Genome projects in invasion biology

  • Michael A. McCartneyEmail author
  • Sophie Mallez
  • Daryl M. Gohl
Review Article


Advances in sequencing and informatics and rapidly falling costs have made genome sequencing projects far more accessible to researchers in all of the life sciences, including invasion biology. A complete genome is now the most efficient first step towards identifying and characterizing candidate genes that control invasiveness. At the genomic level, fundamental problems in invasion science can be pursued with great precision and rigor. This includes reconstruction of the history of invasions, analysis of demographic dynamics within colonizing populations, and study of the rapid, adaptive evolution of invasiveness. This update documents new developments in the emerging field of invasion genomics. Our review found that of 100 of the world’s most damaging invasive species, assembled genomes are available for 27—a minority but still a considerable resource. This calls for a larger investment in genomics, but also highlights publicly available genomic resources for invasive species that remain underutilized. We examine the value of reference genomes. We conclude that while some technologies (e.g. genotyping by Next Generation Sequencing) can be applied without reference genomes or with fragmented ones, investments in high quality genome assemblies will provide considerable long-term benefits in invasion and conservation genomics research programs.


Invasion genomics Invasive species Population genomics Genome assembly 



We thank Benjamin Auch and Kenneth Beckman in the University of Minnesota Genomics Center, Adam Herman, Thomas Kono, Kevin Silverstein, and Ying Zhang of the Minnesota Supercomputing Institute and many other collaborators for their exceptional contributions to the zebra mussel genome project that inspired this review. Funding was provided by grants from the Minnesota Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund and the Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center, and from private donations.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center and Dept. of Fisheries, Wildlife and Conservation BiologyUniversity of MinnesotaSt. PaulUSA
  2. 2.University of Minnesota Genomics CenterMinneapolisUSA
  3. 3.Department of Genetics, Cell Biology, and Developmental BiologyUniversity of MinnesotaMinneapolisUSA

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