Posts Tagged ‘thanksgiving’

Giving Thanks for Turkey Science

 :: Posted by American Biotechnologist on 11-24-2010

What does the domesticated Turkey have in common with the mouse, rat, chimpanzee and Human? Give up? The answer is that its genome can now be added to the long list of species that have had their genomes sequenced thanks to advances in Next Generation Sequencing.

Earlier this year, a team of 34 scientists published their findings regarding the Sequencing of Meleagris gallopavo (i.e domesticated turkey) in PLoS Biology. Not surprisingly, the team found that a comparative analysis of the turkey, chicken, and zebra finch genomes revealed that although the Turkey is indeed genetically different from the Chicken it contains many genes that are unique to the avian lineage.

When comparing these three species by genomic alignment, 92.39% of the turkey genome, 91.92% of the chicken genome and 81.51% of the zebra finch genome align. Furthermore, avian genomes have been relatively stable to rearrangements during the course of avian evolution with the chicken and turkey being much closer to each other in the evolutionary process than the rhesus macaque and the human. These findings are supported by common personal experience. Although it may be difficult to detect differences between some people and rhesus monkeys, this tends to be a much easier task than discerning between a roasted chicken and a roasted turkey which are both covered in cranberry sauce.

Whatever the case may be, understanding the turkey genome will help improve meat quality, animal health and disease resistance. According to turkey breeders (see video below), the science of turkey breeding has already given us birds that are fifteen pounds bigger than they were four decades ago. Nonetheless, increasing public demand for antibiotic-free meat has required scientists to come up with genetic tools for studying alternate ways of disease resistance. Hence, the sequencing of the turkey genome coincides well with the laws of supply and demand and places turkey scientists at the forefront of economic homeostasis.

So when your sitting around the dinner table this coming Thanksgiving, be sure to tell your family why you are thankful for next generation sequencing and Turkey science.

Dalloul RA, Long JA, Zimin AV, Aslam L, Beal K, Ann Blomberg L, Bouffard P, Burt DW, Crasta O, Crooijmans RP, Cooper K, Coulombe RA, De S, Delany ME, Dodgson JB, Dong JJ, Evans C, Frederickson KM, Flicek P, Florea L, Folkerts O, Groenen MA, Harkins TT, Herrero J, Hoffmann S, Megens HJ, Jiang A, de Jong P, Kaiser P, Kim H, Kim KW, Kim S, Langenberger D, Lee MK, Lee T, Mane S, Marcais G, Marz M, McElroy AP, Modise T, Nefedov M, Notredame C, Paton IR, Payne WS, Pertea G, Prickett D, Puiu D, Qioa D, Raineri E, Ruffier M, Salzberg SL, Schatz MC, Scheuring C, Schmidt CJ, Schroeder S, Searle SM, Smith EJ, Smith J, Sonstegard TS, Stadler PF, Tafer H, Tu ZJ, Van Tassell CP, Vilella AJ, Williams KP, Yorke JA, Zhang L, Zhang HB, Zhang X, Zhang Y, & Reed KM (2010). Multi-platform next-generation sequencing of the domestic turkey (Meleagris gallopavo): genome assembly and analysis. PLoS biology, 8 (9) PMID: 20838655

Scientists working hard towards Thanksgiving weekend

 :: Posted by American Biotechnologist on 11-22-2010

Thanksgiving week has finally arrived. That’s right….Thanksgiving week. I know that the holiday is officially recognized as Thanksgiving weekend, but try to find anyone who can fully concentrate on their benchwork this week. With a 4-day weekend coming up, experiments have been put on hold, cells have been spun down and frozen and “on-duty” schedules have been arranged. (For those of you who are not familiar with an “on-duty” schedule, it is a great way for some members of the lab to take an extended vacation while other lab members (known as “suckers” in scientific lexicon) passage and feed their cells, tend to their animals and make sure that everything is in working order by the time everyone returns to the lab on Monday morning).

With everyone slowing down their work this week, one would think that the pace of scientific progress may be stymied. Fortunately that is not the case. There is one scientific crusader who is still manning the bridge, making sure that we, as a scientific society, do not fall behind. Just in time for Thanksgiving, Nathaniel Krefman has released two more videos that are bound to rock the world of science. His previous video “I’m Bringin Stickleback” hit the top of the YouTube charts soon after its release (note: the term “top” has not been verified to be statistically significant by independent sources. Furthermore, I am a molecular biologist and not a statistician so I can hardly be expected to be held accountable for silly statistics. As far as I’m concerned, either there is a band on the gel or there isn’t).

In the first of these two videos, we learn about the singer’s bad habits such as his poor aseptic technique (he coughs into culture plates and everything he touches turns to mold) and his tendency to drop and break lab glassware. His lyrics actually leave me wondering whether Nathaniel has timed the release of this video to conveniently get out of becoming one of the lab “suckers” mentioned above. After all, would you leave this guy in charge of your experiments over a long weekend?

The second video written by Mark Grabiner (Krefman’s role in this video was backing vocals, direction and editing), “bright scope, long lab coat” is a wonderful story of romance in the lab where we learn about the Mark’s romantic interest in a scientist with impeccable lab techniques and scientific methodology. For his sake, I certainly hope that Mark does not have the same bad habits that Nathaniel sang about in his first video or the relationship will certainly be doomed from the start).

What a great start to “Thanksgiving WEEK!!!”

Let us know which of these three videos are your favorite and be sure to tell us about other fun science videos that you’ve come across.