Advanced training in population genomics analysis for conservation

15 March 2024

In an era where DNA data is increasingly pivotal across fields such as medicine, agriculture, and environmental management, the capability to analyse this 'big data' is more essential than ever. This week, a special training workshop was held at ANU's beautiful coastal campus at Kioloa on the NSW coast to equip students, researchers and managers with advanced tools for the analysis and interpretation of population genomics data for conservation and restoration.

The five-day event, which also offered online participation to increase accessibility, was designed to enhance skills in population genomics using R, a popular programming language for statistical computing and graphics, with a focus on the dartR software package.

The first two days of the workshop were dedicated to introducing attendees to R, its relevant packages, and the fundamentals of population genetics within a conservation framework. The subsequent sessions delved into more complex topics, including data quality control, landscape genomics, kinship, phylogenomics, adaptation, and the identification of sex-linked markers.

Participants had the opportunity to learn from the developers of the dartR software package, a tool specifically developed for population genomics analysis. The sessions were led by experienced practitioners who provided a broad spectrum of real-world applications, from theoretical understanding to hands-on data analysis.

Adding to the workshop's ongoing impact, all materials, including lectures, slides, tutorials, and example scripts, have been made freely available online. This includes YouTube clips of the sessions, allowing a broader audience to benefit from the expertise shared during the event.

The workshop was supported by the Centre for Biodiversity Analysis, University of Canberra, Diversity Arrays Technology and CSIRO, with presentations from over ten leading institutions.