Skip to main content
Endangered koalas
16 May, 2016

Helping researchers save endangered koalas

Connectivity to AARNet enables easy sharing of DNA sequencing data and fast access to cloud computing services for the Koala Genome project collaborators, boosting research outcomes.

As the oldest museum and second oldest scientific institution in Australia, The Australian Museum has a long history of scientific research. Today, the Australian Museum Research Institute (AMRI) is involved in flagship research projects, primarily in the fields of biology and genetics, partnering with scientists at universities and research organisations across Australia and around the world.

AARNet interviewed Dr Rebecca Johnson, Director of AMRI about the Koala Genome project, a collaboration between AMRI and the University of Sunshine Coast, University of Sydney and University of New South Wales. In the wake of urbanisation threatening the koala population, AMRI’s research is focused on the conservation applications of the genome. This research project is generating large volumes of DNA sequencing data that are transported across AARNet’s high-speed network between collaborators and to cloud services for storage and analysis.

Access to cloud services analysis boosts research outcomes

Johnson says access to cloud services, such as high-performance computers and storage, which are impractical for the museum to house on site, has significantly improved the analysis process and the way data is shared between project partners, opening the door to new insights for sustaining the population diversity of koalas.

“There are so many exciting advances to be made with the ability to do genome sequencing,” she says. “It’s not uncommon for the entire genome of a species to be sequenced, every single individual in the population, so that you can make the best decisions from a genetic perspective for conservation. Ultimately that’s why we’re doing this project. We want to conserve an animal that is incredibly important to every single Australian.”

The museum is one of a growing number of galleries libraries archives and museums connecting to AARNet to meet the bandwidth and network performance needs of engagement, outreach and research that is increasingly data-intensive and collaborative.

WATCH the short video of the interview:

Dr Rebecca Johnson

…big genome sequencing, handling of big data and access to high speed computing… would not be possible without the amazing broadband connections we have and access to things like the cloud services analysis.”

Australian Museum Research Institute
Dr Rebecca Johnson

Director, Australian Museum Research Institute