“Giga-” is a prefix derived from Greek, meaning “giant.” In modern times, giga- refers to the large datasets and information as the billions of bytes we generate and store on our computers.
The “spineless” invertebrates comprise one of the earliest, and now largest branches of the tree of life, dating back more than 550 million years Many of these ancient animals (metazoans) are unique to marine and aquatic habitats and ecosystems. The invertebrates also comprise over 70% of all described metazoan species diversity, yet most of their genomes (complete hereditary material, DNA code) remain relatively unknown and understudied. In this context, a “Global Invertebrate Genomics Alliance” (GIGA) of diverse scientists, has been formed in 2013 with the intent of growing a collaborative network that can address the major problems associated with genomic sequencing of a large taxonomic spectrum - sample collection and processing, data handling, sequence annotation, alignment and access, as well as intellectual property issues. Consequently, we also encourage the installment of standards and policies that will facilitate comparative approaches to invertebrate genomics. This website aims to provide a dynamic forum and information portal for the latest ideas on invertebrate genome research, researcher activities, data and resources related to GIGA and its principles.
Describing the wide functional and structural diversity of invertebrates requires an integrated approach that includes not only traditional biological sciences (e.g., anatomy, ecology, behavior, physiology, paleontology), but the burgeoning interdisciplinary efforts of genomics. Following on the success of the human genome project and the current progress of the vertebrate Genome 10K project (Genome 10K Community of Scientists, 2009), GIGA proposes to assemble or assist in the coordination and collection of samples spanning the broad spectrum of (non-insect/ non-nematode) invertebrate phylogenetic diversity suitable for whole-genome sequencing.
Invertebrates represent a compelling target for large-scale genomic enterprises for many reasons:
•Invertebrates (including the vast diversity of insects) encompass more than 70% of all known animal species biodiversity.
•Invertebrates,such as C. elegans worms and Drosophila flies, have long served as model organisms in genetics, physiology and embryology, providing keen insights into fundamental mechanisms of development, neurobiology, patterns of inheritance, diversification, and genome evolution.
•Many invertebrates also play key roles in ecosystems (e.g., corals, earthworms), human health (e.g., disease vectors), and are a major protein source for humans (e.g., many mollusks and crustaceans) with considerable economic impact.
•By better understanding the genomic diversity and make-up of these organisms, we can capitalize on such knowledge to enhance beneficial activities (e.g., food production, ecosystem health,biopharmaceuticals, biomimetic materials) and diminish detrimental activities (e.g., invasive species, decline of endangered species, biodiversity loss).
GIGA will sponsor a special symposium at next year’s Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution (SMBE) annual meeting next summer. The abstract page is now open, so please submit your abstracts to
Symposium Title: Establishing a “Global Invertebrate Genome Alliance” (GIGA) for Comparative Genomics
Names and full contact information for current organizers
University of California, Santa Barbara
Christian R Voolstra
Red Sea Research Center
Jose V. Lopez, Ph.D
Nova Southeastern University