We’ve been giving you the A to Z from AGBT and today’s Z is Zika and Ebola and, of course, how can we miss the Gorillas – Let’s get this party started.
As you can tell I am not at the AGBT
1) because there are no palm trees and
2) because I am well rested
Let’s cover the last talks from Day 4 of AGBT
Data Sharing – which has been a focus of the conference, was also echoed by Nick Loman of the University of Birmingham. Sharing data in real-time allows us to not only understand the evolution of the virus but also enables us to trace back to the geographical location from where it came. Nick’s talk focused on the possibility of using technology to sequence viruses during outbreaks in real-time in the field – especially in locations where sequencing technology is not yet available. He collaborated with Dr. Ian Goodfellow of the University of Cambridge, to study and track viral evolution in real time with hopes of achieving the same for the Zika virus. Nick mentions that currently a major impediment is to break down the political and national barriers, which make it difficult to study illnesses and diseases in other countries.” What’s required is an organized effort to collaborate, accumulate, analyze, represent and share information as it becomes available.
Chistopher Hill of the University of Washington gave the final talk of the day about the Gorilla genome. Gorillas are humans’ closest living relatives after chimpanzees and can better help us understand cognition, behavior, speech, diseases and various biological and physiological properties, but to do so, we need a strong reference genome for these species. Currently, the Gorilla reference genome has a lot of gaps due to repetitive sequences that make assemblies difficult. Chris shared how with current technologies he was able to add over 164 Mega base pair euchromatin sequences and close a majority of the gaps in the reference genome. 94% of Gorilla genes that were incomplete are now resolved for at least one isoform. They were also able to resolve a lot of repetitive elements, identify new genes and regions to study, and can better perform population estimates. With a better reference genome we can perform more accurate analysis of the data we collect, but again for that, we need a good reference genome.
Reference Genomes, Microbial Dark Matter, Single Cell Sequencing and Data Sharing have been the overarching theme of the conference. It was certainly fun, exciting conference with amazing talks. I’ve recapped the talks and concurrent sessions from the three days in my previous blogs, so be sure to check those and let me know what you think in the comments section.
It’s farewell for now… but I guess I’ll see you during my next adventure – bye!
*For Research Use Only. Not for use in diagnostic procedures