The long term goals of this project are to develop underpinning resources for the international sheep genomics consortia in a timely and cost effective manner. Initially this has been focused around creating a virtual sheep genome which coupled with a 3x WGS coverage of the genome using Roche 454 FLX technology together with additional sequencing using an Illumina GA for reduced representational sequencing. This strategy has enabled the creation of a 50k ovine SNP chip. The SNP chip will then be used to create a low resolution haplotype map using breed samples, a physical map using the 2 radiation hybrid panels and a higher density linkage map. The 50k SNP chip will be available to be used by research groups to identify markers associated with traits of interest, such as disease resistance, and improved and/or healthier meat, wool and milk products.

The second phase is to progress towards a de novo assembly of the ovine genome and identify many more SNPs. These will provide the ability to make higher density SNP chips and whole genome coverage expression arrays.

In the long term as sequencing costs continue to decline a near complete ovine genome sequence is expected. Initially work will concentrate on paired end reads of various insert sizes to aid the assembly. The target date for the near complete ovine genome assembly to be available is the end of 2010 and currently detailed planning is underway together with fund seeking.