An Overview of the Project

This site presents information about the genetic makeup of the Tasmanian devil, a species threatened with extinction due to a vicious cancer. We determined the species' DNA sequence and investigated how it varies among individuals. Here we make our data and findings freely available in hopes of helping efforts to conserve this iconic species. A paper descibing our results, together with a supplementary file containing additional information, was published on June 27, 2011, in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Copies can be obtained by request from scs(at) A brief summary is available in the press release.

This project represents one phase of a long-term research program by the laboratories of Stephan Schuster and Webb Miller at Penn State to apply modern methods for analyzing genomes to guide species conservation. The fundamental tenets of our effort are that (1) analysis of museum specimens will, at least in some cases, let us see how the genetic makeup of a threatened species looked before it came into conflict with humans, and that (2) the proper goal of species conservation efforts should be to restore the pristine genomic state of the population to the extent feasible.

The Tasmanian Devil Genome Project is being conducted at the Center for Comparative Genomics and Bioinformatics at the Pennsylvania State University in collaboration with investigators from the organizations shown below.