2018 marks the 25th anniversary of the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, and as part of its celebration, the institute will be sequencing the genomes of 25 UK species.
The majority of the species had been decided by researchers, but the last five were voted for by the public.
The five species chosen by the public are common starfish, fen raft spider, lesser spotted catshark, Asian hornet and Eurasian otter.
Although the Asian hornet isn’t a native species, it is highly likely to colonise the UK in the near future and could pose a threat to a range of insects, particularly honeybees.
“Giving the public the opportunity to choose which species have their genomes sequenced in the 25 Genomes Project has brought new perspectives to the project,” says Ken Skeldon, head of public engagement at the Wellcome Genome Campus.
“We are delighted to see that so many people and school children across the UK and beyond have actively engaged in online chats with the scientists and voted for the final five species.”
There were 40 species vying for the public’s votes, including hazel dormouse, scaly cricket, and barn owl.
A genome is the complete set of an organism’s DNA, and once unravelled, can provide important insights into a species, its life-cycle and evolution.
Sequencing has already begun on the 20 species that had already been chosen, and is expected to be completed in June 2018.