There are ~23,000 described species of nematodes, and an estimated 2-10 million species exist. Genomics research on nematodes (particularly Caenorhabditis elegans) has delivered important information on core biological processes. Adding additional nematode genomes to that of C. elegans will allow the specific instance of C. elegans to be contextualised, and will we hope feed research on comparative genomics of nematodes, the evolutionary biology of genome change, and the biology of the (many) parasitic nematodes, amongst other fields.

Why (only) 959 nematode genomes?

All adult female hermaphrodite C. elegans have 959 somatic cells. The definition of the embryonic lineage of C. elegans from fertilised zygote to fertile adult was a milestone in C. elegans developmental biology. Just as the tree of the C. elegans embryonic lineage was a key underpinning of later work on this model nematode, we hope that a Nematoda phylogeny with 959 genome-sequenced taxa will underpin the investigation of nematode biology in general. Next generation sequencing technologies already can deliver 100-fold coverage of a new genome in under a week: our challenge is to recruit the next generation of (bioinformatics-capable, genome-savvy) nematologists to drive this aspiration.