Timeline: Organisms that have had their genomes sequenced

To develop techniques for DNA sequencing, scientists began by sequencing the genomes of small, simple organisms. As techniques improved it became possible to sequence the genomes of more complex organisms, such as the human genome. Now, we have a large catalogue of genomes that have been sequenced that we can study and compare. 

  • 1976

  • Bacteriophage MS2

    Bacteriophage MS2

    • Common name: Bacteriophage MS2
    • What is it? A single-stranded RNA virus that infects the family of bacteria that includes E. coli.
    • Why was it sequenced? This was the first genome to be completely sequenced.
    • Who sequenced it:  Walter Fiers and his team at the Laboratory of Molecular Biology at the University of Ghent, Belgium.
    • How many bases? 3,569 (one of the smallest genomes known)
    • How many chromosomes? 1
  • PhiX174

    • Common name: PhiX174
    PhiX174
  •  
    • What is it? A bacteriophage (virus that attacks bacteria) containing a single circle of DNA.
    • Why was it sequenced? This was the first DNA-based genome to be sequenced.
    • Who sequenced it? Fred Sanger and his team at the Medical Research Council Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge, UK.
    • How many bases? 5,386 
    • How many chromosomes? 1 (single circular chromosome)
  • 1995

  • Haemophilus influenza

    • Common name: Haemophilus influenza
    Haemophilus influenza
    • What is it? A non-moving rod-shaped bacterium that causes meningitis.
    • Why was it sequenced? This was the first bacteria to be sequenced.
    • Who sequenced it? Craig Venter and his team at The Institute for Genomic Research in Rockville, Maryland, USA.
    • How many bases? 1.8 million 
    • How many chromosomes? 1 circular chromosome
  • Methanococcus jannaschii

    • Common name: Methanococcus jannaschii
    A hydrothermal vent, home to Methanococcus jannaschii
    • What is it? A heat-loving, methane-producing, single-celled organism.
    • Why was it sequenced? This was the first archaeon to be sequenced.
    • Who sequenced it? Craig Venter and his team at The Institute for Genomic Research in Rockville, Maryland, USA.
    • How many bases? 1.7 million 
    • How many chromosomes? 1 circular chromosome
  • 1996

  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae

    • Common name: Baker’s yeast
    Plate of Saccharomyces cerevisiae
    • What is it? A species of yeast used in winemaking, baking and brewing.
    • Why was it sequenced? This was the first fungi to be sequenced.
    • Who sequenced it? The International Collaboration for the Yeast Genome Sequencing.
    • How many bases? 12.1 million 
    • How many chromosomes? 32
  • 1998

  • Caenorhabditis elegans

    • Common name: Nematode worm
    C. elegans
    • What is it? A free-living, transparent worm about 1 mm in length that lives in the soil. 
    • Why was it sequenced? This was the first animal to be sequenced.
    • Who sequenced it? The Genome Institute at Washington University, USA, and the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, Cambridge, UK.
    • How many bases? 100 million
    • How many chromsomes? 12 in hermaphrodites and 11 in males.
  • 2000

  • Arabidopsis thaliana

    • Common name: Thale cress or Arabidopsis
    Arabidopsis thaliana
    • What is it? A small flowering plant widely used as a model organism in plant biology.
    • Why was it sequenced? This was the first plant to have its genome sequenced.
    • Who sequenced it? The Arabidopsis Genome Initiative, which involved various institutes from the USA, Europe and Japan including The Institute of Genome Research, USA and Genoscope, France.
    • How many bases? 119 million
    • How many chromosomes? 5
  • Drosophila melanogaster

    • Common name: Fruit fly
    Drosophila melanogaster
    • What is it? A small insect commonly found near ripening fruit.
    • Why was it sequenced? This is a widely used model organism in scientific research that has been studied for many years.
    • Who sequenced it? Celera Genomics, UC Berkeley, Baylor College of Medicine and the European Drosophila Genome Project. 
    • How many bases? 165 million
    • How many chromosomes? 4
  • 2001

  • Homo sapiens

    • Common name: Human
    Homo sapiens
    • Why was it sequenced? Understanding the human genome will help us to improve human health.
    • Who sequenced it? The Human Genome Organisation (HUGO) and Celera Genomics.
    • How many bases? 3.2 billion
    • How many chromosomes? 23
  • 2002

  • Mus musculus

    • Common name: Mouse
    Mouse
    • Why was it sequenced? Over 95 per cent of the mouse genome is similar to our own, so studying it is really useful for discovering more about human health and disease.
    • Who sequenced it? The Mouse Genome Sequencing Consortium (the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, The Whitehead Center for Genome Research, The Whitehead Center for Genome Research and The Genome Institute at Washington University in St Louis and The Broad Institute at MIT).
    • How many bases? 3.48 billion 
    • How many chromosomes? 20 
  • Anopheles gambiae

    • Common name: Mosquito
    Mosquito
    • What is it? It is a flying insect which feeds on the blood of animals.
    • Why was it sequenced? This species of mosquito is the principal vector of malaria, which kills over 1 million people each year. 
    • Who sequenced it? Celera Genomics, USA and Genoscope, France.
    • How many bases? 278 million
    • How many chromosomes? 5
  • Takifugu rubripes

    • Common name: Japanese pufferfish, Tiger puffer or Fugu
    Pufferfish
    • What is it? It is a small pufferfish native to Japan.
    • Why was it sequenced? Comparing other genomes with the pufferfish genome is useful for the study of vertebrate evolution.
    • Who sequenced it? The International Fugu Genome Consortium headed by the Joint Genome Institute, California, USA, the Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology (IMCB), Singapore and the Human Genome Mapping Project (HGMP), Cambridge, UK.
    • How many bases? 390 million (the smallest known vertebrate genome)
    • How many chromosomes? 8
  • Oryza sativa

    • Common name: Rice
    Oryza sativa (rice)
    • Common name: Rice
    • What is it? Rice is a staple food for millions of people across the globe.
    • Why was it sequenced? Rice is one of the most important crops so it is important to understand its genetics.
    • Who sequenced it? The Beijing Genomics Institute, Zhejiang University and the Chinese Academy of Sciences, China.
    • How many bases? 374 million
    • How many chromosomes? 12
  • 2004

  • Gallus gallus

    • Common name: Red jungle fowl 
    Red jungle fowl
    • What is it? It is a recent ancestor of the domestic chicken. 
    • Why was it sequenced? This is the first egg-laying animal to have its genome sequenced.
    • Who sequenced it? The International Chicken Genome Sequencing Consortium.
    • How many bases? 1 billion 
    • How many chromosomes? 78
  • 2005

  • Pan troglodyte

    • Common name: Chimpanzee
    Chimpanzee
    • What is it? Chimpanzee is one of the great apes along with gorilla, orangutan, bonobo and human.
    • Why was it sequenced? It was the first non-human primate genome to be sequenced.
    • Who sequenced it? The Chimpanzee Genome Project (Broad Institute at MIT and The Genome Institute at Washington University in St Louis).
    • How many bases? 3.3 billion 
    • Number of chromosomes: 23
  • 2010

  • Xenopus tropicalis

    • Common name: Western clawed frog
    Xenopus tropicalis
    • What is it? Is a small frog native to Africa.
    • Why was it sequenced? Xenopus is a model organism commonly used to study early development.
    • Who sequenced it? The US Department of Energy’s Joint Genome Institute and the University of California.
    • How many bases? 1.5 million
    • Number of chromosomes: 10
  • 2013

  • Danio rerio

    • Common name: Zebrafish
    Zebrafish
    • What is it? It is a tropical fish native to southeast Asia.
    • Why was it sequenced? Zebrafish is a model organism commonly used in research. 
    • Who sequenced it? The Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute.
    • How many bases? 1.5 billion 
    • How many chromosomes? 25

This page was last updated on 2015-01-19