Date: Monday, July 2, 2018
Author: Chrissy Sexton

In an unprecedented study, researchers have analyzed the full DNA sequence of a fern. The team was so determined to examine the genome of the floating water fern, Azolla filiculoides, that they set up an online campaign to raise money for the project.

Study first author Fay-Wei Li is a professor at the Boyce Thompson Institute. Professor Li started out on his mission to inspect the Azolla genome when he was a graduate student at Duke University under the advisement of Professor Kathleen Pryer, who had been trying to get the project funded for almost 20 years.

The duo created an online campaign on a crowdfunding site called

This strategy proved to be so successful that the project received 147 percent of its goal, bringing in $22,160 from 123 supporters.

The campaign also led to an offer from the Beijing Genomics Institute (BGI) to provide all of the sequencing for the project free of charge.