Delicate garden skink genome

The Delicate garden skink (Lampropholis delicata) is a skink of the subfamily Lygosominae, originally from Eastern Australia. Accidentally introduced to New Zealand in the early 1960s, it is now found in several parts of the North Island, where it is considered an invasive species competing with native lizards and mammals for food and habitat. It has also become naturalised in Hawaii, where it is reportedly now the most numerous skink, and on Lord Howe Island.
Lampropholis delicate is common in suburban gardens.

Lampropholis delicata. Photographer: Ian R McCann; Source: Museums Victoria

Lampropholis delicata has become a model species for molecular, developmental and evolutionary research accessible to the national and international community. 

This species is considered as the “lab mouse” of Australian lizard biology. It adjusts to captivity exceptionally well, long term breeding colonies have been established, and is currently used in ongoing research programs to study reptile physiology, behaviour, genetics, thermal biology, development, and evolution. The establishment of a genome for this species will allow Australia to advance reptile research using techniques that otherwise only possible in model taxa such as the mouse. 

A high quality reference genome will enable the development of transgenic organisms important for functional analysis of developmental traits. Once transgenic techniques can be developed for an Australian reptile, this will open up a suite of new research questions, including the use of genetic techniques for controlling invasive species, inferring resistance to conservation threats such as introducing cane toad toxin resistance genes in threatened species, and un-measurable potential to investigate basic reptile biology.

Project coordinator:

  • Oliver Griffith (Macquarie University)

Project collaborators:

  • Andrew Veale (Manaaki Whenua Landcare Research)
  • David Chapple (Monash University)
  • Daniel Noble (Australian National University)
  • Craig Moritz (ANU)
  • Conrad Hoskin (JCU)
  • Camilla Whittington (University of Sydney)
  • Mike Thompson (University of Sydney)
  • James Van Dyke (La Trobe)
  • Erik Wapstra (University of Tasmania)

References cited:

  • Oliver W. Griffith, Matthew C. Brandley, Katherine Belov, Michael B. Thompson. (2016) Reptile Pregnancy Is Underpinned by Complex Changes in Uterine Gene Expression: A Comparative Analysis of the Uterine Transcriptome in Viviparous and Oviparous Lizards, Genome Biology and Evolution, vol 8 (10) 3226–3239