Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Decoding worms to decode regeneration

06.05.2013
Dr. Siegfried Schloissnig is head of the newly established Computational Biology junior research group at HITS.

Prof. Eugene “Gene” Myers, one of the pioneers in bioinformatics, is affiliated with the group as a mentor. Together with his laboratory at the Max Planck Center for Systems Biology in Dresden, the junior group will decipher and compare the genetic codes of several flatworm species.

Flatworms are masters of regeneration, and are, therefore, interesting for scientists: If they are cut in two pieces, each half will develop into a new worm. By comparing the genetic material, researchers hope to gain new insights into regeneration of tissue that could have a huge impact on medicine.

A new junior research group for Computational Biology (CBI) has been established at Heidelberg Institute for Theoretical Studies (HITS). It complements the work of the other six research groups, which carry out basic research in different fields of science. The focus lies on the processing and structuring of large data volumes. The leader of the new group is Dr. Siegfried Schloissnig, a 33-year-old Computer Scientist with a Doctorate in Human Biology, who previously worked as a PostDoc at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL). A PostDoc and two PhD students will work under his leadership in Heidelberg.

The mentor: a pioneer in bioinformatics
Prof. Eugene “Gene” Myers, one of the pioneers in bioinformatics, is affiliated with the group as a mentor. The U.S. American developed the BLAST, the most widely-used search program in molecular biology, and wrote programs for whole-genome shotgun assembly that significantly contributed to the success of the Human Genome Project. The human genome was completely deciphered in the course of this project. Since June 2012, Gene Myers has been working as the director and “Klaus Tschira Chair” at the Center for Systems Biology in Dresden. The new center was established by the Max Planck Society in collaboration with the Klaus Tschira Foundation and the Max Planck Foundation. The center, which is a joint project of the Max Planck Institutes for Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics and for the Physics of Complex Systems, is set up to develop methods to better understand the cellular processes during the growth of an organism.

New approaches to the de novo assembly

The new junior research group at HITS will also work on these objectives in collaboration with Gene Myers’ laboratory in Dresden and the recently established Dresden Genome Center. Together with his group, Siegfried Schloissnig will develop new approaches to the so-called de novo assembly, which is the reconstruction of genome sequences by means of DNA sequencers and bioinformatic methods. In the course of sequencing by standard methods, DNA is copied multiple times. These copies are randomly split up into numerous small fragments. These fragments are examined for overlaps by means of bioinformatic methods and are subsequently reassembled. The smaller the fragments and the more complex the genome of interest, the more complicated is the problem. The situation becomes even more difficult, when no comparable genome is available and researchers have to assemble the genome de novo, i.e. anew. This is exactly the case with flatworms, whose genetic codes the HITS junior group plans to decipher.

The jigsaw puzzle of flatworms

The scientists thus ventured into difficult terrain: Until now the genomes of flatworms have been considered indecipherable because of their complex structure. “Two-thirds of the worm genome keep recurring,” explains Siegfried Schloissnig. “It´s like a jigsaw puzzle. And two-thirds of it are nearly identical white particles.” Together with the laboratory in Dresden, he will, for the first time, compare the currently available gene sequences of 12 worm species. The computational analysis will be performed at HITS. By means of new algorithms Dr. Schloissnig intends to piece together the DNA jigsaw puzzle of flatworms. Flatworms are masters of regeneration, and are, therefore, interesting for scientists: If they are cut in two pieces, each half will develop into a new worm. No animal is able to do it faster and more efficiently. “We’ll begin with studying Schmidtea mediterranea, which is the most interesting flatworm for Regenerative Medicine”, says Siegfried Schloissnig, “and then proceed with other species of this phylum.” By comparing the genetic material researchers hope to gain new insights into regeneration of tissue that could have a huge impact on medicine, for example, help developing methods to replace inoperative cells, tissues and organs with cultivated tissues or to stimulate endogenous regeneration and repair processes.

Computational Biology is the third research group at HITS, which uses mathematical methods and computer simulations to solve biological and medical problems. This year two more research groups will be established at the institute: The first one will deal with theoretical astrophysics and the second one with computational statistics. By 2014, HITS plans to comprise ten research groups as well as further research units such as junior groups and associated researchers.
Press Contact:
Dr. Peter Saueressig
Presse- und Öffentlichkeitsarbeit
HITS Heidelberger Institut für Theoretische Studien
Tel: +49-6221-533-245
Fax: +49-6221-533-298
peter.saueressig@h-its.org
http://www.h-its.org

Scientific Contact:
Dr. Siegfried Schloissnig
Junior Group Computational Biology
HITS Heidelberger Institut für Theoretische Studien
Tel: +49-6221-533-307
Fax: +49-6221-533-298
siegfried.schloissnig@h-its.org
http://www.h-its.org

HITS
The Heidelberg Institute for Theoretical Studies is a private non-profit research facility established by Klaus Tschira, one of the founders of the SAP AG software company. As a research institute of the Klaus Tschira Foundation, HITS conducts basic research with the focus on processing and structuring large volumes of data. The research fields range from astrophysics to cell biology. The institute is located at the campus in Schloss-Wolfsbrunnenweg.

Dr. Peter Saueressig | idw
Further information:
http://www.h-its.org
http://www.h-its.org/english/press/cbi.php?we_objectID=978&pid=505
http://www.mpi-cbg.de/research/research-groups/gene-myers/group-leader.html

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht A room with a view - or how cultural differences matter in room size perception
25.04.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für biologische Kybernetik

nachricht Studying a catalyst for blood cancers
25.04.2017 | University of Miami Miller School of Medicine

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.

Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...

Im Focus: Wonder material? Novel nanotube structure strengthens thin films for flexible electronics

Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.

"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

7th International Conference on Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaics in Freiburg on April 3-5, 2017

03.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Early organic carbon got deep burial in mantle

25.04.2017 | Earth Sciences

A room with a view - or how cultural differences matter in room size perception

25.04.2017 | Life Sciences

Warm winds: New insight into what weakens Antarctic ice shelves

25.04.2017 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>