Monday, June 15, 2009

Everybody's doin' it

I'm happy to be here at the evolution conference in Idaho. One thing I've noticed is that most everyone I talk to is working to collect data using "next generation" sequencing technology. In my field of macroevolution/phylogenetics, this means 454 sequencing usually, since longer individual reads are possible, good for organisms without genome projects. Most people are working out the protocols, as we are, but one talk I saw yesterday had some great data from 454, which the authors are using to investigate the ancestral land plant genome.

The talk was delivered by Ruth Timme with Chuck Delwiche as a co-author. They sequenced transcriptomes of multiple green algae species, using Sanger and 454. They have a huge data set and will be able to address questions about the ancestral land plant genome. Given the vast amount of data they have, it's early days for the analyses, but already they found some interesting results. For example they found that components of ethylene receptor pathways predate the colonization of land. How aquatic organisms, like green algae, use a gas receptor is pathway is not yet known. I felt this talk was a great glimpse into a rapidly emerging trend in evolutionary biology.... The genomic, or at least transcriptomic age is upon us, even in evolutionarily interesting, non-model organisms.

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