Conservation Genomics of the Endangered Laotian Newt

Grants and Contracts Details


Executive Summary We seek funding to develop a molecular toolkit that will inform conservation efforts of a range- restricted and evolutionarily divergent newt species that is threatened by overharvesting for the illegal pet trade (Laotriton laoensis). Specifically, we plan to generate transcriptomic data for a few captive individuals. These data will be used to design a target-capture kit that will be employed to sequence thousands of loci for dozens of wild individuals from across the species’ range. The target-capture data will allow us to identify alleles that differentiate between conservation units and design primers to amplify them. This lays the foundation for the implementation of a cost-effective approach that can be used to identify the populations of origin of confiscated individuals and allow their informed repatriation. The genomic data can incidentally be used to estimate genetic diversity, population sizes, and demographic trends. Furthermore, the data can be employed to evaluate the existence of local adaptation, which is relevant for reintroduction and captive breeding. Finally, the data can be used to gain insight into the genetic bases of vulnerability or resistance to infectious diseases. Our team is in an ideal position to complete this project. Our group includes the two world’s experts on the conservation and natural history of Laotriton, who are based in the species’ home country (Laos); an expert in the species that is based in a natural history collection in the USA, who will facilitate bio- banking and collaboration between team members based in Asia and North America; an established researcher with the necessary experience and infrastructure to generate genomic data and train personnel; and an early career researcher who is skilled in the analysis of large molecular datasets. Part of the funds will also be used to train a technician in laboratory techniques and bioinformatics.
Effective start/end date7/1/236/30/25


  • Morris Animal Foundation: $211,400.00


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