Sheep Genome Project

image: sheep
These particular sheep belong to a research flock at the US Sheep Experiment Station near Dubois, Idaho, USA Image taken from (Image Number K4166-5).

About the Project

The BCM-HGSC contributed to the initial assembly of the sheep (Ovis aries) Texel breed reference genome published by the International Sheep Genomics Consortium. BCM-HGSC contributed sequence data from a male Texel using the 454 sequencing technology that was combined with data from a female Texel for the reference genome sequence. A number of sheep breeds and wild sheep were sequenced with the Illumina technology to identify variants and develop a genotyping resource.

More recently, we have used the Pacific Biosciences long-read sequencing technology to generate 20-fold sequence coverage of the male Texel genome and used the PBJelly software to produce a more contiguous genome reference. This project is funded by the USDA.

A reference genome for the Rambouillet sheep breed is also planned. This will be a de novo assembly using Pacific Biosciences long-read sequence. The 70-fold data was generated in 2015. This project is designed to support planned functional annotation efforts (FAANG) that are similar to earlier ENCODE annotation projects for human and model organisms. The ewe donor for this reference genome and her sister will provide samples for the annotation efforts.


This work is funded by the International Sheep Genomics Consortium and United States Department of Agriculture National Institute of Food and Agriculture (2013-67015-21228).

Genome Assemblies

  • Access to genome assemblies is provided by NCBI and CSIRO.

  • 2015: Oar_v4.0 (available from NCBI) incorporated Pacific Biosciences long read data to fill gaps in the Oar_v3.1 assembly.

  • 2012: Oar_v3.1 (available from NCBI and CSIRO) incorporated additional Illumina data and MeDIP-seq, BAC data and 454 data to fill gaps in the Oar_v2.0 assembly.

  • 2011: Oar_v2.0 (available from CSIRO) of Illumina data from the ewe, followed by gap-filling using Illumina data from the ewe and the ram by BGI.

  • 2010: Oar_v1.0 (available from NCBI and CSIRO) of the 454 data guided by the bovine genome.

Reference Genome Sequence

Breed and Species Sequences

Additional Resources

Related Publications