Scientists succeed in mapping the Genome of the Garden Gnome but is it too late for the UK's Gnome colonies?
Embargoed: 00.01 April 1st 2014
Editor’s note: Warning contains distressing pictures.
Scientists have announced that, after years of research, they have managed to decode the Genome of the common Garden Gnome. The announcement coincides with a warning that a deadly fungus which lurks in compost heaps and flourishes in damp conditions could wipe out this entire endangered species by 2020 unless governments act to stem the tide of destruction.
The gnome genome contains nearly as many genes as its closest relative, the human, and its most remarkable feature is a growth hormone deficiency.
This major piece of research may come to nothing. The warning about fungal infection comes after latest research from GAFFI (The Global Action Fund for Fungal Infections www.gaffi.org ) shows garden gnomes around the country have suddenly, and mysteriously, become infected by fungal disease and are dropping like flies.
Normally shy and reticent, these generally resilient, stony-faced characters have been sighted in gardens all over the UK with pained expressions carved into their little features.
At a secret location, in a suburban garden in the UK, an entire colony has been wiped out by the fungus which causes a condition known as Aspergillosis. GAFFI has obtained exclusive footage of the latest outbreak. It’s available on the GAFFI website (www.gaffi.org)
GAFFI President Dr. David Denning, who is Professor of Fungal Medicine at the University of Manchester, says that fungal disease is known to affect almost 300 million humans across the globe but this is the first time Aspergillosis has been diagnosed in gnomes. He wants people who discover diseased gnomes to report it on the GAFFI website. (www.gaffi.org )
He explained: "Few people realise that these unlikely and endangered creatures are our oldest genetic cousins so we want to see if the unravelling of the human genome can provide a link to garden gnomes before it's too late for them and us. We are particularly concerned about the gnomes of Zurich, many of whom were badly affected by the financial crisis in 2008 and their immune systems are still at a very low ebb."
It is rumoured that the world-famous forensic detective, Sherlock Gnomes, has been asked to look into the case.
For more information and exclusive photos and video footage of the now extinct, gnome colony contact Susan Osborne, Director of Communications at The Goodwork Organisation on 07836 229208 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Professor David Denning is available for down the line or studio interviews.