Skip to main content


NEWS – “Untangling the Volcanic Earthworm Genome”

19 May 2016

Researchers within the School have taken their research into the crowd funding space and through an project campaign. They are seeking $5000 to support the project that is outlined below in a summary provided by Luis and Dave – Biosciences Research Staff who have been leading the funding campaign. Read, enjoy, engage, and perhaps get behind funding their work… at time of posting they have 14 days to hit their target.

Untangling the Volcanic Earthworm Genome

By Luis Cunha¹, Dave Stanton¹, Samuel James², Peter Kille¹, and Rafael Montiel³
¹ School of Biosciences, Cardiff University; ² The University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa, USA; ³ CINVESTAV Irapuato, Guanajuato, Mexico.

Screen Shot 2016-05-19 at 10.22.57

We are a team of researchers based in the Organisms and Environments division of Cardiff School of Biosciences. We recently reached the final of PacBio’s “Explore your most interesting genome” competition, with a project idea that aims to sequence the genome of an earthworm called Pontoscolex corethrurus.

wormsPontoscolex is no ordinary worm – it is able to withstand extreme environmental stress – high temperatures, acidic soil, and low oxygen levels. We recently found a population of these worms living in a volcano, on an island in the middle of the Atlantic! We want to sequence the genome of this worm to try to understand how it is able to tolerate such extreme stress.

We invite you to be a part of this project too. We are seeking crowd-funding to finish sequencing this genome, and are over half way to our target to be able to do this. Please consider pledging some money (you will only be charged if we reach our target), and passing news of our project on to encourage others to fund.


You can find out more details (and engage with a project discussion board) here:…/untangling-the-volcanic-earthworm-…  There is also an excellent video there introducing more about the work on their page.

As a footnote the project as of the 6/02/16 was funded and raise 104% of their target with a total of $5,237 – congratulations to all involved!

About the researchers:

Luis Cunha – Marie Curie Fellow


I am an environmental biologist/bioinformatician specialized in invertebrate biology, currently working as a Marie-Curie Fellow between Cardiff, UK and EMBRAPA in Brazil. I have been actively involved in several NGS-based genomic and transcriptomic projects to assemble and annotate several invertebrate genomes. I am also involved in projects related to evolutionary ecology, phylogenetics and population genetics and genomics, including functional genomics of organisms living in extreme environments. I am particularly amazed by the volcanic Pontoscolex corethrurus, which became the main subject of study during my Ph.D. research project.

Staff profile page –

Twitter – @luiscunhamx

Dave Stanton – Research associate


I am an evolutionary biologist and population geneticist, with a particular interest in interactions between humans and wildlife throughout history. My current post-doc aims to infer ancient human migrations across South America, using the earthworm, Pontoscolex corethrurus as a proxy for human movements.

Staff profile page –