hopefully, allow us to see what mutations cause changes in appearance. We suspect we will be looking at three specific gene locations that control expression of melanin (brown/black) and caratonoids (orange) and that control dispersal of melanin producing cells. Once the data processing is proven with the KSB, we will go forward with analyzing the Ball Python over a larger selection of possible genes and gene locations. This will not only allow for testing of heterozygosity, but will also help us discover why certain morphs come hand in hand with disorders that affect movement, fertility, viability, or health in the animals. On the larger scale, these genome sequences will bring more accurate taxonomy and the ability to study the development of characteristics that make snakes different from other reptiles.
How it works:
Once we have whole genome sequences for individuals with wild type (normal) and mutated phenotypes, we will perform a genome wide association study (GWAS) to, hopefully, find the differences in the sequences (SNPs). We will be performing a case control study using the open source program, PLINK.
We will be using shed skin as the sequencing samples. While shed skin is a less ideal sample than blood or living tissue, it has been shown to work, and it will completely avoid distressing the animals.
What we need:
The first step is to get a whole genome sequence of a normal morph Kenyan Sand Boa. This will cost $7000.00 for short read Illumina sequencing and assembly. If we reach more than our goal, at least $10,000.00, we will be able to add long read sequencing to the package. This will make assembly of the genome easier, faster, and more accurate. Any donations above that will be taken forward to the second phase, sequencing genomes of the gene variants. Future sequences will cost approximately $1200 each once we have a reference genome. We will ideally be able to sequence at least 8 samples of carriers of each gene.
We are going through Applied Biological Materials, Inc. for our sequence and assembly work. You can learn more about how sequencing is done on their YouTube channel.
For any questions about the project, our animals, or anything else, please don't hesitate to give us a shout on Facebook
*Disclaimer: This is science. Science doesn't always turn out as expected. There are no guarantees that our hypotheses are correct at any step in the process.*