Friday, January 30, 2009

just no genome compare and contrast essays, please

From ScienceDaily: New Computational Technique Allows Comparison Of Whole Genomes As Easily As Whole Books

Based on a word frequency technique used to compare and categorize texts, professor of chemistry at UC Berkley Sung-Hou Kim and a group of researchers have developed a method that allows the comparison of entire genomes of species. Up to this point, comparisons have only been done between exons, which are the sequences of DNA used by RNA to make proteins. They ran a comparison of 518 genomes; six were eukaryotes, two random, and the rest bacteria and archaea. The tool, the feature frequency profile (FFP) method, easily separated the examples into domains and fairly reliably into phyla and classes, "with some interesting discrepancies compared to the currently accepted groupings." Interestingly enough, "most" of those discrepancies involved species whose classifications are in dispute.

This sounds pretty amazing. Dr. Kim gives many fields where this method will help, but I think learning more about how species relate with each other is the most interesting thing. Previously I posted an article about how Darwin's Tree of Life doesn't really tell the whole story of evolution and the development of life. I can't wait to see what kind of awesome things they discover.

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