What should be sequenced next?

Tasha the boxer: Tasha, the boxer whose DNA was sequenced. Photo courtsey of the National Institute of Health

A few days ago scientists from MIT and Harvard released the genomic sequence for the dog.

Previously, genomic sequences for mice, rats, bees, cows, mosquitos, fruit flies, sea urchins, humans, and chimpanzees, as well as several viruses and bacteria have been completed.

Studying genome sequences helps scientists understand how genes work together to direct the growth and health of an organism. Considering the cost and time involved - the dog sequencing took over two years and over $30 million to complete - making the right choices about what species to sequence is an important question. Researchers at the EMBL-European Bioinformatics Institute are proposing a system to determine what organisms should be sequenced next.

In a paper published in PLoS Genetics, these researchers suggest sequencing the most distantly related organisms in order to get the most diverse sequences possible. To accomplish this, the researches suggest looking at the "tree" biologists use to represent the relationships between species. This "tree" shows the difference between species by the length of the branches. The researchers at the Bioinformatics Institute suggest taking the already sequenced species and then finding the most genetically diverse species from the already sequenced species to sequence next.

Squirrel: The 13-lined ground squirrel. Photo courtesy of Phil Myers, Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan.

Of local interest, one of the animals currently being sequenced is the 13-lined ground squirrel, or the Minnesota Gopher!

What species do you think should be sequenced next and why do you think it should be?

Your Comments, Thoughts, Questions, Ideas

Jordanne's picture
Jordanne says:

Wow!! This is cool!! :) Thanks! This is so interesting!! My family and I always love this!!

posted on Fri, 12/09/2005 - 4:07pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

one ugly dog

posted on Mon, 12/12/2005 - 12:10pm
Joe's picture
Joe says:

The National Cancer Institute and the National Human Genome Research Institute, both parts of the National Institutes of Health, announced the beginning of the Cancer Genome Atlas Project yesterday. It is a $100 million, three year pilot program to "sequence" cancer. The program aims to identify and categorize all the molecular errors that turn healthy cells into cancerous cells.
Not a single disease, cancer is a collection of over 200 different diseases. Researchers believe that cancers develop after genetic changes cause cells to mutate and grow. The hope is that this project will be able to find common features that cause these genetic changes. With that knowledge, earlier detection and more effective treatments could result.
Since each type of cancer is different, and the mutations in the genes unique, this "sequencing" of cancer is especially challenging.
See the news release from the National Institutes of Health here.

posted on Wed, 12/14/2005 - 10:36am

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